Finally, It’s Becoming A Reality

The City of Middletown is now constructing a walking trail to the top of the retired landfill — a project that the Jonah Center has been advocating since 2005. The views from the top are spectacular, and sure to be a magnet for residents of the North End and elsewhere.  We will let our readers know when the trail is open for public access.  Below are some pictures of the site taken 16 years ago, when our project advocacy began.

On November 6, an article on the project appeared in the Middletown Press.

View from the landfill mound south to downtown.

View from the landfill mound looking north over the Floating Meadows (Mattabesset River). Cromwell is in the background.

Aerial view of the landfill mound (center).

“Bugsgiving” at Wesleyan, 11/20

Fun, educational, and delicious – learn about why edible insects are the future of food from one of the world’s foremost leaders in the industry. Come join us to learn about the many benefits of entomophagy (eating insects) and to taste some delicious insect-based dishes prepared by chef Joseph Yoon! There will be activities, tastings, and more! Please bring a chair/blanket and your friends and family for our Bugsgiving picnic, and RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bugsgiving-tickets-19186267542.
 
Chef Joseph Yoon founded Brooklyn Bugs in 2017 with the mission to normalize edible insects, and has worked closely with museums, universities, and institutions to fundamentally change the way we can reimagine them as a sustainable, nutrient dense, and delicious sources of protein. His work has been featured on PBS Nova, The New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, BBC, Popular Science, Live with Kelly and Ryan and much more.

Declaration of a Climate Emergency — An Update

On September 8, 2020, the City of Middletown Common Council voted unanimously to pass a Declaration of a Climate Emergency “that threatens the existence of our civilization and the natural world.”  The declaration included bold statements of resolve: to make the declaration the “foundation up which the City of Middletown shall develop future priorities, legislation, policies, plans, budgets, and actions; to end City-generated greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; to establish plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by both the City and the wider community; and to advocate for coordinated climate action at the regional, state, and federal levels.”  The Declaration included recognition that environmental justice is a racial justice issue and that “an equitable transition to a fossil-fuel-free economy requires full community participation.”

Over the past year, we haven’t heard much in terms of follow-through on the Declaration. Continue reading

Portland Receives National Roadway Safety Award

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Town of Portland’s Complete Streets achievements in recent years. This National Roadway Safety award recognizes the town’s sidewalk replacement program, road improvements, digital speed sign installation, bicycle routes, and the Air Line Trail.

The Jonah Center is proud to have played a role in all of these developments — in the formation of the Air Line Trail Steering Committee and the Complete Streets Group in 2014, and by urging the town to take advantage of a state-sponsored road safety audit that qualified the Town for 2 Connecticut DOT Community Connectivity grants.  John Hall and former Jonah Center Board member Bob Herron co-chaired the Sidewalk Committee.  Portland citizens and Town officials have been very supportive and resourceful in support of these initiatives.  Congratulations, Portland.

Shown below at the Award Ceremony are (from left to right): Rosario Rizzo, Air Line Trail  Committee; Lou Pear, Air Line Trail Committee and Selectman; Midge Malicki, Alice Schumacher, and Kathy Herron of the Complete Streets Group; Bob Shea, Public Works Director; Susan Bransfield, First Selectwoman; Jim Tripp, Selectman; and Mary Dickerson, Economic Development Consultant.

Speak Out For The Environment

In light of increasing threats to the environment and inadequate response from all levels of government, the Jonah Center and Ecoin (the Environmental Collective Impact Network) are ramping up citizen action.  We need more people to get involved, and we need to focus and coordinate our efforts more sharply.

In short, WE NEED YOUR VOICE. You can join this effort by filling out the questionnaire below. Tell us what you care about most — enough to send an email about it.  Stay informed by joining our email lists — if you aren’t already on them.  THANK YOU.

