The fight for Meriden City Hall is on. The municipal election season has begun and the town committees have endorsed their candidates for the November election.
Democrats have once again selected incumbent Mayor Kevin Scarpati to lead their ticket. He has had a successful first term as mayor, calming the political waters after chaos of the previous Republican administration.
City Democrats can proudly tout the massive positive change coming to Meriden including significant investment in our community’s future, like the state-of-the art, like-new Platt and Maloney high schools, both of which were completed well under budget.
Remember what the Republicans recommended? They were in favor of closing both Maloney and Platt in favor of one massive new high school for Meriden. And guess where they wanted it to be located — where the new Meriden Green stands today — smack in the middle of the floodplain. What a nutty idea.
Democrats took the lead on the downtown Transit Oriented Development project. From the Meriden station we can now easily connect to trains going north to Hartford/Boston and south to New Haven/New York. Better yet, there will be ample parking in both the Colony Street parking garage and at the surface parking lot on State Street.
Forward-thinking Democrats also led the planning for the demolition of the outdated Mills housing project and the construction of multiple sites of mixed-use housing that will provide a range of affordable housing units to meet the needs of millennials, service workers, retirees and families looking for an urban setting.
Unlike the old Mills public housing project, every new housing project will be a mix of incomes under private management and will have first-floor commercial and retail space for amenities.
Democrats also initiated the linchpin flood control project, the first of its kind in Meriden, that will keep our inner city dry from major storms. That project has already generated more than $200 million in private investment after years of stagnation.
The emergence of the new award-winning Meriden Green, overseen by the Democratic administration, is already seeing a burst of positive activity including a bustling farmers market, music concerts at the amphitheater, Lions Club Duck Race, car shows, charity events and company picnics.
There is much excitement about the positive change coming to Meriden. A visible change that has come together over decades of planning and hard work by the committed teamwork of elected officials at local, state and federal levels together with the employees of multiple agencies. This stands in stark contrast to the dysfunction we are witnessing in Congress and in the state legislature, where partisan divisiveness and obstruction have paralyzed effective governance.
I have now written forty columns in this newspaper. Most of them have highlighted the many impressive people who contribute to our community, and the many places that make it special, along with the city’s activities and events.
But I have noticed that the opposition parties — the parties of gloom and doom with no positive vision for our future — continually talk us down and rarely have anything positive to say about Meriden. It seems like they don’t like Meriden very much, complaining about and criticizing our city at every opportunity.
Republicans — akin to the Congress they control — accomplish little.
Democrats, on the other hand, have promised and delivered with all the positive changes I have noted above. We can thank Democrats for the forward-thinking vision and heavy lifting that has Meriden on the move.
Thanks to these efforts, Meriden is becoming the envy of many other urban centers in Connecticut.
Go, Meriden! Go, Democrats!
Michael S. Rohde is a former Meriden mayor and city councilor.