Once basking in its image as “The Silver City of the World”, that nickname for Meriden in central Connecticut has since collapsed, due in no small part to the relentless migration of its industrial base overseas. But that recent impression may be in for a change. David Cooley, lifelong resident and co-director of the Making Meriden Business Center, addressed 57 Y’s Men of Meriden on Jan. 14, detailing the remarkable array of efforts to rebrand the city’s image.
From a modest office at 5 Colony St. and working with an equally modest $120K budget, Cooley is pursuing a mission “to turn Meriden’s blank canvas into a vibrant community”, assisted by the City of Meriden, MidState Chamber of Commerce, MEDCO and the CT Main Street Center, along with numerous other state and federal funding agencies. Much of the rebirth of central Meriden began with the vision of Phil Ashton in providing flood control to the downtown, eventually morphing into today’s highly acclaimed Meriden Green.
Activities to date include extensive construction of modern residential and retail space (attractive to today’s younger working adults with easy access to central Connecticut’s rail service) and a new train station with expanded CTrail and Amtrak service. Also active is a downtown beautification program which includes rehabilitation of the iconic traffic tower, a volunteer-driven placement and maintenance of flower boxes throughout the area, support for local art organizations, and a decorative window painting program (280 completed to date).
Another thrust in downtown rehabilitation is a program to make Meriden more business friendly, capitalizing on the city’s central Connecticut location and easing zoning restrictions. Expansion of the city’s airport, promotion of HHC MidState Medical Center with its Life Star hub and recent high school restorations also play a role.
And a slew of recent events: the successful Twilight Concert series, a popular ever-growing Farmers Market, the annual downtown YuleFest (with Santa arriving by train), new downtown decorations and lighting, and Linear Trail improvement and maintenance.
Retired or semi-retired men from Meriden or surrounding communities, interested in attending a Y’s Men of Meriden meeting, are invited to call 203-238-7784 or visit the www.ysmenofmeriden.com website.