New Hope For Snapping Turtles

For the first time, a bill protecting Common Snapping Turtles from commercial trapping in Connecticut has passed in the CT General Assembly’s Environment Committee. The vote tally was 29-0.  In previous years, we could not even get a vote for Snapping Turtles in the committee. This bill also addresses commercial trade of Red-Eared Slider Turtles.

Now we need citizens to email their State Rep to bring attention to this bill.  Below is a sample message that you can cut and paste.  Additional talking points and Reps’ email addresses are further down this post. Please “Bcc:” John Hall so we know you took action. Continue reading

Speak Out For Trails & Bike Routes

The Jonah Center and various partners are promoting exciting, long term projects that will make a huge difference for bicyclists and walkers in our area. Completing such projects requires public awareness and support at many points along the way. Click on the links to view maps. At the bottom of this post, see how you can speak out in favor of these improvements.

The Long Lane Multi-Use Trail has been designed as a 1.4 mile, 10’ paved walking and bicycling trail from the Long Hill Road soccer fields to a point on Pine Street just south of Wesleyan University. The Jonah Center was designated the “Project Advocate” in 2011, and the trail was funded by a federal grant that year. After many route complications were resolved, the project will go “out to bid” soon for construction in 2018. The “final” route (we hope) may be viewed here: Long Lane Multi-Use Trail Route

The Landfill Trail is a hiking path on the North End Peninsula (site of Middletown’s retired landfill adjacent to the recycling center.) Funded by a CT Recreational Trails Grant, the trail will begin at the kayak and canoe launch (at 181 Johnson Street) and circle the base of the landfill, with a spur leading to the top of the landfill mound. From the top, hikers can enjoy spectacular views of the Floating Meadows. Landfill Trail 2017

The Newfield Corridor Trail will connect the Mattabesset Bike Trail in the Westfield section of Middletown to the downtown area. This project has been funded through Middletown’s 2016 Parks Bond. The Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee are pushing to begin route definition and design.  View the map here: Newfield Area Bikeway Layout

Connecting the new (under construction) Air Line Trail in Portland to downtown Portland, the Arrigoni Bridge, and Middletown. This project is led by the Portland Air Line Trail Steering Committee with support from Portland’s Complete Streets Group and the Jonah Center.  Phase 2 of the trail includes property that is currently privately owned. Some property owners have indicated a willingness to negotiate trail access while others have not or need further negotiation.  Alternative routes are also being considered.  View a map of the current “Phase 1” trail route and possible routes for “Phase 2” here: Portland Air Line Trail Map.

The Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route will utilize Newfield Corridor Trail, Mattabesset Bike Trail, Quinnipiac Gorge Trail in Meriden, and other still-unnamed segments. Completing this envisioned 18 mile route from Portland to Cheshire will allow safe bicycle travel all the way from New Haven to Willimantic via Cheshire, Meriden, Middletown, and Portland. It will also provide an alternate route of the East Coast Greenway and a 125-mile loop trail around the greater Hartford area once the main East Coast Greenway route is completed. This project was initiated by the Jonah Center with support from the Lower CT River Council of Governments, engaging elected officials, staff, and volunteers from Portland, Middletown, Meriden, and Cheshire. View map here: ALT to FCT Connector Route

Middletown’s new Bike Route Master Plan sets the stage for signage, share-the-road pavement markings, and bike lanes. The plan focuses on connecting surrounding communities to downtown Middletown and facilitating safe bicycling within the downtown area. Implementation of this plan, produced and promoted by Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee, will be a key step in qualifying Middletown as a bike-friendly city. View the plan here: Bike Route & Trails Plan 2017

To show your support for any or all of these projects, sign the Speak Out For Trails & Bike Routes petition. Or, to speed up the process, you may skip the petition and go straight to the questionnaire where you can tell us which projects interest you and how you can help.  When citizen support is most needed, you will receive a “call to action” explaining in more detail how you can express your support for a particular project.

