See A Turtle? Take A Photo and Become A Citizen Scientist

CT Turtle AtlasAll you need is a digital camera and an internet connection to take part in an exciting turtle-tracking project. The Bruce Museum in Greenwich is looking for Citizen Scientists to record observations wherever they occur in Connecticut  The project is called the Connecticut Turtle Atlas. There is an iNaturalist smart phone app that makes it even easier. To learn why this is so important and how to get started, see below. Continue reading

Common Council Adopts Complete Streets Ordinance

Logo-v01-OTOn Monday, March 7, 2016, at its 7 p.m. meeting, Middletown’s Common Council unanimously adopted the Complete Streets Ordinance proposed by the City’s Complete Streets Committee. We wish to thank the many citizens who attended the meeting to show their support. The ordinance requires the City to consider the needs of all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of wheelchairs, and public transit riders when planning transportation improvement projects. The text of the draft ordinance can be viewed here.

In practice, passage of the ordinance means that the Complete Streets Committee will have an official role in planning these improvements, insuring that our streets and roadways are modified (wherever possible and where costs are justified by the likelihood of significant community benefits) to make them safer, more usable, and more attractive for all residents, not just those driving cars and trucks.

Bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly improvements are expected to be made when roadways and sidewalks are scheduled for work as part of road bond projects, with priority given to areas around schools and commercial districts.  The Complete Streets Committee is already working with Middletown’s Public Schools to encourage more students to  walk or bike to school. The construction of multi-use trails to connect various parts of the city for non-motorized transportation and recreation is another goal of the Complete Streets Committee and the Jonah Center.  For more information on these plans, click here.

2016 Edition of the Middletown Trail Guide

Trail Guide For Sale FlierMayor Daniel T. Drew is excited to announce the release of the 2nd Edition of the Middletown Trail Guide. The Trail Guide, which was last updated in 2004, is the result of the diligent work and perseverance of the members of the City’s Conservation Commission and community volunteers along with assistance from City staff. The updated trail guide includes maps and narrative descriptions for over 20 areas for hiking, biking, nature viewing and kayaking. Some new additions to the trail guide include the nearly 5-mile long multi-use trail, a 1.6-mile downtown walking loop, and the Mattabesset River Canoe/Kayak Trail which utilizes the City’s new car-top boat launch off Johnson Street. Continue reading

Notice to Subscribers of Our Website

Dear Friends of the Jonah Center:

Due to a large volume of spam registrations on our website leading to potential security breaches, we have been forced to purge the bulk of our user database and implement a new more secure registration procedure.  If you had previously registered for the web site, your username and login information may have been deleted.  If this is the case and you are unable to login in to the site, please re-register by sending a request through our contact page with your name and email address:

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This does not affect our email distribution list, which remains intact and secure.  Thanks for your understanding and continued support.

Web Administrator

Air Line Trail License Signing Ceremony and Hike

Air Line Trail 1You are invited to a special celebration of the Air Line Trail license agreement between the Town of Portland and Eversource on Wednesday, January 20, at 7:30  p.m. at the Waverly Center, 7 Waverly Avenue in Portland. This license is a critical step toward the extension of the Air Line Trail into Portland, using property owned by Eversource.

To mark this milestone, a special celebratory 4 mile hike on the trail, called “Freezin’ for a Reason,” will follow on Saturday, January 23 at 10 AM, starting from the YMCA Camp Ingersoll parking area. Continue reading

Imagine The East Coast Greenway Coming Our Way

Logo-v01-OTThe East Coast Greenway (ECG) is a 2950 mile bicycle route from Key West, Florida, to Calais, Maine at the Canadian border. 30% of the route currently follows off-road trails, with the remaining 70% following on-street routes that are usable by experienced cyclists. The goal is to have the entire distance be off-road. The ECG is a fantastic, long-term project, but one with a lot of work to be done.

In Connecticut, 33% of the ECG route has been completed using such off-road trails. The main route follows the Farmington Canal Trail from New Haven to East Granby, where it turns southeast through Bloomfield, and east through Hartford, Manchester, and Willimantic. This route takes advantage of significant stretches of already-built recreational trails, but it also includes a number of serious obstacles before approaching the 100% off-road goal.

