Who’s Walking In Portland

Cora Chenier is a proud and happy walker.

The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on everyone, but especially on elementary school children. It’s an age of rapid development – intellectual, social, and emotional. When students had 3 days per week of “virtual” classes from home, learning was limited. Children’s development was restricted just when it needed stimulation through adventure, growing independence, and socializing with classmates.

But despite those limitations, families found ways to make the most of a rough time. That was the case for Cora Chenier, who became a walker. During the pandemic, school buses carried their own obvious risks. So, in spite of some sidewalk deficiencies in the neighborhood, Cora and her parents found a safe route to school using side streets and a “back entrance” to Gildersleeve School. Some of Cora’s friends were dropped off at her house by their parents, so they could all walk to school together. It became a “walking school bus.” Continue reading

Traffic Calming in Portland

First Selectman Ryan Curley was the first to sign the Pace Car Pledge.

By Amanda Foley

Portland’s Complete Streets Group (CSG) invites Portland residents to participate in the Pace Car program by signing a pledge to drive safely, courteously, within the speed limit, and to share the road with pedestrians and cyclists. A Hartford Courant article published on 3-19-22 stated that the number of pedestrians struck and killed by cars on Connecticut roads has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Factors cited include speeding and distracted driving. Portland Complete Streets Group has introduced this Pace Car program as a traffic calming initiative to address these factors. Continue reading

Close Lyceum Road & Protect Wildlife Habitat

This article (not including the update at the end) originally appeared on June 9 in the Middletown Press.

Lyceum Road in May 2022. Photo credit Jon Morris.

Over the past winter (2021-22) Middletown’s Department of Public Works proposed to close Lyceum Road, a 3/10-mile road south of Randolph Road, between Millbrook and Chamberlain Hill Roads. It crosses Sumner Brook (below) and its surrounding floodplain. For years, the road has been in chronically poor condition due to its low elevation and frequent flooding.

Culverts through which Sumner Brook passes under the road.

The Public Works Department consulted the Middlesex Land Trust, South Farms Fire District, the Middletown Police Traffic Division, and the Mayor about the option to close the road to motor vehicles and let it continue as a linear park for pedestrians and bicyclists. All parties found no objection to closing the road as recommended.  In fact, the Middlesex Land Trust, that owns most of the property on both sides of the road as part of the South Farms Preserve, had previously requested the road closure due to the frequent flooding and to protect local wildlife.  There are no abutting residences that require Lyceum Road for access.

Middlesex Land Trust’s “South Farms Preserve” Photo credit Jon Morris

At the February 9 meeting of the Public Works & Facilities Commission, the Public Works Department explained that the road foundation is easily washed out due to flooding, resulting in road surface potholes. The road could theoretically be reconstructed with better drainage at an estimated cost of $750,000, plus permitting and inspection costs.  The damage to the animals and plants in the area from such a project would be severe — all for a 3/10-mile road that is no longer needed. Continue reading

Paddling Season Is Here!

The Jonah Center is looking for paddlers to help save the Floating Meadows (Mattabessset River) in Middletown from invasive water chestnut. This is a fun, satisfying activity — combining paddling, teamwork, enjoying beautiful scenery and wildlife. We are looking for 20-30 volunteer paddlers on each of the 4 Saturday mornings, 9-11 a.m. We launch from and return to the canoe and kayak launch near the Middletown transfer station. (Navigate to 185 Johnson Street.) It’s an activity everyone seems to enjoy! Continue reading