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Council of Governments awarded grant to study parking in Groton City, as Electric Boat expands

Groton — As Electric Boat expands in the coming years, more workers will travel to the City of Groton each day, a trend anticipated to add pressure on available parking.

The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments will begin next month a study that will provide recommendations on how to accommodate the parking demands associated with the increased employment, without degrading the quality of the neighborhood and economic development in the area, Deputy Director/Director of Special Projects Amanda Kennedy said.

The Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment’s Military Installation Sustainability-Compatible Use Program awarded the Council of Governments a $265,000 grant for the 18-month study, Kennedy said. The Council of Governments and City of Groton will contribute staff time, about $20,000 and $10,000 worth, respectively, she said.

Electric Boat is constructing a 200,000-square-foot building in the City of Groton for the assembly of the new Columbia-class submarines, as a major component of an $850 million expansion in the city, The Day has reported. That is part of an overall $1.8 billion expansion of the company's facilities for the Columbia-class program, the company said in a news release.

EB, which currently has 16,800 employees, anticipates a workforce of 20,000 overall in 10 years. Between replacing retirees and expanding its workforce, the company plans to hire 18,000 people over the next decade, The Day reported.  

EB Spokeswoman Elizabeth Power said in a statement that the company will "continue to talk with local leaders about how we'll manage that growth." 

The parking study was one of the recommendations of a 2019 regional plan that analyzed housing and transportation needs as shipbuilding picks up in the region. The “SUBASE New London Joint Land Use Study Implementation Project: Regional Plan for Housing and Transportation Associated with Expansion of Submarine Shipbuilding in Southeastern Connecticut” followed an initial Joint Land Use Study completed in 2017.

An analysis of parking in the City of Groton would “quantify the locations, supply, utilization, and need for parking to determine if improvements can be made to modify current parking related regulations, consolidate parking areas, relocate parking areas to preferred locations, or expand parking supply in certain areas within the City based on need,” the plan stated.

“The study should be a collaborative effort among the City, key stakeholders, and the public to create a parking management plan that identifies preferred parking locations while allowing for development of currently underutilized land,” the report stated. “Land use, zoning districts and regulations should be reviewed and considered for revisions to best accommodate the economic development goals with the parking supply and demand requirements.”

City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick said the parking management plan will help address parking issues associated with the growth of Electric Boat and provide solutions. “My challenge is going to be how do you get people in, how do you get people out, and where do you put them while they’re here?” he said.

The 18-month study will begin on Aug. 1 and will include meetings with Electric Boat, the sub base, Groton City Council, Groton Planning & Zoning Commission and other entities, along with public workshops, Kennedy said. The first public workshop is anticipated for this winter.

k.drelich@theday.com

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