Thames River Heritage Park readies for new season

Groton — With Memorial Day weekend just two weeks away, the Thames River Heritage Park Foundation announced several new offerings for the upcoming season at its annual meeting Wednesday.

Amy Perry, interim director of the multi-site park that spans historical and cultural sites on the Groton and New London sides of the river, said a mobile app and new website to guide park visitors will be launched by Memorial Day, and new user-friendly maps of the 19 sites in the park also will be available. Yankee Magazine also has plugged the park in its current issue, which lists the top sites for visitors in each of the New England states.

“We’ve been named the best historical experience in Connecticut,” Perry announced to a gathering at the Historic Ship Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum of board members, officials from Groton Town, Groton City and New London, and representatives of some of the park’s historical sites.

New signs for the park will be erected, and it will have use of a building at City Pier in New London where volunteer guides and information about the park will be available.

“That building has an address: 1 Waterfront Park,” Perry said. “We’re hoping to be able to staff it on a regular basis.”

With the coming restart of water taxi service, park organizers also are preparing to offer at least four themed tours starting June 8 and sunset cruises along with the regular schedule of trips between Fort Trumbull and City Pier in New London and Fort Griswold in Groton.

An agreement with Shoreline East has been reached to offer discounts on water taxi passes to train passengers, and a billboard on the Q Bridge in New Haven will advertise the “take the trains to the Thames” promotion, Perry said. Promotions with local merchants also are planned.

Marian Galbraith, the newly elected president of the foundation, said progress also has been made toward building a floating dock at the Nautilus Museum so water taxi service can be extended there.

“I want you to imagine that at the end of that dock is a floating dock,” said Galbraith, gesturing out the window to the Nautilus dock. “It’s coming.”

The Town of Groton has submitted a grant application to the Connecticut Port Authority for funds to build the dock, which would be owned and maintained by the Navy, according to Capt. Paul Whitescarver, commanding officer of the sub base.

Galbraith said that if the grant is approved, she hopes to have the dock built and ready for use by the summer of 2018.

j.benson@theday.com

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