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    Opinion
    Monday, June 24, 2024

    Gales Ferry site gets a thumbs-up from the chamber

    For over two decades, I have had the privilege of serving as the President and CEO of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce where I have been proud to shepherd our mission to create and maintain a positive business climate that meets the needs of the community and our members by supporting economic development and growth in the region.

    The strategic location and existing infrastructure of Eastern Connecticut including its excellent, road/highway, rail and navigable water access are some of the main reasons that businesses are attracted to locate and invest here. One economic redevelopment property that benefits from these assets is the 165-acre Gales Ferry site in Ledyard which has operated as an intermodal facility, moving both people and freight through the region since 1849. This site has gone through many transitions over the decades. Most recently, with the closure of the Dow Chemical facility that occupied the site from the early 1950s, the region has lost significant taxable revenue as manufacturing buildings were demolished and this large industrially zoned property was left mostly vacant and with environmental use restrictions limiting previously developed acreage from redevelopment.

    In May 2022, the Cashman companies, with decades of commercial marine construction experience and a solid history of revitalizing abandoned or vacant waterfront industrial sites from Massachusetts to New Jersey, purchased the parcel at Gales Ferry to redevelop it to meet current and anticipated economic needs in the region while maximizing taxable revenue to the town of Ledyard. One of their first initiatives was obtaining a Certificate of Permission from CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for the reconstruction of the site’s 800-foot deep-water pier. The work to reconstruct the first 300 feet of the pier was recently completed at a cost of $4 million and a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, Dec. 12 will open this facility to serve heavy load needs such as staging future offshore wind projects and transloading material via rail and water.

    Connecticut is home to an evolving green energy industry powered by the state’s commitment to achieve net-zero carbon electricity by 2040. The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut has been at the forefront of this effort in our region by commissioning a strategic study with recommendations for how Connecticut can build on its existing strengths to capture future benefits in this industry. We’re proud to have Cashman/Gales Ferry Intermodal as a new (2022) member of the chamber and a partner in promoting marine commerce and supporting the staging of renewable energy projects from their revitalized Ledyard facility. They’ve already performed dredging at State Pier in New London (the primary staging area for future offshore wind projects) and will be performing improvement dredging as part of the expansion of General Dynamic’s Electric Boat Division in Groton.

    We are enthusiastic that given the strategic location of the Gales Ferry site to power, where a 115-KV Eversource line bisects the southern end of the property, along with the access to rail and to deep water on the Thames River, the work Cashman’s team is looking to undertake will attract renewable energy, industrial and marine oriented businesses to the region and in turn, help to bolster the tax base in Ledyard and the economy here in Eastern Connecticut. The Board of Directors of the chamber would encourage the Planning and Zoning Commission to support this important effort.

    Tony Sheridan is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

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