Issue: 2/18/15


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Kongsberg Welcomed to Their New Groton Home

story by JB

JB on the scene, January 16, 2015, at the Grand Opening of KONGSBERG MARITIME SIMULATION…the company tenants “Determined, Innovative, Collaborative, Reliable” and now they are located in an awesome new building at 170 Leonard Drive, Groton. Clayton Burry, the Vice-President of Sales and Acting General Manager for the Americas, was the master of ceremonies. Henry Tremblay, President of the Americas, and Ole Gunnar Hvamb, Executive Vice President, Emerging Business Division, spoke proudly of the company’s humble beginnings 200 years ago to a multinational KONGSBERG Gruppen, with operations in over 25 countries, and a commitment to supporting local companies. US Congressman Joe Courtney, 2nd District, was on hand at the ceremony to praise the work of Kongsberg, and emphasize that this company is an example of great thing happening in the region. The Reverend David Rider, President and Executive Director of The Seamen’s Church Institute, New York, NY, was not only on hand for a blessing, but to boast of Kongsberg’s excellence in the field of maritime simulators.

So you may by now wonder what a maritime simulation system is exactly. Well, I for one, was blown away by the demonstration we were shown.   The equipment is set up and actually simulates either the bridge of a vessel, the engine room of a ocean going freighter, ship, or tugboat, an off-shore crane or well drilling rig, and even an apparatus that would have secured the BP oil well in the Gulf. How about Kongsberg developing a simulator that the US Government requires there to be certification on in the event of another catastrophe. The regulations also require regular periodic recertification on the Kongsberg Maritime Simulation Systems. It was incredible for me to be standing behind a simulator that depicted the Thames River , the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, Ledge Light, like it was real life. The windows of the ships bridge were monitors showing the real live scenery. These systems can be modified to any situation, condition, location, time of day. Amazing would be an understatement in describing what Kongsberg Maritime Simulation is capable of developing and putting in the field, and there new facility in right in Groton. Economic development doesn’t get any better than this folks!

 

@TrpJB1138

theresidenttprjb@gmail.com

Steve Jones: A Life Of Words and Water

by Jon Perrson

Steve Jones is known for telling a good story, but picking a single storyline about Steve Jones is another matter. His life’s voyage has taken many a tack to reach the safe harbors of his realized ambitions. The diverse views of port and starboard, of working man and intellectual, bring with them a collection of knowledge and experiences that mark a life of many satisfactions. And stories, the revered teaching tool of gathered wisdom.

To find Steve Jones on a late November afternoon, one must first find an iron gate, fashioned by a blacksmith from Mystic Seaport, topped with the letters FHP. Through this, a walkway leads to the back door which leads past a vintage wooden steering wheel and station. Stairs beckon one to the offices where Steve Jones sits waiting. There are books and boat models, and photographs, all arranged in the efficient clutter so misunderstood by the obsolescent modern time manager. Steve knows where everything is, and no one else needs to; it is the mark of a productive mind in constant motion.

Steve was introduced to boats and life on the water by his father, Edward Jones, who owned and sailed a string of sailboats throughout his life (“he swapped boats every two years,” recalls Steve.) For years the Jones crew sailed out of Essex, on the Connecticut River; there, young Steve met two men who would influence his view on life; Major William Smythe, who ran the Dauntless Shipyard, and Seth Persson, boat builder of Old Saybrook.

To honor his military service requirement, Steve joined the Coast Guard, where he served as a lighthouse keeper and crew at a lifeboat station on Delaware Bay. He recounts how there are no buoys on that lengthy stretch of water, only the lighthouses to keep the vigilant out of the surrounding shoals.

After leaving the Coast Guard, Steve worked for a time at the Mystic Marine Railway, in which his father had become a partner. These were the days of wooden boats, always in need of some amount of tinkering and tasks. But life afloat held sway, and on another tack Steve went lobstering, singlehanded on a traditional Noank boat with offset pilothouse, powered by a Lathrop engine, the local engine of choice.

These experiences continue to chart his life, and his work, the line between vocation and avocation often difficult to discern. Into this stream, a love of literature joins in, words flowing with the wakes of time spent working on lobsterboats, the waters of his cruising grounds reflecting passages of Shakespeare’s verse and rhyme.