 

 

SPEAK OUT FOR TRAILS & BIKE ROUTES PETITION

Speak Out For Trails and Bike Routes

I support safe bicycling and walking facilities in Middletown and Portland through the construction of off-street multi-use trails, on-street bicycle routes, bike lanes, and signage.

**your signature**

254 signatures

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Latest Signers
254 william haalck
253 Steven Bulmer
252 Kara Guay
251 April Eckert
250 Charlene Buano
249 Terri Ayala
248 Tina Ververis
247 Melissa Sienna
246 Elizabeth Fredericks
245 Cassandra Day
244 John Greeno
243 Betty Horne
242 Paul Dyka
241 Dave Berthiaume
240 Katherine Wolfe

Support Portland’s Purchase of 5.28 Acres Of Riverfront Property At Feb. 28 Town Meeting

The Town of Portland has an opportunity to acquire over 5 acres of riverfront property adjacent to the Riverfront Park and across the street from the Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park. (See area outlined in yellow.)  Purchase price plus borrowing costs total about $410,000. There is a public hearing on this matter at the Library on Wed. Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.  Even more important is for residents to attend the Town Meeting on Wed. Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. when those present will vote on the purchase. A fact sheet with more detailed maps may be found here: Riverfront Property Fact Sheet & Aerial Photos

The Jonah Center has been quietly following the progress of this acquisition since August 2016, when our Board of Directors approved a statement and letter in support of the purchase. The parcels in question were contaminated by the oil depot that operated on the property until some years ago. A remediation plan has been developed and approved by the State of CT, pending municipal acquisition. A video of the consultant,  Amy Vaillancourt from  Tighe & Bond, explaining the issues of remediation and future use may be viewed hereContinue reading

Winter Snowshoe Expedition — February 17th

The Middletown Conservation Commission is sponsoring a snowshoeing expedition at the Guida Farm Conservation Area on Saturday, February 17th with an alternative date of Saturday, February 24th. If there is no snow, a conventional hike will go forward on the 17th. The hike will begin around 9:30 at the intersection of Coleman Road and Round Hill Road – at the parking lot across from the T-intersection with Coleman Road.

If the weather is truly inclement — bitterly cold, heavily raining or seriously snowing — the ramble will be postponed until the 24th. Call 860-301-1980 for an update on the hiking plans. Continue reading

Update on October 30 Sewage Spill

Mattabassett District Sewage Treatment Plant in Cromwell. Wilcox Island and the Arrigoni Bridge are visible at the top of the photo.

As described in a previous post, a sewage spill of 3.6 million gallons from the Mattabasset District plant on October 30, 2017, raised some obvious concerns and questions. In early January, John Hall met with the Mattabassett’s Executive Director Art Simonian to get some answers.

According to Mr. Simonian, the October 30 “bypass event” occurred after heavy rain forced storm water into the pipes via the seams that connect one pipe to another. This produced a larger volume (a mixture of storm water and sewage) reaching the treatment plant. As a consequence and to avoid flooding the plant itself, 3.6 million gallons of partly treated sewage needed to be discharged into the Connecticut River over a period of hours while the heavy rain and storm runoff continued. Continue reading

3.63 Million Gallon Sewage Spill

The Jonah Center has learned that 3.63 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Connecticut River between 1:10 a.m and 7:10 a.m. on Monday, October 30, from the Mattabassett District wastewater treatment plant in Cromwell. On a difficult-to-find section of the CT DEEP website, this spill was reported as a “bypass event” caused by “excessive flow/storm event.” As far as we know, there was no public notice issued to warn the public of this event. We will be seeking more information about this spill and inquiring about the frequency and volumes of other spills from other nearby plants, as well as the reporting and public warning requirements. Continue reading

A New Venture–The Air Line Trail To Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art is promoting an 18-mile bike route that would allow cyclists on the Air Line Trail to reach the Farmington Canal Trail in Cheshire (part of the East Coast Greenway). The route would consist mostly of off-road trails traveling westward from the Arrigoni Bridge through Middletown, Meriden, and Cheshire. Of this 18-mile route, approximately 7 miles have already been built or planned in Meriden and Middletown. To view this entire route in detail, click here: Air Line Trail to Farmington Canal Trail connector route

Coming eastward from Cheshire, bicyclists could reach the extremely scenic Air Line Trail in Portland and continue for 25 additional miles to reach Willimantic and reconnect with the East Coast Greenway.

