Season’s Final Effort To Remove Water Chestnut From Floating Meadows

This coming Sunday, September 16, from 9 to 11 a.m., paddlers will unite in a big effort to remove the remaining water chestnut plants from the lower Mattabesset River in the Floating Meadows between Middletown and Cromwell. If we can get about 20 paddlers, we have a good chance of clearing the main stem of the river for the first time in 5 years.

We will launch from the canoe and kayak launch at 181 Johnson St. in Middletown. For last minute questions in case of iffy weather, call or text John Hall at 860-398-3771.

While we prefer not to schedule paddles on Sunday, we are doing so in this case due to the Sunday availability of paddlers with canoes and in order to have higher water in the ebbing tide. Tide will be high at approximately 8 a.m. on Sunday. Tide is one hour earlier on Saturday.

Bags and gloves will be provided.  Paddlers are required to wear life jackets and to sign a Jonah Center liability waiver and photo permission form. A porta-potty is located at the launch site.

Main Street & Route 9 — CT DOT Project Update

Evening commute back-up on Route 9 southbound at Hartford Avenue

You may be wondering about the status of plans by the CT Department of Transportation to improve traffic on Main Street, the Route 17 ramp onto Route 9, and the proposal to remove the traffic signals from Route 9. John Hall recently spoke with Erik Jarboe at CT DOT about these projects. Here’s what’s going on.

The State will install pedestrian bump-outs along Main Street beginning in the spring of 2019. (“Bump-outs” are elevated extensions of the sidewalk surface into the crosswalk area, providing visibility for pedestrians, shortening the time needed for the pedestrian cycle of the traffic signal, and moving cars more efficiently.) The State also plans to make improvements to the St. John’s Square intersection, for which construction may begin in the fall of 2019. This will include a dedicated right turn lane from southbound Main onto Washington Street.

As for the removal of the stop sign where Rt. 17 enters Route 9 northbound, the addition of the needed acceleration lane will require widening and partial replacement of the bridge over Union Street as well as relocation of the existing Union Street/River Road/Harbor Drive intersection. This will entail a prolonged permitting process, which is underway.

Regarding the removal of the Route 9 traffic signals, CT DOT has engaged a consulting company to complete a comprehensive system-wide traffic study of Route 9, downtown Middletown, and beyond. They are hoping to hold another public meeting with revised plans sometime this coming winter.

Hard Drive Shredding & E-Waste Collection Event

On Saturday, September 15th, Wesleyan will be hosting a FREE residential e-waste recycling and hard drive shredding event from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This event is open to all Connecticut residents at no charge. Residents are not required to pre-register.

Take 2’s mobile hard drive shredder will be on site to shred hard drives, which should be removed from computers and laptops and ready to be shredded. Take 2 will not be able to remove hard drives from devices at the event. Take 2 will be on site to unload vehicles and safely package and transport all unwanted electronics to their Waterbury facility to be responsibly and securely recycled.

Construction Begins On Multi-Use Trail

Photo by Scott McIntyre

At last, work is underway on the multi-use trail adjacent to Long Lane, from the Long Hill Road soccer field to the corner of Long Lane and Wadsworth Street. The contractor is DeRita Construction Company.

While the original plan envisioned a 3-mile multi-use trail from the Wesleyan Hills development to downtown, the project was scaled back for a variety of reasons and divided into phases. This first phase of the trail will serve primarily residents in a variety of housing developments just south of Wesleyan University who wish to bicycle, walk, or run along Long Lane between Long Hill Road and Wadsworth Street, where there are no sidewalks. The path will be 10 feet wide in most cases, paved with asphalt.

Most of the work will be completed this fall, but some details, such as final landscaping, will need to wait until next spring. The Jonah Center has been the community advocate for this project since 2011 when it was partially funded by a federal grant of $400,000. This cost of this section of the trail will be approximately $1,045,000, not including time spent by City staff.

The image below shows the location of the new trail section, most of it parallel to Long Lane between Long Hill Road and Wadsworth Street.

Portland Sidewalks Project Groundbreaking Ceremony

On June 27, 2018, members of Portland’s Sidewalk Committee and Board of Selectmen held a  ground-breaking ceremony for the $1 million sidewalk improvement project.  Approximately 2 miles of cracked and uneven sidewalks in the Town’s central residential area will be replaced with brand new concrete sidewalks over the next year or so.  John Hall and Bob Herron (Jonah Board member & Treasurer) are co-chairs of the Sidewalk Committee.

PIctured above (left to right) are Bob Herron, Selectman Ralph Zampano, First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, John Hall, Selectman Jim Tripp, Selectman Lou Pear, Director of Public Works Bob Shea, and former Selectman Fred Knous.

Paddle With A Purpose — Water Chestnut Removal

On Sunday, July 8, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, paddlers will return to the Floating Meadows to remove emerging water chestnut plants. This invasive species endangers our local freshwater marshland. Since plants are still small at this early stage in the season, removing them now saves much labor later in the summer.  The Jonah Center is grateful to our partner, the Connecticut River Conservancyn for staffing this work party and covering the event with their insurance policy. All participants will need to sign CRC’s liability waivers and paddle at their own risk.  The starting point is the canoe and kayak launch at 181 Johnson Street in Middletown. For information on possible last minute cancellation, check back on this post or call 860-398-3771.

New This Year: At the Jonah Center’s request, the City of Middletown has installed a port-a-potty at the boat launch for the entire summer paddling season! The Public Works Department has also improved the facility in other ways you will notice. Thank you Director Russo and Middletown’s Department of Public Works.

Common Council Re-Funds Environmental & Arts Positions

On May 29, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, hundreds of citizens showed up to protest the FY2019 budget which did not contain funding for the Environmental Specialist and Arts Coordinator positions.  The arts community was represented by numerous adults who were nurtured by the Summer Circus program, including a young woman named Jasmine who entered the Council Chambers on tall “giraffe stilts.”  She had to duck to get through the door, and the camera needed to move up to capture her head and face.  The testimonies were eloquent and passionate.

In the end, the Council voted 7-3 to sustain the Mayor’s veto of the relevant line items.  8 votes were needed to override the veto.  But the struggle is not over. The positions still need to be evaluated, and refilled.

The Jonah Center and members of the environmental community remain concerned about the future of the Department of Planning, Conservation, and Development, which has 2 vacant positions and is struggling to complete urgent, necessary work.

 

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.