Citizen Testimony Was Fantastic at Common Council Workshop

 

NRG power plant in Middletown as seen from the Air Line Trail in Portland. Photo by John Hall.

 

Middletown’s Common Council held a public workshop on the NRG plant on Thursday, February 11, on WebEx. Citizens joined the meeting in large numbers, most speaking in strong opposition to the proposed new 375 megawatt combustion turbine generator at the NRG Middletown power plant at 1866 River Road. We wish to thank everyone who attended and spoke.  It made a big difference! 

The recording of the presentations, public comment, and Common Council members questions can be viewed here.

The  new turbine would replace 2 old turbines which, due to their inefficiency, outdated technology, and high emissions per megawatt hour of electricity produced, are permitted to run only a few days per year during time of peak demand. (Peak demand occurs mainly in summer during heatwaves.) Because of the new turbine’s greater efficiency, NRG requested an emissions permit that would allow it to run many more hours in the year, resulting in higher total emissions of CO2, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulphur dioxide (SO2), and soot (particulate matter). 

Continue reading

Resist Middletown Power Plant Expansion

Listen to a recording of the Jan. 19 Town Hall by clicking here and requesting the link and password. 

Click here for an informational handout on the issues, including email addresses for MIddletown Mayor, Common Council, and Governor.

NRG power plant in Middletown as seen from the Air Line Trail in Portland. Photo by John Hall

NRG, the owner of the Middletown Power plant on the Connecticut River at the end of River Road (not to be confused with the Kleen Energy Plant, also on River Road) is pursuing permits to replace two old steam turbines with a new, very large, simple cycle turbine fueled by natural gas or oil.

The Jonah Center and Ecoin (Environmental Collective Impact Network) urge citizens to oppose this additional fossil fuel-powered generator in Middletown because it is  1) unnecessary, 2) it is inconsistent with our city’s and state’s climate goals, and 3) it would negatively impact local air quality. At the January 19 Town Hall, we will outline the issues and opportunities for intervention. Continue reading

Local Action Needed On Climate Emergency

NRG Middletown Power Plant — site of proposed new 375 MW generator

On September 8, 2020, the City of Middletown Common Council voted unanimously to pass the Climate Change Resolution.  Thank you to all who signed the petition supporting it and to all who attended and spoke out to endorse it during the Council meeting.  Now, for the Climate Emergency Resolution to be something more than a piece of paper, the City of Middletown needs to take action. Continue reading

Completing the Air Line Trail Gap In East Hampton

Click on image to enlarge in a new tab.

While Portland was working on its phase 1 section of the Air Line Trail, completed in 2017, East Hampton was planning to extend its part of the trail westward to connect with the Portland segment. East Hampton completed that extension in 2018, except for a 1200 foot gap that could not be constructed due to the presence of wetlands—actually a stream runs through a narrow gorge. Also, Eversource utility poles occupy that same gorge. A decision was made to construct a boardwalk trail over the wetland, but that plan required the utility poles to be moved first.

After several years of off and on discussions between the Town of East Hampton, DEEP (The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection), and Eversource, it appears that a plan to move the poles and “complete the gap” is now emerging. Though the details are tentative or incomplete at this point, the parties seem to have made significant progress toward an agreement that will result in Eversource relocating the poles and transmission line onto town property at East Hampton’s Water Pollution Control Authority. We hope that that work can be completed in 2021.

In the meantime, phase 2 of Portland’s Air Line Trail has been designed and awaits a funding opportunity for construction.

The Jonah Center will  continue to keep the public informed as new developments emerge.

Saybrook Road Bike-Ped Improvements Expected Soon

Present (2020) state of roadway.  No sidewalk, no crosswalk, no pedestrian crossing signal, no bike lanes.

In 2012, the Jonah Center and Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee prioritized for improvements one of the most dangerous areas in Middletown. At least, we expect huge improvements to the area in the coming year. It’s been a long wait, but we are very excited to know that the needed changes will happen soon. Continue reading

$55 Million Infrastructure Bond Referendum on Middletown’s Nov. 3rd Ballot

Note: Middletown voters approved the borrowing authorization (voted YES on the ballot question).  Below is the post recommending a YES vote prior to the election.

Image of ballot for Middletown District 1. $55 Infrastructure Bond Question at the top of the ballot is circled here in red. Don’t forget to vote on this question.

On Nov. 3, Middletown voters will decide whether to authorize the city to borrow funds for a variety of long- term infrastructure projects. No final decisions on these projects have been made, but the referendum asks voters to authorize the borrowing that will be necessary for them.

The Jonah Center Board of Directors recommends a “yes” vote on the ballot question (see below).

Continue reading

Forest Meditations On Sunday Afternoons — You’re Invited

 

Erik Assadourian leads a weekly forest meditation at a local Middletown park (often but not always Wadsworth Falls). Meditating in the forest (sometimes called Forest Bathing or Shinrin Yoku) is a good way to quiet the mind and connect more deeply with the natural world. The small (socially-distanced) group learns the basics of the meditation (the style varies each week) and then finds a spot in the park to meditate. Afterwards participants come back together to sit quietly, reflecting on the experience if so moved. The entire practice is about 45-60 minutes and then we invite participants to stay for tea and cookies. The next meditation will be on the top of Indian Hill at Indian Hill Cemetery at 3pm on 10/25. We’ll do a corpse meditation as it’s almost Halloween! For the full calendar, weekly details, and map of the specific locations, visit here.

Paintings by Steve Cronkite

The Jonah Center recently became aware of the artwork of Steve Cronkite, a longtime Middletown resident and artist. Steve is a semi-retired civil engineer who enjoys biking and paddling in our area.  He and his husband Paul love to grow interesting trees and shrubs in their yard. Steve volunteers as a literacy tutor and is curating a new pinetum at Wickham Park in Manchester. Other paintings by Steve may be viewed on his Instagram page @s.n.cronkite_art . (The pinetum, an aboretum of pines or conifers generally, may be viewed on Instagram @wickham_park_tree_fan.)

The paintings below help us appreciate the special beauty in our own corner of the world. Do you know the scenes or locations featured below?  Answers can be found at the bottom of this post.

Where is this paddler?  What bridge is shown, from which direction?

What is the name of this hill, and where was the artist standing?

Can you guess what kind of tree this is, and where do these trees grow locally in abundance?

This type of tree is large and  rugged. It thrives in an urban environment, even under harsh conditions.

 

 

Answers:

  1. “Coginchaug Paddle” — on the Coginchaug River approaching the railroad bridge near the kayak and canoe launch from upstream.
  2.  “Higby Nightscape” — Mt. Higby viewed from the Country Club Road bridge over Interstate 91.
  3. “Moondance” — Cottonwood Tree, common  near the mouth of the Mattabesset River and on Wilcox Island
  4. “Sycamore” — Sycamores and their related hybrid species, London plane trees, are common in our area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Family-Friendly Bike Route In Portland

Portland’s Complete Streets Group has put together an in-town bike route for people who want a less strenuous ride, mostly flat, and want to stay near the town center. Below is an image of the route, but if you want to view it on Google Maps and zoom in for fine details, here is the link.