Today is Thursday, June 4, 2020 – The Water Taxi is not running.  

Transition Team

Transition Team discusses finances, incorporation, and its upcoming conference

The Transition Team as a whole met Wednesday, January 27th, in the conference room at the always-picturesque Fort Trumbull State Park, and were joined by guests Judy Benson reporting for the Day and Jeff Harris from the Port Authority of New London. Jeff wanted us to understand his role and hear that the Port Authority and the New London Maritime Festival were highly enthusiastic about the Thames River Heritage Park. He urged the team to continue furthering relations with the Port Authority dock master in order to make sure that the future water taxi initiative ran smoothly and in coordination with all other waterfront events and activities.

The Finance Committee gave a brief report on current funding, and reported that the Transition Team has a cash balance of $33,497.40. The water taxi marine survey is currently being conducted. The Finance Committee will have a budget and fundraising plan by February.

We’ve spent about $12,000 of our original funds and are planning to send an invoice to the state for reimbursement. As you may recall from previous posts, the State has approved $100,000 per year for two years to offset the costs of boat operation.

Proposals for water taxi operations are due mid-February and we expect to receive several proposals from very well-qualified companies, both in Connecticut and out of state.

The Team also discussed different office space options as presented by the subcommittee in charge of this issue.

The Team reviewed the draft Certificate of Incorporation, and voted to file it as soon as possible, pending some small changes to wording. At next month’s meeting the Bylaws will be reviewed and hopefully approved, so they can be submitted as well.

Chair Chris Cox and Penny Parsekian discussed the upcoming “Benefits and Opportunities” conference that TRHP is sponsoring at the Garde Theatre’s Oasis Room on March 31st. We’ll be posting more about it here and on Facebook, and invitations will be sent out to all representatives and Boards of parks, host communities and state agencies involved in the Park. Guest speakers will include Alan Plattus, lead for the Yale Design Workshop’s Park Plan. Mr Plattus will review the plan and explain to all attendees how we hope that collaboration between all parties will benefit the region from a tourism, education and economic standpoint. The event will also be videotaped by Atlantic Broadband. Please watch here for more details as the date draws near.

Thames Heritage Park Birdseye-sm - new

Our Water Taxi dreams are coming true

The Day published a great article today on the Water Taxi Planning Sub-Committee’s successful activities over the past few weeks, and you can read it on line with a subscription. Navy Vessels Sought For Water Taxi, by Judy Benson.

With the help of Transition Team Member and Groton City Mayor Marion Galbraith, John Mathias of NAVSEA sent the City’s request for two utility boats to the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services of Norfolk with the strong recommendation that DLA consider the request favorably. This is a huge step towards final approval of the boats, which have been in storage for 11 years and will need a marine survey before being transported to an area marina for retrofitting.

It is the Team’s plan that sometime in the future the City of Groton will turn over the boats to the new non-profit that will be formed to oversee the Thames River Heritage Park’s operations. In the meantime, with the fiduciary help of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, of which Chair Jim Butler is a member, and promised allocations by the participating municipalities, the boats will undergo the first stages in their outfitting and storage in preparation for the 2016 season.

As we mentioned in previous posts, the legislature has also awarded the TRHP and its Transition Team $100,000 annually for two years; much of this allocation will go towards the water taxis and their eventual operation, and the Water Taxi sub-committee is already in discussions with a potential contractor who is well-known, experienced, and respected in the area and would be responsible for all aspects of the taxis’ operation. Together with this contractor the sub-committee is putting together a list of costs and plans that include keeping the boats as close to their original design as possible, so visitors can travel between historic sites on a true Navy utility boat. Very cool.

This is a standard Navy utility boat that was refurbished in 2006 by civil service mariner crew members for emergency medical aid in San Diego. Photo by MCC Edward Martens.
This is a standard Navy utility boat that was refurbished in 2006 by civil service mariner crew members for emergency medical aid in San Diego. Photo by MCC Edward Martens.

At Wednesday’s second meeting of the entire Team, the Organization sub-committee put together a tentative timeline that emphasized the need to definitely have preliminary operations in place by next year, and an established 501 c 3 agency and Board of Directors in place by Memorial Day. We all agreed there was a lot of work to do before then, but we’re going to try and keep as close to this schedule as we can, and by the next summer season we’ll be handing the reins over to the permanent agency overseeing the Thames River Heritage Park. How exciting!