At the University of Connecticut, Steve earned his degree in English, and acted out the world of Shakespeare’s words. His story remains on course with the university, as he continues a now decades long career as Professor Stephen Jones, at UConn’s Avery Point campus. There he teaches English, the works of Shakespeare, and courses in Coastal and Maritime Studies, which he championed into existence. His depth of knowledge and experience, coupled with his flair for storytelling, have earned him the highest praise a teacher may receive; that of his students, who rate him (at ratemyprofessor.com) as “the best English professor ever,” saying they “still think about things he taught me everyday.” And, a life’s lesson, “don’t be afraid of going on boats.”

Professor Jones continues his double-life as a literate boatman, being a founding co-owner of the West Mystic Wooden Boat Co. Here, people with an attraction to the wooden hulled boats of yore find a place to work on their prized projects, away from the mass production dreams of fiberglass and chrome.

Steve recounts how a young business-school type once defamed the old time boatyards of Steve Jones’ enlightened youth, an encounter which played a part in the founding of the boatyard. He has of late been inspired to write the story of his old fashioned boatyard, enough for the makings of a book on the subject.

There are other stories at this boatyard, filled with weathered characters also, and a boatyard cat, it seems; and, there are the old books of nautical feats and mariner’s lives, no longer published for the informing of younger generations.

And so it was, on another tack, that Steve and fellow mariner Robert McKenna formed Flat Hammock Press in 2001. The independent publishing company revives and reprints the maritime stories of the past, beginning with a series on the Prohibition rum runners of another era. Work continues on an extended story of The Real McCoy, a teetotaling boatbuilder turned rum runner who brought a mariner’s integrity to the smuggler’s trade.

Steve also edits books for some of the characters turned authors of his world; and he writes books, about the 1883 oyster boat Anne, restored and stewarded by the boatyard . There are illustrated children’s books about a boatyard cat named Scratch. And, due for publishing next year, a book on the timeless boatyard Steve and a cast of non-conforming characters have carved out on the Mystic River.

Words and action are a short tack away from film, a venue where Steve has enjoyed considerable and ongoing success. A series of documentaries have aired on Public Television, with a work on the rum running Real McCoy winning five Emmy awards. Next year, a documentary will air on the ferry boats of the Connecticut River, including the nation’s oldest at Rocky Hill.

On this now cool November evening, Steve Jones leads the way out of the offices of the Flat Hammock Press, located in the brick building which once housed part of the Lathrop Engine manufacturing plant. The buildings now house a restaurant and stores, and a link to a time when engines and boats were both local products. Across the street, Schooner Wharf hosts an array of vessels, the schooner Argia, the Alden cutter that Ed Jones sold in 1947 as a vessel too old to keep. At pier’s end is a rectangular vessel with handrails at each rail, an actor that with props and makeup plays the role of several generation’s ferry boats in Steve’s upcoming documentary.

Steve is as often at work on projects which carry the historic into a new round of living memory. Often he has personal connections to the public service her performs. For most people, a lighthouse is a picturesque and vaguely romantic structure on a lonely, windswept coast. For a former lighthouse keeper, lighthouses are both the apparatus of a sacred mission, and the home of fond and dramatic memories. When Groton’s Avery Point Light was under restoration, Steve and his son donated the labor to rebuild the lantern room, lighting if momentarily a beacon once again to the sailors and sightseers of the professor’s favored seas.

To some, Steve Jones may seem a paradox, a man always intent on present and future projects which tell the tales of the salt and earthy past. The purpose is clear, though; to keep memory alive of course, but also to bring a time of simple living to the complex lives of his young readers and students.

To post your comments, visit www.theresident.com or follow us on Twitter @Resident_News.

Postal Customers Get Expanded Services for the Holidays. Package Delivery, Sunday Holiday Retail Services Start Sunday

The U.S. Postal Service wants the season to be merry and bright for our customers this year. To help with the hustle of the holidays, select Post Offices in Connecticut will open for four hours on the three Sundays leading up to Christmas Day —Dec. 7, 14 and 21, from 1 p.m.to 5 p.m. – for full retail services, including stamp sales and package acceptance.

Offices with Sunday hours during the holidays can be found on the attached list.

Additionally, in many communities, packages will be delivered on these days as well.

During Holiday 2013, the Postal Service delivered 434 million packages and 6.4 billion pieces of First-Class Mail across the nation. Due to continued e-commerce growth and improvements to the Priority Mail product line, the Postal Service is expecting double-digit growth in its package business this holiday season, likely in the range of 450 to 470 million packages. That equates to roughly 12 percent growth over the same period last year.

