SUBASE, State, And Town Officials Launch Crystal Lake Road Improvement Project With ‘Eyesore’ Demolition
By Lt. j.g. Phillip Chitty
May 9, 2013
GROTON, Conn. – Several SUBASE, State, and Town officials eagerly watched as the shattered bricks and rubble remnants of a dry cleaning dynasty helped lay the foundation for a mutually beneficial Navy and community improvement project.
Capt. Marc W. Denno, Commanding Officer of Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE); Robert Ross, Executive Director of the State of Connecticut’s Office of Military Affairs, and Mark Oefinger, Town Manager of the Town of Groton joined a number of public works representatives from the Navy and the town and other observers as the abandoned former Fusconi’s Dry Cleaning building, opposite the base’s Main Gate, was razed, May 3.
The demolition highlighted the on-going collaborative efforts of the state, town and Navy and was part of a State-funded cooperative effort to improve SUBASE, mitigate encroachment, and address safety, security and environmental concerns.
"The property was an eyesore for both the Town of Groton and SUBASE," said Oefinger. "This demolition is a huge aesthetic improvement to the area and addresses a major security issue for the base."
The former Fusconi Dry Cleaning business, located on the intersection of Crystal Lake Road and Military Highway, had been abandoned for more than 10 years and its deteriorating state of repair had made the property a physical and environmental hazard.
The demolition also launched a major improvement project of the main thoroughfare to the installation.
The State provided bond funds to the Town of Groton to purchase the parcel of land (about 1 acre), and the State Office of Military Affairs, SUBASE, and the Mayor, Town Council, Town Manager, and planning arms of the Town of Groton, have all been involved in initiating and executing the project.
"The building was a huge environmental and security liability," said Ross. "The project will line up outgoing traffic of Military Highway to the Main Gate, enhancing base security."
After demolition of the building and remediation of the site, the Town of Groton will use the property to reconfigure the intersection as part of a major upgrade of Crystal Lake Road.
Improvements to Crystal Lake Road will provide greater capacity for vehicular traffic, create a pedestrian and bike friendly path along the major road, and ultimately, resolve significant public safety and traffic management problems for SUBASE. The project will also prevent any future development that is incompatible with base operations at that intersection.
"I couldn’t be more pleased with the start of this project and the great collaborative effort," said Denno. "I think our Navy and Groton community will not only benefit from the reduction in blight and the more friendly road for bicycles and commuters, but also from the opportunity that may exist to pay tribute to our ‘submarine capital of the world’ heritage."
Denno was referring a grassroots effort by members of the community and the Navy and Submarine Leagues. The tribute would place the sail of the former submarine USS Groton (SSN 694) at the center of an anticipated traffic island created by the upcoming road improvements.
"It would be a great way to remind visitors to the base and the area that Groton remains at the forefront of our Submarine Force," said Denno.
The Town of Groton expects to have the project completed by 2016.