New London community center, Montville mill project receive financial boosts
New London will receive nearly $1.2 million in state support toward the $30 million regional community recreation center planned for Fort Trumbull.
The funding is part of $17.9 million being distributed to municipalities statewide in the form of grants for cleanup of blighted properties, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday. The grants come from the Connecticut Department of Economic Development’s Brownfield Remediation Program and are expected to contribute toward $427 million in privately funded projects.
Also among the list of 13 grant recipients is Montville, which has secured a nearly $1 million grant to offset the developers' cost to clean up the former Faria Beede mill complex at 42 Pink Row. The complex, on 10.6 acres of property, is being converted into 72 housing units.
City officials see the state investment as a first step in securing funds above the $30 million approved by the City Council for the proposed recreational complex. City officials have said outside funding and corporate sponsorship would help cover costs of “add-ons,” which include basketball courts, a bocce court or a community garden outside the building.
As it stands, preliminary plans call 62,000-square-foot facility, likely two stories, situated on 7 acres with basketball courts, an indoor track, 8-lane swimming pool, locker rooms, fitness center and weight room, multipurpose rooms and offices, among other features. The city will house its Recreation Department and programs at the facility.
The community recreation center will cover two parcels at Fort Trumbull that, before they were cleared for development by the city, were home to various properties as well as a portion of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. The use of eminent domain by the city’s development arm led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Kelo v. New London, in 2005 that held that a municipality could take land for economic development.
The city has struggled to secure developments on the property in subsequent years. An apartment complex is under construction on Howard Street at the site of the former Hughie's Restaurant, an area that is part of the defined Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan area.
In a statement, Mayor Michel Passero applauded the support to the city from the governor, DECD and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The latest state grant signals the Lamont administration's "commitment to helping our City realize the dream of developing a Community Center and Recreational Facility to serve our residents,” Passero said.
The recreation center is poised to be the first structure built on the Fort Trumbull peninsula since the Supreme Court ruling. A hotel and apartment complex is in the planning stages on a different portion of the peninsula.
Felix Reyes, director of the city’s Office of Development and Planning, said in a statement, “We are grateful for the state’s partnership and we hope this creates additional opportunities to attract critical investments in this project.”
Mayor Ronald McDaniel said the funding will aid in covering some of the costs of environmental remediation for the $35.5 million Oxoboxo Lofts project. That project started in 2019 but has faced delays during construction.
Montville acted as the applicant for the grant and is working with the developer, Massachusetts-based Dakota Partners, in a public–private partnership.
“This is a very desirable project as it preserves and re-purposes a beautiful old mill and will provide much needed workforce housing for the region that will support the labor growth from all the new work at (Electric Boat),” McDaniel said.
Day Staff Writer Johana Vazquez contributed to this report.
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