Winter Snowshoe Expedition — February 17th

The Middletown Conservation Commission is sponsoring a snowshoeing expedition at the Guida Farm Conservation Area on Saturday, February 17th with an alternative date of Saturday, February 24th. If there is no snow, a conventional hike will go forward on the 17th. The hike will begin around 9:30 at the intersection of Coleman Road and Round Hill Road – at the parking lot across from the T-intersection with Coleman Road.

If the weather is truly inclement — bitterly cold, heavily raining or seriously snowing — the ramble will be postponed until the 24th. Call 860-301-1980 for an update on the hiking plans. Continue 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

What Does “Balance” Mean? What Should It Look Like?

The draft Connecticut State Water Plan, and the State law that authorizes the creation of the plan, recommend “ the utilization of the state’s water resources … in a manner that balances public water supply, economic development, recreation, and ecological health. In one part of the document, the plan calls for a balance in the use of “in-stream water” and “out-of-stream water”— the latter being water removed from the river for other human purposes.

Below is an extended excerpt from the Jonah Center’s comment on the draft Water Plan, submitted in November 2017. All residents are invited and encouraged to submit comments on the plan by November 20, 2017. The final draft of the plan is expected to be released in January 2018, after which it will go before the State Legislature for an up or down vote. We support a “yes” vote on the plan, but urge that definition be given to the term balance.

“Balance” is an agreeable-sounding term. Who can oppose “balance”? But we need to face the question: what should this balance really look like? The plan refers to achieving a balance between “in-stream water” and “out-of-stream water” – the latter going to a variety of purposes beyond drinking water supply, such as industrial processes, agriculture irrigation, lawn and golf course irrigation, car washing, and others. Surely, a balance between “in-stream” and “out-of-stream” uses would not divide a river’s flow by assigning 50% to each. So how would “balance” be defined? Any useful definition should recognize that, when water supply is threatened, or when a river is literally going dry, some uses of water have a greater claim to moral legitimacy than others. Most important, when it comes to our environmental needs in the largest sense — insuring long-term sustainability in the relationship between humans and other forms of life, the forms of life we ultimately depend on for our own health and survival — the goal of “balance” is not a nicety whose meaning should be assumed to be universally agreed upon.  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.

Air Line Trail Ground-Breaking Ceremony

Construction work has begun on Portland’s section of the Air Line Trail.  The ground-breaking ceremony took place at the Keegan Trail Head on Saturday, October 28.

The Jonah Center congratulates the Air Line Trail Steering Committee, co-chaired by Rosario Rizzo and Louis Pear, for successfully guiding the project to this point.  The Jonah Center played a key role in starting the project and  recruiting Steering Committee members in 2014. More information on the history and goals of this project can be viewed here.