Someone should whisper in the governor's ear

So the daffodils are out. Tax day has come and gone.

With Tuesday's gentle April showers, could May flowers be far off?

We seem to be finally done, with the possible exception of some lingering oil bills, with the terrible winter of 2014.

And along with the May flowers will come another ceremonial celebration of the planning for New London's National Coast Guard Museum, this one to mark the transfer of land.

I expect we might see Gov. Dannel Malloy in town again for this one, now that he is in full campaign mode for a tough re-election battle.

This is a good time to ask the governor for something, while he is busy sewing up his election-year bag of goodies, which will soon be stuffed with gimmicky tax rebates.

This may be a chance for some influential New Londoners to ask for more than a $20 million promise of state money for infrastructure improvements for the museum.

Don't get me wrong. It's a lot of money and a generous commitment that will help museum fundraising. And it comes on top of the assistance recently announced to help repurpose the empty Pfizer buildings in Groton.

It almost begins to make up for this part of the state being neglected for so long, especially when eastern Connecticut has dutifully sent to Hartford so many go-along representatives of the party in power.

The problem with the promise of $20 million for the museum is that it is just that, a promise, a very big IOU, one with some long strings attached, like the governor getting re-elected and the museum sponsors raising enough money to get it built.

It seems New Londoners should try for something more bankable.

I have heard that the governor likes the idea of the state buying Union Station in New London, rescuing the private owners who have generously restored and maintained this most public of buildings for so long.

The timing is good, because a part of the magnificent building could be lent right away to the Coast Guard museum, which could open a "starter museum," perhaps making it easier to raise money for their plans for a new building adjacent to the station.

The station could also be used, as was once envisioned, as a visitors center for a spectacular river park, with water taxis running to all the interesting existing attractions, from the Coast Guard Academy to two parks with forts, with tours of submarines along the way.

The acclaimed Yale Urban Design Workshop has already been retooling the original 1980s-era plans for the Thames River Heritage Park. With some heavy nudging and not too much seed money from the state, it could get underway pretty quickly.

It would be an incredible asset for the region, a tourism magnet.

Finally, the governor should move soon to buy Union Station because it's the right thing to do, supporting an important transportation infrastructure.

It would be small change in the world of state spending, one with the potential for huge rewards for the people of New London and eastern Connecticut.

I would rather see some progress before Election Day on such a substantial and achievable project, remaking Union Station, than a $55 tax rebate. It would cost a lot less, too.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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