On Wed. Jan. 28, Middletown’s Finance and Government Operations Commission postponed action on the purchase of 110 acres on Mt. Higby, known as the Pierce Property, so this matter will NOT be on the Feb. 2 Common Council agenda. See earlier post for more details on this subject. An email will go out to all subscribers when the Pierce Property is scheduled for the Common Council. To subscribe to our email list, use the form on the left side of this page.
For an overview of Mt. Higby and the land under consideration, download the pdf image of the area here: Pierce Property Access
Presentation by Liv Baker, PhD
College of the Environment, Wesleyan University
Tuesday, February 10, 7 – 8:30 p.m. (Snow date Feb. 24)
At The deKoven House, 27 Washington Street, Middletown
Some wildlife inhabit and even thrive in our urban and suburban neighborhoods. We easily enjoy them, as long as they keep their distance from our gardens, shrubs, and enclosed places. When they come too close, our feelings change to the view that they are invading our space. When that happens, our wonder, affection, and empathy can quickly give way to annoyance, fear, and an impulse to kill them. Continue reading
Wesleyan’s College of the Environment invites the public to an exciting talk about the impact of lawn chemicals and other pollutants on the endocrine systems of frogs — with obvious implications for humans. Thurs. Feb. 5, at noon. Lunch provided at no charge for all who attend. (Woodhead lounge is on 1st floor of Exley Science Bldg.) RSVP to Valerie Marinelli, whose contact info can be found on the flyer here. Sex, Drugs, & Suburbia
You can help Connecticut’s Snapping Turtles most effectively right now. Here’s why, and how to do it.
House Bill No.5023 has been referred to the Committee on the Environment. The Proposed Bill would amend current law and protect Connecticut snapping turtles from commercial harvest. See below for a list of legislators email addresses so you can indicate to them your support for these ancient creatures who play a key role in our environment. Continue reading
After a stressful few weeks and some bewilderment, the “Questions for Directors” session of Middletown’s Common Council revealed what had gone wrong when the position of “Planner and Environmental Specialist” was de-funded last May, after the search process began but before the hiring of Michelle Ford to fill the position in November 2014.
Apparently, the Common Council had planned for the “Environmental Specialist” in the Water & Sewer Department, Jim Sipperly, to take over those duties, but that idea was never implemented, and the Director of Planning, Conservation, and Development Michiel Wackers was never informed of that intention. That plan was problematic, however, from a union perspective, and de-hiring (firing) Michelle Ford at this point could lead to a large liability claim against the City. Director Wackers apologized and took full responsibility for not noticing that the position had been “zeroed out.”
About 30 members of the Environmental Community — mostly members of Ecoin, the Environmental Collective Impact Network — attended the meeting and expressed hope that the position’s funding would be restored with an allocation of $24,5000 to cover the position’s budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. The Common Council voted 7 to 4 in favor of restoring the funding.
For many years, even decades, the City of Middletown has worked to preserve completely the dramatically beautiful and ecologically significant area known as Mt. Higby. Now we have that opportunity. A purchase price of $686,000 has been negotiated, and a state grant of $234,750 has been awarded. The remaining $451,250 needs to be appropriated by the Common Council for the acquisition to occur.
$451,250 is a significant amount for the Common Council to appropriate, and doing so requires the support of citizens and stakeholder groups. For the past 4 years, a number of nonprofit groups and City commissions – known collectively as the Environmental Collective Impact Network, or Ecoin – have urged the Mayor and Common Council to support an open space bond referendum so that funds for such opportunities would be available. We have not had a voter referendum for open space preservation since 2009; instead, the city’s leaders have voiced a preference to appropriate funds for open space on a case by case basis, as key properties become available. The Pierce Property is such a key property. Continue reading
Recently, it came to light that the City of Middletown’s key staff position responsible for a wide variety of environmental functions – permits, regulation enforcement, grants, wetlands protection, etc. – was actually not funded in the current fiscal year budget. Michelle Ford was hired for the position this past fall. She is widely recognized as a highly skilled and knowledgeable professional. Members of Ecoin (the Environmental Collective Impact Network) are thrilled to have her on board. The fact that she was hired without underlying funding in place was clearly a simple oversight by Director Michiel Wackers and Mayor Dan Drew, both of whom have accepted responsibility for the mistake and apologized. Continue reading
The Jonah Center’s earliest and longest-lasting project has born fruit. After 9 years of planning, proposal writing, grant writing, negotiations with City officials, set-backs, objections, more site-seeking, and much waiting, the Phil Salafia Boat Launch on the Coginchaug River is now finished. At least, the critical part — the ramp — has been constructed. It is made of interlocking cement pavers, held together with steel cables, and laid on 18″ of gravel. Even at the current extremely low water level, the ramp extends well into the water to form a solid bottom for people launching their boats. We anticipate a ribbon-cutting ceremony to be announced soon by the Mayor. Continue reading
The Jonah Center for Earth and Art invites the public to a talk and slide presentation on Connecticut’s Wildlife Action Plan, to be held on Tuesday, September 30, 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the deKoven House, 27 Washington Street, in Middletown. The speaker is Julie Victoria, a widely known and respected wildlife biologist who worked for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for over 32 years, specializing in raptors, shorebirds, invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians. She participated in the formulation of the 2005 state Wildlife Action Plan. Co-sponsors of the event are: Connecticut Forest & Park Association; Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District; and the Middletown Resource Recycling Commission. Continue reading
After many years of uphill struggle, construction of the boat launch on the Coginchaug River adjacent to the City’s recycling center is scheduled to begin on Sept. 22, 2014.
The Jonah Center wants to thank the members of CRAG (Coginchaug River Access Group); Joe Samolis, Chief of Staff for Mayor Dan Drew; Bill Russo, Director of Public Works; and Michiel Wackers, Director of Planning, Conservation, and Development for the critical roles they each played. Pat Munger Construction Company in Branford is the contractor.
The most critical part of the launch, the paved ramp leading into the water, will be constructed this fall. Other amenities such as information kiosk, paved turnaround, and solar lighting, will have to wait until more funds become available.