Help Us Make A Better World

A Sad Sight at West & Middlefield Streets

A land parcel at the intersection of West St. and Middlefield St. in Middletown (just west of the Aldi’s and CVS development at West & Washington) was approved for 17  town houses by Inland Wetlands and Planning and Zoning in recent years. Now the property  is now for sale by the owner. (See rendering of project below.)  Apparently, there are no regulations to prevent tree removal when there is no immediate construction planned. The photo below and commentary are from Ecoin member Zoemma Warshafsy, who lives nearby.

The majority of this property was nicely wooded with large mature trees that have now all been clear cut and stacked in giant piles. This area now looks devastating and the clear cutting was a complete waste of forested area along a sensitive river habitat. There is trash everywhere on the property as well. It has been like this for about two weeks and there is currently no sign of activity for further cleaning up the property. It could sit like this for years if it is not bought. Clear cutting before a property has a buyer is a terrible process that has no clear benefits for the environment or the adjacent land owners. What a sad sight to see every morning.

Middletown’s Clean Energy Task Force Kicks off Funding Campaign and HeatSmart Program

The City of Middletown, through its Clean Energy Task Force (CETF) and its CHEER Middletown program, has partnered with SustainableCT’s Matching Grant program and People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) to provide important energy-related programming in the City of Middletown.

CHEER is CETF’s program helping local residents address health and safety barriers in their homes in order to facilitate energy efficiency improvements and improve access to lower cost renewable energy. The HeatSmart program helps residents explore ways to improve how they heat and cool their homes by using efficient, electric heat pump systems.  Together, the programs provide information and resources including educational events, home energy assessments, and connections with energy and remediation experts as well as local heat pump installers. Continue reading

City Implements Complete Streets Improvements on Spring Street

Congratulations to Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim and the Public Works Department for supporting and implementing the Complete Streets Committee’s recommendation to reduce cut-through traffic on  Spring Street by making it one-way eastbound between High Street and Rome Avenue.

The Complete Streets Committee pushed to include a westbound bike lane in the one-way section, since Spring Street is included in the Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Connector Route and is important for bicyclists riding from Portland into Middletown. The City decided to include bike lanes in both eastbound and westbound directions, which will reduce illegal parking that narrows the travel lane. In a WTNH News 8 interview, the Mayor supported the development of off-street parking in the area to address the need for resident parking. Continue reading

Trees Planted In Portland

As of today (late June 2021) the Jonah Center has been successful in planting 17 trees in “high public benefit” areas in Portland. 8 trees were planted in the Quarry Heights and Chatham Court neighborhoods of the Portland Housing Authority (see above); 3 trees were planted in the Quarry View Brownstone Park; 3 trees were planted on East Main; 2 trees were planted on Main Street; and 1 was planted on Waverly Avenue.  We thank all the Portland donors to the Jonah Center Tree Fund who made these new trees possible. Pictured above are: Milca Santiago; Bonita Brockers and her son Cartier Brockers; Jesslyn Jordan her daughter Savannah LaFountain and son Travis LaFountain.

Shown above is one of the red maples planted at Quarry View Park.  Pictured are Darlene Rice (co-owner of the park) and John Hall. Photo credit: Dean Soucy, the other co-owner and park developer.

The Quarry View Park assumed 1/2 of the cost by delivering and planting the trees themselves, and Portland Housing Authority paid 3/5 of the cost of the ornamental trees they received. Most of the 17 trees were larger-growing shade trees such as red maple, oak, London plane, and linden.

Below are the 2 red maples and 1 pin oak on East Main Street near Fairview.

 

 

Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route

The Jonah Center’s most far-reaching project is to connect the 2 longest multi-use trails in Connecticut.  Of the 23 miles between the western terminus of the Air Line Trail in Portland and the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire, approximately 8.5 miles already exists in the form of shorter trail segments along the way. Another 8.6 miles has been planned or is in the process of being planned. That leaves about 5.5 miles in need of a routing study.  The project has was recognized in state law in 2019 as the Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail  (ALT-FCT) Connector. 

