Join our campaign to reduce solid waste

Connecticut has a problem: What are we going to do with all our municipal solid waste?

The Hartford trash-to-energy plant (MIRA) has closed. The main reasons for that closure were: the huge financial investment that would have been required to keep the plant operating; and the harmful air-quality impacts that came from the plant. Governor Lamont and DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes agree that we need to find another solution – one that reduces the volume of trash, maximizes recycling, and does not burden low-income communities that have suffered the serious health effects of living near incinerators and landfills. Continue reading

Newfield Trail Delayed

Progress on route determination and design of the Newfield Corridor Trail between Tuttle Road and Mile Lane has been delayed over the past year due to several issues. First was an archaeological survey required to determine if the route crossed the remains of a Wangunk settlement believed to be somewhere in the vicinity.  That survey has been completed, with no Native American settlement remains identified.

The current delay involves a proposed land swap between the city and a local developer who wishes to build 2 apartment buildings off Kaplan Drive, just east of Lawrence School.

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Progress on Air Line Trail

Thanks to Congressman Joe Courtney, the recent $1.7 Trillion federal spending bill that passed in December 2022 includes a grant of $1.4 million for the Town of East Hampton to complete the 1800-foot gap in the Air Line Trail. The RiverCOG and the Jonah Center worked to support East Hampton in the funding request back in 2020-21. This gap in the trail could not be completed in the 2017-2019 period along with the sections on either end of the gap due to the creek running through the gorge, the presence of utility poles and a power line, and the high cost of construction because a boardwalk will be required.

Prior to the grant award, Eversource and the Town of East Hampton agreed to share the cost of re-locating Eversource’s power lines to bypass the gorge, which in turn will allow the poles to be removed. The re-routing work should be completed by the end of January, according to the crew working on the site on January 18, 2023. Continue reading

An Invitation From Middletown’s Complete Streets & Bikeways Committee

by Laura Baum

We are a city committee and we meet on the second Monday of each month at 7pm (via Webex). We would love for any citizen to attend a meeting and get to know our friendly, collaborative team. Every new person brings new insights.

In the broadest sense, we’re working to make Middletown a safer and more enjoyable place to bike and walk. Some people choose to bike and walk, for others it’s a necessity. We work with city staff and raise issues and draw attention to big multi-year projects like the Long Lane bike path all the way down to small, but important sidewalk gaps. We maintain a map of priority walking and biking routes and we see ourselves as watchdogs for people who walk and bike in Middletown. Where do we need sidewalks, how could the city make it easier to bike where you want to go? Continue reading

Rising Electricity Rates

As you probably know, electricity rates in Connecticut have risen sharply, due in large part to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The conflict is putting pressure on the price of natural gas.  The “standard offer” through Eversource for the generation portion of your bill has gone from 12.2 to 24.17 cents per kWh. Here’s what you can do. Continue reading

Progress In Saving Plum Island, NY

Back in 2008, the Jonah Center advocated for the preservation of Plum Island, New York, as a U.S. Wildlife Refuge. The island is located east of Long Island and was used as the site of an animal disease research center. The federal government was planning to sell the island to private developers to build a luxury resort. We arranged for local conservation advocates to take a full-day boat trip and tour of the island from Old Saybrook. A recent article in the Hartford Courant revealed that the recent omnibus funding bill passed the U.S. Congress in December included funds that bring us closer to saving the island and its precious wildlife habitat.

Here is an article in the CT Mirror about Plum Island and the federal budget.

City and DEEP Meet About Pameacha Dam

The upper 2-3 feet of the dam has disappeared.

The City of Middletown and staff from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) met in late December at the Pameacha Pond dam. The purpose of the meeting was, apparently, to discuss progress and next steps toward fulfilling the requirements of the August 2018 consent order regarding the dam. Continue reading

Winter Cleanup Events

Can you help with a mid-winter cleanup event?  We will be ready for action between Jan. 28 and Mar. 31 on a Saturday (2-4 p.m.) when the forecast is for a temperature above 30 degrees with no snow on the ground. Poison ivy is less of a danger in winter because it has no leaves and we will be wearing gloves. Wind-blown litter will be easy to spot with no leaves on the undergrowth. Our first location is the Daddario & Kieft Road neighborhood off Long Lane, in partnership with the Middletown Housing Authority.

To join our list of potentially available volunteers and be notified when the conditions are right, sign up here. It will be fun to be outdoors together.

 

Nanette’s Paintings At The Buttonwood Tree

Local artist Nanette Albright Fresher’s paintings are on exhibit at The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center, 602 Main Street in Middletown.  Below are some of her paintings that capture the spirit of some familiar scenes. Gallery hours at the Buttonwood Tree in December are; Sunday 12/18, Friday 12/23, Monday 12/26, or Tuesday 12/27 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The locations are listed at the bottom of this post.  Some other paintings in the Buttonwood Tree show can be viewed on the Buttonwood’s website here.

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Meriden Trail Study Completed — Please Comment

After years of persistent advocacy, the Jonah Center’s vision of a 111-mile bike route in central Connecticut (The Central CT Loop Trail) is gradually coming into view as a practical reality. Two major steps have been accomplished:

In 2019, the CT General Assembly recognized the Central CT Loop Trail and the Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail connector in Public Act 19-161, Section 4. This law instructed the Department of Transportation to identify a route for a multi-use trail from the Arrigoni Bridge, through Middletown and Meriden, to the Farmington Canal Trail in Cheshire.

In 2022, a route study for a 3.5-mile section of the connector trail from Brookside Park in Meriden to the Meriden—Middletown boundary has been completed. Continue reading

“Jon Boats” Acquired For Water Chestnut Work

The Jonah Center has acquired 2 aluminum utility boats, known as “jon boats” that will help us remove invasive water chestnut plants from the Floating Meadows and the Connecticut River next spring and summer. (The Floating Meadows is the freshwater, tidal marshland between Middletown and Cromwell by the Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers.)

The Jonah Center purchased the 14-foot boat pictured here. It will be powered by a 10 h.p. outboard motor donated by Jim Sarbaugh. The other boat is a 12-foot, lighter boat donated by Kent Ritter. It can be easily towed. Both boats are equipped with oars and can be easily rowed into shallow water, which makes them very useful in this work.

The boats are important tools because most kayaks can hold only a single bag of plant material at a time. Also, water chestnut plants are proliferating far from public launch sites (requiring a long paddle to be reached) and in locations where the shoreline is not accessible for off-loading plants. Infestations of water chestnut have become worse in recent years, seriously threatening the river ecosystem.