Martha Marx


Martha Marx



April 6, 2023



Today, at the Walbach Street construction site of New London’s in-development Community Center, state and federal leaders including U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz (D), State Senator Martha Marx (D-New London), State Representative Christine Conley (D-Groton), State Representative Anthony Nolan (D-New London), New London Mayor Michael Passero and New London City Council President Reona Dyess, New London City Council President Pro Tempore James Burke and New London Councilor Akil Peck joined together to extol the project’s benefits for the community and collaboration between federal and state leaders to secure its funding.

The $40 million community and recreation center has received a number of state and federal financial supports, including most recently the March announcement that the state’s Community Investment Fund will contribute $7.236 million to aid construction costs. The center will offer an eight-lane swimming pool, gymnasium, indoor track, workout and game rooms, a community lounge, classroom space for early childhood programs and an instructional kitchen. It will further house the city’s recreation and youth affairs departments. The project additionally recently received a $2 million federal grant to support exercise and recreational opportunities.

“When I got up to Hartford, Mayor Passero made sure the first thing I did was make sure we got $7.2 million from the CIF grant,” said Sen. Marx. “I kept making phone calls and kept making phone calls. When I got off the phone with Senator Looney after learning New London would receive the grant, I told my daughters, two of whom live in Cambridge, and they said ‘wow, New London’s almost as cool as Cambridge!’ I dream all the time about walking into this community center and seeing people walk in with yoga mats, books for book club and kids going swimming. When we get into this completed community center, it is going to be the best thing to ever happen to New London, and it started with Mayor Passero. He did not give up, and he made sure everyone else fighting alongside him did not give up either. Today is a great day for New London.”

“Dreaming big, fighting hard and working like the devil pays off,” said Sen. Blumenthal, “and that’s what this community center represents. Competitive federal grants are incredibly well fought, but what sells them is their merit. New London has produced a world-class, beautiful dream come true. And this is more than just physical well-being. Early childhood education, the beating heart of a community, will be supported by this center. Cooking lessons will aid residents. It is really a community center in the fullest extent of the word.”

“The federal government is making a big bet on New London, and we think it’s a safe bet,” said Sen. Murphy. “There are very few communities in the country that can list off the assets for residents, businesses and families that New London has. It has a history connected to the greatness of America, access to the country’s busiest rail line, access to outdoor recreation and the water. But it’s been missing a recreational facility, and this bet we’re making on New London is one that will drive residential and commercial growth. But something that will make New London more attractive for businesses and families is a modern, world-class recreational facility. When this goes up, it will be part of what helps us recruit and attract businesses and families to southeastern Connecticut.”

“It’s great to be able to celebrate our state’s investment of $7.2 million to this project,” said Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz. “It took a lot to get us to this place. More than a decade ago, people had this great idea. It took all of us working together to help us get there. It took our legislators, led by Senator Marx, who worked tirelessly to get us this community investment funding. It took our fairy godfathers of federal funding, U.S. Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, to get us to this place. The Governor has made sure New London has received a good chunk of state dollars to move the city forward. This project rose to the top because of its focus on health and wellness, making sure New London kids got swimming lessons, making sure seniors and residents have a place to gather. The city of New London is a smaller city in a very compact area, but it’s a place with a big heart, and once this center is complete, it’ll be a place to put the community’s heart.”

“When I think of this community center, I think of the generation of folks, including myself, who have never had a community center,” said Rep. Conley. “I think about the kids who have grown up without the access that the kids behind us will have. The kids will have a place to go for supervised visitation after school, a place to get their energy out and a place for the teenagers to go and hang out and learn from mentors. What New London has missed is a community center. We are a community – we just need a place to be. All we need is a few more months while it’s built and then our community will come.”
“New London, we did it,” said Rep. Nolan. “The biggest priority New London has had in the last several years is this community center. I’d like to thank my colleagues and the federal delegation who bet on New London. We are the blueprint for Connecticut with all these projects we have going. We have been talking, probably, since 2005 for this spot to be a community center and it has come to fruition. It was not an individual effort, it was a team effort, and I’m so happy to see so many people supporting this so we can move on to what’s next when it’s complete.”

“We’re here to thank the people who made this dream possible for the people of New London,” said Mayor Passero. “The fact is, we have been without any indoor recreational facilities since the YMCA pulled out in the 1980s, and that’s the thing residents most ask for and have pointed out the lack of. This facility will become the heart and soul of our city. It will make sure everyone in our city has a place to come and convene. This project represents the culmination of close to 12 years of work. The final pieces were a funding gap. We went to our elected officials and presented them with the situation and they came through big time. I’d like to thank the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, our local delegation, the Community Investment Fund, Senator Looney, House Speaker Ritter, Senator Murphy, Senator Blumenthal and the Department of Economic and Community Development for their support.”

“Ten years ago, the Mayor asked community leaders to talk about a community center up in Hartford,” said Dyess. “I went to share the importance of our city and why we need a community center. Unfortunately, that year, the proposal was voted down, but our Mayor kept fighting. We have to be at the table to usher in change, and this inspired me to run for office. Now I’m in my second term on the City Council. The honor to be able to be here to see this happening, having been there at the beginning, is so exciting.”