The Jonah Center collaborated with the Lower CT River Valley Council of Governments (the RiverCOG) in applying for a grant of $350,000 to study the whole connector route, with particular focus on the 5.5 miles between Smith Street in Middletown and North Broad Street in Meriden, and Newfield Street in Middletown. We have reason to believe that our projected will be successful when awards are announced by CT DOT in November 2021.

The ALT-FCT Connector would use off-road trails for about 16 miles, and about 7 miles of on-road bike routes — provided that some sections of the Air Line Trail railroad bed and some parcels that include the old Middletown-Meriden trolley line can be utilized. Completion of the ALT-FCT Connector would result in completion of a 111-mile Central Connecticut  Loop Trail (shown below). Click here for a Google Map of the Loop Trail that allows you to zoom in for more detail.

 

Cinder+Salt Community Service Events

Middletown clothing store Ciinder + Salt at 195 Main Street organizes clean-up events throughout the season.  Below is a list, with links for registration.

cinder + salt River Paddle & Clean-up with Time of Day Band

Saturday, August 14, 2021 | 8:30am-10:30am

Grab your kayak or paddleboard & meet cinder + salt at Harbor Park in Middletown for a river clean-up and paddle with our official tour guide, Dave from Time of Day Band.

Event registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cinder-salt-paddle-river-clean-up-with-time-of-day-band-tickets-141878623783?utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&utm-medium=discovery&utm-term=listing&utm-source=cp&aff=escb

Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/Opk1IRda

cinder + salt Beach Clean-Up & Yoga Practice with Starr Mill Yoga

Saturday, September 4, 2021 | 8:30am-11:30am

cinder + salt is partnering with friends at Starr Mill Yoga for a seaside yoga practice and clean-up at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison.

Event registration and Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/NIvGKQVB

cinder + salt Trail Clean-Up with The Rockfall Foundation 

Saturday, September 25, 2021 | 9am-11am 

Immerse yourself in beautiful fall foliage for cinder + salt’s final clean-up of the year with The Rockfall Foundation at Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown.

Event registration and Facebook event page: https://fb.me/e/2ehJuH8pd

Paddle With A Purpose — Water Chestnut Removal

Paddlers will continue to go out into the Floating Meadows (the freshwater tidal marshland formed by the Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers) each Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., to remove invasive water chestnut plants.  This invasive species endangers our local waterways by blocking sunlight and oxygen, thereby damaging the habitat for fish and other aquatic life.

Another invasive aquatic plant, hydrilla, has become a major threat to local waterways. Managing hydrilla is trickier because it spreads by fragmentation. How the spread of hydrilla will affect our efforts to control water chestnut has not been determined, but we will keep our paddlers informed.  Hydrilla is now tangled up with water chestnut, so both plants are  removed simultaneously, resulting in a higher volume of plant material to be transported out of the watershed.

The Jonah Center is grateful to our partner, the Connecticut River Conservancy 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 adjacent to Middletown’s recycling and transfer station. Here is a link to the location. For information on possible last minute cancellation, check back on this post or call 860-398-3771.

 

John Hall, Elected Officials, and Girl Scouts Honored On Arbor Day

John Hall, Founder and Executive Director of the Jonah Center speaking at the Arbor Day Ceremony in Middletown on April 30.

On Arbor Day, April 30, Middletown’s Urban Forestry Commission recognized the contributions of John Hall and the Jonah Center for successful initiatives to fund tree-planting by the Urban Forestry Commission and Public Works Department. A London plane tree will be planted on Main Street in Middletown in honor of John’s service to the community.

The Urban Forestry Commission also honored with new tree plantings: Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz; State Senator Matt Lesser; former State Representative Joseph Serra; State Representative Quentin Phipps; State Representative Brandon Chafee; and Girl Scouts of America Troop 62838 led by Jennifer Tortora, who raised money to plant a tree in the arboretum on Long Lane. Continue reading