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

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).

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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.

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. 

“Replace Our Trees” Update

Thanks to the generous donors to our Replace Our Trees Campaign, the Jonah Center is planting 22 street trees around the Middlesex YMCA (red maples, dogwoods, hawthorns and lindens), and along William Street and Church Street, north and south of the Traverse Square apartments (red maples, ginkgoes, and ornamental cherries), where the Middletown Housing Authority is contributing to the cost of the new plantings.

The City of Middletown’s increased tree-planting budget, recommended by the Jonah Center last spring and supported by many who sent emails to city officials, will result in approximately 150 new trees planted by the city, according to Urban Forestry Chairperson Jane Harris, who oversees the new tree-planting operations. Continue reading

Support Pedestrian & Bike Access In The North End

Upgrading the Berlin Court Tunnel is the key to improved bike-ped transportation in Middletown’s North End. At the moment, the tunnel is a rather forlorn and unimproved underpass next to the railroad tracks under Newfield Street, near the Water & Sewer Department on the east side and Veterans Park on the west side. But it’s the safest and easiest way for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross Newfield Street, and it is heavily used.

Another improvement for pedestrians and bicyclists would be a pedestrian and bicyclist bridge from the end of Jackson St. across the Coginchaug River into Veterans Park. The old stone bridge abutments remain from a bridge at this location many decades ago. The Jonah Center began a conversation with the City in 2013 about these potential bike-ped infrastructure possibilities.

The city has now decided to renovate the Vets Park pool, construct a splashpad, and begin design and construction of the Newfield Corridor Trail, which brings into clear view the relationship these projects have with each other. Director of Public Works Bill Russo described the tunnel and bridge access route together as “an important part of the puzzle and just as much a top priority as the pool and splashpad. Those [facilities] are going to be a magnet for kids and families. I don’t want anyone from the North End having to cross Newfield Street in the middle of that high-speed traffic. Plus, this will let people walk or bike to the drugstores and other businesses around the intersection of Washington and West Streets without having to get on Route 66.”

These are exciting plans, and we are delighted about Director Russo’s enthusiasm for them. But they are still plans, and the public needs to express support for them so that they become reality over the next few years. The map below shows how many potential routes and destinations would be served by these improvements.

(Below: map showing overview & with planned or possible trail routes.)

Overview showing how the Berlin Count tunnel is the key link for bike-ped traffic crossing Newfield St.

Citizens may express their support for these key bike-ped improvements by emailing Director Russo at william.russo@middletownct.gov , members of the Common Council at council@middletownct.gov, and Mayor Ben Florsheim at mayor@middletownct.gov.

Additional details and information: Making the Berlin Court Tunnel more useful and appealing involves improved approaches from both sides, a sturdier fence or other barrier inside the tunnel to separate it from the railroad tracks, and a gradual ramp to replace the steps on the west side. Director Russo envisions the new Jackson St. bridge as part of a 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail crossing the river to Walnut Grove Road in Veterans Park, recrossing the river via the footbridge behind Palmer Field, and leading to the intersection of Washington and West Streets.

Funding for engineering and design of both the tunnel and bridge projects would most likely come from the 2015 Parks Bond, but construction costs could be supplemented through the road bond portion of the 21st Century Infrastructure Development Bond that will be on the Nov. 3 ballot in Middletown.

 

Middletown Common Council Adopts Declaration of Climate Emergency

As you may have noticed, our national government has utterly failed to provide leadership in the face of the global climate crisis. Once we get through the Covid-19 pandemic — another area of failed leadership — we will still face this even more threatening, though slower moving, crisis. Regardless of what you hear on the evening news lately, climate change has not been put on pause. What are concerned, climate-conscious citizens to do? In addition to reducing our individual carbon footprints, we need to take political action at the local level. Continue reading

Newfield Corridor Trail Options To Be Explored

A study to determine the best route for the Newfield Corridor Trail has begun. Design and construction of the trail was funded by the 2015 Parks Bond, and assigned a budget of $4 million. This multi-use bikeway will be an extension of the Mattabesset Bike Trail southward from Tuttle Road to Veterans Park. (To access a Google Map of the Newfield Corridor Trail options that you can zoom in on to see details, click here.)

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What’s Happening At The Riverfront?

By John Hall

As part of the City’s Riverfront Revitalization efforts, excavation work has begun on the Boathouse property and Columbus Point along Harbor Drive.  This work includes remediation of contamination, regrading of Columbus point, bank stabilization along the river, and creating better access to the riverfront for rowers and the community.  The project is being funded through a State of Connecticut Urban Action Program Grant provided by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

Columbus Point (left) and Boathouses (right) prior to excavation. Notice erosion of bank with broken concrete exposed.

The City has retained Tighe & Bond, Inc. a local engineering firm to provide design and oversight services for the project. Amy Vaillancourt a Licensed Environmental Professional and the Senior Project Manager provided me with some history and project details. Continue reading

Is your garden producing more than you can use?

It is that time in the season when you may have more cucumbers and zucchini then you can eat or put up.  If you find yourself in this situation, consider donating your excess produce to our local food pantries and put it to good use.  Details for Middletown and Portland are below:

Middletown

Amazing Grace Food Pantry, 16 Stack Street, Middletown, CT

Drop off on Wednesdays and Fridays 9 am – 5 pm

Bring produce around back

Questions? Call Kathleen Kelly at 860-347-3222

Portland

Portland Food Bank, Waverly Center – 7 Waverly Avenue, Portland, CT

Drop off on Mondays 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Bring produce to Food Bank, door at the bottom of ramp. Please wear a mask.

Questions? Call Ruth Maio at 860 342-0527