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

Portland To Vote On Purchase Of Riverfront Property

The town of Portland is holding 2 public hearings on Thursday, August 22 and Tuesday, August 27, both beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Library, to provide information and public conversation regarding the purchase of properties at 222, 230, and 248 Brownstone Ave. A Town Meeting vote to authorize purchase of the properties will take place on Wednesday, September 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Brownstone Intermediate School at 314 Main Street in Portland. Continue reading

Ribbon-Cutting For Long Lane Multi-Use Trail

On Tuesday, August 27, at 2 p.m., the City of Middletown held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new multi-use trail that begins at the Long Hill Road soccer field, just west of the intersection of Long Hill Road and Long Lane, and ends at the corner of Long Lane and Wadsworth Street. The trail is the first part of a city-wide network of trail and bike routes envisioned by the Bike Route & Trails Plan 2017 developed by Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee.

Water Chestnut Work Parties Finished For The 2019 Season

Over the summer, volunteers contributed about 170 person-hours of labor removing invasive water chestnut from the Floating Meadows between Middletown and Cromwell.  It was a huge and heroic effort, especially by those who joined multiple work parties.  It was also a fun and gratifying activity. The weather, wind, and water level conditions were mostly favorable this year.  Unfortunately, we were still not able to remove all the plants,  especially those located back in the shallows where the wild rice grasses are very thick.  We were successful in keeping the main channel of the river open.  Water chestnut is showing up in other locations along the Connecticut River, so the threat is spreading.

We will be back on the water next June with reinforcements and renewed energy.

What Can Be Recycled, What Can’t Be, And Why

Since China quit buying recycled materials from the United States, the recycling market and many recycling facilities in our country have been thrown for a loop.  Materials pile up, and contamination of recyclables (including putting things in the recycling bin that cannot be recycled) has wreaked havoc.  Here’s an opportunity to get the situation straight. We need a healthy, viable recycling system. Here’s now you can help.

Bike-Ped Improvements Appear In Middletown

Two long-awaited projects in Middletown are being realized in Middletown this spring. Bike route sharrows (share the lane arrows) have been painted on deKoven  Drive (top, left). This bike route starts at Main and Rapallo and ends where Millbrook Road meets the Durham town line.

The multi-use trail along Long Lane has now been completed.  Shown here (bottom, left) is the resting area where the trail comes to Wadsworth Street.  This trail is already heavily used and appreciated by nearby residents.

 

We thank Middletown’s Department of Public Works for their work on these projects to improve conditions for wallking and bicycling in Middletown.  They are the first major accomplishments toward realizing Middletown’s Bike Routes and Trails Master Plan.

Portland Adopts 14-Mile Bike Route

The Town of Portland has adopted and installed signage for its new, official 14-mile bike route. The route begins in the town center and makes a scenic loop through the hills of Portland, passing golf courses, farms, ponds, streams, and a close-up view of the Connecticut River at  Gildersleeve Island (where bald eagles are frequently sighted). The route was designed to be cycled in a counter-clockwise direction in order to reach the higher elevations of the town via the least strenuous (most gradual) climbs.  Bicyclists should note that this is still a fairly strenuous route suitable for persons who are in good health and physical condition.  The route may be modified to reduce the length and avoid the steepest hills. Contact John Hall for suggestions along these lines.

The Complete Streets Group of Portland endorsed the route, requested funds for signage from the Board of Selectmen, and developed recommendations for where bike route direction signs and sharrows (on Main Street) should be located. The Public Works Department was a very helpful and accommodating partner in this project.

To access the Google Map (including the ability to zoom in to see details such as street names, turn directions, and highlights, click here.

 

Alive Outside with Chantal Foster

Chantal Foster, Portland resident, is an accomplished hiker.  We are delighted to share her fascinating, humorous, and gripping tale of friendship, strength, trail sanitation regulations, and the effects of Acute Mountain Sickness as part of our “Alive Outside” creative writing initiative. Many of us are not capable of such an adventure ourselves, but this story will make you feel (almost) as if you were there.

Climbing Mt. Whitney, by Chantal Foster

Back in the beginning of 2018, esteemed hiker Bill Korp (aka Cupcake) came up with the harebrained idea of hiking Mt. Whitney in CA as a way of commemorating his 70th birthday.  Apparently, he didn’t feel like doing it alone, so he asked three of his favorite, well, maybe not favorite but “good friends,” well, maybe not good friends, but he did ask Steve Crusberg (Shuttle), Gina Wildermuth (Nurse), and yours truly (Olive Oil) to tag along.

Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states at 14,496 feet (or 14,505, depending on where you look) which makes for a busy trail — so busy that would-be hikers need to apply for a permit through a lottery system.  Nurse and Cupcake coordinated the necessary paperwork to apply for such in February and in April, with luck on our side, we were awarded a permit to hike Whitney on the auspicious date of Wednesday, July 25th.

Travel and lodging plans were discussed, determined and made, and we proceeded to study how to hike “Whitney in a Day,” training accordingly while waiting for the big event.

Soon, mid-July was upon us.  With much training, a couple of challenging “prep hikes” under our belts and a lot of anticipation, we flew into Las Vegas and made the approximate 5-hour drive west to the town of Lone Pine, CA where we would make our home for the next five days.  On our way, we passed through Death Valley with elevations around three hundred feet BELOW sea level.  We would be on both the highest and lowest points of the lower 48 during our trip.

 

Continue reading

Brian Stewart To Speak on “Tipping Points”

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art and The Rockfall Foundation invite the public to an evening with Wesleyan Physics Professor Brian Stewart on Monday, May 20, 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the deKoven House at 27 Washington Street, in Middletown. The talk is titled, “Tipping Points in the Climate, Nature, Society, and Ourselves.”

A tipping point is a watershed moment in space or time, beyond which things play out differently from before; a point of inevitability.  The climax of a narrative, the moment your tires begin to slip on an icy road, the chain of runaway business and bank failures started on Black Monday — these are all examples of tipping points.

Of great importance to us right now are ecosystem tipping points, climate tipping points, social tipping points, political tipping points, and personal tipping points. How are they interrelated?  Do we control any of them?  Professor Stewart will examine the interplay of these tipping points in the context of our unique moment in world history.

Co-sponsoring the event are Artfarm, Ecoin, Middletown Resource Recycling Advisory Commission, and the Middletown Garden Club.  For more information, contact John Hall at 860-398-3771 or Amanda Kenyon at 860-347-0340.

Prefab & Passive House: A Builder’s Response to Climate Change

Chris Corson, founder and Technical Director of Ecocor High Performance Building of Maine, will discuss the benefits of pre-fabricated, panelized construction in Passive House buildings and how to address the most important imperative of the building industry: reducing the effects of climate change.  Click here for more information and to register. 

 

Informational Kiosk At Boat Launch

A new, sturdy kiosk at the Phil Salafia, Jr. Canoe and Kayak Launch at 181 Johnson Street was built and installed by Jonathan Shaw on April 27, 2019, as his Eagle Scout project.  The Jonah Center recommended the project to Jonathan, and Middletown’s Department of Public Works supported the improvement. The kiosk will be used to provide maps and other information to paddlers in the area.  Thanks, Jonathan!