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    Wednesday, April 17, 2024

    Town of Groton's longtime inspector to oversee construction of Electric Boat's new building

    Kevin Quinn holds some of the plans for General Dynamics Electric Boat's new construction projects Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in his office at the City of Groton Building Department. Quinn recently retired after 32 years of service with the Town of Groton to take the position with the city. He'll be overseeing the construction of the new facilities at EB for building the new Columbia class of ballistic missile submarines. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Groton — Over more than three decades serving the Town of Groton, Kevin Quinn has seen the community grow, from new commercial buildings being constructed to neighborhoods taking shape.

    Now, after 32 years with the town — and 16 as its manager of inspection services — Quinn has retired and is starting the biggest project he has ever overseen.

    The City of Groton has hired him as the inspector for Electric Boat's new 200,000-square-foot building for the assembly of Columbia-class submarines, which Quinn sees as an opportunity to be part of history. He'll be handling all the required inspections and making sure all the work is done to code.

    "To be involved with a building like that, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Quinn said. "They don’t build buildings like this every day."

    Quinn, 57, grew up in Norwich and spent summers in Groton Long Point. When his father retired, Quinn, the youngest of nine children, moved with his parents to Groton Long Point and enrolled in the carpentry program at Ella T. Grasso Technical School, then called Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical School, or Southeastern Tech.

    After graduating in 1980 as a member of the school's first graduating class, he went to work with his brother in the building construction business before getting a job in the Town of Groton's community development office in 1987. Quinn then became a building inspector and was promoted in 1991 to senior building inspector. He became building/zoning official in 1997 and manager of inspection services in 2013.

    Quinn and his wife, Laurie, whom he met in Groton Long Point, have two children, Torin Quinn and Ariana Quinn de Labry.

    Quinn said he joined the construction business because he liked working with his hands and building things.

    "There’s a great satisfaction to start a project and see it through to completion," he said.

    Quinn said he found similar satisfaction in working for the town and being involved from start to finish with new buildings and homes: seeing them rise up from the ground, move through construction and then get occupied. He also enjoyed working with people and loved going to work every day.

    "The people I worked with are just the best," he said. "They were a second family to me, you spend so much time with them, and I just enjoyed going to work. I loved what I did ... every day there was going to be something different."

    He said all the people he worked for in his career are "the ultimate professionals." He called it "bittersweet" to be retiring from the town, as he said the team in place, including planning, inspection services, community development and economic development, is "the best thing to happen to Groton." He said in the last five years, the Town Council has given the department money to put forward initiatives to help development in Groton.

    Quinn played a role in the town's recently completed update of its zoning regulations, the first major rewrite in more than 30 years. He said it was a "hands-on approach" from the commission to staff and the consultants.

    "It was really a positive outcome in the end," he said.

    The town also recently adopted a Tax Increment Financing district for the downtown area and, jointly with the city, a TIF district for the Thames Street and the Five Corners area.

    In his career, Quinn said he's seen the town grow for the better, with new commercial developments and residential neighborhoods.

    "I feel fortunate that I played a role in that: that we brought good, sensible development to the town of Groton," he said. He added that it's a collaborative effort, with everyone coming together to see the projects through.

    He said he was happy to be involved in projects, from the expansion at Sift Bake Shop in Mystic, to the construction of Central Hall in Mystic finally coming to fruition after a fire in 2000 and then an economic downturn. There are also new apartments on Route 12 and the new Grand Wine & Spirits building, and a Chipotle slated to open next spring or summer, among other developments.

    "There's a lot, a lot of good things happening in Groton right now," he said.

    After retiring from the town last month, Quinn said he is taking the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to finish his career handling inspections for Electric Boat's new building, as the company undergoes an $850 million expansion. He also will be inspecting ongoing projects at Electric Boat and Pfizer.

    "It's certainly exciting, and I'm really looking forward to being part of this," Quinn said.

    Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick said the city needed another building inspector to meet requirements associated with the size and magnitude of the new Electric Boat building. The contracted position, which is for the duration of the project, will be offset by building permit fees, he said.

    "We already have a relationship with him, so we know his work ethic, we know his value, we know the level of knowledge and skills that he brings with him, so he has all the skills that we needed in an inspector to be successful with this project, and the city is committed to the success of this project along with Electric Boat as our partner," Hedrick said.

    In a proclamation celebrating Quinn on his retirement last month, Town Mayor Patrice Granatosky noted that Quinn "holds the credential of Master Code Professional and has provided invaluable support assisting many citizens and businesses shepherding each through the smallest do-it-yourself projects to a wide range of challenging construction ventures."

    The proclamation states that "throughout his esteemed career, Kevin has maintained his friendly demeanor with a good sense of humor. He will be remembered for his work ethic, knowledge of the unique qualities of Groton's varied districts and his dedicated service in support of local organizations in our community."

    Town Manager John Burt said the town will miss Quinn's calm temperament and expertise.

    "I've never heard a negative word concerning him," Burt said. "He's very focused on helping people navigate the process to successfully complete their projects. He'll be a great asset to the city with the EB project."

    Deborah Jones, the town's assistant planning director, fondly recalled Quinn saying to people, "All you got to do is ...," and then walking them through the entire process step by step.

    "He was there to help people figure out the best and safest way to build a building," she said. "He was available to come out to the front counter. If he didn't have an appointment, he was there."

    Jonathan Reiner, the town's director of planning and development services, said Quinn always had a smile on his face and always wanted to help people.

    "Kevin was a great employee. We loved working with him," Reiner said. "He always had the town of Groton first and foremost in his mind and heart as he did his work."

    Quinn said that he credits a lot of his approach to working with people to his mentor Charles "Bud" Feeney, who was a building inspector when he first joined the department.

    "One of his sayings was 'treat people how you want to be treated' and I certainly took that to heart," said Quinn, who passed the lesson down to people who have worked for him and have become building officials in other municipalities.

    "I love being around people," Quinn added. "I love trying to help people. I just love what I do. I've been fortunate that I got into this."

    k.drelich@theday.com

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