MERIDEN — Twenty years ago, the city’s Flood Control Implementation Agency introduced a plan to tear down the Meriden Hub in a $25 million flood control project, clearing the way for property that is now the Meriden Green.
The city proposed a radical plan that called for a complete restructuring of the area near Harbor Brook, which was enclosed in the 1960s. A 20-page proposal made available to the public included sectional maps, research and details of changes that would take eight years from start to finish.
Significant floods downtown prompted the plan. A flood in June 1992 caused $14 million in damage.
The plan included uncovering parts of the brook buried in underground conduits, razing the Hub, creating a park and pond, and establishing a linear trail along Harbor Brook.
“We’ve laid a very good foundation,” City Councilor Mike Rohde told the Record-Journal in 1999. “This is going to shape Meriden for the next 100 years.”
The Hub would be replaced with “a large park featuring an expanse of trees bisected by the meandering brook and stormwater retention area,” according to Record-Journal archives.
“I think it’s very ambitious, but it’s certainly well thought out and thoroughly researched,” Economic Development Director Randall Kamerbeek said at the time.
Then-City Planner Dominick Caruso believed the project would enhance the quality of life. It wasn’t without controversy, however, because the Meriden Hub had tenants, including manufacturing plant RFS Cablewave. A local attorney expressed concern that losing RFS Cablewave would have a “serious impact on the community.”
The City Council hired the Cheshire engineering firm Milone and MacBroom to conduct a study. A series of 1999 Record-Journal articles detailed available grants, including an initial $5 million from the state and $16.9 million from the Army Corps of Engineers.
The city took possession of the property in 2005 and demolished the Hub. For years after demolition, the property was a large parking lot as planning continued.
In November 2013, ground was broken on the 14.4-acre park and flood control basin. The $14 million project was completed during summer 2016.
Public Works Director Howard Weissberg told the Record-Journal in September that the Meriden Green flood control project has ”functioned exactly as planned” during flash flooding.