Years ago our front yard contained a beautiful Crabapple tree and a lovely Red Maple. Each provided abundant shade, but still allowed enough light through to maintain a healthy green lawn. We planted a Hosta garden beneath the spreading boughs.
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.
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.
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 →
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 →
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.
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.
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 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.