Rotary Club dedicates new pavilion

Rotarians and Shelton officials celebrated the completion of a project Tuesday morning that was years in the making.

The 3,800-square foot Derby-Shelton Rotary Pavilion near the Riverwalk was dedicated this week to the memory of state Rep. Richard O. Belden, who was instrumental in getting state approval to turn the former Sponge Rubber Products property into the public park known today as The Slab.

Mayor Mark Lauretti said that about 20 years ago the spot where the pavilion now stands looked like a “war zone” and it was hard to see the vision for what now stands today.

“We continue to take one step at a time,” Lauretti said.

Building the Pavilion on the Shelton Riverfront is a cooperative effort of the Rotary Club, the City of Shelton, private donors and supporters. The structure was designed by James Tate of Tate & Associates.

The Rotary Club has been working on moving the project forward since 2008. It took a lot of work by the city and past club presidents, Linda Holmes-Hannon, David Grant, Diane Stroman and Shawn Fields, according to current president Mary Ellen Samatulski.

“It will be a destination where we can all meet, learn and have fun together,” Samatulski said.

The Derby-Shelton Rotary Club gave Mayor Lauretti and Jim Ryan of the Shelton Economic Development Corporation Paul Harris Fellow awards, for their help in moving the project forward.

“This is a landmark space for Shelton,” Ryan said. “This is just to die for — the hairs should be standing up on the back of your neck.”

The first community event to be held at the Pavilion is an Oktoberfest party scheduled for Sept. 16.

Lauretti said projects like the Pavilion will yield big dividends for the city in years to come.

“The die is cast. There is nowhere to go but up for this area of the community,” Lauretti said.