The Jonah Center for Earth and Art and The Rockfall Foundation invite the public to an evening with Wesleyan Physics Professor Brian Stewart on Monday, May 20, 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the deKoven House at 27 Washington Street, in Middletown. The talk is titled, “Tipping Points in the Climate, Nature, Society, and Ourselves.”
A tipping point is a watershed moment in space or time, beyond which things play out differently from before; a point of inevitability. The climax of a narrative, the moment your tires begin to slip on an icy road, the chain of runaway business and bank failures started on Black Monday — these are all examples of tipping points.
Of great importance to us right now are ecosystem tipping points, climate tipping points, social tipping points, political tipping points, and personal tipping points. How are they interrelated? Do we control any of them? Professor Stewart will examine the interplay of these tipping points in the context of our unique moment in world history.
Co-sponsoring the event are Artfarm, Ecoin, Middletown Resource Recycling Advisory Commission, and the Middletown Garden Club. For more information, contact John Hall at 860-398-3771 or Amanda Kenyon at 860-347-0340.
Chris Corson, founder and Technical Director of Ecocor High Performance Building of Maine, will discuss the benefits of pre-fabricated, panelized construction in Passive House buildings and how to address the most important imperative of the building industry: reducing the effects of climate change. Click here for more information and to register.
A new, sturdy kiosk at the Phil Salafia, Jr. Canoe and Kayak Launch at 181 Johnson Street was built and installed by Jonathan Shaw on April 27, 2019, as his Eagle Scout project. The Jonah Center recommended the project to Jonathan, and Middletown’s Department of Public Works supported the improvement. The kiosk will be used to provide maps and other information to paddlers in the area. Thanks, Jonathan!
The State of Connecticut’s plans for Route 9 in Middletown are still being developed, but one matter has been settled. Pedestrian bump-outs will be installed on Main Street from Union Street to Green Street during the 2019 construction season. Below is an artist’s rendering of the construction plans at the intersection of College Street and Main Street.
The stated purpose of this project is “to enhance pedestrian safety and reduce vehicular congestion by shortening pedestrian crossing distances along Main Street.” According to CT-Dot, the significant width of Main Street and the presence of on-street parking has led to the current situation with crosswalk distances of 80-96 feet. The significant time required for pedestrians to cross this distance safely means longer delays for vehicles stopped at intersections. A total of 18 bump-outs are proposed that will reduce the pedestrian crossing distances to approximately 55 feet, allowing the “pedestrian phase” of the traffic signals to be shortened and for the vehicle delay at each intersection to be reduced. Also, the elevated bump-outs will improve visibility for both pedestrians and motorists. Continue reading →
On Wednesday, February 13, the Transportation Committee of the CT General Assembly held a hearing on a large number of proposed bills, including Proposed S.B. 775, establishing the Central Connecticut Loop Trail. Senator Norm Needleman of Portland and Senator Mary Abrams of Meriden and Cheshire are co-introducers of the bill. We are very appreciative of Senator Matt Lesser of Middletown, Rocky Hill, and Wethersfield who took the initiative on this project. Readers will recall that Senator Lesser was also our main champion of our ban on commercial trapping of snapping turtles that passed last year.
We have succeeded in getting over twenty individuals to submit testimony supporting the bill. Now we are looking for more people–citizens and government officials–to submit more pieces of testimony as long as the committee is receiving it. The goal is to build support that will bring the bill to a vote in the Transportation Committee, a step that is by no means guaranteed. With a positive vote in committee, the details of the bill will be drafted. Please send even brief statements of support to (ideally but not necessarily in the form of a PDF attachment) to TRAtestimony@cga.ct.gov
The Central Connecticut Loop Trail will be a 111 mile mostly off-road bicycle route in the center of our state. The route passes through Cheshire, Southington, Plainville, Farmington, Avon, Simsbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, East Hartford, Manchester, Bolton, Andover, Columbia, Willimantic, Lebanon, Amston, Colchester, East Hampton, Portland, Middletown, and Meriden. Continue reading →
The proposed ordinance to ban single-use plastic checkout bags in Middletown has gathered support. Click on the “Continue Reading” link at the bottom of this post for Facts and a Summary of the draft ordinance, prepared and distributed by the Middletown Garden Club.
