Sen. Formica Supports Water Taxi Staying Afloat

February 4, 2015

Hartford, CT – State Senator Paul Formica (R- East Lyme) testified today in support of a bill, proposed by Representative Aundre Bumgardner (R-New London) that would continuously fund the water taxi being used by the Thames River Heritage Park. The water taxi connects four major historic sites between the towns of Groton and New London.

“If the water taxi can receive funding from the state the investment return will be a boon for the state and the region,” said Sen. Formica.

The Thames River Heritage Park Steering Committee has been working hard during the past year to get the water taxi up and running. With bipartisan help from Senator Andrew Maynard of Stonington – who helped pass legislation launching the Heritage Park concept – the water taxi service had a successful pilot run in the fall.

Its purpose is to tie together four historic attractions on both sides of the Thames River – Fort Trumbull and Fort Griswold state parks, the Submarine Force Museum and Nautilus, and the proposed National Coast Guard Museum. In addition there are a dozen other sites scattered in the area that would link the entire Thames River Heritage Park together as a regional attraction.

“People visiting the area appreciate the access to the tourist sites through the water taxi. It is an idea that has a lot of potential given the nature of the area and the location of all of the historic attractions. The New London area has the ability to thrive if tourists and business owners can connect. The water taxi does just that,” remarked Sen. Formica.

The funding estimated at $100,000 will enable public and private partnerships. Senator Formica suggests any revenues be split between the cost to maintain the taxi service and to the state to repay the cost of the initial seed investment. Additional as the State has committed a significant sum to support the creation of the new Coast Guard Museum steps away from where the taxi will operate, a portion of that funding could be directed to the taxi service. Those in support of the initiative say the water taxi is a needed mode of transportation along a vital waterway.

In his testimony before the Environment Committee Wednesday at the state legislative office building in Hartford, Formica stated, “With the right plan in place this transportation investment can be the first link to connect a broad network of destinations that until now have been isolated from one another. Imagine the growth of visitors to the sites and to businesses in the area because they have the ability to get there.”

The Thames River Heritage Park mission states; The Park will be a network of people, communities, institutions, sites and stories connected by and to the historic waterfront and natural landscape of the Thames River and Long Island Sound. The park will engage residents and visitors in a rich program of events, culture and experiences that celebrate the diverse peoples and traditions that have shaped the life of the region.

The park will be designed, programmed and promoted to make that heritage and culture vivid and accessible to all.

Members of the Environment Committee vote on bill proposals and if they pass can be sent to another relevant committee or can be placed on the calendar for a final vote by the general assembly chambers.