Two long-awaited projects in Middletown are being realized in Middletown this spring. Bike route sharrows (share the lane arrows) have been painted on deKoven Drive (top, left). This bike route starts at Main and Rapallo and ends where Millbrook Road meets the Durham town line.
The multi-use trail along Long Lane has now been completed. Shown here (bottom, left) is the resting area where the trail comes to Wadsworth Street. This trail is already heavily used and appreciated by nearby residents.
We thank Middletown’s Department of Public Works for their work on these projects to improve conditions for wallking and bicycling in Middletown. They are the first major accomplishments toward realizing Middletown’s Bike Routes and Trails Master Plan.
The Town of Portland has adopted and installed signage for its new, official 14-mile bike route. The route begins in the town center and makes a scenic loop through the hills of Portland, passing golf courses, farms, ponds, streams, and a close-up view of the Connecticut River at Gildersleeve Island (where bald eagles are frequently sighted). The route was designed to be cycled in a counter-clockwise direction in order to reach the higher elevations of the town via the least strenuous (most gradual) climbs. Bicyclists should note that this is still a fairly strenuous route suitable for persons who are in good health and physical condition. The route may be modified to reduce the length and avoid the steepest hills. Contact John Hall for suggestions along these lines.
The Complete Streets Group of Portland endorsed the route, requested funds for signage from the Board of Selectmen, and developed recommendations for where bike route direction signs and sharrows (on Main Street) should be located. The Public Works Department was a very helpful and accommodating partner in this project.
To access the Google Map (including the ability to zoom in to see details such as street names, turn directions, and highlights, click here.
Chantal Foster, Portland resident, is an accomplished hiker. We are delighted to share her fascinating, humorous, and gripping tale of friendship, strength, trail sanitation regulations, and the effects of Acute Mountain Sickness as part of our “Alive Outside” creative writing initiative. Many of us are not capable of such an adventure ourselves, but this story will make you feel (almost) as if you were there.
Climbing Mt. Whitney, by Chantal Foster
Back in the beginning of 2018, esteemed hiker Bill Korp (aka Cupcake) came up with the harebrained idea of hiking Mt. Whitney in CA as a way of commemorating his 70th birthday. Apparently, he didn’t feel like doing it alone, so he asked three of his favorite, well, maybe not favorite but “good friends,” well, maybe not good friends, but he did ask Steve Crusberg (Shuttle), Gina Wildermuth (Nurse), and yours truly (Olive Oil) to tag along.
Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states at 14,496 feet (or 14,505, depending on where you look) which makes for a busy trail — so busy that would-be hikers need to apply for a permit through a lottery system. Nurse and Cupcake coordinated the necessary paperwork to apply for such in February and in April, with luck on our side, we were awarded a permit to hike Whitney on the auspicious date of Wednesday, July 25th.
Travel and lodging plans were discussed, determined and made, and we proceeded to study how to hike “Whitney in a Day,” training accordingly while waiting for the big event.
Soon, mid-July was upon us. With much training, a couple of challenging “prep hikes” under our belts and a lot of anticipation, we flew into Las Vegas and made the approximate 5-hour drive west to the town of Lone Pine, CA where we would make our home for the next five days. On our way, we passed through Death Valley with elevations around three hundred feet BELOW sea level. We would be on both the highest and lowest points of the lower 48 during our trip.
The Jonah Center for Earth and Art and The Rockfall Foundation invite the public to an evening with Wesleyan Physics Professor Brian Stewart on Monday, May 20, 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the deKoven House at 27 Washington Street, in Middletown. The talk is titled, “Tipping Points in the Climate, Nature, Society, and Ourselves.”
A tipping point is a watershed moment in space or time, beyond which things play out differently from before; a point of inevitability. The climax of a narrative, the moment your tires begin to slip on an icy road, the chain of runaway business and bank failures started on Black Monday — these are all examples of tipping points.
Of great importance to us right now are ecosystem tipping points, climate tipping points, social tipping points, political tipping points, and personal tipping points. How are they interrelated? Do we control any of them? Professor Stewart will examine the interplay of these tipping points in the context of our unique moment in world history.
Co-sponsoring the event are Artfarm, Ecoin, Middletown Resource Recycling Advisory Commission, and the Middletown Garden Club. For more information, contact John Hall at 860-398-3771 or Amanda Kenyon at 860-347-0340.
Chris Corson, founder and Technical Director of Ecocor High Performance Building of Maine, will discuss the benefits of pre-fabricated, panelized construction in Passive House buildings and how to address the most important imperative of the building industry: reducing the effects of climate change. Click here for more information and to register.
A new, sturdy kiosk at the Phil Salafia, Jr. Canoe and Kayak Launch at 181 Johnson Street was built and installed by Jonathan Shaw on April 27, 2019, as his Eagle Scout project. The Jonah Center recommended the project to Jonathan, and Middletown’s Department of Public Works supported the improvement. The kiosk will be used to provide maps and other information to paddlers in the area. Thanks, Jonathan!
Invasive plants are everywhere and a serious threat to the native ecosystem. Here is an opportunity to learn about this problem and how to identify and deal with invasive plants s in your own yard.
On Saturday, June 15, (Rain date Sun. June 16) from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, paddlers will return to the Floating Meadows to remove emerging water chestnut plants. A second work party is scheduled for Sat. July 13 (Rain date Sun. July 14) from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Other work parties between and after these dates may be scheduled depending on the abundance of emerging plants. Water chestnut plants seriously endanger other aquatic life in our local freshwater marshland. The launch site will be the usual one at 181 Johnson Street in Middletown. For information on possible last minute cancellation, check back on this post or call 860-398-3771.
Paddlers find this is to be a fun, gratifying activity. Plus, you will meet some of the nicest people you’ll ever encounter. Bags will be provided and some gloves will be available, but we encourage participants to bring their own rubber dish-washing gloves.
The State of Connecticut’s plans for Route 9 in Middletown are still being developed, but one matter has been settled. Pedestrian bump-outs will be installed on Main Street from Union Street to Green Street during the 2019 construction season. Below is an artist’s rendering of the construction plans at the intersection of College Street and Main Street.
The stated purpose of this project is “to enhance pedestrian safety and reduce vehicular congestion by shortening pedestrian crossing distances along Main Street.” According to CT-Dot, the significant width of Main Street and the presence of on-street parking has led to the current situation with crosswalk distances of 80-96 feet. The significant time required for pedestrians to cross this distance safely means longer delays for vehicles stopped at intersections. A total of 18 bump-outs are proposed that will reduce the pedestrian crossing distances to approximately 55 feet, allowing the “pedestrian phase” of the traffic signals to be shortened and for the vehicle delay at each intersection to be reduced. Also, the elevated bump-outs will improve visibility for both pedestrians and motorists. Continue reading