By Building Community, Natusch Guides New London Preservation

NEW LONDON — For Laura Natusch, historic preservation and building community go hand-in-hand.  “It’s very important to me that the history that we are preserving reflects our community – that people who grew up here feel like their lives mattered,” said Natusch. Natusch is the executive director of New London Landmarks, a non-profit in New London that teaches people about the area’s history through walking tours, narrative projects and the renovation of historic buildings.  Natusch said that preservation creates a kind of “community genealogy.”  Her goal is to highlight a history that reflects the entire community, not just a single

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An Investor and Self-Described “Do-er” Takes a Crack at New London

NEW LONDON — “One thing about New London is there are quite a few investors — and they’re called investors for a reason — but it doesn’t mean they’re doers,” said contractor David Preka. “Buying a piece of property and letting it stay as is just because you’re an investor and you’re waiting for an opportunity — that really hurts the city,” he complained. “It hurts the people around it, not just in New London, anywhere around. Unfortunately New London seems to be held a little bit hostage with a few of those.” Preka, 38, owns Advanced Group, a residential

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Conn College Launches Website of Urban Renewal History in New London

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NEW LONDON — Connecticut College launched a visually rich new web site Tuesday that pulls together extensive research about urban renewal in New London from 1941 to 1975. “We applied [for a grant] with this project to study the history of urban renewal in New London because it hasn’t really been done before. This is really the first history written about it and it takes the form of this public history digital publication,” said Anna Vallye, assistant professor of Art History and Architectural Studies, who led the project that included three faculty, four staff and 43 students from 2019 to

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Tracy Espy Talks Joining Mitchell College as New President

NEW LONDON — “I see Mitchell really going back to its roots,” said Dr. Tracy Espy, since July 1 the new president of Mitchell College. Espy is the first African American woman to lead the college. Mitchell College has a history of providing exceptional service to students, she explained, including those of different learning abilities. “They’ve had this learning model for years, including when they were a community college. They started as a junior college in 1938 and had their first graduates in 1941.”  In its early publications, the college defined its purpose as providing a well-rounded education for the creation

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Break Bulk Cargo to Stay a Part of State Pier Wind Project

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The transformation of State Pier into an offshore wind facility exclusive of other uses has been part of conversations at Connecticut Port Authority meetings for months, but a permit application made public yesterday from the Army Corps of Engineers specifies the continuing support of break bulk cargo operations.  “The purpose of this project is to create infrastructure in Connecticut that will serve as a long-term, regional wind turbine generator (WTG) port facility while at the same time continuing to support other existing long term break bulk operations for steel, coil steel, lumber, copper billets, as well as other cargo,” stated

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10 Days Before a Deadline to Vacate State Pier, No Easy Solutions for the Connecticut Port Authority

NEW LONDON — With only 10 days before a deadline to vacate State Pier, the Connecticut Port Authority offered a limited extension on Tuesday to a salt distributor and two commercial fishermen who had been told to leave no later than July 31.  The deadline was extended at the request of the users, which at the time could be granted by the terminal operator Gateway, according to Andrew Lavigne, manager of business development and special projects at the Connecticut Port Authority. In February, Danish wind giant Ørsted and partner energy provider Eversource reached a final agreement with Gateway Terminal and

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From his Grocery, Robert Lee Talks Business, Surveys Changes in New London

NEW LONDON — Robert Lee watched a steady stream of traffic travel down Williams Street into Hodges Square on Thursday morning.  “We live here, upstairs, it’s very noisy with all the trucks,” said Lee, who owns Lee’s Oriental Market at 432 Williams Street. “It’s a very short commute.”        Lee, 56, inherited the business from his parents, who started it in 1980. He’s been around the neighborhood, Hodges Square, for most of his life and is hoping for some changes and improvements. Across the street, the Citgo gas station, which includes a convenience store, was recently rebuilt, he said.  “I think that’s encouraging

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Connecticut Port Authority Wind-down of State Pier Approves $800,000 Deal for Road Salt

