GOV. MALLOY, SHORELINE DELEGATION ANNOUNCE STATE BONDING FOR SHORE LINE TROLLEY MUSEUM
(EAST HAVEN, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic state legislators from the East Haven area announced today that the State Bond Commission is expected to approve a $1 million state grant for the non-profit Shore Line Trolley Museum on River Street in East Haven to construct new trolley storage buildings above the flood plain.
Trolley Museum General Manager Wayne Sandford said a majority of the museum’s collection of 100 trolleys – which are an average 100 years old – will be moved from their current location on a flood plain to two new buildings that will be constructed above the 500-year flood level and several feet above the high-water mark of the 1938 New England Hurricane, which is considered the most devastating New England hurricane in recent history and which buried the trolley property under 12 feet of water.
Sandford has spent the past 18 months fundraising from museum members and the public to fund the estimated $2 million cost of building the new trolley sheds and track. The value of the trolley collection is estimated at several tens of millions of dollars, he said.
“This action by the state will preserve an important part of Connecticut’s heritage for many, many years to come,” Sandford said today. “This grant will help get these trolleys out of harm’s way. It means so much to us. It’s huge.”
“The Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven preserves a valuable link to Connecticut’s past, allowing visitors to view and learn the history of antique trolley cars that once served as a routine mode of transportation in the Greater New Haven area,” Governor Malloy said. “This funding will allow the oldest operating trolley museum in the United States to continue serving as a celebrated attraction and reminder of what has made Connecticut revolutionary.”
“The Shore Line Trolley Museum has many valuable collections from the Trolley Era, including thousands of photographs and books and other artifacts as well as 100 vehicles,” state Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) said. “Obviously it is of paramount importance to protect and maintain this valuable collection, especially considering the museum’s proximity to the shoreline and the possibility of future storm damage.”
“All year long the museum is a travel destination for families looking to celebrate Halloween or Christmas, to earn a Boy Scout Merit Badge or practice their photography skills. It’s really quite an active and vibrant tourist attraction,” state Senator Ed Meyer (D-Guilford) said. “Hurricane Irene caused some real damage to the museum facilities last August, so I’m happy to see the state taking a proactive stance in protecting this historic collection.”
“I am so appreciative of Governor Malloy’s trip to the Trolley Museum to see first-hand the need for protecting this historic treasure. The governor actually drove one of the trolleys as we traversed the route!” said state Rep. Pat Widlitz (D- Guilford), who is House co-chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “My husband Gary and I are in the process of acquiring an extensive collection of original negatives that chronicle the rapid transit history of Connecticut. The collection, including negatives that cover the New Haven, Bridgeport, Norwalk and Hartford trains, documents the car numbers, their history and – in many cases – the conductors.”
The Widlitzes are working with a family friend to donate their collection to the Museum.
“As a member of the State Bond Commission, I eagerly look forward to casting my vote in favor of funding for the museum,” she said.
“The Shoreline Trolley is not only an important historical treasure and fun for the whole family, it’s also a gateway into all kinds of tourist venues on the upper shoreline, such as Branford’s Thimble Island cruises and Guilford’s colonial sites,” said state Rep. Lonnie Reed (D-Branford). “Elevating the trolley barns is an essential investment as we work to entice more vacationers to visit our shoreline, experience all that we have to offer and spend money here. We are grateful to the governor for his support.”
“The Trolley Museum is a treasure for East Haven, the greater New Haven region, and an important link to our shoreline history,” state Rep. Roland Lemar (D-New Haven) said. “It is an incredible resource for students, our local schools and an important training ground for our future engineers at Gateway Community College.”
“This investment in the Shoreline Trolley Museum will allow the museum to build two buildings well above the flood plain where their large collection of trolleys can be stored in case of extreme flooding, like we saw last August,” said state Rep. James Albis (D-East Haven). “In addition to its historical value, the Trolley Museum is a great tourist attraction for East Haven, bringing in 20,000 tourists annually and providing an economic boost for our community. I applaud Governor Malloy for seeing the importance of this project to our region.”
The State Bond Commission is scheduled to meet next Friday, August 31 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1-E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.