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Groton City awarded grant for eight-slip dock along Thames River

Groton — The Connecticut Port Authority has awarded the city a grant to build an eight-slip boat dock with a handicap-accessible kayak boat launch along the Thames River.

The proposed dock will be located at Thames View Park, a property owned by the city and formerly called the Lower Costa Property, on Thames Street adjacent to the Pollution Abatement Facility.

A Small Harbor Improvement Projects Program grant through the Connecticut Port Authority will cover $649,332 of the cost, while the city will provide a matching grant of $166,083, according to a Port Authority document.

The city also was approved for a $75,000 SHIPP grant to fund the design review for a handicap-accessible path through the park to the kayak boat launch. City Mayor Keith Hedrick said the city will pursue other grants to fund its construction.

Hedrick noted in the grant application that “this project will provide a much needed transient boating facility and recreational facilities in a location with very limited public access to the water.”

Hedrick said that one of the city’s goals, as outlined in the Plan of Conservation and Development, is to provide all people with access to the water. He said almost three quarters of the city is surrounded by water and yet many people do not have access to the water.

“We have a great beach,” Hedrick said. “This will be another opportunity for people to get access to the water and to enjoy the water, even through passive recreation by sitting in the park and looking out over the water and looking at the boats.”

He also said the project would help spur economic development on Thames Street.

The dock would bring boaters down to Thames Street, and if the city can attract a restaurant to open nearby, he hopes it will become a destination location. The brick building — next to the park — which once was a police building and was most recently a restaurant, is vacant and up for sale, Hedrick said.

The funding for the project still needs to go before the State Bond Commission for authorization, and then to the city for local approval, he said. A timeline for construction of the dock is not yet available. With the funding awarded, the city will be able to seek further permitting and approvals.

Hedrick said the city previously took steps to spruce up the site, and the project has “been a long time coming.”

An online survey conducted as part of a redevelopment study of Thames Street, found that respondents’ top two priorities were a “walkable historic core with water access” and “potential riverwalk and docks,” according to the application.

“The successful development of the project site for waterfront public access and transient berthing will encourage future development at other waterfront locations within the City of Groton, both public and private, as there will be greater awareness of the accessibility to and viability of recreational boating access along the Thames River shoreline,” the application states.

k.drelich@theday.com

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