MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A Connecticut city is about to open a new green. That’s something we don’t get to say very often. The city of Meriden will unveil its new centerpiece Friday.
We don’t usually get to build new town greens like this in New England, because of most old greens are pretty and historic. This part of Meriden was not.
“It was a big mess, yes,” said Joe LaRosa of LaRosa Construction, the company that built the Green. “It was a parking lot. It was all parking, it was all overgrown. The brook was underground.”
The brook, really three different brooks, were buried in underground pipes in the 1950s, but every spring those pipes would get overwhelmed and flood, so all they had in the middle of town was a scruffy parking lot.
“Well I think the area was depressed for many, many years,” said Joe’s brother John LaRosa. “Because of the flooding, they couldn’t really do any development.”
The key to this new green is controlling the water flow. They did that by getting rid of the pipes, and letting those brooks flow, and flow together. Now that water is a meandering stream. You can walk along it, walk on little bridges over it, and walk on a great big bridge over it. When it floods, the water now has a place to go. The whole green is now a basin that can hold millions of gallons, and keep the flood water inside the park. Basically, everything in it is designed to be under water.
“You know, the footbridges, you know, we drive the piers 60 feet into the ground, so they’re not going anywhere,” said Joe LaRosa. Maybe a little bit of erosion once in a while, but that’s all fixable things.”
Joe and John grew up in Meriden and learned the business from their father. The younger generation of LaRosa Construction is looking forward to showing his grandkids the green someday.
“My grandfather built the business and it’s just a lot of pride,” said Joe LaRosa Jr. “We take a lot of pride in everything we do and it shows here.”
The Silver City Bridge is the centerpiece of the park. It takes people from Pratt Street, over the new green and to the new train and bus station they’re building right on the eastern edge of the downtown buildings. The idea is to encourage more people to live around here, maybe spur more construction and development.
“You know, get off the train, maybe have a coffee or a sandwich, maybe you get some developers around here that buy up some of the older properties, demolish them and put up some new stuff,” said John LaRosa. “I think it’s a real positive for the area.”
A couple more highlights to this 14 acre project include a grassy section with special turf designed to have trucks drive on it, and they say that will be perfect for food trucks or a farmers market. There is also an amphitheater in one corner. It can easily hold hundreds of people on blankets and lawn chairs.
They are going to have a big party there Friday night for the official opening of the park. That begins at 5 p.m. with food and live music. The fancy LED lights on the bridge will be switched on at 8:30.