Mayor Finizio eyes a second term on the horizon

It was hard to duck all the seagoing analogies at Friday's big Coast Guard Museum announcement.

It is, after all, a project that has been tossed about on stormy seas for years, waiting for an appropriate rescue.

My instinct would be to avoid the temptation of all the sea talk, but sometimes you need to go with these things.

I couldn't help but think, for instance, of rats running from a sinking ship when I saw the delegation of the New London Development Corp. (Oh, sorry, Renaissance City Development Association) officials, duck out of the presentation early.

Of course, their ship sank a long time ago, and the original Coast Guard museum plan went with it.

You might think it would have been at least polite to stay until the end of the presentation on the refloating of the museum project, but politeness is not something you expect from the folks who made so many city homeowners abandon their own ships.

Mayor Finizio was the captain on deck Friday, and, really, things seemed to be going smoothly, steady as she goes.

The mayor deserves a lot of credit for moving the project this far along, for reaching out and hanging on to that rescue lifeline when it dropped his way.

Finizio has successfully brought everyone together and charted a reasonable course forward.

If the museum stays on track, and none of the new partner/neighbors rock the boat, it is hard to see why Finizio shouldn't count on another term in office if he wants it.

It looks like he has that pretty squarely in the targets of his eyeglass.

A downtown New London with a gleaming new glass-walled National Coast Guard Museum at its center would be quite the ship of state on which to run for reelection.

Standing alongside the gangway into the city's science magnet school auditorium Friday was like watching New London's own red carpet. Coming on board were all manner of state and city business and political leaders, including two U.S. senators, two congressmen, one past and one present, a governor, a couple of Coast Guard admirals and state representatives and senators.

And there was Mayor Finizio, front and center, as they were all piped aboard.

A few likely political crew members were missing. You have to wonder what more important obligations kept away two city council members, given that both Connecticut senators made a point to be there.

Now that Mayor Finizio has gotten pledges from the owners of the ferry company and train station to join the flotilla, it's hard to picture what turbulent waters could lie ahead.

Gov. Malloy has also promised to steer alongside and refuel the ship of Finizio, with $20 million in state bonding money. Probably no whaling ship ever left the port of New London with such a generous shareholder.

Still, the big challenge ahead for the museum project is to look for the buried treasure and raise those tens of millions of dollars, not an easy thing.

It was, after all, the daunting prospect of raising all that money during the recession that most recently sank the museum project.

Never mind. I think success is indeed on the horizon.

As Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., the locally grown Coast Guard commandant, who is a graduate of Norwich Free Academy, put it succinctly Friday: "Full speed ahead."

David Collins


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