Stonington — Stonington Community Rowing Inc. has announced it will name its proposed rowing facility at the still-to-be constructed Mystic River Boathouse Park as the Jim Dietz Rowing Center.
“Jim Dietz is one of the all-time greatest figures in the sport of rowing. He is known globally as one of the best athletes to ever compete, but even more so as a coach, mentor, friend, surrogate dad, and of course an epic storyteller,” said Will Castle, a SCRI steering committee member, in the SCRI announcement.
A six-time Olympian, three as an athlete and three as a coach, from 1967 to 1983, Dietz won 45 United States national championships and 37 Canadian national championship titles, won two world championships medals and four at the Pan American games. In 2010, he was inducted into the USRowing National Hall of Fame.
Dietz was also the head coach at the U.S. 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 apex of a lifetime of enjoyment in the sport of rowing,” Dietz said in the announcement released by SCR. “I have found fulfillment in every stroke taken and every athlete coached. The lessons I learned about teamwork, dedication, and respect have served me for a lifetime. I hope this new rowing center will give future generations the same experiences and enjoyment that I have had in the sport.”
The Jim Dietz Rowing Center will encompass the proposed Hart Perry Boathouse. It will have an indoor training center, change 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.
While located on the same land on Route 27 just north of Mystic Seaport Musuem, the rowing center and boathouse are separate projects from the park being developed by the Town of Stonington.
Last week the town selected a firm to determine the level of contamination on 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 buy the land and develop a public park. The project has been beset by delays due underground contamination, the need to preserve a historic home on the site and the impact that would have on the park design, and controversy over the intial design of the boathouse, which would serve as the home for the Stonington High School rowing team and the community rowing center.
The boathouse design will incorporate the historic house and is being funded by the Friends of Stonington Crew and the SCRI.
The state has given the town a $753,889 grant to clean up the environmental contamination and First Selectwoman Danielle Chesebrough has said about $500,000 remains from the $2.2 million in bonding money approved by residents to purchase and develop the park, which means the town should have enough money to complete the project.