The Air Line Trail Steering Committee in Portland had a successful year in 2016, bringing the vision to extend the trail from East Hampton into Portland closer to reality. Now that the major funding and permission obstacles have been overcome, we can foresee the day when construction will begin. Here is their 2016 progress report.
- We received a license from Eversource for use of the Air Line Trail property.
- The Town of Portland received a State of CT Grant to fund the Air Line Trail ($686k).
- The Town of Portland purchased the Keegan Property (a significant parcel off Middle Haddam Road, east of the YMCA Camp Ingersoll, and adjacent to the trail) for use as a trail head and additional open space, thereby completing our required match for the state grant.
- Jeff Sanborn & Associates completed a survey for the new trail in November and submitted results to the engineering firm, Nathan L Jacobson & Associates. Kati Mercier of Jacobson and Associates presented a preliminary design to our committee. We provided additional input and expect multiple additional meetings to finalize the design. We anticipate presenting the final design to the Board of Selectmen for review and final approval so that the project can go out to bid for construction.
The third annual “Freezin’ For A Reason” walk will be held (weather permitting) on Saturday, January 14, 2017 starting at 10am from the upper parking lot of the Portland YMCA Camp Ingersoll (follow signage). Adults and children invited (and dogs on leash) to participate. Please arrive 15 minutes early to register. Contact is Lou Pear at (860) 262-2745
Additional information on the Portland Air Line Trail can always be found on our Facebook Page. Committee meetings are usually held the last Wednesday of the month in the Portland Library.
As colder weather finally arrives, it’s an obvious time to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. The best investment you can make – in terms of “payback” or avoided heating costs, is this: Seal air leaks and add insulation.
First, you want to stop warm air from moving up through the frame of the house and getting into the attic. This air movement is called the chimney effect. Sealing air spaces to prevent hot air from rising through your home is critically important. Sealing around drafty window frames, the foundation, and pipe entrances is also highly cost-effective.
After air-sealing, you want to improve the R-value of your attic insulation. This is usually easy and quite inexpensive. Blowing insulation into poorly insulated or non-insulated walls is also recommended. State programs provide generous financial incentives to help get this work done. Continue reading
The aquatic plant known as the water chestnut (trapa natans, not the kind you eat in Chinese food) showed its invasive potential this past 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.
The summer of 2016 was different! Water chestnuts abounded as we have never seen before, forming expansive, dense patches at multiple locations. The Jonah Center and its partners removed approximately 48 canoes full in the course of 8 separate work parties. The most productive effort was on July 22, when we had 14 canoes, 2 motor boats, and 16 kayaks deployed. Each canoe was filled at least twice, yielding a total estimated haul of 30 canoes full on that single afternoon. Continue reading
Evening commute back-up on Route 9 southbound at Hartford Avenue
The CT DOT plan to remove the traffic signals from Route 9 in Middletown seems likely to go forward in some fashion, based on the public meeting held on July 26, 2016 and the subsequent comment period. There is broad, enthusiastic support for the main goal from many Middletown residents and elected officials, including Mayor Dan Drew. The pollution, accidents, wasted time, and constant irritation caused by the lights all add up to something now deemed intolerable, so the wheels of state government are starting to move. To view the project on-line, go to www.ct.gov/dot and click on the link “Rte 9 Middletown Projects” on the left side of the home page.
The specific proposal does, of course, raise concerns, as any project of this scale would. The most often-expressed concern on July 26 was that increased traffic on Main Street north of Washington Street will make peak congestion even worse. The second most-voiced concern was that the elevated southbound highway near Washington Street will block views toward the river and aggravate the existing visual and psychological barrier between the downtown and the riverfront, the same barrier that we have been decrying and seeking ways to mitigate for the last several decades. Continue reading
All 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
On 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.
Mayor 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
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:
This does not affect our email distribution list, which remains intact and secure. Thanks for your understanding and continued support.
You 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
The 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.