New Bicycle Routes in Portland

The Town of Portland now offers the public some designated bike routes. A 16.3 mile bike route makes a counter-clockwise loop beginning at the post office, and passing the quarries and several scenic views of the Connecticut River, ponds, and streams.  The route (pictured here) is designed to maximize safety and avoid the steepest hills, while still covering a fair amount of distance.

Another map, the best in-town bicycling streets, guides residents to those routes that are relatively flat, have less traffic, and are suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Cyclists are advised to check out the routes by car before cycling, in order to insure suitability for a given individual. Currently, the Complete Streets Group is developing a plan for bike route signage.

In the meantime, the Air Line Trail Steering Committee is working on extending the Portland section of the Air Line Trail westward from its current, new terminus near the YMCA’s Camp Ingersoll and Job’s Pond. The plan aims at making it easy and safe to bicycle to the Air Line Trail from the town center.

These new routes were developed through the Jonah Center’s partnership with Portland’s Complete Streets Group (CSG), a citizen action committee. CSG is seeking new members from the Portland community. Meetings are generally held on the 2nd Thursday of each month in the Portland Library.

A Plastic Ocean – Film and Discussion

The Jonah Center, along with Coginchaug Area Transition and Ecosattvas Connecticut, invites the public to a free viewing of a 22 minute film, A Plastic Ocean, on Tuesday, October 16, 7 p.m. in Room 208 of Fisk Hall, 262 High Street, on the Wesleyan campus.  Parking is available in the rear of the building off College Street. After the film, there will be a discussion about ways to combat plastic pollution.

 

From the filmmakers: “In the center of the Pacific Ocean gyre our researchers found more plastic than plankton. A Plastic Ocean documents the newest science, proving how plastics, once they enter the oceans, break up into small particulates that enter the food chain where they attract toxins like a magnet. These toxins are stored in seafood’s fatty tissues, and eventually consumed by us.

Season’s Final Effort To Remove Water Chestnut From Floating Meadows

This coming Sunday, September 16, from 9 to 11 a.m., paddlers will unite in a big effort to remove the remaining water chestnut plants from the lower Mattabesset River in the Floating Meadows between Middletown and Cromwell. If we can get about 20 paddlers, we have a good chance of clearing the main stem of the river for the first time in 5 years.

We will launch from the canoe and kayak launch at 181 Johnson St. in Middletown. For last minute questions in case of iffy weather, call or text John Hall at 860-398-3771.

While we prefer not to schedule paddles on Sunday, we are doing so in this case due to the Sunday availability of paddlers with canoes and in order to have higher water in the ebbing tide. Tide will be high at approximately 8 a.m. on Sunday. Tide is one hour earlier on Saturday.

Bags and gloves will be provided.  Paddlers are required to wear life jackets and to sign a Jonah Center liability waiver and photo permission form. A porta-potty is located at the launch site.

Main Street & Route 9 — CT DOT Project Update

Evening commute back-up on Route 9 southbound at Hartford Avenue

You may be wondering about the status of plans by the CT Department of Transportation to improve traffic on Main Street, the Route 17 ramp onto Route 9, and the proposal to remove the traffic signals from Route 9. John Hall recently spoke with Erik Jarboe at CT DOT about these projects. Here’s what’s going on.

The State will install pedestrian bump-outs along Main Street beginning in the spring of 2019. (“Bump-outs” are elevated extensions of the sidewalk surface into the crosswalk area, providing visibility for pedestrians, shortening the time needed for the pedestrian cycle of the traffic signal, and moving cars more efficiently.) The State also plans to make improvements to the St. John’s Square intersection, for which construction may begin in the fall of 2019. This will include a dedicated right turn lane from southbound Main onto Washington Street.

As for the removal of the stop sign where Rt. 17 enters Route 9 northbound, the addition of the needed acceleration lane will require widening and partial replacement of the bridge over Union Street as well as relocation of the existing Union Street/River Road/Harbor Drive intersection. This will entail a prolonged permitting process, which is underway.

Regarding the removal of the Route 9 traffic signals, CT DOT has engaged a consulting company to complete a comprehensive system-wide traffic study of Route 9, downtown Middletown, and beyond. They are hoping to hold another public meeting with revised plans sometime this coming winter.

