MERIDEN — The Meriden Police Department is pulling out of the substation it rented at 109 Main St. in South Meriden for about 10 years.
“The police department is no longer renting the space due to the NI (Neighborhood Initiative) officer no longer being assigned to the area,” police spokesman Sgt. John Mennone said in an e-mail. “We are grateful to the owner for providing the space for a number of years.”
The police department had 11 NI officers assigned in various locations throughout the city, but they were eliminated and returned to patrol duty after a tense budget process in the fall. Several months later, the department received enough funding to return four officers and a supervisor to the Neighborhood initiative, but not in South Meriden.
“It’s going to take a little of the hometown feel out of the community,” said We the People Councilor Robert Williams. “I was optimistic something could be worked out. It’s pretty small (amount) in a multi-million dollar budget, but I can’t speak to the cutbacks the chief had to manage.”
Cpl. Fred Rivera was the longtime community officer in South Meriden and very involved in community events and programs.
Williams worked with Rivera nine years ago to move the station from the South Meriden volunteer firehouse to a more visible office in the village. Williams contacted the owner at the time and for a short time, the department didn’t pay any rent. The rent later went up to a couple of hundred dollars a month, Williams said.
Rivera hosted monthly meetings and an open house on the third Thursday of the month. Some nights there would be three people, other nights turnout was 10 to 15 people.
“It was a great gathering point for everyone,” Williams said.
Landlord Vincent Pastore of Milford, who has owned the building for only a few years, said he intends to lease the spot as office space. There are four or five apartments upstairs and another commercial building on the eastern side of the building that was once a former package store.
“It was a nice thing for the community,” Pastore said. “But if the funds aren’t there, it makes sense to close it.”
President of the Neighborhood Advisory Council Holly Wills is a South Meriden resident who attended the monthly meetings. Wills is not overly concerned the closure of the substation will lead to a lapse in police coverage.
“It’s unfortunate that it closed, though our hope is that the NI officers will be back into our neighborhoods in the summer,” Wills said. “The neighborhood association is thrilled we have the patrol officers and the support of the NI officers and supervisor. If there is an issue, they will address it. It’s a start.”
The department has no data yet to determine if there is the cuts have had any significant impact to the community, Mennone said.
“The patrol division has done an excellent job taking on any quality of life issues,” he said. “We will continue to service the community with the same quality of care.”
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