The City of New London's ambition to host the nation's first Coast Guard Museum took a big step forward Wednesday as officials from the city, the State of Connecticut and the Coast Guard signed a memorandum of agreement.
New London Mayor, Daryl Justin Finizio represented the city. “It will be my honor, on behalf of the people of the City of New London to sign this document,” he told the crowd gathered for the ceremony, “and to commit our city’s full effort and energy to this project. The time has come to move this forward and, simply put, to get it done.”
The plan for a museum has had a long and checkered history, but its supporters believe it is finally gaining momentum, as the city agrees to gift the land for the project, and the state kicks in money to build nearby infrastructure. The Coast Guard Museum Association is planning a 54,000 square foot structure, extending over four floors, to be built behind Union Station in downtown New London.
Admiral Robert Papp, the commandant of the Coast Guard began his career in Connecticut - he says he sees the museum as a key piece of the revitalization of the city. “We need that one central attraction, that museum,” he said, “a modern building built within all that New London has to offer here, these historic buildings that someday will be restored and will be beautiful. And there will be the shops and the restaurants and the cafes all those things that I’ve seen in a dozen other seaport locations as I’ve traveled around the world. Why not New London?”
The museum association hopes to host a groundbreaking for the project in May of this year. It still wants to attract federal funding. The Coast Guard is the only service branch that currently does not have a museum dedicated to its history.
Watch the signing ceremony on CT-N: