Thames River Heritage Park receives planning award

At its awards luncheon last week, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association presented the Thames River Heritage Park with its 2017 Implementation Award.

The plaque recognizes "the tenacity, collaboration and political will of a diverse group of like-minded volunteers with one vision: One River. A Thousand Stories."

The luncheon was held at the Inn at Middletown on Friday. Attendees included Heritage Park Executive Director Amy Perry, New London Mayor Michael Passero, City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick, former Groton Mayor Marian Galbraith and Submarine Base Commanding Officer Paul Whitescarver.

The idea for the Thames River Heritage Park dates to the 1960s and in 1987, legislation enabled a statewide heritage park system. The board of directors of the Avery-Copp House Museum stepped up in 2012 and brought on Yale Urban Design Workshop.

The park, which includes almost 20 historical and cultural sites, had its first summer operating the water taxi in 2015.

Perry said of the award, "It's a testament to all of the people, the dozens of people, who worked tirelessly for so many years to make this happen."

The other honors at the CCAPA luncheon were: the Media Award for Connecticut Mirror reporter Jan Ellen Spiegel, Sustainability Award for O&G Industries, Transparency Award for the Town of Windsor and Community Benefit Award for Shoreline Basic Needs Task Force Housing Committee.

Val Ferro, chairwoman of the awards committee for CCAPA, said there were 24 nominations for the five awards. The nomination for the Thames River Heritage Park came from Yale Urban Design Workshop.

"It really wasn't about the plan; it was about the persistence," Ferro said, adding, "It was just a personal heavy lift by so many people."


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