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Coast Guard museum may find downtown home, but not Union Station

By Jennifer McDermott

Publication: theday.com

Published May 03. 2012 4:00PM   Updated May 04. 2012 12:26AM

New London — The National Coast Guard Museum will not go inside Union Station, but it still may find a home downtown.

Jimmy Coleman, chairman and president of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, said Thursday the association ruled out the train station because the entire museum would not fit in one building.

But, Coleman said from his office in New Orleans, there has been a lot of support for establishing the museum downtown.

"I have to give a lot of credit to the owners of the train station," Coleman said. "They really made the case for downtown, which was very helpful."

The association's "total concentration right now is on New London," he said, though he declined to disclose what sites the association is considering because people may get excited about a location that could later turn out not to be feasible.

Todd O'Donnell, who co-owns the station, said he has worked on the project for more than a year.

"As we understand it, they're still looking in New London, and that's good for New London," O'Donnell said, adding, "We want to look forward and see what we can do to create an opportunity for New London."

O'Donnell said the train station could still be used for another museum. He is also exploring options for adding a building onto the north side of the property that a large retailer could occupy.

"It could possibly be a real boon to downtown New London and southeastern Connecticut," he said.

Coleman could not say when the association would make its recommendations for a site. Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., the Coast Guard commandant, has said he would like the museum location settled during his four-year term, which began in 2010. Papp grew up in Norwich.

"I think this commandant is going to see the museum," Coleman said.

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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