The Day – Proposed rowing center to be named Mystic River Boathouse Park
Stonington — Stonington Community Rowing Inc. has announced that it will be naming its proposed rowing facility at the forthcoming Mystic River Boathouse Park the Jim Dietz Rowing Center.
“Jim Dietz is one of the greatest figures of all time in rowing. He is known worldwide as one of the greatest athletes to ever compete, but even more so as a coach, mentor, friend, surrogate father and of course an epic storyteller,” said Will Castle, a member of the SCRI Steering Committee, in the SCRI Announcement.
From 1967 to 1983, Dietz was a six-time Olympian, three times as an athlete and three times as a coach. He won 45 United States national championships and 37 Canadian national championships, won two medals at World Championships and four at the Pan American Games. In 2010 he was inducted into the US Rowing National Hall of Fame.
Dietz was also the head coach of the US Coast Guard Academy from 1985 to 1995 and founded the Thames River Sculls in 1987. From 1995 to 2018, Dietz coached the University of Massachusetts women’s rowing program.
“The honor of having the rowing center built in my name is the culmination of a lifetime of enjoyment in the sport of rowing,” Dietz said in the announcement released by SCR. “I’ve found fulfillment in every shot and every athlete I’ve trained. The lessons I learned about teamwork, dedication and respect have served me throughout my life. I hope that this new rowing center will bring future generations the same experience and joy that I have had in the sport.”
The Jim Dietz Rowing Center will include the proposed Hart Perry Boathouse. It will have an indoor training center, locker rooms, assembly area, outdoor amphitheater, trophy room, offices and a rowing dock. SCRI has raised half of the $2.5 million it needs for the project. For more information about the project, visit www.stoningtoncommunityrowing.org.
Although located on the same lot off Route 27 north of the Mystic Seaport Museum, the Rowing Center and Boathouse are separate projects from the park being developed by the City of Stonington.
Last week, the city selected a company to assess the level of pollution at the park site and clean it up. The aim is to open the park at the end of 2023.
In 2016, residents approved a $2.2 million bond issue to purchase the land and develop a public park. The project was hampered by delays due to subterranean contamination, the need to preserve a historic home on the site and the impact this would have on park design, and controversy over the original design of the boathouse, which would serve as a home for the haunted The Stonington High School Rowing Team and Community Rowing Center.
The boathouse design will incorporate the historic home and is being funded by the Friends of Stonington Crew and SCRI.
The state has given the city a $753,889 pollution cleanup grant, and First Selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough said that of the $2.2 million in bail money raised by residents to purchase and develop the park were approved, approximately $500,000 remains, meaning the city should have enough money to complete the project.