Portland Adopts 14-Mile Bike Route

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.

 

Alive Outside with Chantal Foster

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.

 

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Brian Stewart To Speak on “Tipping Points”

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.

Prefab & Passive House: A Builder’s Response to Climate Change

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. 

 

Informational Kiosk At Boat Launch

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!

Pedestrian “Bump Outs” Are Coming To Main Street

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

Senator Lesser Introduces Legislation Establishing Central Connecticut Loop Trail

On Wednesday, February 13, the Transportation Committee of the CT General Assembly held a hearing on a large number of proposed bills, including Proposed S.B. 775, establishing the Central Connecticut Loop  Trail.  Senator Norm Needleman of Portland and Senator Mary Abrams of Meriden and Cheshire are co-introducers of the bill. We are very appreciative of Senator Matt Lesser of Middletown, Rocky Hill, and Wethersfield who took the initiative on this project. Readers will recall that Senator Lesser was also our main champion of our ban  on commercial trapping of snapping turtles that passed last year. 

We have succeeded in getting over twenty individuals to  submit testimony supporting the bill. Now we are looking for more people–citizens and government officials–to submit more pieces of testimony as long as the committee is receiving it.  The goal is to build support that will bring the bill to a vote in the Transportation Committee, a step that is by no means guaranteed. With a positive vote in committee, the details of the bill will be drafted. Please send even brief statements of support to (ideally but not necessarily in the form of a PDF attachment) to TRAtestimony@cga.ct.gov  

The Central Connecticut Loop Trail will be a 111 mile mostly off-road bicycle route in the center of our state.  The route passes through Cheshire, Southington, Plainville, Farmington, Avon, Simsbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester, Bolton, Andover, Columbia, Willimantic, Lebanon, Amston, Colchester, East Hampton, Portland, Middletown, and Meriden. Continue reading

Ban on Single-Use Plastic Checkout Bags Advances

The proposed ordinance to ban single-use plastic checkout bags in Middletown has gathered support. Click on the “Continue Reading” link at the bottom of this post for Facts and a Summary of the draft ordinance, prepared and distributed by the Middletown Garden Club.

Here’s what you can do to help. The draft ordinance is scheduled to be on the agenda of the Public Works Commission on Wednesday, March 13, 6:30 p.m. in Room 208 of City Hall. Early in the meeting, there will be a “public comment” period for residents to voice support or opposition to the ordinance. On the following night, March 14, 6:30 p.m., the ordinance will be on the agenda of the General Counsel Commission in the same room.  Again, there will be an opportunity for public comment.

If all goes well at these two commission meetings, the ordinance will be before the Common Council on Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. Members of the Common Council may be reached by email (individually, or through one message to the whole Council) through this page on the City’s new website

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Important Hearing on Newfield Corridor Trail —

Middletown’s Department of Public Works has scheduled an important hearing on the Newfield Corridor Trail on Wednesday, February 13, 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Police Station at 222 Main Street.  The Department of Public Works will make a brief presentation on the project. Members of the public will have an opportunity to express support, make comments, and ask questions.

The Jonah Center began advocating in 2012 for a multi-use trail that will start close to the downtown area (such as Veterans Park) and connect with the Mattabesset Bike Path in the Westfield/Westlake section of the city at Tuttle Road. We are excited and delighted that the Public Works Department appears ready to move forward with this long-awaited and talked-about project. The Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee would appreciate your presence and show of enthusiasm at this meeting to send a strong message to City officials that bicycle and pedestrian are important to you. A strong turnout will help move the project forward.

The City has many infrastructure projects in the works and tends to give priority to those that are perceived to benefit the largest number of residents. So it is important to show that this project has strong support from residents all over town, not just to those who live in the immediate vicinity of the trail. Delays could result in the funds earmarked for the project purchasing far less than they would have originally. 

More information on the trail can be found by clicking on the following links:

 Newfield Corridor Trail  

Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route.