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Parking garage being explored for Fort Trumbull in New London

By Kathleen Edgecomb

Publication: The Day

Published November 18. 2013 4:00AM
City says EB needs more space, but company denies it

New London - The city and the Renaissance City Development Association are continuing to explore the construction of a parking garage in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood to accommodate the parking needs of Electric Boat and future development on the peninsula.

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, which is retrofitting a building on nearby Howard Street for medical offices, is also interested in parking in that area of the city.

"It's in the preliminary stages," Michael Joplin, a member of the RCDA, said Friday. "But everyone now is beginning to understand, yes, we have a parking problem, and a garage is the way out of it."

Electric Boat, the city and the RCDA are discussing how to provide more parking for the roughly 3,000 people who work daily at the Electric Boat facility on Pequot Avenue, he said.

The site being looked at in Fort Trumbull is on ledge and runs along the railroad tracks, Joplin said. The garage would be a public facility. The state Department of Economic and Community Development is also in on discussions, Joplin said, in an effort to help the city find federal and state grants to fund the project.

Parking garages cost about $18,000 to $20,000 per space to build. A 500-space garage would cost around $10 million, Joplin said.

EB has needed more parking than what is available in its own parking garage on Pequot Avenue ever since moving into the former Pfizer Global Research and Development Headquarters in 2010. Each day hundreds of EB workers park along Pequot Avenue and on streets in Fort Trumbull. Others are bused from the Groton facility to New London. Electric Boat needs between 400 and 650 more spaces for its workers, Joplin said.

But Robert Hamilton, spokesman for EB, said the company provides enough parking for its employees.

"We don't need any more spaces," he said. "It's a matter of where people choose to park."

Joplin also said Electric Boat is looking at the possibility of building a garage on its property at the rotary on Pequot Avenue, which is the site of Pfizer's former visitors center. But Joplin said the site may not be large enough.

In response, Hamilton said the company does not comment on speculation.

The RCDA board was briefed Friday morning on the status of the project.

"We're trying to explore options for a structured parking garage to alleviate parking problems," President Linda Mariani said after the meeting.

Tammy Daugherty, the city's director of economic development, said no decision has been made as to where a garage would be located, how big it would be, and how it would be operated. Funding also has to be discussed, she said.

"The city would be interested in having a parking garage that would be an enhancement to further development in Fort Trumbull," she said.

A proposal for Village on Thames, a three-phase, 103-unit housing development in Fort Trumbull, has been stalled since last spring. The RCDA and developers Robert and Irwin Stillman are in contract mediation about the project.

Joplin said another meeting with EB will take place in December. He hopes to give the RCDA and the city a more detailed report in January about costs and funding possibilities.

Last summer the RCDA was looking at allowing EB to temporarily park about 100 cars on Parcel 4a in Fort Trumbull. That plan never materialized.

Parcel 4a was the subject of an eminent domain lawsuit that brought notoriety to the city. Two families that owned land in Parcel 4a were displaced when the city took the land by eminent domain. Susette Kelo, one of the property owners, was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that argued that it was unconstitutional to take private property for future economic development. The appeals went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in a 5-4 decision in 2005 in favor of the city and against the property owners.


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