Improved Priority Mail tracking and text alerts introduced this year are important enhancements to the free insurance, free tracking and date-specific delivery introduced last year.

“It’s all about customer service and convenience – especially during our busiest time of year,” emphasizes the Postal Service’s Connecticut Valley District Manager David Mastroianni, who oversees postal operation in CT, MA and RI. “Our goal is to exceed the high standard of service we set last year by delivering on our core promise of timely, affordable, and trackable delivery for our customers,” Mastroianni noted.

Post Offices offering Sunday hours from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 7th, 14th and 21st include:

  • Stratford Postal Store at 411 Barnum Avenue Cutoff
  • Glastonbury Post Office at 145 New London Turnpike
  • Torrington Post Office at 185 East Elm Street
  • Fairfield Post Office at 357 Commerce Drive
  • Enfield Post Office at 31 Palomba Drive
  • Manchester Post Office at 111 Sheldon Road
  • West Hartford Post Office at 102 La Salle Road
  • Groton Post Office at 100 Plaza Court
  • Cheshire Post Office at 210 Maple Avenue
  • Guilford Post Office at 60 Shoreline Drive
  • Milford Post Office at 300 Pepes Farm Road
  • Monroe Post Office at 270 Monroe Turnpike
  • Wallingford Post Office at 4 South Main Street
  • Danbury Post Office at 23 Backus Avenue
  • Greenwich Post Office at 29 Valley Drive and
  • Westport Post Office at 275 Post Road East

TV LEGEND BOB BARKER FUNDS ‘LION’S SHARE’ OF SUCCESSFUL MISSION TO SAVE CIRCUS ANIMALS IN PERU

TV LEGEND BOB BARKER FUNDS ‘LION’S SHARE’ OF SUCCESSFUL MISSION TO SAVE CIRCUS ANIMALS IN PERU

Los Angeles, US and Lima, Peru: Philanthropist and multi Emmy award-winning TV legend Bob Barker has generously donated $500,000 to fund the ‘lion’s share’ of an epic mission by Animal Defenders International (ADI) to help enforce the Peruvian Government’s wild animal circus ban and relocate the animals in what will be largest rescue of its kind ever undertaken.

Following months of work all over Peru, including trucking animals hundreds of miles across the Andes, ADI has just this week emptied the last wild animals from Peru’s traveling circuses as part of this record-breaking mission.

30 African lions are now in the care of ADI – 21 at their Spirit of Freedom Rescue Center near Lima and 9 in Colombia (following Colombia’s ban), which are due to join the Lima group for the Spirit of Freedom airlift to the US. The lions are being prepared for their journey to their forever home at a sanctuary in Colorado.  Although the main operation is completed, ADI has asked the public to be on the lookout for any sightings of now-illegal wild animals in circuses and let them know immediately, so that they can also be relocated.

ADI is also relocating 9 primates from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade to sanctuaries in the Amazon.

The legendary US game show host, Bob Barker said “I am delighted and honored to be able to play a part in this important rescue mission. Circus animals suffer terribly and, thanks to ADI, Peru’s wild circus animals are being freed from their cages and chains and have a brighter future ahead of them. It is the US’ shame that such acts are still permitted here.”

Peru’s ban on wild animal circuses was secured in 2012 following an ADI undercover investigation of cruelty in animal circuses and a joint campaign involving Peru’s animal protection groups. The cornerstone of the successful campaign was a two-year ADI undercover investigation, which revealed the widespread suffering of circus animals in South America. The shocking exposé led to public outrage and calls for action across the continent. Nationwide bans followed in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador, with other countries considering taking action.

Many of the circus animals rescued by ADI have lived brutal lives in terrible conditions, some in isolation, others in severely overcrowded cages. The animals are often in need of veterinary treatment – like Pepe, a rescued spider monkey, who underwent surgery to repair the damage done when the circus snapped off his canine teeth. Despite his brutal treatment, Pepe is gentle and trusting of his new caregivers. Many of the lions have suffered smashed and broken teeth as a result of brutality.

The substantial donation from the former Price is Right host has helped fund the construction of quarantine facilities and veterinary care and, when the animals are ready to travel, will also help pay for their flight to freedom. ADI is raising more funds to relocate all of the animals and build facilities for the monkeys in the Amazon sanctuaries.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI, said “Bob Barker’s overwhelming generosity allows ADI to free circus animals in Peru from a life of deprivation and suffering – Bob Barker is truly a hero for the animals, all over the world.”

