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Groton seeks public input on proposed site for submarine monument

May 26, 2019

Groton — The town will be taking public comment Tuesday evening on a resolution regarding a proposed site for the placement of the sail and rudder from the former USS Groton.

The special meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Community Room 1 of the Town Hall Annex, 134 Groton Long Point Road.

The “sail” is the tower-like portion that protrudes from the hull at the center of a submarine. The USS Groton (SSN-694), a Los Angeles-class attack sub, was the third Navy ship named for Groton. Built at Electric Boat, it was launched in October 1976, commissioned in July 1978 and decommissioned in November 1997.

USS Groton Sail Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has been raising funds for a monument that would include the USS Groton sail as its centerpiece. The foundation has requested the submarine parts be placed in front of the Senior Center and Groton Public Library, on a 1.5-acre plot that serves as a right of way easement on Route 117. To do so, the town would have to purchase the plot or seek a lease from the state Department of Transportation, Town Manager John Burt said in an email Saturday.

While the resolution would not commit the town to anything, he said, it could reaffirm to the state that the town would like to take ownership of the tract for the monument. Additional planning and two appraisals would be needed, along with a public hearing, further action by the council and possible action by the Representative Town Meeting, he said.

Associated costs would be paid for by the USS Groton Sail Foundation, according to Burt.

There will be a hearing on a state House bill regarding the issue earlier in the day Tuesday, he said, and that could affect the Town Council meeting and comment session in Groton. The town expects feedback from the state and DOT on the proposal.

The foundation and town and city officials have been trying for years to settle on a site for the sail. In 2016, they had chosen the front lawn of the former Groton Heights School to the right of Bill Memorial Library on Monument Street. However, Susan K. Whalen, then deputy commissioner of environmental conservation, informed them that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection believed a different site, preferably away from Fort Griswold and closer to the Thames River, would be better. That prompted Groton officials to seek other options.

Any site would have to be prepared to handle the weight of the submarine parts, a combined 62,430 pounds, Capt. Carl Lahti, then commanding officer of the Naval Submarine Base, said at the time.

Day Staff Writer Kimberly Drelich contributed to this report.