More Trees, Nicer Streets

tree-lined-streetThe Jonah Center for Earth and Art and The Rockfall Foundation invite the public to learn about plans to increase the number of trees in Middletown and to make streets safer and more inviting for walking and bicycling. The program will take place on Tuesday, April 11, 7- 8:30 p.m. at the deKoven House, 27 Washington Street, in Middletown.  Presenters will be Jane Harris, chair of Middletown’s Urban Forestry Commission, and John Hall, co-chair of Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee.

What makes a place nice to live in? Trees and safe places to walk are key to a city’s attractiveness. We like the softening effect of shade trees and the birds that sing in those overhead branches. Neighborhoods become more desirable and businesses thrive when there is plenty of foot traffic, with clean air and low noise levels. Planning departments, educators, and health advocates increasingly recognize the many benefits that follow when shops, schools, and restaurants can be reached on foot. Continue reading

Air Line Trail Update & Upcoming Walk

Air Line Trail 1The 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.

Public Input Sought For Wilcox Preserve

Wilcox PropertyThe Wilcox Conservation Area is a 126-acre forested, City open-space property located off Atkins Street and Footit Drive. The City is in the process of developing a management plan for the area and is looking to engage residents on their use (or lack thereof), concerns, and thoughts about the property.

On Wednesday June 15 at 6:30 pm, the City’s Department of Planning, Conservation and Development in conjunction with the Conservation Commission and the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association (CFPA) will hold a public forum at CFPA, located at 16 Meriden Road (Route 66) in Rockfall, to discuss the conditions and future vision for the Wilcox Conservation Property.

Residents are strongly encouraged to attend to share their views on the property and to provide input on future management activities. Citizen hopes and concerns will shape and support forest and trail management efforts at the property.

Jessie Stratton To Speak on Climate Change

Jessie Stratton photoThe Jonah Center for Earth and Art invites the public to a talk by Jessie Stratton, Director of Policy for the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, on the subject of the state’s policies related to climate change. The event will take place on Tuesday, March 29, 7-8:30 p.m. at the deKoven House, 27 Washington Street, in Middletown. Ms. Stratton will discuss our state’s plans related to mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency in the face of already advancing climate change

Jessie Stratton served as a CT State Representative from Avon and Canton from 1989 to 2003 and as the House chair of the Environment Committee from 1993-2003. After six years (2005-2011) as Director of Government Affairs for Environment Northeast, now Acadia Center, the Malloy administration brought her to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to assist the department in its transition to DEEP as it included energy policy among the areas of its jurisdiction.

In presenting the state’s plans related to climate change, Ms. Stratton will touch upon such topics as the state’s energy sources, transportation, increasing storm intensity, threats to streams, rivers and Long Island Sound, adaptation and resiliency research and implementation, strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and public education regarding climate change

Co-sponsors of the event include: Ecoin (Environmental Collective Impact Network); Coginchaug Area Transition; The Rockfall Foundation; Middletown Clean Energy Task Force; Middletown Garden Club; Middlesex Land Trust; and Wesleyan University Physics 105, “The Science of Sustainability”

Should Middletown Ban Fracking Waste?

Fracking wasteLocal residents who oppose fracking (hydraulic fracturing) for natural gas, in cooperation with Food and Water Watch, invite the public to an informational presentation on Thursday, January 28 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library.

Three Connecticut towns have recently passed local ordinances banning fracking waste, joining with hundreds of municipalities in New York protected by similar bans. Why are these towns taking action to protect their communities? We’ll examine the details of these local bans, look closely at the chemical toxins and radioactive materials present in fracking wastes and discuss contamination and human health risks. A video featuring NY State legislators commenting on this issue can be found here.

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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

Sunset Paddle — Glorious Water and Wildlife

Photo by Janice Anderson

Photo by Janice Anderson

The sunset paddle on August 22 was magical.  38 kayakers and canoeists saw the brilliant green wild rice in splendid late afternoon light. A bald eagle gave a star performance in flight and posed in a dead tree for spectator viewing, while loud cries from the nearby nest announced a young eaglet’s hunger. There was a brave great egret feeding on the shore who didn’t budge in spite of all the paddlers.  6 more great herons perched in a low tree farther away.  A great blue heron viewed all the activity from the osprey platform, while the osprey itself circled and swooped in the area.  We even saw 2 domestic goats grazing along the Mattabesset River upstream.  On the way back, as the light faded, hundreds of small, young fish broke the water surface everywhere to feed, adding a final, magical touch to the evening.  It just doesn’t get any better!