NEW LONDON -- Mayor Michael Passero said that Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard, told him during a wide-ranging discussion Tuesday that at this time the Coast Guard is not pursuing relocating its band to the Washington, D.C., area.
But a working group, set up by the vice commandant, still is studying the issue, and there's currently no timeline for when the study will be completed or when a decision will be made.
The working group is tasked with researching the costs and logistics of a potential relocation.
"Adm. Zukunft's priority is to maximize opportunities for the U.S. Coast Guard Band to perform to the enjoyment of a national audience where it can showcase its immense talent and raise the visibility of the United States Coast Guard," Cmdr. Matt Moorlag, the commandant's press assistant, said by email.
The Coast Guard, which has only one official band, is the only branch of the Armed Forces without a band in Washington. The band is housed in Leamy Hall at the academy, which has dealt with space constraints for years.
"Since potential relocation of the band is still under review, Adm. Zukunft told Mayor Passero that he is not going to make an immediate decision on the issue, but he will reach out to him once a decision has been made," Moorlag said.
Passero said Wednesday that the news from the commandant was a welcome surprise, and that his understanding from what Zukunft said is that there's no plans to relocate the band in the near future.
Zukunft was in town earlier this week to deliver a leadership address to the cadets, and he also sat down with Passero.
In September, the Coast Guard confirmed it was exploring the possibility of relocating its 55-member band, which has called New London home for more than 90 years.
This is not the first time the Coast Guard has considered relocating the band; it proposed the idea in 1976 and again in 1981. The second instance resulted in a petition drive to keep the band in New London.
As is true with all U.S. military bands, the Coast Guard Band, which was organized in March 1925 and based in New London ever since, performs its concerts free of charge.
The band performs several concerts locally, including its annual outdoor rendition of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" with cannon fire on Labor Day weekend.
The full 55-member ensemble plays about 20 concerts a year that are open to the public. During the school year, there's a full band concert every month and two at Christmastime.
Several are children's concerts programmed to educate and entertain local students.
The band members also play with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, the Hartford and New Haven symphonies and others.
About 10 percent of the musicians who play with ESCO are Coast Guard Band members.