MERIDEN — The City Council is expected to vote Monday on whether to establish an ad hoc committee that would oversee proposals to name and dedicate city-owned property, including parks, streets, and school buildings.
The proposed “City Property Renaming and Dedication Committee” would consist of nine members appointed to two-year terms by the mayor — including two city councilors, two Board of Education members, one city staff member and four members of the public.
In 2005, the City Council voted to create a similar committee, however, it has been inactive for a number of years. Democratic Councilor Cathy Battista raised the idea to re-establish a naming committee after learning of instances in which individuals named city property without city approval. The committee was approved by the council’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation subcommittee this week and now goes to the full council for final approval.
“This has come up lately...several people in the city have suggested certain areas or streets be renamed,” Battista, chair of the parks and recreation subcommittee, said at a meeting last week.
In recent years when individuals have come forward with a request to name city property, city staff and councilors have decided on their own to allow it or not because there was no process, Battista said.
Once appointed, committee members will establish criteria for naming property, including a nomination form. The resolution passed by the subcommittee says the naming committee will not consider naming city property after a deceased individual until at least one year after their death.
“It can’t just be because you're popular in a certain section of Meriden, it has to be because you made significant contributions, financial or otherwise, to the community,” she said.
Because the Board of Education has a process in place for naming school property, the council has proposed making the new committee in charge of naming all “external” school structures, such as a school building or fields, and leave the naming of “internal” structures, such as a gym or auditorium to the Board of Education.
The approved makeup of the committee includes changes the councilors made this week to an original proposal submitted by the city’s Corporation Counsel Michael Quinn. Quinn proposed that the committee consist of two city councilors, specifically the chair and vice chair of the council’s parks and recreation subcommittee or their designees; the heads of the Parks and Recreation and Public Work departments or their designees; three Meriden residents, one member each from the Meriden Hall of Fame Association, Meriden Historical Society and Meriden Land Trust. Quinn’s draft resolution also called for two school board members to be added.
The council decided to remove the specifications in Quinn’s proposal after Mayor Kevin Scarpati argued they limit who can be appointed.
“I feel that it gets far too specific in the naming of who is and can be appointed to this committee,” Scarpati said. “... This takes the power out of my hands and yours and binds us to individuals and groups of people that may or may not be the best suited to serve on this committee.”
The council also increased the committee’s members of the general public from three to four after resident Arthur Petrucelli spoke at the meeting and argued that having only three members of the public would “stack the deck” against the residents.