Stonington selectmen OK agreement, form committee for boathouse park

Stonington — The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday approved an agreement between the town and Friends of Stonington Crew about the future development and operation of the Mystic River Boathouse Park.

Selectmen also appointed the full members of the park committee.

Residents voted in September to spend $2.2 million to buy a 1.5-acre site just north of Mystic Seaport and create a park with the understanding that the Friends group would pay to erect a boathouse there for the Stonington High School crew team.

At a town meeting last week residents voted to approve the park implementation committee, its makeup and mission.

The memorandum of understanding states that it is the intent of the Friends group to raise all the money needed to design and build the boathouse, docks and associated rowing structures on the property and that the facility will serve as a community rowing center for the town.

The agreement states that the ground floor of the building will have separate boat bays for the high school team and the community and a common area on the second floor for workout facilities and restrooms.

The memorandum states that the Friends group will provide a detailed plan of the structure and a list of site requirements to the town by March 1. The group also will pledge to maintain the boathouse. The group further will submit a business plan and a description of the full scope of operations to the town by July 1.

In exchange, the town will give the Friends group a low-cost lease once the boathouse is complete, with the right to become its sole operating agent for no less than 25 years. The town also will outline what services it will perform on the property once the boathouse is complete.

The members of the committee are Board of Finance Chairman Bryan Bentz, Board of Education Chairman Frank Todisco, Recreation Commission Chairman Mike Crowley, attorney Nick Kepple, Realtor Tom Switz, Pawcatuck representative Steve Planchon, Stonington representative Scott Bates, Mystic Seaport President Steve White and Mike O’Neill of the Friends of Stonington Crew. The town now is seeking four alternates to serve on the committee.

Simmons said the committee will give the town an entity that will have the authority to implement the plan for the park and, over the long term, also could manage the park, if that is how the town decides to proceed.

The town still needs to submit a plan for the park to the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval. It then will have to demolish existing buildings on the site, cap coal slag contamination and landscape the property.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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