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Heritage Park push gets new members

Groton - The steering committee for the Thames River Heritage Park added three members Wednesday and outlined steps it will take over the coming weeks to continue advancing the initiative to make the park a reality.

In its first meeting since September, the committee - comprising officials and representatives from Groton and New London - unanimously approved the addition of Alan Stevens, the state Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation and Ports official at State Pier in New London; Tammy Daugherty, the director of the New London Office of Development and Planning, and Susan Tamulevich, executive director of the Custom House Maritime Museum, to their group. The committee has been working for the past year on plans for the park, which would connect existing historic sites on both sides of the river with a water taxi, shuttle and some coordinated programs and signs. The initiative was revived as a project of the Avery-Copp House, which commissioned the Yale Urban Design Workshop to develop a plan for the park and has been hosting the committee meetings.

Penny Parsekian, consultant to the Avery-Copp House, told the committee that the Yale report is near completion, and the group agreed on tentative plans for a public presentation in January. The group also approved a recommendation Parsekian said would be included in the report - that the park be created and run as a public-private partnership. This is the model being used for other parks and attractions across the country, she said.

"The state would be the prime mover, but a nonprofit would be formed to help with coordination and fundraising," Parsekian said.

The group also is working on securing water taxi service and a shuttle to connect the various park sites, though no concrete progress has been made since the successful pilot run of the water taxi for two weekends in September.

The committee has so far received 27 letters of support for the park, which could help the group make its case to the state for funding and other support.

The steering committee's next meeting will be 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at a location to be determined.

j.benson@theday.com

Twitter: @BensonJudy

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