Submarine Capital Avenue: Honorary name proposed for Crystal Lake Road in Groton

The Day

By: Kimberly Drelich

July 1, 2022

Groton — Crystal Lake Road, leading to the entrance to the Submarine Force Library and Museum and the Naval Submarine Base, may get an honorary name in time for the return of the USS Nautilus — Submarine Capital Avenue.

The Town of Groton took the first step this week toward approving the ceremonial name.

Bob Ross, executive director of the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs, raised the idea with the town several years ago of an honorary name “that would be fitting for the gateway to the Submarine Capital of the World.”

He said the ceremonial name also would be a way to commemorate “that this is the first and finest submarine base where the submarine history of the United States began.” He pointed out that the name Crystal Lake Road dates back to when there used to be a lake where the athletic fields now sit at the front of the base.

With the Nautilus being refurbished, Ross said, it’s a great opportunity to roll out an honorary name as the world's first nuclear-powered submarine returns to the Submarine Force Library and Museum, planned for September.

After taking an initial vote this week on the name, the Town Council is slated to vote July 5 on a draft resolution to approve the name Submarine Capital Avenue for Crystal Lake Road, west of Route 12.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will be the final decision-maker, Town Manager John Burt said. He said the commission, should it entertain the change, will schedule a public hearing and then vote. The Representative Town Meeting has the authority to veto the name.

The Town Council weighed other ideas, including Submarine Capital Memorial Drive, Nautilus Avenue and Eternal Patrol Memorial Drive, or naming the road after former President Jimmy Carter, a suggestion posted on social media after Town Councilor Rachael Franco asked the community for comments. Carter attended submarine school in Groton and served on the USS Pomfret and USS Barracuda, which were built at Electric Boat, Franco said. Submarine Capital Memorial Drive was among the suggestions put forward by Town Councilor Scott Westervelt, a Navy veteran, who consulted with friends on Facebook groups for Cold War submarines and the USS Dallas.

Town Mayor Juan Melendez Jr. said during the initial discussions at the council's June 14 Committee of the Whole meeting that he thinks the initiative is a great idea no matter what name is chosen, but thought Submarine Capital Ave. would be an appropriate name as Groton is the Submarine Capital of the World.

The council ultimately favored Submarine Capital Avenue at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday.

Councilor Bruce Jones spoke in support of Submarine Capital Avenue: “It would then honor both active service and those who have passed or gone through something, so it covers the whole range of all our submarine force.”

“I’m happy to be part of this naming, and I think it’s a great effort of the council to come up with a name together, and it’s really exciting,” said Councilor Portia Bordelon, who has a son in school on the submarine base.

The town said in a document that the Navy was hoping that an honorary road name would be in place for a ceremony on Sept. 8 commemorating the return of the Nautilus from restoration work.

Councilor Aundré Bumgardner, who made the referral to the council, thanked Ross, who in addition to being director of the state’s Office of Military Affairs is also a Navy veteran, and said he was glad the council could move forward with a name in time for the planned festivities.

Burt said the road’s official name would remain Crystal Lake Road and addresses would remain the same, but there would be extra signage placed for the honorary road name.

“The Navy is a tremendously important part of the community," he said, "and the town is always ready to look at ways to partner with them.”

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