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art is advocating a 50 mile bike trail route that would depart eastward from the Farmington Canal Trail in Cheshire, follow mostly off-road trails east through Meriden and Middletown in order to connect with the Air Line Trail in Portland. This route would utilize existing bike trails in Meriden and Middletown, plus approximately 25 miles of the extremely scenic Air Line Trail to reach Willimantic, where it would reconnect with the East Coast Greenway. Of this proposed 50 mile Cheshire to Willimantic route, approximately 32 miles have already been constructed. Most of the remaining 18 miles follow routes already planned, designed, or proposed by engineering staff in Middletown and Meriden.
Continue reading

Plans To Improve Middletown Parks

Middltown logoThe November 2015 ballot referendum on a plan to refurbish and upgrade Middletown parks was controversial because of the issue of synthetic turf playing fields. The original plan called for construction of 9 synthetic turf fields, but synthetic turf was removed from the bond language, limiting the borrowing authorization to cover natural grass fields only. (See earlier posts on the series of meetings that led to this decision.) The Jonah Center and Ecoin (the Environmental Collective Impact Network) opposed synturf for reasons of human health and safety, environmental protection, aesthetics, children’s alienation from the natural world, public access, and financial risks. Continue reading

Natural Grass or Synthetic Turf Playing Fields — What Is Best For Our Kids?

Mayor Drew has called a Special Session of the Common Council for THIS WEDNESDAY, Sept 2 at 6pm to vote on changes to the proposed “parks bond” wording.  The proposal is to add 6 additional grass fields to the bond language in order meet capacity needs that the artificial turf would have provided.  (The language allowing synthetic turf to be installed was removed from the bond wording at the meeting on Aug. 24.) Removing synthetic turf and adding additional natural grass fields will allow for the funding authorization to be reduced by approximately $3.5 million, which is also part of the Mayor’s proposal. Continue reading

Common Council Considers Two Bond Referenda

Middltown logoOn Aug. 24, at 7 p.m., Middletown’s Common Council will consider 2 bond referenda likely to appear on the November ballot: One bond is for additional funding for the Mattabessett Sewage Treatment project. The other is to make long overdue improvements to City parks and athletic facilities.

The proposed Parks Bond would fund improvements including sidewalks, bikeways, and crosswalks at parks and schools recommended by the Complete Streets Committee. Possible projects include engineering costs for a multi-use trail connecting the Mattabessett Bike Trail terminus at Tuttle Place (Westlake Area) and Veteran’s Park; bike-ped improvements along River Road between Harbor Park and Silver Street; and bike route signage and street markings to make Middletown more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. Complete Streets improvements are aimed at the following goals: safer and more frequent walking and bicycling; achieving the clear health benefits of these activities; reducing traffic congestion and air pollution; and better quality of life.

A controversial proposal included in the Parks Bond is the replacement of 9 natural grass athletic fields with synthetic turf fields. Synthetic turf is opposed by many members of Ecoin (Environmental Collective Impact Network) who favor natural turf maintained by organic methods, like those successfully used in Branford and other communities. The chemicals contained in synthetic turf, the heat generated on their surfaces, damage to the underlying soil and groundwater, and the required maintenance of these fields raise serious concerns. For more information on the health, environmental, and financial risks of synthetic turf, visit Ecoin’s post on this topic here.

As of Aug. 12, 2015, the Jonah Center Board of Directors has not taken a position on any of these questions, although the Complete Streets Committee, chaired by John Hall and Beth Emery, is clearly in favor of improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists included in the Parks bond.

Buying Electricity For Your Home

Electricity generation rates are now relatively low (for Connecticut), due primarily to the low cost of natural gas. So this is a good time to buy your home electricity from a 3rd party supplier.
Energize CT logoThe Jonah Center is not in the business of recommending suppliers, but if you go to www.EnergizeCT.com and click on “Choose Your Electrical Supplier” on the top right, then follow the directions, you will come to a list of all available 3rd party suppliers. Eversource, listed at the top, provides the “standard offer” or default rate – the rate you pay if you do not choose a 3rd party supplier. Continue reading