Prior to the merger of the Connecticut River Estuary and Midstate regional organizations (CRERPA and Midstate), there were fifteen such RPOs in Connecticut, with each agency existing for at least 50 years. The leaders of CRERPA and Midstate, being aware of an ongoing legislative effort to reduce the number of RPOs in the state in the name of "efficiency", were intent on maintaining the lower Connecticut River as a "space between the places". The "places" include New London, Hartford and New Haven which are at the centers of their respective urban regions. In the lower Connecticut River Valley, it was the river that was at the core of the regions.
If the efforts of the legislature eventually resulted in the reduction in number of RPOs and the forced merger of some of the organizations, the fear was that the Connecticut River would become a convenient regional boundary with towns west of the river being "tacked onto" the New Haven region, towns to the east of the region being "tacked onto" the New London region, and towns at the northern boundary of the region being "tacked onto" the Hartford region to the north. Being an unacceptable alternative, the leaders of Midstate and Estuary RPOs decided to merge in order to protect the region from being dismantled resulting in the loss of one of the most important "spaces" amongst the State's "places".
With the merger of the two organizations came the need for the consolidation of offices from Middletown (Midstate) and Old Saybrook (Estuary). Members of both staffs joined forces at Centerbrook location of the RiverCOG with Estuary Executive Director Linda B. Krause taking the reins at the newly merged organization. Former longtime Midstate Executive Director Geoff Colgrove retired in order to conduct his own planning practice.
The RiverCOG, which began operations in October, 2012, won't likely be the only voluntary merger amongst the remaining fourteen RPOs in Connecticut. For RiverCOG, the merger and combination of the seventeen towns of the Midstate and Estuary regions has resulted in many new opportunities and challenges as the agency moves on beyond its first year of existence. All representatives - from the seventeen chief elected officials down to the staff of the agency - are excited about the new opportunities that await and the new partnerships that will be forged. Regional government in Connecticut is alive and well! And growing.....