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    Monday, July 22, 2024

    Norwich, New London, Preston seek state funding for major local projects

    A vacant, blighted institutional building at the former Norwich Hospital property in Norwich is obscured by overgrown brush on Friday, June 21, 2024. Norwich is applying for a $250,000 planning grant to help the private owner of the 49-acre property assess its condition. Claire Bessette/The Day
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    Norwich is seeking a $5 million state grant to convert Fontaine Field, shown on Friday, June 21, 2024, into a multi-use artificial turf field surrounded by a running track. Claire Bessette/The Day.
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    Norwich, New London and Preston are hoping state leaders will pay attention to southeastern Connecticut in the latest round of grant requests submitted Friday to the state Community Investment Fund.

    Gov. Ned Lamont created the $875 million fund for eligible distressed municipalities to fund major capital improvements projects and grants for small-business capital projects, as well as planning grants for future projects.

    In grant requests submitted Friday, Norwich is seeking a total of $23.3 million in three requests, topped by the $17 million request to complete the demolition and cleanup of the partially collapsed and abandoned former Capehart Mill in Greeneville. Norwich last week received approval for a $4 million state brownfields grant to begin the massive cleanup project to create a riverfront park.

    Norwich also requested $5 million to convert Fontaine Field on Mahan Drive into an artificial turf multi-use field with a running track and handicapped access to the Rose City Senior Center next door.

    The third Norwich request is for a $250,000 planning grant for an environmental assessment of the 49-acre former Norwich Hospital property in Norwich, owned by Thames River Place LLC. Unlike neighboring Preston, which has nearly completed cleanup of its 393-acre former Norwich Hospital property, Norwich never took ownership of its portion of the campus. It remains dominated by decaying buildings and overgrown vegetation.

    New London seeks $4.8 million

    New London submitted requests for three projects totaling $4.8 million. The city seeks $3.6 million to expand and renovate the Water Street parking garage. The project will add 250 more parking spaces on the structure's east side.

    The city is also applying for $950,000 to transform properties at 157 Green St. ― the former Apostolic Cathedral of Hope ― and 6 Union St. into 29 residential units.

    New London is applying for a $250,000 planning grant for a project to raze and rebuild the senior housing units at Gordon Court, owned and managed by the city's Housing Authority. The plan calls for demolition of 38 existing units and replacing them with a single 74-unit building.

    Preston eyes Poquetanuck Village transformation

    Preston town officials hope to use a requested $3 million CIF grant to continue to transform the Route 2A into a village street, with measures to slow traffic, improve pedestrian and bicycle access and an off-street trail connecting the village to the Route 12 former Norwich Hospital property.

    The new request would fund engineering and design planning for a multi-use trail paralleling Route 2A from Poquetanuck Village to the Preston Riverwalk on the former Norwich Hospital property. The request includes design funding for improvements to the Route 2A-12 junction for better pedestrian access in anticipation of future development.

    Town planner Kathy Warzecha said the town was unsuccessful in its previous CIF request for the trail funding but received state feedback to improve the application.

    Preston is trying to piece together various grants for the overall Poquetanuck Village project. The town received an initial boost with a $3 million state Local Transportation Capital Improvements Program grant for the traffic calming project, and a complementary $400,000 CIF grant for design and engineering for the project. Another $70,000 grant will pay for a parking area and kayak launch at Poquetanuck Cove, Warzecha said.

    Separate from the new CIF request, Preston has submitted a grant application for a $4 million Transportation Alternatives grant to construct the off-road trail that eventually would connect the town senior housing on Lincoln Park, Preston Community Park, the Tri-Town Trail, Poquetanuck Cove and Preston Riverwalk.

    “Putting all of this together is like a jigsaw puzzle,” Warzecha said.

    Groton sitting out this round

    Jon Reiner, director of planning and development services, said Groton is not applying for a CIF grant this round. The town had previously applied for a CIF grant for the Pleasant Valley School property and did not get the grant.

    Thames Valley Council for Community Action did receive a $2 million CIF grant for its proposal to expand its childcare center in Groton.

    “We are very excited that our project has been selected by the state as a priority to address childcare needs in the greater Groton area,” TVCCA Chief Executive Officer Joshua Steele Kelly said, “and we look forward to continued partnership with the state to obtain additional funding and bring this new construction to life.”

    The town of Groton has received other grants, such as a Department of Economic and Community Development Community Challenge Grant for over $6 million. In addition, Groton has received numerous grants through the National Fish and Wildlife Fund and DEEP focusing on sustainability, resiliency and preparedness for climate change and extreme storm events.

    c.bessette@theday.com

    Day Staff Writers John Penney and Kimberly Drelich contributed to this report.

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