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Bill that would allow federal money to help ready Coast Guard museum for construction advances

November 15, 2018

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday advanced a Coast Guard authorization bill that would allow federal money to be used to pay for design and engineering of the National Coast Guard Museum planned for downtown New London.

The bill, which authorizes 5 million, likely more.

Asked whether his colleagues are satisfied with the pace of private donations, Blumenthal said “private money will be much easier to raise when the federal commitment is unequivocal and clear.”

Murphy said in a statement that he’ll continue to use his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to “secure funding for the museum.”

To date, the National Coast Guard Museum Association, the fundraising arm for the museum, has raised 100 million project. Of that, 20 million from the state and 30 million in total from the federal government.

The Coast Guard ultimately has the say in how it wants to devote its resources, and could decide not to spend money on design and engineering of the museum, even if given approval. Top brass in the Coast Guard repeatedly have talked about being strapped for resources and the need to modernize the service’s fleet.

This year’s authorization bill includes a 13.7 percent increase in funding from the last two-year authorization bill, according to Blumenthal’s office.

The Coast Guard is reviewing an environmental assessment of the museum site on the downtown New London waterfront in a 100-year flood zone to determine the environmental impacts of the project. If the Coast Guard determines there’s no significant impact, the project can proceed. Otherwise, it will direct museum organizers to work out any issues.

Environmental assessments were performed in 2002, 2008 and 2014, which concluded in a finding of no significant impact.

Preconstruction work, including site testing, started over the summer. Construction tentatively is scheduled to begin in 2021.

j.bergman@theday.com

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