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    Tuesday, August 09, 2022

    Stonington establishes 'aggressive' timeline for development of boathouse park

    Stonington -- Town officials and experts hired by the town have established an "aggressive" timeline to develop and open the long-delayed Mystic River Boathouse Park on Route 27 in the fall of 2023.

    Last week First Selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough, Selectwoman Deborah Downey and Director of Economic and Community Development Susan Cullen met with with the licensed environmental professional and geotechnical firm in charge of cleaning up the environmental contamination on the site as well as local landscape architect Chad Frost, who is responsible for obtaining the local permits for the work. 

    Chesebrough said the timeline calls for applying for the master plan approval and a site plan permit from the Planning and Zoning Commission in October as well as presenting the plan to the Board of Police Commissioners and Mystic Harbor Management Commission this fall. She said the goal is to begin the environmental remediation work in the spring of 2023 and then develop the park with an opening that fall.

    Chesebrough said the town will also obtain a permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to create a "living shoreline" at the park which is designed to limit erosion during storms and help filter runoff, improving water quality in the river.

    "We're trying to be aggressive," Chesebrough said about the timeline.

    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 to 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.

    Chesebrough said a July 18 meeting has been scheduled between the Board of Selectman and Mystic River Boathouse Park Implementation Committee to discuss what items need to be trimmed from the plan and which will remain in order to stay within budget. 

    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.

    She said the town does not have enough money left to complete all of what was envisioned for the park and items such as lighting may have to be removed. She said she has no intention to ask residents to approve more funding for the park.

    "I feel as though we can't do that at this point," she said.  

    She said essential items such as a floating dock, parking area and a ramp for non-motorized vessels will remain.

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