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State approves funds for Morgan restoration and Coast Guard Museum

Hartford — The State Bond Commission Friday allocated funds for the restoration of the Mystic Seaport’s wooden whaleship the Charles W. Morgan and for the National Coast Guard Museum to be built in New London.

In all, the commission allocated more than $2 billion at its monthly meeting. One of the big-ticket items approved was more than $537 million for construction and maintenance projects, including $1.3 million for pavement preservation on Interstate 95 in Groton.

The $500,000 grant for the Morgan, which was relaunched in the Mystic River on Sunday, will go toward the ship’s ongoing restoration.

Commission member and state Rep. Patricia M. Widlitz, D-Guilford, announced at Friday’s meeting that legislators and Capitol staff members had raised $5,000 to pay for a plank to be used in the Morgan in memory of John W. Chaput of Norwich, a former finance committee clerk and legislative assistant who died last year at age 32.

Chaput was one of the first young volunteers at Mystic Seaport, Widlitz said. The junior volunteer program was created for him because he was too young to work at the Seaport, she added.

“He loved the Charles Morgan,” Widlitz said. Contributing to its restoration is something the group believed Chaput would have appreciated, she said.

The Morgan is undergoing a five-year, $7 million restoration. Visitors will be able to tour the inside of the ship in the coming weeks. Next summer it will return to the sea for the first time since arriving at the Seaport. The restoration project is expected to preserve it for the next 30 years.

The commission also approved a $500,000 grant to fund the design of a pedestrian bridge for the proposed National Coast Guard Museum. The enclosed bridge would span the railroad tracks to connect the museum, a proposed ferry terminal and Union Station. The state would build the bridge and the city would maintain it.

In April, the Coast Guard Museum Association announced it would build the $80 million museum on the city’s waterfront. The museum’s groundbreaking is scheduled for May 15.

The bonding panel also approved more than $537 million for road and bridge construction projects. Of that, $113 million will go toward interstate highway programs such as restoring or resurfacing I-95 in Groton and I-84 in Vernon, and widening I-84 in Waterbury between exits 22 and 25A. Pavement preservation, which includes repairing potholes and cracks in I-95 in Groton, is scheduled to begin in the spring.

The state will be contributing $1.3 million in bonds for I-95 in Groton and expects to leverage about $12.1 million from the federal government.

“With this funding, we are investing in jobs for Connecticut residents, strengthening and updating our aging roadways and bridges, making travel safer and, in the long run, improving our transportation infrastructure to encourage economic development and attract new business to the state,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

The commission also approved grants for social services agencies in New London and Groton under the state’s new Office of Early Childhood.

In Groton, the Riverfront Children's Center was approved to receive $197,000 for classroom and bathroom renovations and the Child & Family Agency’s Early Childhood Development Center was approved to receive $3,650 for new door handles and locks at the entrance door.

In New London, the Child & Family Agency’s Smith-Bent Family Center was granted $480,552 for windows, heating improvements, security upgrades and parking lot repairs. Connecticut College Children's Program will receive $16,000 for improved security and an intercom, and the Thames Valley Council for Community Action was approved for $136,000 for playground and door replacement, a ventilation system and paging system.

Through the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the commission also approved $973,700 for renovations to New London-based Sound Community Services.


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