This is not the first time that Bob Barker has provided ADI with financial assistance to enable them to rescue and relocate animals in distress. In 2011, Barker donated nearly $2 million to fund ADI’s rescue of two groups of circus lions and other animals in Bolivia and construction of facilities at two sanctuaries in the US. The mission, known as Operation Lion Ark, is documented in the multi award-winning action-adventure movie LION ARK, which has recently been signed into global distribution with world-leading ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

A total of 28 countries worldwide have banned the use of all or wild animals in circuses, with similar prohibitions under discussion in several more. In the US, ADI is working to end the use of wild animals in traveling circuses through the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA).

ADI welcomes donations to help care for the animals and fund their flights to the US, free from suffering: DONATE US $ http://bit.ly/1iztQbjTV LEGEND BOB BARKER FUNDS ‘LION’S SHARE’ OF SUCCESSFUL MISSION TO SAVE CIRCUS ANIMALS IN PERU

Los Angeles, US and Lima, Peru: Philanthropist and multi Emmy award-winning TV legend Bob Barker has generously donated $500,000 to fund the ‘lion’s share’ of an epic mission by Animal Defenders International (ADI) to help enforce the Peruvian Government’s wild animal circus ban and relocate the animals in what will be largest rescue of its kind ever undertaken.

Following months of work all over Peru, including trucking animals hundreds of miles across the Andes, ADI has just this week emptied the last wild animals from Peru’s traveling circuses as part of this record-breaking mission.

30 African lions are now in the care of ADI – 21 at their Spirit of Freedom Rescue Center near Lima and 9 in Colombia (following Colombia’s ban), which are due to join the Lima group for the Spirit of Freedom airlift to the US. The lions are being prepared for their journey to their forever home at a sanctuary in Colorado. Although the main operation is completed, ADI has asked the public to be on the lookout for any sightings of now-illegal wild animals in circuses and let them know immediately, so that they can also be relocated.

ADI is also relocating 9 primates from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade to sanctuaries in the Amazon.

The legendary US game show host, Bob Barker said “I am delighted and honored to be able to play a part in this important rescue mission. Circus animals suffer terribly and, thanks to ADI, Peru’s wild circus animals are being freed from their cages and chains and have a brighter future ahead of them. It is the US’ shame that such acts are still permitted here.”

Peru’s ban on wild animal circuses was secured in 2012 following an ADI undercover investigation of cruelty in animal circuses and a joint campaign involving Peru’s animal protection groups. The cornerstone of the successful campaign was a two-year ADI undercover investigation, which revealed the widespread suffering of circus animals in South America. The shocking exposé led to public outrage and calls for action across the continent. Nationwide bans followed in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador, with other countries considering taking action.

Many of the circus animals rescued by ADI have lived brutal lives in terrible conditions, some in isolation, others in severely overcrowded cages. The animals are often in need of veterinary treatment – like Pepe, a rescued spider monkey, who underwent surgery to repair the damage done when the circus snapped off his canine teeth. Despite his brutal treatment, Pepe is gentle and trusting of his new caregivers. Many of the lions have suffered smashed and broken teeth as a result of brutality.

The substantial donation from the former Price is Right host has helped fund the construction of quarantine facilities and veterinary care and, when the animals are ready to travel, will also help pay for their flight to freedom. ADI is raising more funds to relocate all of the animals and build facilities for the monkeys in the Amazon sanctuaries.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI, said “Bob Barker’s overwhelming generosity allows ADI to free circus animals in Peru from a life of deprivation and suffering – Bob Barker is truly a hero for the animals, all over the world.”

This is not the first time that Bob Barker has provided ADI with financial assistance to enable them to rescue and relocate animals in distress. In 2011, Barker donated nearly $2 million to fund ADI’s rescue of two groups of circus lions and other animals in Bolivia and construction of facilities at two sanctuaries in the US. The mission, known as Operation Lion Ark, is documented in the multi award-winning action-adventure movie LION ARK, which has recently been signed into global distribution with world-leading ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

A total of 28 countries worldwide have banned the use of all or wild animals in circuses, with similar prohibitions under discussion in several more. In the US, ADI is working to end the use of wild animals in traveling circuses through the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA).

