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Rep. Elizabeth Esty speaks at a question and answer session with the Midstate Chamber of Commerce on Monday (Lauren Sievert |Record-Journal)

Esty tours Meriden, talks about flood control, education

MERIDEN — U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty toured several city locations Monday, including Middlesex Community College, where she spoke about flood control plans and education.

Esty held a question-and-answer session with the Midstate Chamber of Commerce at Middlesex Community College and spoke about her plans to help Meriden secure money for it’s flood control plan and redevelopment of the former Hub site between State and Pratt streets.

Esty referred to the proposed Water Resources Development Act, which would free up $12 billion from outdated projects. The Army Corp of Engineers would then use that funding for new projects and developments, which could include Meriden’s plan, Esty said. President Obama has pledged to sign the bill if it’s passed, Esty said.

Flood control is hugely important to Meriden’s economic recovery, Esty said. Even if all the other improvements to infrastructure downtown are completed and the link to a commuter rail system between New Haven and Springfield is established, everything could still be ruined by flooding and cost lives and property damage, Esty said.

While projects that don’t produce immediate, visible results are sometimes not seen as important, Esty said it’s when something goes wrong with those systems that people question why something wasn’t done earlier.

City Councilor Cathy Battista said she was glad Esty was there to “shine a light” on the issues Meriden was facing. Battista said the issues were like a puzzle, and there isn’t always money available.

Esty also spoke about the rail system and the need to update the highest traveled system in the country. The last year has demonstrated the need to update sections of the rail system, and there shouldn’t be a choice between safety and reliability, the residents should be able to expect both, Esty said. Along the shoreline there are sections of the railroad that are over 100 years old, and there is a backlog of maintenance, Esty said, adding that it should not be a partisan issue.

“I am willing to work with anyone who will work with me,” Esty said.

Esty lastly spoke about education, and the need to train students in the skill sets needed for technical jobs. Esty said many jobs today require technical knowledge and without it the emerging workforce won’t be able to secure the jobs in their communities. Esty said there needs to be a stronger relationship between the schools and private sector jobs, allowing students the opportunity to see what jobs are out there when they graduate.

“At the end of the day, the most important resource for any country is its children,” Esty said.

Esty said Connecticut is a “high cost, high education” state and she wants to continue the innovations throughout the state.



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