Update, new renderings for Mystic River Boathouse Park project
Mystic ― Stonington Community Rowing, Inc. on Wednesday unveiled a new boathouse design and updated the public on progress of the Mystic River Boathouse Park project.
Approximately 50 people gathered outside the adjacent Latitude 41 restaurant to see the new design for the boathouse, which would be the future home of the Stonington High School rowing team and a community rowing center.
The plans, by Phase Zero Design of Simsbury, call for a two-story building, topped with a square, windowed cupola, designed to resemble a historic barn. The first floor would serve as boat and equipment storage space. The second floor would primarily be a training space complete with rowing machines and a weight training area but could also function as a small event space.
SCRI Secretary John Thornell said the organization will use the event space for its annual banquet and other small events. Under a proposed lease with the town, the group can hold events if it conforms to zoning regulations, and gains approval from the fire marshal, police department, and health department.
He said money raised through events will be a small part of the group’s revenue as fees and fundraising will cover most of the expenses.
A vestibule, which will house trophies, will connect the boathouse and a renovated historic home.
Lead Architect Ron Gooden, said the rooms in the boathouse “are just big, nice, beautiful open spaces, so you’ll have a home, a real home for once, which we’re really excited about.”
SCRI President Michael O’Neill said the historic home, known as the Lovelace House, will include coaching offices, storage, bathrooms, and a lounge “for the kids to relax.”
The park plans, by Kent+ Frost Landscape Architecture and Design of Mystic, call for a living coastline at the water’s edge. The coastline will feature natural marsh enhancement, specialized concrete that attracts oysters to attach to it and a fringe of native grasses. Historical signage, benches, decorative landscaping, and a pollinator habitat are also noted on the plans.
Landscape architect Chad Frost said, due to budgetary issues the boardwalk that would have surrounded the edge of the park has been replaced by a concrete walkway as well as some other minor changes.
The town is paying to create the park while Stonington Community Rowing, Inc. is paying to build the boathouse and restore the home.
O’Neill said SCRI has raised about half of the needed $2.5 million for the boathouse, and is confident it can raise the rest because “there’s only a few rowing venues like this in the country, and people get pretty excited about it when one comes along.”
A town meeting vote to approve a proposed lease between the town and SCRI is scheduled for September 12 at 7 p.m. at Stonington High School.
The proposed 25-year lease states that all construction and improvements of the boathouse and rowing docks, will be paid for by the rowing center and that the town will take ownership of them once construction is complete.
In exchange, the town will lease the property to the organization for $1 a year for the duration of the lease term, with an option to renew for another 25 years, and will maintain the park property, exterior of boathouse and historic house, including restrooms, and provide the rowing center with the use of the park and access to the Mystic River during practices, races and other events.
In 2016 voters approved a $2.2 million bond to buy the 1.5-acre site just north of Mystic Seaport. But development of the park on Route 27, has faced delays due to the need for environmental cleanup, a requirement to preserve the home on the property and controversy over the boathouse design.