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    Saturday, August 20, 2022

    Stonington working toward opening boathouse park property

    Stonington -- The town is preparing to hire a firm to determine the level of contamination on the proposed Mystic River Boathouse Park property and clean it up with the goal of opening the park at the end of 2023.

    Last week, Selectwoman Deborah Downie, a licensed environmental professional, reported to the Board of Selectmen that the Mystic River Boathouse Park Implementation Committee has issued a request for proposals from firms to conduct the environmental remediation of the site. Those proposals were due last Thursday. The committee will then review the proposals with the goal of signing a contract with a firm in May and getting work started.

    In addition, the commitee will begin working to secure the local zoning permits it needs to create the park, which will require the hiring of an engineer or landscape architect. Downie said the committee would like to incorporate coastal resiliency measures and green infrastructure into the design of the riverfront park.

    In 2016, residents approved a $2.2 million bond to buy the Route 27 site just north of the Latitude 41 restaurant at Mystic Seaport, and develop the public park.

    The project has been beset by delays due underground contamination, the need to preserve a historic home on the site and the impact that would have on the park design, and controversy over the intial design of the boathouse, which would serve as the home for the Stonington High School rowing team and the community rowing center.

    The boathouse design is being redone to incorporate the historic house but is a separate project from the creation of the park. The Friends of Stonington Crew and the Stonington Community Rowing Foundation are raising the money they need to build a boathouse. 

    The state has given the town a $753,889 grant to clean up the environmental contamination and Chesebrough has said about $500,000 remains from the $2.2 million in bonding money approved by residents to purchase and develop the park, which means the town should have enough money to complete that project.

    "We have enough money to do it. Our goal is to get the park built so residents can use it. The boathouse will get built when it gets built," boathouse committee member Mike Crowley told selectwomen last week. 

    Selectwoman June Strunk praised the work of Downie, saying that without her expertise the project would not have progressed to this point.  

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