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Raising Coast Guard Museum funds is priority, not parking

Trying to find funding sources because of an anticipated need for more parking should be viewed as a good challenge to have. So, if New London has to come up with more parking it means construction of the National Coast Guard Museum on the city’s waterfront is imminent. And that would mean adequate funding had been raised, which so far has been a struggle.

Given all that, the city’s planned application for $24.8 million in federal aid to expand the Water Street garage by 400 spaces appears premature, not to mention pie-in-the-sky and extravagant. Do the math and it amounts to $62,000 per space.

According to WGI, a national design and professional services firm consulting on construction of public infrastructure and real estate development, the median construction cost for a new parking structure is $21,500 per space. According to the company, which has offices throughout the United States, New York City tops out at $28,400 per space.

Well, except for New London, it appears.

Assuring all necessary parking is directly across from the museum is not critical. Arguably, it may not even be preferable. One reason the editorial board has consistently supported the planned museum site on the water, behind the historic train station, is the increased pedestrian activity it would create for the downtown. That would not be the case if the museum was built over at Fort Trumbull, as many advocate.

If some folks end up parking in other spots around the commercial district because the parking garage cannot accommodate them, there would be benefits. People would filter through the downtown, past the shops and restaurants that can emerge if New London gets it act together and benefits from the increased housing, the State Pier windfarm-hub development and, yes, the museum.

Things should be busier for the museum in the summer and autumn, when walking is more welcomed.

And isn’t another reason for building the museum right next to a train, bus and ferry transportation hub to encourage visitors to use mass transit? Make a day of it, get a bite, take a stroll, then take your preferred mass transit home.

The National Coast Guard Museum Association announced in January that it had raised more than $56 million for the museum, but more than half is government commitments and it amounts to half the money needed. Focus on the fundraising. The parking shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem.

 

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, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman 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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