Fight Climate Change and Plant A Tree

In the course of our campaign to increase Middletown’s tree-planting budget, some people told us they would like to donate their own money to plant trees. That’s commitment!  Then we heard about Sustainable CT’s program to match dollar for dollar any community-generated funds raised for qualified projects through IOBY (In Our Back Yards) – a crowdfunding service.For example, your $20 gift will instantly become a $40 gift.

Sites for new trees in Middletown and Portland are being considered. In Middletown, priority will be given to the North End, where the tree canopy is even sparser than in other parts of the city, and to high-visibility commercial corridors. In Portland, priority will be given to areas in the town’s central residential and commercial area where trees were removed for sidewalk replacement or due to disease. Funds will be allocated between the towns based on the residence of donors. 

 Click here to read more or donate. (100% of all donations will be used for trees; not administration.)

Action Alert — Support Bike Infrastructure

Governor Lamont’s CT2030 Transportation Plan Now Includes Bike- And Pedestrian Infrastructure

(Or so they say.)

The Governor acknowledges that we need to increase the use of public transit and that public transit needs to work better. But how are people supposed to get to a train or bus station?  One way is by bicycle!

The first public release of Governor Lamont’s Transportation Plan includes no mention of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Obviously, such infrastructure needs to be included in any smart transportation plan. To address climate change, air pollution, and highway congestion, we need to reduce the miles traveled by car, and to do that we need to improve access to public transit. Bicycles do that by providing a way for people to reach trains or buses (the “first mile”) and a way to reach their final destination (the “last mile”). Continue reading

Bike-Ped Improvements On West Street Bridge

West Street Bridge before improvements

West Street Bridge after improvements

The West Street bridge that crosses the railroad tracks just east of Washington Street was opened for travel recently after many years of study, plans, plan revisions, public review, more revisions, and construction. Prior to this improvement, this bridge was a narrow, wood-decked structure that allowed traffic to cross only from one direction at a time. This was a hazardous area for pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheel-chair users attempting to reach businesses on Washington Street.

The Jonah Center and the Complete Streets Committee became involved in this project as early as 2013. The Complete Streets Master Plan recommended West Street to serve as a major north-south bike route within the City, in spite of many issues, including the West Street bridge. We encouraged the public to attend hearings on the project, and we collectively recommended that the plan include at least one widened pedestrian and bicycle sidewalk over the tracks. During this process, we became aware that several users of motorized wheelchairs also used the bridge, even in its condition. Continue reading

Linden Tree Planted In Honor of Krishna Winston

Photo by Laurie Kenney

Photo by John Hall

The linden planted on November 15 near the corner of High St. and Wyllys Avenue honors Krishna Winston’s fifty years at Wesleyan as a professor of German Studies, an administrator, and, for the last ten years, also a professor in the College of the Environment. The Jonah Center celebrates this tree planted adjacent to a public street because Krishna has been an environmental leader in our wider community for many years. She has served on the Jonah Center’s Board of Directors since 2012 and as its president since 2014. Wesleyan’s replacement of lost trees along High Street, once renowned for its thick elm tree canopy, supports the Jonah Center’s Replace Our Trees campaign in Middletown. Continue reading

Replace Our Trees — Sign The Petition

In recent years, the City of Middletown has removed dead and dying trees at a much faster rate than the city has planted new trees. Due to the Emerald Ash Borer, about 300 dead ash trees currently need to be removed, according to the Urban Forestry Commission. A line of dead ash trees along Church Street between Broad and High (shown here, before removal in late 2019) is one striking and sad example.  Only 20-30 trees will likely be planted city-wide in the current year, given the available budget. Removing a large tree is far more expensive than planting a younger, smaller tree. For this reason, the urban forestry budget is being exhausted by the need for tree removals.

To make a donation to the Replace Our Trees fund, click here.

Climate change is playing a role in this process, just when trees are more urgently needed to mitigate climate change. Invasive plants, changing insect populations, and damage by vehicles are additional negative factors. Continue reading

It’s Time To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

The Jonah Center reminds residents to take advantage of the State’s Home Energy Solutions (HES) program, and other low-cost, high-return opportunities to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. This program, subsidized by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, reduces home utility costs, on average, by $200 per year. The co-pay for HES has been reduced to $75 for all types of heating, and $0 for income-eligible residents (up to 60% of the state’s median income level). Your home will have air leaks sealed, energy-efficient light bulbs and shower heads installed, and insulation evaluated. Low cost, subsidized insulation options are also available. Every HES visit earns your municipality credits towards energy efficiency grants that your community can use to improve its energy portfolio. The Jonah Center continues to partner with New England Conservation Services, the company that actually performs the service. Call NECS at 877-389-7077 or visit their website at https://www.neconserves.com/ for more information.

New Sidewalks In Portland

Sidewalks are being replaced in Portland. The Town has completed nearly $1 million in sidewalk replacements funded by the Town’s voters through a ballot referendum in 2017. The Jonah Center’s recommendations of a “road safety audit” and the state’s Community Connectivity grant program led to an additional $200,000 in funding for the Town’s sidewalks.

Shown in the picture here is work underway on a stretch of new sidewalk on the northwest side of Main Street between Russell Street and Arvid Road.

Cheers For 16 Year-Old Environmentalist

Lily Herron (daughter of Kathy and Bob) turned 16 this summer. As a sign of hope for the world, Lily’s party invitation requested no presents and that instead her friends make a donation to the Jonah Center.  What an inspired young woman, and what an example for others! Her idea was very well-received and resulted in a collective donation to the Jonah Center of $226. This came in the month of August when our income is usually zero. Thank you Lily! And congratulations to Bob and Kathy for nurturing a child into a young adult who wants to do something good for the world rather than accumulate more stuff for herself.  See? There is hope!

Portland To Vote On Purchase Of Riverfront Property

The town of Portland is holding 2 public hearings on Thursday, August 22 and Tuesday, August 27, both beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Library, to provide information and public conversation regarding the purchase of properties at 222, 230, and 248 Brownstone Ave. A Town Meeting vote to authorize purchase of the properties will take place on Wednesday, September 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Brownstone Intermediate School at 314 Main Street in Portland. Continue reading