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OPINION: Protecting resources while moving Meriden forward

OPINION: Protecting resources while moving Meriden forward

I attended the Jan. 22 public hearing for the “Plan of Conservation and Development.”  Mr. Enrico Buccilli chaired the hearing that was the next step in finalizing the information and goals that make up this state required 10-year plan. The meeting was well attended and the comments varied. 
I was present because I am very interested in making sure that a Natural Resources Inventory be part of the plan.

Conservation and development go hand in hand. An inventory of our natural resources is necessary so that during growth or development of the city we protect those assets through a procedure linking documented information by qualified individuals with communication between the city government, its departments, boards and commissions.  The outcome is that we maintain and conserve the beauty of the resources for future generations yet participate in the progress needed to move a city forward.

The city planner has assured me that the inventory will be included but volunteer help is needed. I have spoken to a number of people who are both earnest and qualified to meet the challenge of putting together an inventory of this sort. Meriden is lucky to have produced so many concerned, well educated and highly regarded individuals in the conservation and natural resources field.

This team has stepped forward but others will be needed when the actual inventory begins.

Many of the goals in the POCD will be achieved with help from the public. I urge Meriden citizens to get involved. The dialogue between the audience, the planner, and commission showed that most were on the same wavelength. This document will be very helpful in showing what Meriden has to offer and that it understands what is needed to continue our growth, making it a fantastic marketing tool.

Two  other very important concerns came out of the meeting. Those concerns were echoed by many; the general public, elected officials and commissioners.

The first is how crowded the Crown Street development at the Record-Journal site (11 Crown St.) appears. The second matter of importance was that many would rather not see the addition of residential buildings on the Green.

The initial plan for the Crown Street project gave us all hope that the results would be a great complement to the Green and the other  buildups in the Central Business District. The plans and drawings seemed to give us a great visual. It was the perfect way to stimulate development on that site and provide the rest of the residential units needed to replace those taken away by the loss of Mills. There was little layout by the City for what it was going to get, almost a no-brainer.  The tax breaks given tarnished the brightness for many.

We quickly learned that there was a shortage of between 10 and 20 parking spaces for the complex and that a major electrical junction was on the property that serviced the downtown area and wasn’t on the original plans. Those boxes needed be relocated. Then after financing issues were corrected construction was started. We probably didn’t need as dense a complex as was planned.

Twenty fewer units on Crown Street might have given us a better perspective and solved the parking problem. Now we are nearing completion and many of us have concerns. But in reality there is very little we can do. Let’s just hope that the management company can maintain the facilities so that we can be proud of this newest addition to the city.

Maybe  we can learn from this. Before  shovel hits ground on the Meriden Green, let’s make every effort to stop the construction of any residential units.

Originally 75 or so units were proposed for each north corner, then it was negotiated to a lesser amount.  We need to explore every idea and exhaust every possibility to maintain our park as is. It may be necessary to offer other sites or renovate other buildings. There might even be a suggestion the developers like better.

 We can’t just shrug our shoulders and say “it’s a done deal.”  This must be made a top priority and hopefully with only one acceptable outcome. That outcome is that we remember the improvement to the parcel was to solve a flooding problem by uncovering the three brooks that flowed beneath the buildings. The establishment of the Green was a bonus. Let’s bask in the glory that the flooding has been controlled and enjoy the beauty and multi-functionality of these 14 acres. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize the success of our efforts by locating additional residential units on the property. 

We have to work together to achieve the proper solution. We must keep this multiple award winning park the “best of show.”
Once Mill St. is closed, the unique things proposed for the additional four-acre expansion of the Green will add even more to the draw and fascination of the park.  Some good ideas are on the drawing board.

Make your feelings known to the powers to be. They listen, they are as proud of this city as we are.

Carmine Trotta recently ended his term as chairman of the Neighborhood Rehabilitation Advisory Board, and his position on the Neighborhood Preservation Loan Committee. Last summer he completed 2 1/2 years as chairman of the Library Building Review Committee. He is vice chairman of the Flood Control Implementation Agency and a member of the Conservation Commission.

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