NEW LONDON — The Connecticut Port Authority and Northeast Offshore LLC, a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource Energy, paid Gateway New London LLC $800,000 as part of the “wind-down costs” for existing businesses at State Pier. David Kooris, acting chair of the port authority, explained the agreement in an email to CT Examiner on Tuesday. The payment reimbursed Gateway for the purchase earlier this year of 20,000 tons of salt from DRVN Enterprises, Inc., a road salt distributor located at State Pier. The sale was authorized in a Memo of Understanding between the companies, requiring Gateway to purchase as

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Micro-Lofts Planned for Mixed-Use Preservation Project in Historic Green Street Locale

NEW LONDON — The owner of a building on Green Street that briefly housed a Black-owned lending institution and civic group in the 1920s will use tax credits to renovate the structure into “micro-loft” apartments and a restaurant space. The State Historic Preservation Office last week approved developer Brian Lyman’s application for Historic Preservation tax credits that offset 30 percent of the projected $1,050,000 project cost. He has also applied to the National Park Service for a federal credit to offset an additional 20 percent of costs. Lyman said that the second and third stories of the building at 38

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Fate of $3 Million Commitment Raises Tensions Between New London and the Connecticut Port Authority

NEW LONDON — A $3 million promise from an offshore wind company to the City of New London to support the city’s maritime infrastructure for commercial fishermen could become a source of tension between the mayor’s office and the Connecticut Port Authority.  Originally promised by Deepwater Wind, which was purchased by the Danish wind giant Ørsted in October 2018, the $3 million grant was designated for the Port of New London to improve marine facilities used by the commercial fishing industry. Ørsted has promised to honor Deepwater Wind commitments.  At Tuesday’s port authority meeting, Acting Chair David Kooris, said he

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New London Seeks to Ease Reopening for Restaurants Beginning May 20

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NEW LONDON — On May 20, for the first time in more than two months, restaurants in Connecticut will – most likely – be allowed to begin extend service to customers beyond takeout and delivery According to Governor Ned Lamont, the first phase of the reopening efforts will allow restaurants to serve patrons  in outdoor, socially-distanced seating.  How many restaurants have the space — or be able to turn a profit — has yet to be seen. “We want to work with the individual restaurants depending on your needs. Some of you already have areas for outdoor dining, but if

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New London Launches a Streamlined Helpline for People in Need

On May 1st, New London is launching a helpline for all those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any resident with questions or in need of food, housing, education or medical assistance should call 860-941-4355. “New London is the number one most distressed community in the state. Even without a pandemic we have a lot of needs,” said Jeanne Milstein, the director of human services in New London. “We have established the Humanitarian Emergency Lifeline Program (HELP) to help residents access the resources they need.” In the past two months Milstein, Mayor Mike Passero and other city employees have received

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Passero recommends 4.48% Mill Rate Reduction for New London in 2020-21 Budget Presentation

NEW LONDON — Mayor Michael Passero’s budget recommendation for fiscal year 2020-21 calls for a 4.48 percent decrease in the city’s property tax rates, made possible by growth in overall taxable property and the retirement of some city debt. Passero presented his budget recommendation to the City Council by teleconference Wednesday night. “Despite the remarkable improvement in the City’s fiscal health over the past few years, this budget reflects a continued emphasis on lean spending to minimize year-to-year growth in expenses,” Passero wrote in his budget message to the council. “This philosophy has allowed us to continue the goal of

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New London Adjusts to Coronavirus, Debates Help for Vulnerable Populations

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NEW LONDON — Several boxes of blue disposable latex gloves and a bottle of hand sanitizer were placed prominently on a table that sat midway between the City Council and a few members of the public who attended the council meeting Monday night in the Congregate Room at the Senior Center. That afternoon, Mayor Mike Passero had issued an executive order that outlined public meeting protocols for city departments, agencies, boards and commissions during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We want all boards and commissions to continue functioning. That’s the heart of our city, that’s our community but we’re all to provide