Hard Drive Shredding & E-Waste Collection Event

On Saturday, September 15th, Wesleyan will be hosting a FREE residential e-waste recycling and hard drive shredding event from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This event is open to all Connecticut residents at no charge. Residents are not required to pre-register.

Take 2’s mobile hard drive shredder will be on site to shred hard drives, which should be removed from computers and laptops and ready to be shredded. Take 2 will not be able to remove hard drives from devices at the event. Take 2 will be on site to unload vehicles and safely package and transport all unwanted electronics to their Waterbury facility to be responsibly and securely recycled.

Construction Begins On Multi-Use Trail

Photo by Scott McIntyre

At last, work is underway on the multi-use trail adjacent to Long Lane, from the Long Hill Road soccer field to the corner of Long Lane and Wadsworth Street. The contractor is DeRita Construction Company.

While the original plan envisioned a 3-mile multi-use trail from the Wesleyan Hills development to downtown, the project was scaled back for a variety of reasons and divided into phases. This first phase of the trail will serve primarily residents in a variety of housing developments just south of Wesleyan University who wish to bicycle, walk, or run along Long Lane between Long Hill Road and Wadsworth Street, where there are no sidewalks. The path will be 10 feet wide in most cases, paved with asphalt.

Most of the work will be completed this fall, but some details, such as final landscaping, will need to wait until next spring. The Jonah Center has been the community advocate for this project since 2011 when it was partially funded by a federal grant of $400,000. This cost of this section of the trail will be approximately $1,045,000, not including time spent by City staff.

The image below shows the location of the new trail section, most of it parallel to Long Lane between Long Hill Road and Wadsworth Street.

Portland Sidewalks Project Groundbreaking Ceremony

On June 27, 2018, members of Portland’s Sidewalk Committee and Board of Selectmen held a  ground-breaking ceremony for the $1 million sidewalk improvement project.  Approximately 2 miles of cracked and uneven sidewalks in the Town’s central residential area will be replaced with brand new concrete sidewalks over the next year or so.  John Hall and Bob Herron (Jonah Board member & Treasurer) are co-chairs of the Sidewalk Committee.

PIctured above (left to right) are Bob Herron, Selectman Ralph Zampano, First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, John Hall, Selectman Jim Tripp, Selectman Lou Pear, Director of Public Works Bob Shea, and former Selectman Fred Knous.

Paddle With A Purpose — Water Chestnut Removal

On Sunday, July 8, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, paddlers will return to the Floating Meadows to remove emerging water chestnut plants. This invasive species endangers our local freshwater marshland. Since plants are still small at this early stage in the season, removing them now saves much labor later in the summer.  The Jonah Center is grateful to our partner, the Connecticut River Conservancyn for staffing this work party and covering the event with their insurance policy. All participants will need to sign CRC’s liability waivers and paddle at their own risk.  The starting point is the canoe and kayak launch at 181 Johnson Street in Middletown. For information on possible last minute cancellation, check back on this post or call 860-398-3771.

New This Year: At the Jonah Center’s request, the City of Middletown has installed a port-a-potty at the boat launch for the entire summer paddling season! The Public Works Department has also improved the facility in other ways you will notice. Thank you Director Russo and Middletown’s Department of Public Works.

Common Council Re-Funds Environmental & Arts Positions

On May 29, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, hundreds of citizens showed up to protest the FY2019 budget which did not contain funding for the Environmental Specialist and Arts Coordinator positions.  The arts community was represented by numerous adults who were nurtured by the Summer Circus program, including a young woman named Jasmine who entered the Council Chambers on tall “giraffe stilts.”  She had to duck to get through the door, and the camera needed to move up to capture her head and face.  The testimonies were eloquent and passionate.

In the end, the Council voted 7-3 to sustain the Mayor’s veto of the relevant line items.  8 votes were needed to override the veto.  But the struggle is not over. The positions still need to be evaluated, and refilled.

The Jonah Center and members of the environmental community remain concerned about the future of the Department of Planning, Conservation, and Development, which has 2 vacant positions and is struggling to complete urgent, necessary work.