Photo credit: Record-Journal file photo
Most of Meriden’s parks have had their name since the beginning of time. Or, at least, it seems that way. Hubbard Park, Columbus Park, City Park, Brookside Park, the list goes on. If you’re a longtime resident, you probably know plenty of them.
It’s very rare for any park to be renamed. The last actual park to be renamed was Bronson Avenue Park, which, is still often referred to by that name. It’s actually Gilman Memorial Park, named after Sgt. Ben Gilman. Gilman, a Meriden native, died while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
Most of Meriden’s parks are either named after a person (Washington, Gilman, Hubbard, Giuffrida, Ceppa, etc.). Then there are those named after areas or nearby bodies of water (Cedar, Beaver Pond/park, Baldwin Pondpark, Johnson Hill).
You get the picture.
It’s not often that these parks change names and prominent ones likely never will. The Hub is not technically a park, but that’s what its future is. And it won’t be just any old park, it will be one of the premier parks. Or, at least, that is what it is intended to be.
For those who don’t know, the Hub plan is basically a $13 million project that involves remediating the site, creating flood storage space, putting a giant bridge in, an amphitheater, some walkways, and other amenities in. The plans certainly look nice.
People question how many people will use it, what the point is, why not put buildings there, etc. I’m not here to discuss that today other than to say there will be buildings, but not within the flood plain. And for background: there were buildings, they’ve been knocked down because they didn’t work and nobody wanted to be there.
Anyway, they want to rename the site/eventual park. It has been The Hub or The Meriden Hub since the early 1980s. The name came from a contest run at the city’s high schools. It replaced the old name, The Meriden Mall. Since then, the “Meriden Mall” is often considered to be The Meriden Square or Westfield Meriden Mall.
The Hub made sense at the time. It was a shopping center and was supposed to be the hub of downtown activity. Before it was the Meriden Mall, and before that building stood there, it was considered Parcel 8. I know because old articles in the basement are filed under that name and I always forget which parcel it was. It was a parcel after dozens of buildings of sites, including the former International Silver Co. big shop was razed.
The name is now outdated and could still make sense. I’m sure, at least in the short-term, people will still call it The Hub. Others, who despise the place or that want to see change, will likely call it by its new name.
What will that name be?
It’s up to you to decided, at least partially. The city will soon begin taking name suggestions from the public through every mode of communication you can think of. Those names will be shortlisted and somehow, some way a decision will be made. They may take a poll of some sort of the final names,
The names have already begun being suggested on the Record-Journal’s Facebook entry. City Manager Larry Kendzior seems to like The Meriden Green and has always noted Meriden does not have a town green like nearly every other town in New England. Others seem to like Harbor Brook Park. That one makes sense too, given that Harbor Brook will be exposed throughout the property once the project is completed.
Others, like one Facebook poster like “Stupid (expletive deleted) idea because people are just going to trash it park." I’m not sure that one will fly though.
So here are some, followed by my thoughts:
Mandela Park: Suggested by Eric Cotton, managing editor of the Record-Journal. I like the idea of naming more things after people in this city. It keeps their name alive like Maloney and Platt. I even like the idea of Mandela - obviously his name won’t go away any time soon, internationally. But I think city leaders do not want to go in the direction of naming it after somebody. Also, they want to be able to market the park to communities outside of Meriden and Mandela parks may begin springing up in the future.
Meriden Green: Vanilla. It’s a safe choice. It works and can work well. Personally, I don’t mind it. But I can’t see loving it either.
Harbor Brook Park: Also a safe choice. The possible issue is that there is Harbor Park in Middletown and it might be confusing. But having a watercourse run through the park, it would make sense to include the brook’s name in the park. It’s also less bland than Brookside Park, which also has Harbor Brook running through. It’s worth pointing out that Harbor Brook’s real name is Pilgrim’s Harbor Brook.
Meriden Meadows: Sure, it works. But it isn’t exactly a meadow.
Silver City Park: I like this one. A focus of what they want to do in downtown is keep the history at least somewhat alive. There’s no more silver being produced, but the silver used to be produced on the same site of the park. It makes sense.
Silver City Green: Why not just combine the two names?
The Hub: You could always keep the name. Good or bad, this has been the name for 30-plus years and many will call it that no matter what. Then again, if the plan works and it becomes successful, the park and its name will be around much longer than the people who named it.