John Hall’s Letter To The Common Council on Environmental Specialist Position

To: Members of the Common Council

I am writing to you with great concern that the Planning & Environmental Specialist position in the Dept. of Planning, Conservation, and Development may not be funded in FY2019. I understand the revenue/expense/general fund balance situation that the City faces, but eliminating the ES position would be a serious additional setback to a PCD Department that has already been damaged and has functioned very poorly over the past few years. More important, given the services and grant receipts that come with the P&ES position, eliminating this position would be financially detrimental in the long run. Continue reading

Victory For Snapping Turtles in CT Legislature!

The Jonah Center’s efforts to protect Snapping Turtles from commercial trapping was successful. The campaign began in 2012 and faced many discouraging moments along the way, but now we rejoice in victory for the ancient and majestic snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina 

Our primary turtle advocate, Barrie Robbins-Pianka (who took all of the photos above) deserves major credit for the inspiration and investigative work behind the campaign.  State Representative Matt Lesser was our legislative advocate. Wesleyan Professor Barry Chernoff provided scientific testimony. Many of you, Jonah Center advocates, sent emails and made phone calls to members and leaders of the legislature across the state.  All of this finally added up to critical mass and so, at last, our state will protect snapping turtles from commercial trade. Governor Malloy has signed the bill into law. 

To read one of the most compelling and informative testimonies sent to legislators (from Tim Walsh of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich), click here.

New Hope For Snapping Turtles

For the first time, a bill protecting Common Snapping Turtles from commercial trapping in Connecticut has passed in the CT General Assembly’s Environment Committee. The vote tally was 29-0.  In previous years, we could not even get a vote for Snapping Turtles in the committee. This bill also addresses commercial trade of Red-Eared Slider Turtles.

Now we need citizens to email their State Rep to bring attention to this bill.  Below is a sample message that you can cut and paste.  Additional talking points and Reps’ email addresses are further down this post. Please “Bcc:” John Hall so we know you took action. Continue reading

Winter Snowshoe Expedition — February 17th

The Middletown Conservation Commission is sponsoring a snowshoeing expedition at the Guida Farm Conservation Area on Saturday, February 17th with an alternative date of Saturday, February 24th. If there is no snow, a conventional hike will go forward on the 17th. The hike will begin around 9:30 at the intersection of Coleman Road and Round Hill Road – at the parking lot across from the T-intersection with Coleman Road.

If the weather is truly inclement — bitterly cold, heavily raining or seriously snowing — the ramble will be postponed until the 24th. Call 860-301-1980 for an update on the hiking plans. Continue reading

Update on October 30 Sewage Spill

Mattabassett District Sewage Treatment Plant in Cromwell. Wilcox Island and the Arrigoni Bridge are visible at the top of the photo.

As described in a previous post, a sewage spill of 3.6 million gallons from the Mattabasset District plant on October 30, 2017, raised some obvious concerns and questions. In early January, John Hall met with the Mattabassett’s Executive Director Art Simonian to get some answers.

According to Mr. Simonian, the October 30 “bypass event” occurred after heavy rain forced storm water into the pipes via the seams that connect one pipe to another. This produced a larger volume (a mixture of storm water and sewage) reaching the treatment plant. As a consequence and to avoid flooding the plant itself, 3.6 million gallons of partly treated sewage needed to be discharged into the Connecticut River over a period of hours while the heavy rain and storm runoff continued. Continue reading

3.63 Million Gallon Sewage Spill

The Jonah Center has learned that 3.63 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Connecticut River between 1:10 a.m and 7:10 a.m. on Monday, October 30, from the Mattabassett District wastewater treatment plant in Cromwell. On a difficult-to-find section of the CT DEEP website, this spill was reported as a “bypass event” caused by “excessive flow/storm event.” As far as we know, there was no public notice issued to warn the public of this event. We will be seeking more information about this spill and inquiring about the frequency and volumes of other spills from other nearby plants, as well as the reporting and public warning requirements. Continue reading

Middletown’s New Policy On Sidewalks & Snow Removal

City residents should take note of a new policy, and new ordinance, on sidewalk snow removal.  In the past, property owners could be fined for failure to remove snow and ice from sidewalks after snow storms. Under the new policy, those who fail to remove snow and ice within 24 hours after a storm will still be fined, but the fine will increase for each violation.

Also, and perhaps most significant, in the past the fines did not always accomplish the goal of getting the sidewalk cleared, leaving the situation still dangerous for children walking to school and for other pedestrians.  (Perhaps some property owners found it more convenient to pay the fine than to get the work done. Maybe they didn’t pay the fine.) But under the new ordinance, the City may hire someone to remove the snow and bill the property owner for the job,  then place a lien on the property if the bill is not paid.

Below is the actual ordinance.  It’s another step toward safer walking conditions–in other words, Complete Streets–in Middletown!

Sidewalk shoveling ordinance 2017-09

 

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 is $149 for most residents, or $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, along with the City of Middletown, 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.

Air Line Trail Ground-Breaking Ceremony

Construction work has begun on Portland’s section of the Air Line Trail.  The ground-breaking ceremony took place at the Keegan Trail Head on Saturday, October 28.

The Jonah Center congratulates the Air Line Trail Steering Committee, co-chaired by Rosario Rizzo and Louis Pear, for successfully guiding the project to this point.  The Jonah Center played a key role in starting the project and  recruiting Steering Committee members in 2014. More information on the history and goals of this project can be viewed here.