Stonington receives $200,000 state grant for Mystic River Boathouse Park

Stonington — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that the town will receive a $200,000 grant to assist with the cost of assessing and cleaning up contamination on the property slated to become the Mystic River Boathouse Park.

Last year, voters approved a $2.2 million bond to purchase the 1.5 acres of riverfront land on Route 27 just north of Mystic Seaport and turn it into a public park. In addition, the town has reached agreement with the Friends of Stonington Crew, in which the organization will raise money and construct a dock and boathouse on the property for use by the Stonington High School crew team and the public.

The $200,000 grant, which also will be used to develop a master plan for the park, was among $6.9 million awarded to 14 municipalities to revitalize so-called brownfields.

“Investing in the remediation of blighted properties and putting them back into productive use ultimately becomes an economic win for our communities,” Malloy said in his statement announcing the grants. “When we clean up these sites and repurpose them, we can turn what was once an eyesore into a community asset that can help revitalize a neighborhood and spark economic growth.”

First Selectman Rob Simmons said the town applied for the grant in November and was told by the state Department of Economic and Community Development that the application was so complete the agency had no questions.

“This project is good for the economy, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for recreation,” he said. “It's a great project.”

Simmons also praised the Malloy administration for approving the grant during difficult economic times. He said the grant will give the town a cushion if it runs into anything unexpected during construction.

Last month, the town purchased the property from previous owner Frederic Baumgarten for $1,672,914.

The original $1.8 million purchase price was reduced by $127,086 to account for the cost to clean up contamination on the site. The Trust for Public Land negotiated the contract for the town.

The newly formed Mystic River Boathouse Park Implementation Committee has started holding meetings to plan for the start of the project.

But before work can begin to demolish buildings, clean up the site and transform the land into a park, the committee and town will have to obtain Planning and Zoning Commission approval for the new use.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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