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    Tuesday, July 16, 2024

    Connecticut Port Authority preparing search for new executive director

    Aerial view of the cargo ship Jay as it delivers blades for wind turbines to State Pier in New London on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (Peter Huoppi/The Day)
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    The Connecticut Port Authority is preparing a search for a new executive director to run the maritime agency, which is responsible for overseeing the state’s three deep-water ports and smaller coastal harbors.

    The port authority has operated under the leadership of Ulysses Hammond, an interim director, for more than two years.

    David Kooris, the chairman of the port authority’s board of directors, said during a meeting Tuesday that the search for a new executive director has been under consideration for some time.

    But he said the board was previously concerned about hiring someone at the same time that Gov. Ned Lamont was pushing for the maritime agency to be folded into the Connecticut Airport Authority.

    “We talked about doing this some time ago. There were some legislative proposals that made us cautious,” Kooris said.

    The governor put forward a bill earlier this year that would have transformed the maritime agency into a subsidiary of the state airport authority, which oversees the operations of Bradley International Airport and five other state-owned aviation facilities.

    The governor’s proposal was considered by members of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, but the plan was dropped before it could be taken up by the full House or Senate.

    From the outset, the governor’s proposal faced opposition from members of the port authority and airport authority, who questioned why the merger of the two agencies was necessary or whether it made sense operationally.

    It’s unclear if Lamont’s administration will renew the push for a merger between the port authority and airport authority next year during the extended legislative session.

    The governor’s office did not address that issue when contacted by the Connecticut Mirror on Tuesday.

    David Bednarz, a spokesman for Lamont, said the governor appreciated Hammond’s continued leadership at the port authority and that the administration looked forward to working with its next executive director.

    “Looking forward, the governor wants to collaborate with the port authority board members and — when the role is filled — its new executive director to determine what further steps we can take to utilize Connecticut’s ports in a way that maximizes economic activity to the greatest benefit of our state’s residents.”

    The port authority’s board members emphasized the need to start the search for a new executive director now that the proposed merger with the airport authority is no longer on the table.

    “We are at a point where we need to search for a long-term replacement,” Brian Thompson, a port authority board member, said.

    The board members said they are considering whether to hire a firm with experience in the maritime industry to conduct the search for the new executive director.

    That type of search process could help the agency to find someone with relevant experience in the industry who is practiced in managing and marketing maritime facilities, like the newly renovated State Pier in New London.


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