ADI welcomes donations to help care for the animals and fund their flights to the US, free from suffering: DONATE US $ http://bit.ly/1iztQbj

Thanksgiving is a Word of Action: Celebrate The Fresh Air Fund’s 139th Summer

Thanksgiving is a Word of Action

Celebrate The Fresh Air Fund’s 139th Summer

Photo by Susan Woog Wagner

 

This November, many families in Connecticut Shoreline are thankful for something special: the gift of their friendship with a New York City child. Each summer, close to 4,000 inner-city children visit suburban, rural and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program. By volunteering as a host family for summer 2015, the spirit of Thanksgiving can continue in your home throughout the year.

“I get to see new things that I don’t get to see in New York City. The best part was having game night once a week. The whole family gets involved,” said Natalie, a Fresh Air child.

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, from six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for one or two weeks. Children who are reinvited by host families may continue with The Fresh Air Fund through age 18 and can enjoy extended trips. Over 65 percent of all children are reinvited to stay with their host families, year after year. Through the eyes of Fresh Air children, families often rediscover the beauty of their own communities.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. For more information on hosting a Fresh Air child next summer, please contact Sharyn Benjamin at 860-861-8208 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.

New “theaterworks” Production

465

“Heartbreakingly vulnerable and poignant…
breathtakingly real and touching.”
“The actors, under Rob Ruggiero’s sensitive and well-modulated directing, are outstanding, with Rupp’s superb
dry comic timing saying more with a look and a pause …
as they bicker, banter and spar.”

 

“Bogazianos nails the pride, ego and rebel spirit of his character.”

 

- The Hartford Courant -
Get your tickets today
860.527.7838
Now through November 9

Pioneering The Growth Of Valenti Family Of Dealerships

Pioneering the Growth of Valenti Family of Dealerships

Say the name Valenti and the immediate thought is car, say the word car and the name that comes to mind is Valenti. How did that region wide response come to be? And what is the secret to the success of the Valenti Car Dealerships? Same answer to both questions – Bob Valenti!

When asked to account for the overwhelming success of his Auto Dealerships, 81-years young Bob Valenti without hesitation answers, “Being in the right place at the right time and making the right decisions.” Modest to a fault, that success is more based on Bob’s incredible work ethic, honesty, compassion, and commitment to the customer.

The year is 1946, WW II has just ended, assembly lines that turned out the tanks, artillery, and arms that supplied our Troops are now turning out the first cars in five years, In Wallingford, Connecticut, at a Dodge-Plymouth Dealership owned by his Dad, Fred Valenti, 14-years young Bob Valenti worked at the dealership in the morning and attended high school in the afternoon. “I can never be too thankful for how I was raised.” Bob reflected, “Dad instilled that nothing came to you – you had to labor to earn it.”

That year the Valenti Dealership sold 28 cars, today the Valenti dealerships sell 400 cars per month. Obviously, the instilling of a strong work ethic proved its worth.

Working side-by-side with his brother Fred Jr., Bob took on more and more responsibility from his Dad. Brother Fred continued his schooling in business, while Bob mastered the intricacies of engine and body repair at Wilcox Technical School, and together they grew the Family Business. When Dad’s health declined, a 23-year old Bob and his brother took over running the dealership.

In 1955, the Valenti family was awarded a Chevrolet dealership. Sales took off, but due to far more than just a booming 50’s economy. “Selling a new car to a person is only the first step in establishing a lasting relationship with a buyer. What has to follow is standing behind the product, providing the best of servicing, and doing all at as fair and reasonable a price as possible. Do that and you have a relationship that continues, the client comes back and sends friends and family. After decades in the business, we have reached a point where returning, not new, clients are the greater majority of our buyers,” Bob states with obvious and justified pride.

In 1972, Bob was traveling to a national dealership owners meeting and struck up a conversation with Bud Santin of Mystic while in-flight. Bud told Bob that his brother, Joe Santin might be interested in selling his Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealership located along the upriver side of the Drawbridge.

Wasting no time, Bob journeyed to Mystic, immediately found a fellow soul in Joe, and fell in love with the area. In relating the story, Bob smiled broadly in remembrance, “It was a kinder, gentler time. The contract that completed the sale was on a single sheet of 8 x 11 paper!” And thus, the Valenti name came to Mystic.

Two years of commuting from Wallingford six-days-a- week with four growing children proved arduous and time consuming. In 1975, Bob and family set forth from Wallingford and established roots in Stonington. Love of that community and service to it continues to this day.

One of the first to truly grasp the historic value of the Seaport, Drawbridge, and environs, Bob knew that the blossoming of that potential would be stymied by the location of his dealership. That combined with his having acquired dealership rights to market the Chevrolet and Ford products sent him looking for a location to combine all with state-of-the-art showroom and service facilities. Perhaps, this is where Bob’s reference to “right time, right place, and right decision” emanates from.

