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Dave Zajac Record-Journal
Hubbard Park visitors get a glimpse of downtown Meriden from Castle Craig during a special night viewing held by the Parks and Rec Dept., Thursday, September 19, 2013. The access road was open to vehicles from 7 and 8:30 p.m. and dozens of spectators packed the parking lot and surrounding area of the tower dedicated in 1900. | (Dave Zajac / Record-Journal)

Meriden plans extended hours for Castle Craig road in August

MERIDEN — The road leading to Castle Craig will be open longer on weekends in August for people wanting to drive to East Peak.

The road has closed at 4:45 p.m. for as long as Parks and Recreation Department Director Mark Zebora can remember. The time, however, has been an ongoing issue, especially during the summer days when daylight is plentiful into the evening hours.

“I’m really not sure why it was 4:45 and not 5 o’clock or 4:30,” Zebora said. “We figured we would start on weekends to see how it went and because there is a significant amount of walkers, especially during the week, who take advantage of the road being closed so they can avoid cars and walk up to the castle.”

The road will be open beginning this weekend on Saturdays and Sundays through August until 7 p.m. for those in the area looking to catch a view from atop the peak or tower.

Three nighttime viewings from the peak were also scheduled, all of which will be held during the period of full moons. The viewings are scheduled for Aug. 9, Sept. 8 and Oct. 8 with weather and visibility pending. During the nighttime viewings, the road will be open until 8:30 p.m.

Zebora credited City Councilors Cathy Battista and Kevin Scarpati for pushing to make the change. Councilors were contacted by several people in recent months requesting a change or an extension of the Castle Craig hours, Scarpati said.

“I think city residents will be pleased,” he said. “This will be something great for the city and its something the constituents asked for.”

Scarpati is hopeful the extended hours in August could lead to a more significant change next year with more days throughout the year having extended hours. That, he said, could be dependent on the city budget, but Scarpati remained optimistic.

“This is a step in the right direction,” he said. “Maybe we could do more for next year.”

Battista said she is still looking into the possibility of keeping the gate open later on weekdays, having fielded concerns from residents.

“I would like to find out the cost involved, but during the summer months only it might be good to see,” she said. “People want to be able to go after they get out of work and right now they can’t.”

Rotating part-time workers have been responsible for locking the gate in the last few years. Zebora said that will continue, with only a small added expense.

“It was not a significant amount of money, so we figured we’d give it a shot,” Zebora said.

Zebora noted that workers have traveled to the castle this year before locking the gate to warn people the gate would soon be closing. City officials have seen a significant decline in motorists being locked behind the gate as a result.

On weekdays throughout August, the gate will remain open from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. 203-317-2266 Twitter: @DanBrechlinRJ

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