Here’s what you can do to help. The draft ordinance is scheduled to be on the agenda of the Public Works Commission on Wednesday, March 13, 6:30 p.m. in Room 208 of City Hall. Early in the meeting, there will be a “public comment” period for residents to voice support or opposition to the ordinance. On the following night, March 14, 6:30 p.m., the ordinance will be on the agenda of the General Counsel Commission in the same room. Again, there will be an opportunity for public comment.
If all goes well at these two commission meetings, the ordinance will be before the Common Council on Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. Members of the Common Council may be reached by email (individually, or through one message to the whole Council) through this page on the City’s new website.
Middletown’s Department of Public Works has scheduled an important hearing on the Newfield Corridor Trail on Wednesday, February 13, 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Police Station at 222 Main Street. The Department of Public Works will make a brief presentation on the project. Members of the public will have an opportunity to express support, make comments, and ask questions.
The Jonah Center began advocating in 2012 for a multi-use trail that will start close to the downtown area (such as Veterans Park) and connect with the Mattabesset Bike Path in the Westfield/Westlake section of the city at Tuttle Road. We are excited and delighted that the Public Works Department appears ready to move forward with this long-awaited and talked-about project. The Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee would appreciate your presence and show of enthusiasm at this meeting to send a strong message to City officials that bicycle and pedestrian are important to you. A strong turnout will help move the project forward.
The City has many infrastructure projects in the works and tends to give priority to those that are perceived to benefit the largest number of residents. So it is important to show that this project has strong support from residents all over town, not just to those who live in the immediate vicinity of the trail. Delays could result in the funds earmarked for the project purchasing far less than they would have originally.
More information on the trail can be found by clicking on the following links:
Garden wildlife reminds me of teenagers – the critters eat distressingly huge meals then leave without communicating about what they have been up to or where they are going. Except in wintertime, of course, when they (the wildlife, not the teenagers) leave a tale of tracks in the snow.
I’m no great tracker, but with the help of my Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks I can at least tell the difference between a fox footprint and that of a dog, trace the travels of the rabbit around my yard, and discover that it’s a porcupine that has been nibbling the branch tips off the hemlocks. There are all sorts of insights to be had from these vestiges. The dog, for example, is likely to wander, sniffing here and there, whereas the fox typically trots in a straight line – one is sure of an ample dinner while the other knows that it cannot afford to waste a single calorie in this harsh season. And by back-tracking the porcupine, I learn what crevice in the rock face across the road it has made into its den. That’s where I’ll set up my have-a-heart trap if the porcupines ravage my vegetable garden again next summer.
It was a string of five-toed footprints, each one not much bigger than a quarter, that told me to keep an eye on the wood pile. And my vigilance was rewarded one gray morning when I spotted a mink darting in between the logs, then re-emerging with a mouse in its jaws.
It’s a thrill to find evidence of such an uncommon (at least in my garden) species, but tracks of the commonest animals excite me just as much if they have a story to tell. A red feather and a spot of blood in a small snow crater told me all I had to know about the encounter of a cardinal and a hawk. And I still remember following across a snowy field next door to our yard the tracks of a Canada goose. Stooping to inspect, I found its toes had dug into the snow and the stride gradually lengthened until, suddenly, the tracks stopped – I, too, felt as if I had taken off. Continue reading →
As many Middletown residents know, the single lane, wood-decked West Street bridge over the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad just west of Washington St., (pictured below) is badly in need of replacement. The State of Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT) declared the bridge obsolete at least ten years ago, but plans for replacement were delayed for a variety of reasons.
West St. bridge over railroad, looking north
When the Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee were informed of this project in 2012, we began advocating for a generous (bike trail width) pedestrian and bicycle bridge to be incorporated into the new motor vehicle bridge. Not only is the bridge dangerously narrow for cars, but pedestrians, bicyclists, and wheelchair users frequently cross the bridge, often at great peril. West Street is identified on Middletown’s Complete Streets Master Plan as an important route for bicycles to travel from the south to the north side of Washington Street, and a future multi-use trail is envisioned for the entire length of West Street, from Wadsworth Street to Washington Street.
Middletown’s Public Works Department was supportive of our request, and CT DOT readily accepted the suggested addition of a broad pedestrian and bicycle lane on the east side of the bridge. Continue reading →