Speak Out For Trails & Bike Routes

The Jonah Center and various partners are promoting exciting, long term projects that will make a huge difference for bicyclists and walkers in our area. Completing such projects requires public awareness and support at many points along the way. Click on the links to view maps. At the bottom of this post, see how you can speak out in favor of these improvements.

The Long Lane Multi-Use Trail has been designed as a 1.4 mile, 10’ paved walking and bicycling trail from the Long Hill Road soccer fields to a point on Pine Street just south of Wesleyan University. The Jonah Center was designated the “Project Advocate” in 2011, and the trail was funded by a federal grant that year. After many route complications were resolved, the project will go “out to bid” soon for construction in 2018. The “final” route (we hope) may be viewed here: Long Lane Multi-Use Trail Route

The Landfill Trail is a hiking path on the North End Peninsula (site of Middletown’s retired landfill adjacent to the recycling center.) Funded by a CT Recreational Trails Grant, the trail will begin at the kayak and canoe launch (at 181 Johnson Street) and circle the base of the landfill, with a spur leading to the top of the landfill mound. From the top, hikers can enjoy spectacular views of the Floating Meadows. Landfill Trail 2017

The Newfield Corridor Trail will connect the Mattabesset Bike Trail in the Westfield section of Middletown to the downtown area. This project has been funded through Middletown’s 2016 Parks Bond. The Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee are pushing to begin route definition and design.  View the map here: Newfield Area Bikeway Layout

Connecting the new (under construction) Air Line Trail in Portland to downtown Portland, the Arrigoni Bridge, and Middletown. This project is led by the Portland Air Line Trail Steering Committee with support from Portland’s Complete Streets Group and the Jonah Center.  Phase 2 of the trail includes property that is currently privately owned. Some property owners have indicated a willingness to negotiate trail access while others have not or need further negotiation.  Alternative routes are also being considered.  View a map of the current “Phase 1” trail route and possible routes for “Phase 2” here: Portland Air Line Trail Map.

The Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route will utilize Newfield Corridor Trail, Mattabesset Bike Trail, Quinnipiac Gorge Trail in Meriden, and other still-unnamed segments. Completing this envisioned 18 mile route from Portland to Cheshire will allow safe bicycle travel all the way from New Haven to Willimantic via Cheshire, Meriden, Middletown, and Portland. It will also provide an alternate route of the East Coast Greenway and a 125-mile loop trail around the greater Hartford area once the main East Coast Greenway route is completed. This project was initiated by the Jonah Center with support from the Lower CT River Council of Governments, engaging elected officials, staff, and volunteers from Portland, Middletown, Meriden, and Cheshire. View map here: ALT to FCT Connector Route

Middletown’s new Bike Route Master Plan sets the stage for signage, share-the-road pavement markings, and bike lanes. The plan focuses on connecting surrounding communities to downtown Middletown and facilitating safe bicycling within the downtown area. Implementation of this plan, produced and promoted by Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee, will be a key step in qualifying Middletown as a bike-friendly city. View the plan here: Bike Route & Trails Plan 2017

To show your support for any or all of these projects, sign the Speak Out For Trails & Bike Routes petition. Or, to speed up the process, you may skip the petition and go straight to the questionnaire where you can tell us which projects interest you and how you can help.  When citizen support is most needed, you will receive a “call to action” explaining in more detail how you can express your support for a particular project.




Speak Out For Trails and Bike Routes

I support safe bicycling and walking facilities in Middletown and Portland through the construction of off-street multi-use trails, on-street bicycle routes, bike lanes, and signage.

**your signature**

251 signatures

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Latest Signers
251 April Eckert
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237 Ellen Lukens

Support Portland’s Purchase of 5.28 Acres Of Riverfront Property At Feb. 28 Town Meeting

The Town of Portland has an opportunity to acquire over 5 acres of riverfront property adjacent to the Riverfront Park and across the street from the Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park. (See area outlined in yellow.)  Purchase price plus borrowing costs total about $410,000. There is a public hearing on this matter at the Library on Wed. Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.  Even more important is for residents to attend the Town Meeting on Wed. Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. when those present will vote on the purchase. A fact sheet with more detailed maps may be found here: Riverfront Property Fact Sheet & Aerial Photos

The Jonah Center has been quietly following the progress of this acquisition since August 2016, when our Board of Directors approved a statement and letter in support of the purchase. The parcels in question were contaminated by the oil depot that operated on the property until some years ago. A remediation plan has been developed and approved by the State of CT, pending municipal acquisition. A video of the consultant,  Amy Vaillancourt from  Tighe & Bond, explaining the issues of remediation and future use may be viewed hereContinue 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

