MERIDEN — The city is waiting for a consultant’s report before selecting a relocation site for the Meriden Soccer Club.
The city is looking for a new home for the privately run youth soccer club because MidState Medical Center wants to build a new medical facility on the MidState Soccer Field site along Lewis Avenue where the club currently plays.
The field site is technically owned by MidState, but the city has a 99-year lease for the property, which city officials characterized as "effective ownership." The city required the old Veterans Memorial Medical Center to construct the fields as part of the approval for the new MidState hospital back in the 1990s because construction of the hospital led to the city losing two baseball fields and one soccer field.
MidState formally reached out to the city last year about its plans for a new medical facility and agreed to pay for a study looking at possible relocation options.
Three sites considered
The engineering firm BL Companies, located on Research Parkway in Meriden, was hired to complete the study and, according to city Parks and Recreation Director Chris Bourdon, is expected to release its report within a couple of weeks.
Bourdon said three locations are currently being considering — Washington Park, Ceppa Field, and a privately owned vacant lot at 525 Kensington Ave. with 30 total acres. The city also initially considered a vacant property adjacent to Target at 42 Profile St., but Bourdon said it was thrown out because the site doesn’t have enough room for a full-sized field.
The firm’s report will give more information to the city and MidState about the feasibility of each site along with cost estimates. Bourdon said it hasn’t been determined whether the city or MidState would pay for relocation costs, but he expects that will be discussed at a meeting scheduled in a couple of weeks.
“That’s going to hopefully be discussed further what exactly they're going to be willing to contribute to the relocation,” Bourdon said.
‘A little off guard’
If Washington Park or Ceppa Field were chosen for relocation, it would mean the soccer club would share those sites with groups already using them. If the Kensington Avenue parcel is chosen, it would mean purchasing the property, most recently assessed at just over $1 million, and building brand new fields.
The Meriden Soccer Club uses the site at MidState, which includes one full-sized field and a half-sized field, for games and practices during the fall, spring and summer seasons, club president Joe Scaramuzzo said.
The Meriden Soccer Club's board has spent between $70,000 and $100,000 of the club's money on improving the MidState fields in recent years, including installing new sod, Scaramuzzo told the Record-Journal last year. The club also turned an abandoned dog kennel located on the property into a concession facility with bathroom, a meeting room and storage space.
Bourdon said the club was “caught a little off guard” after learning about the possible relocation last year.
“When they did that work, they thought this was going to be their home for the next 100 years, and then five years later” talks for relocation began, he said.
Part of the process
In relocating the club, Bourdon said the city is committed to providing it with a facility that at least matches what it currently has if not exceeds.
“If it goes the way I hope it goes, they will be taken care of and won't lose anything,” City Councilor Cathy Battista, chair of the council’s park and rec subcommittee, said in September.
The city will continue to include soccer club representatives in discussions about the relocation, Bourdon said, adding the discussions about relocation have been “above board.”
“I think MidState has been honest with their intentions, we’ve been honest with our intentions,” Bourdon said. “...We’re not looking to pull a fast one on anyone. We want everyone to have the resources that they need to do what they do.”
Scaramuzzo last year said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the possible relocation because while the city "is saying all the right things," he doesn't "want to see city officials cave to pressure from MidState when the proposals come out."
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