Coast Guard Museum
By Commentary staff
Providence Journal
April 19, 2013
A new museum will be built in downtown New London dedicated to the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. Of course, the city already hosts the Coast Guard Academy, which has a Coast Guard Museum, most of whose attractions would presumably be superseded by the new facility. The area's ties with the agency go back to 1790 - when the service's main mission was enforcing tariff and trade laws. (Import duties then were the major source of federal revenue.)
The 50,000-square-foot institution will be near a new terminal for the Cross Sound Ferry and visible from passenger trains as well as very close to Route 95. So there's potential for high traffic in the institution.
The new Coast Guard Museum, to which admittance would be free, could become an important educational tool, and help draw young people to maritime and related work. We hope that local public schools and such local colleges as Connecticut College find many ways to collaborate with the facility's staff when the place opens, estimated to be in about three years.
The museum, which backers hope will draw around 800,000 visitors a year, should be very good for businesses in downtown New London, especially restaurants, drawing many travelers and tourists, many of whom would be coming or going through the city to use the train, Route 95 or the ferries to and from Long Island and Block Island.
The state will chip in $20 million, with the rest of the $80 million-$100 million needed to be raised from private sources, presumably mostly via the National Coast Guard Museum Foundation. This is a particularly big deal for southeastern Connecticut, which depends too much on the now declining fortunes of the casino industry.