Thursday, December 1 2022

Stonington – Stonington Community Rowing Inc. has announced that it will name its proposed rowing facility in the yet to be constructed Mystic River Boathouse Park as the Jim Dietz Rowing Center.

“Jim Dietz is one of the greatest figures of all time in the sport of rowing. He is known around the world 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 SCRI Steering Committee Member Will Castle in the SCRI announcement.

A six-time Olympian, three as an athlete and three as a coach, from 1967 to 1983 Dietz won 45 US national championships and 37 Canadian national championship titles, winning two world championship medals and four Pan American Games medals. In 2010, he was inducted into the USRowing National Hall of Fame.

Dietz was also the head coach at 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 pinnacle of a lifetime of enjoyment in the sport of rowing,” Dietz said in the announcement posted by SCR. “I have found fulfillment in every shot made and every athlete trained. The lessons I learned about teamwork, dedication and respect have served me well throughout my life. I hope this new rowing center will provide future generations with the same experiences and enjoyment that I had in the sport.”

The Jim Dietz Rowing Center will encompass the proposed Hart Perry Boathouse. It will have an indoor training facility, locker rooms, meeting area, outdoor amphitheater, trophy room, offices and a rowing dock. SCRI has raised half of the $2.5 million it needs for the project. More information about the project can be found at www.stoningtoncommunityrowing.org.

Although located on the same lot on Route 27, just north of the Mystic Seaport Musuem, the Rowing Center and Boathouse are separate park projects being developed by the City of Stonington.

Last week, the city selected a company to determine the level of contamination at the park site and clean it up. The goal is to open the park at the end of 2023.

In 2016, residents approved a $2.2 million bond to purchase the land and develop a public park. The project has been beset by delays due to underground contamination, the need to preserve a historic house on the site and the impact this would have on the design of the park, and controversy over the initial design of the boathouse, which would serve as the home for the Stonington High School Rowing Team and the Community Rowing Centre.

The boathouse design will incorporate the historic home and is funded by Friends of Stonington Crew and SCRI.

The state gave the city a $753,889 grant to clean up environmental contamination and first coach Danielle Chesebrough said about $500,000 remains of the $2.2 million in bail approved by residents to buy and develop the park, which means the city should have enough money to complete the project.

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