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    Thursday, February 02, 2023

    Thames Heritage Park steering committee hands off to transition team

    Groton — The Thames River Heritage Park Steering Committee met for the final time on Wednesday, with members agreeing that the transition team set up in July can continue to move the park plan forward.

    “I don’t know that we need the steering committee anymore,” said Chris Cox, chairman of the transition team. "But it will be terribly important to keep the people who care involved.”

    The steering committee, formed by the board of the Avery Copp House to revive a plan to join existing historic sites on both sides of the Thames River into a multisite state park, has been meeting for over a year. 

    Over that time, it has advanced the park concept by commissioning a blueprint for creation of the park, hosting a successful trial run of a New London-Groton water taxi and enlisting the support of local leaders.

    Now, the transition team has taken over to build the financial, organizational and physical aspects of the park, including creation of the nonprofit foundation that would run it.

    “The business plan and financing of the future foundation is the next big thing to start organizing. That’s the November project,” Cox said.

    The transition team plans to file for incorporation of the foundation in December.

    This fall, the transition team has submitted two grant applications and established its own website, www.thamesriverheritagepark.org, that is being updated regularly.

    A Facebook page, www.facebook.com/thamesriverheritagepark, has also been created.

    It has also drafted a mission statement and made progress toward securing two surplus Navy vessels for a water taxi that could be operating by next summer.

    Cox said he envisions the park putting on educational programs for schools, collaborating with the Lyman Allyn Museum on an exhibit, and working with the independent historic sites that would be part of the park to tell engaging stories about the people and events they represent.

    "I think we're doing something really valuable here," he said.


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