EDITORIAL: A plan to revive historic Meriden cemetery

EDITORIAL: A plan to revive historic Meriden cemetery


Meriden’s East Cemetery is the resting place of some notable residents. Veterans of the Revolutionary War and Civil War are buried there, as are at least three Meriden mayors.

The city-owned burying ground, located at the end of Miles Place off East Main Street, is in a state of disrepair, however. The cemetery has not had an official caretaker since 1963 and no plots are believed to have been sold since then.

Currently, Meriden budgets just $5,000 a year for the graveyard’s maintenance.

Acknowledging that more could be done at East Cemetery, the City Council voted last week to establish a task force to determine its future. The creation of the task force was approved by the council’s public works and parks & recreation committee earlier this month.

Task force members, who will be appointed by Mayor Kevin Scarpati, have a lot to ponder. Should the city invest in and reopen the cemetery to burials or maintain it as a historic site?

The consulting firm BSC Group conducted a $21,000 study for the city, which examined the cemetery’s history and layout and the possibility of resuming the sale of burial plots.

David Crispin, BSC Group’s director of cemetery design services, said Meriden has owned East Cemetery since 1845. Beyond that, not much is known about the place, including records of interment rights, the rules and regulations governing the cemetery, and a fee structure for how plots could be sold.

BSC presented its findings to the City Council earlier this year, noting reopening sales could produce up to $3.75 million in revenue for the city over time if a $250,000 investment is made to develop the site.

The task force will review BSC’s 42-page report and proceed from there.

While a quarter-million-dollar investment cannot be taken lightly, if BSC’s assessment is correct, East Cemetery could be a nice revenue stream for Meriden.

Cleaning up this historic city plot and resuming the sale of burial plots there is certainly worth considering.

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