I am truly pleased and excited to see all the new construction happening in downtown, including Meriden’s long-awaited new Transit Center scheduled to open next month. I am told that the architecture will be awesome and will, no doubt, be a positive addition to the progress being made in our center city.
State Street will be repaved and will re-open to two-way traffic to make for easier access to the Transit Center. Finally the road barriers will be removed after two years of construction; the Transit Center lot with 80 surface area parking spaces will be available.
The foundation has been laid for Meriden Commons I on the corner of State and Mill streets. Construction will be completed in one year for the 76 apartment units and first-floor retail and commercial space. After completion, Meriden Commons II will begin, adding 75 more apartment units and additional retail/commercial space.
Meanwhile, the Mills Public Housing Project is slated for demolition this fall and will make way for an extension of the Meriden Green to the north along Pratt Street, which will coincide with the construction of a Platt boulevard that will provide a new and improved gateway into downtown. Director of Public Works Bob Bass noted that the bump-outs on West Main and Colony streets will be removed this summer to ease traffic and parking congestion.
South of the Meriden Green, at the opposite end of the park, the former Record-Journal building is coming down to make way for more mixed-use-income units (apartments and some town houses).
A new bakery /coffee shop, “Bakery on the Green,” is planned to open soon on the east side of the Green and a Steak House Restaurant, “Banana Brazil,” is scheduled to open this summer on Hanover Street at the former site of Verdolini’s Restaurant.
Activities on the Meriden Green are picking up, and include the recent Lions Club Duck Race and Car Show this past Sunday (which just missed the rainy weather). Lions Club Duck Race Chairman Jim Moran said: “Everybody had questions about the Meriden Green, but if they come down here and walk in and see the venue that we have right now they are going to see that this is going to be a diamond for the city.”
Today a Latin Fiesta is taking place at the Green Amphitheater (from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.) featuring live Latin bands and children’s amusements. This new event, sponsored by the Meriden Puerto Rican Festival Committee — and open to the public — is intended to thank the Meriden community for 50 years of hosting the festival and to celebrate the 50th Annual Puerto Rican Festival to be held at Hubbard Park on Sunday August 6, from noon to 8 p.m. Several main attractions from previous years will headline this year’s event.
Plans are also underway to open the Meriden Farmers Market on the Green on July 8 with a grand opening celebration. The market will run for 16 consecutive Saturday mornings, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Concerts for Causes will provide weekly musical entertainment and local farmers will sell fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables. There will also be other vendors offering fresh bread, jams and jellies, custom soaps and a variety of other choices. This will be a must-attend Saturday morning occasion.
And, finally, the Meriden Twilight Summer Music Series, organized by Steve Robichaud, is slated to start on Friday, June 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. and run for consecutive Friday nights at the Green amphitheater through August 25. This is the eighth year that Steve has presented the concerts, but the first year at the Meriden Green. This year food trucks will be added for concert-goers. Steve notes that he started the concert series “as a way to expand and enhance Meriden’s revitalization efforts.” The musicians are from throughout Connecticut, but include a New York City performer.
An additional event on July 22 will be an all-day concert, car show with food trucks to support the Fisher House, a home-away-from-home for visiting families of wounded veterans. This is a must-see event for the entire family. To view the music series concert schedule visit their website: restorewiththearts.org.
This is a monumental time for the rebirth of downtown Meriden. Check it out for yourself. We are making history.
Michael S. Rohde is a former mayor and city councilor of Meriden.