A New Venture–The Air Line Trail To Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art is promoting an 18-mile bike route that would allow cyclists on the Air Line Trail to reach the Farmington Canal Trail in Cheshire (part of the East Coast Greenway). The route would consist mostly of off-road trails traveling westward from the Arrigoni Bridge through Middletown, Meriden, and Cheshire. Of this 18-mile route, approximately 7 miles have already been built or planned in Meriden and Middletown. To view this entire route in detail, click here: Air Line Trail to Farmington Canal Trail connector route

Coming eastward from Cheshire, bicyclists could reach the extremely scenic Air Line Trail in Portland and continue for 25 additional miles to reach Willimantic and reconnect with the East Coast Greenway.

Most important for Middletown itself, this connector trail would also be a boon to bicycle transportation in the city, providing a continuous route from downtown Middletown to the commuter rail hub in Meriden, passing through the Westlake residential area and the Industrial Park Road commercial district.

As an early step toward this vision, the Jonah Center is working with Middletown’s Public Works Department to begin work on the Newfield Corridor Trail for which funds were allocated in the 1916 Parks Improvement Bond Referendum. This 3-mile segment (shown in blue or red on the right side of the map) would connect the existing Mattabesset Bike Trail (shown in green) with a point near downtown Middletown–either Veterans Park or the North End.  Note: The map above shows all the sections of the connector trail that would pass through Middletown. The section in green has already been built; sections in blue, red, or gold are envisioned.) 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.

An Evening with Henry David Thoreau

Henry David ThoreauThis year is the bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau’s birth, and to celebrate, Mattabeseck Audubon Society, the Rockfall Foundation, and the Jonah Center are co-sponsoring a program, “An Evening with Henry David Thoreau”, with Thoreau impersonator Richard Smith, a historian and staff member of the Thoreau Society in Concord, MA. The program is scheduled to be held on Thursday, September 28 at 7:00 pm at the deKoven House in Middletown.


Paddle With A Purpose – July 8 at 9 a.m. (rain date Sun. 7/9, 9 a.m.)

The aquatic plant known as water chestnut (trapa natans) showed its invasive potential last summer at many points along the Connecticut River and its tributaries. In our own Floating Meadows, the freshwater, tidal marshland formed where the lower Coginchaug and Mattabesset Rivers converge, the presence of these plants was first recorded in 2009.  The Jonah Center has been monitoring the area closely since 2013, pulling out a few plants each year through 2015.

The summer of 2016 was different! Water chestnut proliferated as we have never seen before, forming expansive, dense patches at multiple locations. Left unchecked, these plants can choke off sunlight and oxygen, threatening native plants, fish, fish-eating birds and other aquatic species. Some waterways, including local ones, have become impassible by water chestnut infestations.

For the coming season, paddles were held on June 10, June 24, and the third is planned for Saturday, July 8, 9-11  a.m. (The time of the July 8 paddled has been changed to 9 a.m. because wind conditions on the earlier afternoon paddles were a major obstacle to progress. In case of bad weather on July, we will attempt to go out on Sunday, July 9, at 9 a.m.) Canoes and kayaks will start and finish at the launch site at 181 Johnson Street, adjacent to Middletown’s recycling center. For each of these outings, we need many volunteers, including those with access to motorboats. Here’s why.

Continue reading

Watery Art Videos — “Tides” and “Downstream”

Here are 2 excellent videos produced by Kate Ten Eyck and Joseph Smolinksi, friends of the Jonah Center. These works of environmental art were projected onto the white walls of the pedestrian tunnel under Route 9 during the Riverfront Encounter Festival at Harbor Park, Middletown, in May 2016.

Tides by Kate Ten Eyck — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viwcecoGVO0&sns=em 

This animation takes the viewer into the mystery of tides, waves, and the creatures that inhabit the watery underworld.

Downstream, by Joseph Smolinski — https://vimeo.com/167206035

This two channel video follows two local rivers, Sumner Brook and the Coginchaug River, that flow into the Connecticut River. The right side of the video is filmed upstream while the left is filmed downstream. The installation is projected on opposing walls so the viewer can pass through a virtual flow of water. Note the rich soundtrack of river sounds. Throughout the video sculptural compositions appear that were made by collecting debris, 3D scanning the objects and then compositing them into the footage. This project was filmed in the Spring, 2016, through a grant from Wesleyan University Center for Fine Art.  The Jonah Center assisted through site selection and by identifying access points.