A ten acre parcel of land- locked property behind the Stonington Historical Society’s Home on Route 27 along Route 95 was for sale. Chemical Bank of New York had foreclosed on adjacent property that bordered on Jerry Brown Road in Mystic, and Bob went out on a limb and purchased both. The result is the unique and beautifully situated multi-maker auto dealership that exists today. Soon to be added to that were the highly successful Valenti Toyota and Subaru dealerships in Westerly RI, and the adding of the legendary Jeep in Mystic, in addition to Chrysler Dodge and Volkswagen.

An amazing career, and an astonishing history that links to a Nash dealership owned by his father in the 1930’s. And just as amazing is what Bob Valenti gives back to his community when not in the showroom. The National Historic Treasure Palmer House in Stonington would have gone to rack and ruin had not Bob purchased and restored it prior to it being taken by the Stonington Historical Society. Stonington enjoys fiscal security today due to Bob’s tenure as member and Chairman of the Stonington Board of Finance. His charity work is legendary.

Bob is now retired. Son Rob has taken on the responsibilities learned via his Dad. Daughters Beth, Cheryl, Jean and spouses Bill Goodwin, Tom Quirk and Bruce Morrow, hold key management positions – still a Family Business! Bob and wife, June’s extended family boasts 17 Grandchildren and 10 Great Grandchildren.

When asked what he’s driving? Bob answers, “My current favorite ride is my Corvette convertible, my best ride has been life.”

A great story, a great man – Made in America.

Belle Reception, Talk & Film

Belle Reception, Talk & Film

997

6:30 PM
Thursday, Oct. 16
Wadsworth Atheneum
Museum of Art

The true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a British admiral
and an enslaved woman

With introduction by:
Emily Lordi

1014
Assistant Professor of English, UMASS Amherst

More information

Tickets

Presented with The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art,
The Amistad Center for Art & Culture and
The Mark Twain House & Museum

2

77 Forest St., Hartford, CT 06105
HarrietBeecherStowe.org
860-522-9258

New Plans for New Athletic Complex

KENT + FROST LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE TO PRESENT PLANS FOR MERRITT PROPERTY ATHLETIC FIELDS

(Groton, Conn.) – On Monday, September 29, Kent + Frost Landscape Architecture firm will unveil a plan to build new athletic fields at the property formerly known as the Merritt Family Farm. The presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Groton Town Hall Annex. The public is invited to attend and hear more about the proposed athletic fields plan.

The Merritt property is a 35-acre tract abutting Fitch High School along the south side of Connecticut Route 1 and Connecticut Route 215. 10 percent of the land has been designated for conservation and recreation. A 2013 Comprehensive Athletic Fields Needs Assessment determined that there is a need for multi-use recreational fields for use by the community. The current plan presented by Kent + Frost includes four full size regulation fields and one smaller field, including one championship quality field with lights, spectator seating, controlled access and the possibility for synthetic turf.

The current lack of fields has become a problem for the community. “Every year, Groton Parks and Recreation turns away user groups due to lack of field space,” said Jerry Lokken, Manager of Recreation Services. “The proposed Merritt field complex would certainly address the need for high-quality and safe fields and provide opportunities for citizens to be more active and healthy.”

Local residents have spoken out in favor of the plan, noting that the town’s current athletic fields are no longer meeting the community’s needs. John Casey, President of the Groton Mystic Lacrosse Association and Groton Resident said, “The prospect of additional fields in Groton that would be available for youth lacrosse programs is very exciting. Currently, we are limited by the number of fields, which we have to share among our teams, as well as with other sports. With more fields, and less conflicts, there will be more opportunity for kids to play sports.”

Another Groton resident and local business owner, Tom Vignato, owner and operator of Fields of Fire in Mystic, believes that the new fields will positively impact the local economy. “My kids play on travel sports teams and there are hundreds of other kids in Groton who also play on these teams,” said Vignato. “My family travels all over the Northeast every weekend to play in these tournaments and we spend a lot of money. We have to travel so far because of the lack of quality local facilities. To be able to attract these tournaments to our area would have a tremendous impact financially.”

For more information, please contact the Groton Parks and Recreation department at (860) 536-5680.

The Groton Parks and Recreation Department’s Mission is to provide quality leisure opportunities in a safe and healthy atmosphere and to enhance the quality of life of the community through the responsible management of fiscal and natural resources.