MERIDEN — Formerly known as the Meriden Mall and then the Meriden Hub, a 14.4-acre piece of land downtown will be getting a new name.
The now-vacant property has been called the Hub since 1981, but with a redevelopment plan in place that will turn the site into a city park, officials want to give it a new identity as well.
“The name tells people outside of Meriden what it is,” explained City Council Deputy Majority Leader Brian Daniels. “This is a real amenity and we want people to know about it.”
The City Council passed a resolution last week to come up with a process for naming the future park. City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior said in the coming weeks a process will be firmed up, and it will likely allow people from around the city to suggest and submit names. The names would then be shortlisted and eventually a recommendation could be made.
“We want to make sure people are aware of all of the elements and different amenities involved with the park,” Kendzior said.
With flooding a historic problem in downtown, the site will be used as a place to retain floodwater in the even of a significant storm. Harbor Brook will be uncovered at the site making it the only watercourse to flow openly through a city park in the state, according to officials. The site will also include a great lawn area for various exhibitions and events, an amphitheater, walking trails that will link up with the linear trail, and an “iconic” illuminated pedestrian bridge that will connect State and Pratt streets.
The project is expected to cost $13.2 million and Meriden-based LaRosa Construction Co. was awarded the contract. Though a groundbreaking ceremony was held more than a month ago, work has not begun at the site. Kendzior explained that the city had to get formal approval from the state to award the contract. Officials from the Department of Economic and Community Development, as well as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Kendzior said, were deciding among themselves which department should be the official administrator on the contract and last he checked, the contract was in the Attorney General’s office.
“A new agreement is being done and an award has been made,” Kendzior said. “If the contractor has his bonds and things it place, work should begin any time now.”
The naming process is expected to last at least partially through the 18-month project. Kendzior said he hopes to use social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to help with the naming suggestion process. He also wishes to include students from local schools in the naming contest.
In 1981, the Meriden Hub, then a strip shopping center, got its name through a contest for students of Maloney, Platt and Wilcox high schools with the winner receiving a $1,000 scholarship. Each student was asked to submit a name and reason of up to 100 words for the title. The winner was Luc Martin, a Platt High School senior at the time.
Public Works and Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Cathy Battista said she is excited about the renaming process and said it is important the public has a say.
“I think it will be nice to do a contest of sorts,” she said. “I’m happy about the whole thing.”
A recommendation on the process will be submitted within 90 days of the council’s adoption of the resolution last week.
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