Middletown’s Common Council gave the green light to local artist Kate TenEyck to transform the tunnel under Route 9 to Harbor Park and the tunnel entrance. The space will resemble an archaeological dig, using mosaic images depicting Middletown’s cultural and natural history. The image below shows some of the themes that are planned. For more details on this exciting project download the PDF here: Mosaics on Main PDF 2023-09.
There is good news for the many walkers, runners, and users of wheelchairs and strollers in Portland. The town has plans for another phase of sidewalk improvements along Main Street. Building upon previous town-funded and state-funded sidewalk improvements since 2017, a recent Connecticut STEAP grant (small town economic assistance program) awarded to Portland will allow the town to extend the new Main Street sidewalk approximately one-half mile on the west side of Main Street from Arvid Street to a point near 510 Main Street. Construction is expected to take place during the 2024 construction season. The new sidewalk will be 5 feet wide, replacing the existing, damaged 4-foot sidewalk.
The town was also previously awarded a Community Connectivity grant to provide better accessibility in the area of the Chatham Court apartments. (Photo at left.) This will include a new bus stop and sidewalk on Riverside Street and a short sections of Airline Avenue, Marlborough Street, High Street, and Freestone Avenue (Below is a map showing the larger area of these improvements.) The project will also replace badly damaged sidewalks along High Street going towards Valley View School and Portland High School as well as updating the sidewalk and ramps to be ADA compliant. There will be a redesigned pedestrian crosswalk and an updated signal at the complicated intersection of Marlborough Street (Rt. 66) & High Street. As shown below, this area is also significant because of the possibility of a future extension of the Air Line Trail across this intersection. Construction is planned for the fall of 2023. Continue reading
Phil Lamontagne’s 7-minute video shows us a potter wasp’s craft in building a nest from tiny balls of mud it brings to a plant stem. The video periodically advances to show all stages of the process. Note the intricate opening to the nest the wasp shapes toward the end.
The Jonah Center has long envisioned what major landscape art installations would do for our community. Below are some examples to stir your imagination. (Clockwise from upper left: Face of the Earth by Vito Acconci at Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, MO; Wave Field by Maya Lin at Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY; Low Building With Dirt Roof by Alice Aycock at Storm King; Ball Made From Sticks by Strijdom van der Merwe, Stellenbosch, South Africa.)
During the 2022-23 academic year, Wesleyan film students under the leadership of Professor Sadia Queraeshi Shepard produced a short documentary film, The Pameacha Problem, on the citizen campaign to save the pond. The City of Middletown had been planning to turn the pond into a stream and wetland area by removing the deteriorating dam. The film is a good example of using the aesthetic tool of film to tell the story. The film may be viewed here. An article about the film in the Middletown Press can be viewed here. The Jonah Center was instrumental is getting the students interested in this community issue.
An aerial view of Pameacha Pond included in the film.
Is this adorable bunny, enjoying a feast of plantain, a New England Cottontail or an Eastern Cottontail? If you can tell which, let us know. Notice the ear action. Thank you, Phil LeMontagne, for providing this closeup video to our viewers.
Progress on route determination and design of the Newfield Corridor Trail between Tuttle Road and Mile Lane has been delayed over the past year due to several issues. First was an archaeological survey required to determine if the route crossed the remains of a Wangunk settlement believed to be somewhere in the vicinity. That survey has been completed, with no Native American settlement remains identified.
The current delay involves a proposed land swap between the city and a local developer who wishes to build 2 apartment buildings off Kaplan Drive, just east of Lawrence School.
“Romeo and Juliet” by Steve Tobin, seen on exhibit at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine, in 2019. (Artist’s comment: “Cast bronze tree roots from two trees that fell and entwined in death.”) Other works of Steve Tobin may be viewed here.
Beavers are wary of humans, so they are not easy to observe in the wild. But of course there are other ways to get acquainted with our non-human neighbors. Local wildlife photographer Phil LeMontagne shared with us this video taken last winter during one of his hikes in the Maromas section of Middletown.
Here are some reasons to reduce your meat intake.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: Livestock farming, particularly cattle production, is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Animals produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Also, the production of animal feed and the energy-intensive processes involved in meat production contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Conserve Energy: For every 100 units of energy input into beef production (including the energy used for growing and processing feed, animal maintenance, transportation, etc.), only 3 to 20 units of energy are available in the form of edible beef.
Lower water usage: Livestock farming requires large amounts of water for animal hydration, feed crops, and processing. By consuming fewer animal products, we can conserve water resources, especially in regions facing water scarcity.
Decreased water pollution: Livestock farming generates substantial amounts of manure, which can contaminate water sources if not properly managed. The runoff from animal farms can carry pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus into rivers and lakes, causing water pollution and harming aquatic ecosystems.
Reduced deforestation: Large-scale animal agriculture often leads to deforestation, not only to create grazing land, but also to grow animal feed crops such as corn and soybeans. Deforestation contributes to the loss of biodiversity, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and reduces the earth’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Health benefits: While not directly related to the environment, reducing meat consumption can have positive effects on your health.
Photo credit: Mary-Ellen Sutton
At its February 8 meeting, Middletown’s Public Works Commission voted unanimously to consider only the repair or replacement of the Pameacha Pond dam. The decision was enthusiastically welcomed by members of the Save Pameacha Pond group who have been organizing and speaking out since last spring. The minutes of the Feb. 8 meeting of the Public Works Commission may be found here. Continue reading
Marissa Gillett, Chair of Connecticut’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority
When Eversource argues before PURA, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, for an increase in electricity rates, the cost of that proceeding (to hire attorneys and experts) is paid by us, the ratepayers as a cost of doing business. Okay, fair enough. But then, if Eversource appeals the decision, ratepayers pay for another round of attorneys and experts. It’s another so-called a “recoverable expense.”
Here’s another hint about Eversource’s professed devotion to its customers. Eversource pays various lobbying and trade groups to represent the interests of Eversource shareholders and management in meetings with state agencies and the legislature. Very often, those interests are directly opposed to the interests of ratepayers, but ratepayers are forced to pay those expenses too.
PURA’s new Chairperson, Marissa Gillett, is shining a bright light on these practices. She is a true ratepayer advocate and she is bringing change to the way public utilities, ie.monopolies, are regulated in Connecticut. SB 966, An Act Concerning Procurement of Standard Service Electricity and the Regulation of Public Utilities, if passed, will put an end to a number of ways in which ratepayers have to pay expenses that benefit management and shareholders to the detriment of ratepayers. This is one of many bills that the Jonah Center has supported through written testimony in the current session of the Connecticut General Assembly. As you might guess, Eversource and Avangrid (the holding company of United Illuminating) have testified in opposition to SB 966.