Most important for Middletown itself, this connector trail would also be a boon to bicycle transportation in the city, providing a continuous route from downtown Middletown to the commuter rail hub in Meriden, passing through the Westlake residential area and the Industrial Park Road commercial district.

As an early step toward this vision, the Jonah Center is working with Middletown’s Public Works Department to begin work on the Newfield Corridor Trail for which funds were allocated in the 1916 Parks Improvement Bond Referendum. This 3-mile segment (shown in blue or red on the right side of the map) would connect the existing Mattabesset Bike Trail (shown in green) with a point near downtown Middletown–either Veterans Park or the North End.  Note: The map above shows all the sections of the connector trail that would pass through Middletown. The section in green has already been built; sections in blue, red, or gold are envisioned.) Continue reading

What Does “Balance” Mean? What Should It Look Like?

The draft Connecticut State Water Plan, and the State law that authorizes the creation of the plan, recommend “ the utilization of the state’s water resources … in a manner that balances public water supply, economic development, recreation, and ecological health. In one part of the document, the plan calls for a balance in the use of “in-stream water” and “out-of-stream water”— the latter being water removed from the river for other human purposes.

Below is an extended excerpt from the Jonah Center’s comment on the draft Water Plan, submitted in November 2017. All residents are invited and encouraged to submit comments on the plan by November 20, 2017. The final draft of the plan is expected to be released in January 2018, after which it will go before the State Legislature for an up or down vote. We support a “yes” vote on the plan, but urge that definition be given to the term balance.

“Balance” is an agreeable-sounding term. Who can oppose “balance”? But we need to face the question: what should this balance really look like? The plan refers to achieving a balance between “in-stream water” and “out-of-stream water” – the latter going to a variety of purposes beyond drinking water supply, such as industrial processes, agriculture irrigation, lawn and golf course irrigation, car washing, and others. Surely, a balance between “in-stream” and “out-of-stream” uses would not divide a river’s flow by assigning 50% to each. So how would “balance” be defined? Any useful definition should recognize that, when water supply is threatened, or when a river is literally going dry, some uses of water have a greater claim to moral legitimacy than others. Most important, when it comes to our environmental needs in the largest sense — insuring long-term sustainability in the relationship between humans and other forms of life, the forms of life we ultimately depend on for our own health and survival — the goal of “balance” is not a nicety whose meaning should be assumed to be universally agreed upon.  Continue reading

Middletown’s New Policy On Sidewalks & Snow Removal

City residents should take note of a new policy, and new ordinance, on sidewalk snow removal.  In the past, property owners could be fined for failure to remove snow and ice from sidewalks after snow storms. Under the new policy, those who fail to remove snow and ice within 24 hours after a storm will still be fined, but the fine will increase for each violation.

Also, and perhaps most significant, in the past the fines did not always accomplish the goal of getting the sidewalk cleared, leaving the situation still dangerous for children walking to school and for other pedestrians.  (Perhaps some property owners found it more convenient to pay the fine than to get the work done. Maybe they didn’t pay the fine.) But under the new ordinance, the City may hire someone to remove the snow and bill the property owner for the job,  then place a lien on the property if the bill is not paid.

Below is the actual ordinance.  It’s another step toward safer walking conditions–in other words, Complete Streets–in Middletown!

Sidewalk shoveling ordinance 2017-09