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Heritage Park test

The Day enthusiastically endorses efforts to create a Thames River Heritage Park linking the many historic attractions on both banks of the southern reaches of the Thames, we only lament that it did not happen far sooner.

This weekend and next, the public can get a taste of the possibilities. A free water taxi, with a capacity for about 40 people, will shuttle between City Pier in New London, Fort Street Landing in Groton, and Fort Trumbull State Park, New London.

While post-summer might appear a questionable time for such a pilot program, organizers point to what will be busy weekends Sept. 6-7 and Sept. 13-14 in the area. The taxi will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In New London Saturday there will be a series of activities associated with the burning of a Benedict Arnold effigy, a revival of a 19th century tradition that targeted the memory of the infamous traitor who led the burning of New London on Sept. 6, 1781. Meanwhile, over in Groton, will be the observance of the 233rd anniversary of the Battle of Groton Heights, including a commemoration of the battle at Fort Griswold.

But we are sure history buffs alone won't be taking an advantage of the chance to take a trip across the Thames. On Saturday, New London is also hosting the I AM Festival, with independent musicians rocking the city from five different stages.

Next weekend, the area hosts the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival, with ships open for visits at City Pier Sept. 12, a "chowder challenge" and schooner race in Fisher's Island Sound.

Statutory language supporting the creation of heritage parks in Connecticut dates to 1987 and the Thames River Heritage Park was to be the first. But plans stalled, memories faded and little happened.

This past session the legislature updated the statute, with Rep. Elissa Wright, the Groton Democrat, leading the effort. The goal is to help visitors to the region have a seamless experience of the area's attractions - its waterfront, forts, museums and memorials, with a water taxi adding convenience and fun. The Nautilus and Submarine Force Library & Museum would be incorporated into the park experience and, in time, the future National Coast Guard Museum.

This concept, eminently doable, should be a priority for state and local officials.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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