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No Explanation for End to New London Urban-Suburban Open Choice Program

NEW LONDON — Despite being identified as a priority district in 2001, funding for the Open Choice program in New London was eliminated. Open Choice is credited with helping to integrate suburban schools, and for providing educational opportunities to urban students unavailable in their home districts. New London schools are instead provided with Interdistrict Cooperative Grants that allow any student in the state to attend New London schools. The state continues to fund Open Choice programs for Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven. “There is no explicit reason we can find on why New London chose to stop participating in the

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Connecticut Port Authority Approves Revised Wind Energy Plan for State Pier in New London

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HARTFORD — The Connecticut Port Authority unanimously approved a $157 million plan to reconfigure State Pier for use by offshore wind companies following discussions during two closed executive sessions at a special meeting Tuesday morning. David Kooris, chair of the authority, said the plan was “fundamentally different” from the $93 million memorandum of understanding announced by the State of Connecticut, Gateway Terminal, Ørsted and Eversource on May 2, 2019. Like the original project, the new facility will have heavy-lift capacity needed for offshore wind components, but will also include three berths designed not to conflict with Cross Sound Ferry’s routes

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New London Residents, Businesses, Leaders, Gather to Discuss Economic Development

NEW LONDON — “What do you feel has been missing or needs improvement with respect to communications between the city and individual residents? How can city leaders better gain your trust?” “What specific problems or issues do you feel impact the quality of life of those living and working in New London?” Members of the Economic Development Commission directed these and other questions to about 60 residents, business owners and community leaders at a workshop Monday night that focused on ideas for supporting the city’s economy and identifying obstacles to growth. The two-hour workshop, held at the Science and Technology

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Port Authority Turns to Connecticut Airport Authority for Staffing and Support

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NEW LONDON — For the duration of the search for a new executive director of the Connecticut Port Authority, and possibly longer, the quasi-public agency will use and pay for the services of the Connecticut Airport Authority to supplement port authority staffing. That decision comes at the recommendation of the Office of Policy and Management, which was directed by Gov. Ned Lamont in July to take a direct role in restructuring the port authority. At a Tuesday meeting, board chair David Kooris explained the decision as a matter of efficiency rather than consolidation. “This would free the port authority and

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New London Opts to Renegotiate Regional Sewer Agreement

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NEW LONDON — At its December 19 meeting, the New London Water and Water Pollution Control Authority voted to renegotiate the 30-year-old sewage agreement with the towns of Waterford and East Lyme.  The tri-town agreement would have automatically renewed on January 10, 2021 for a ten-year period unless one or more member municipalities gave formal notice to the other parties to change or terminate the agreement.  The three towns share the use of the Thomas E. Piacenti Regional Water Pollution Control Facility in New London. The plant can process 10 millions gallons per day. New London is allocated 55 percent

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Fitch Announces Upgraded Bond Rating for New London

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New London — Fitch Ratings upgraded New London’s bond rating from A+ to AA- on Friday and announced the city’s rating outlook has been revised from positive to stable. Fitch, along with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, is one of the major credit rating agencies known as the “big three.” Fitch assigns long-term credit ratings on an alphabetic scale beginning with AAA as the highest and scaling to D as the lowest, with =/- modifiers in between. According to Fitch Ratings’ report, the one-notch rating upgrade for the city’s Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and general obligation (GO) bonds “is driven

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City Officials Tweak Regulations, Streamline Planning to Encourage Growth

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NEW LONDON — “Our commission is a joint commission and I’m always cognizant if I’ve got my planning hat on or my zoning hat on,” said Barry Levine, chair of New London’s Planning and Zoning Commission, on Friday. “Zoning is ‘how does it fit with the rules?’ Planning is ‘what do you want the rules to be?’” he explained. “In New London, we want the taxes to go down and we want affordable housing and the only way to do that is to increase the grand list and create more development that brings more cash into the coffers — and

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Southeastern Connecticut Community Land Trust Markets First Affordable Home

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New London — The Southeastern Connecticut Community Land Trust is marketing its first affordable home to qualified buyers over the next two months. The price of the two-family home at 34-36 Prest Street is $128,000 for buyers who fit the 2019 HUD income limits for New London. The stone house, built in 1870, has two apartments — a one-bedroom on the lower level and a three-bedroom on the two upper floors. The land trust has a selection process for applicants that includes filling out a program application, obtaining a pre-approval letter stating income qualifications, verification of first-time-buyer status or not

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Letter: Offshore Wind in New London – If not Here then Where?

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As a resident of New London county and electric utility professional, I found the recent Port of New London development meeting and discussion invigorating. It was great to hear everyone’s perspective.  My wife and I have lived in New London county since 1986 when I started with Electric Boat and my wife with Lawrence and Memorial Hospital. In 1990, I transitioned to work in the power industry which included work at a large generation site, with the local electric utility, and now with an engineering consulting company. My wife continues to work in New London as a school nurse. We

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State Pier Operator Boosts Connecticut Port Authority Plans for New London

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NEW HAVEN — “Fifteen years ago, the largest steel coil that was being brought off a ship was probably 15 tons. Today, you’re bringing in 30- to 35-ton coils of steel. The same thing with the heavy lifts, the cranes on the ships have gotten larger and larger, so port facilities have had to change to be able to handle those,” explained Gateway Terminal President James Dillman, an industry veteran and new hire by the New-Haven-based terminal operator. “It’s the same way with the container industry. Today the ships that are calling at container ports are almost three times as

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David Kooris Makes the Case for a “Niche Market” Wind Energy Deal for New London

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David Kooris walked into Muddy Waters Café on Bank Street in New London like a regular – a measure perhaps of the time he has spent as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) acting as an ambassador, a fixer of sorts, for the Lamont administration on a joint wind energy deal based out of New London which for the last months has threatened to unravel.  The deal pairs a wind developer Ørsted, an energy supplier Eversource, a port operator Gateway New London LLC, and the quasi-public Connecticut Port Authority, in a near-term investment of about

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LEARNing Academy in New London Educates Children From Across Southeast Connecticut with Complex Needs

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NEW LONDON — In January, after five years of anticipation, Ocean Avenue LEARNing Academy opened for its first full school year, with 57 students and a full team of teachers and medical support providers. The school serves children in 25 towns and 21 school districts across southeastern Connecticut. “Five years ago, when the team sat down and dreamed of what could be for the students with the most complex needs they wanted the kids to feel like a part of a school and a community member,” said Kate Ericson, the executive director of LEARN Regional Educational Service Center. “Historically programs

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New London Officials Talk Streamlining, Building Relationships and Blight

NEW LONDON — Seated around a conference table at Quinn & Hary Marketing at 48 State Street were Felix Reyes, director of planning and economic development for New London, Tom Bombria, community development and economic development coordinator, and Omi Morales, the city’s new blight enforcement officer. Three local officials — representing voices of administration, funding and boots-on-the-ground — gathered Friday afternoon to talk with CT Examiner about blight issues and promoting property stewardship among the city’s business and homeowners.   It begins with roof repair The conversation began with the city’s recently established $120,000 Roof Repair Revolving Loan Program that provides

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A Tour of New London Development with Felix Reyes

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That Orsted, the Danish wind giant, chose two floors in an 1833 three-story brick building at 42 Bank Street above Muddy Waters Cafe as its base of operations in New London, speaks volumes about how the city of New London approaches the economic possibilities of the recently announced wind energy project and the $93 million State Pier redevelopment project slated to serve it.

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Breaking Ground on Affordable Housing in New London

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“What this represents to us is not only saving a structure that many, many people in the city have memories of coming to... We have nearly 1,000 units of housing in the planning stages and at least 20 percent of that is going to be affordable housing. It’s very, very important going forward that we provide the housing for all the socioeconomic levels that make up this great city,” New London Mayor Mike Passero said.

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