Winter Cleanup Events

Can you help with a mid-winter cleanup event?  We will be ready for action between Jan. 28 and Mar. 31 on a Saturday (2-4 p.m.) when the forecast is for a temperature above 30 degrees with no snow on the ground. Poison ivy is less of a danger in winter because it has no leaves and we will be wearing gloves. Wind-blown litter will be easy to spot with no leaves on the undergrowth. Our first location is the Daddario & Kieft Road neighborhood off Long Lane, in partnership with the Middletown Housing Authority.

To join our list of potentially available volunteers and be notified when the conditions are right, sign up here. It will be fun to be outdoors together.


Nanette’s Paintings At The Buttonwood Tree

Local artist Nanette Albright Fresher’s paintings are on exhibit at The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center, 602 Main Street in Middletown.  Below are some of her paintings that capture the spirit of some familiar scenes. Gallery hours at the Buttonwood Tree in December are; Sunday 12/18, Friday 12/23, Monday 12/26, or Tuesday 12/27 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The locations are listed at the bottom of this post.  Some other paintings in the Buttonwood Tree show can be viewed on the Buttonwood’s website here.

Continue reading

Meriden Trail Study Completed — Please Comment

After years of persistent advocacy, the Jonah Center’s vision of a 111-mile bike route in central Connecticut (The Central CT Loop Trail) is gradually coming into view as a practical reality. Two major steps have been accomplished:

In 2019, the CT General Assembly recognized the Central CT Loop Trail and the Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail connector in Public Act 19-161, Section 4. This law instructed the Department of Transportation to identify a route for a multi-use trail from the Arrigoni Bridge, through Middletown and Meriden, to the Farmington Canal Trail in Cheshire.

In 2022, a route study for a 3.5-mile section of the connector trail from Brookside Park in Meriden to the Meriden—Middletown boundary has been completed. Continue reading

“Jon Boats” Acquired For Water Chestnut Work

The Jonah Center has acquired 2 aluminum utility boats, known as “jon boats” that will help us remove invasive water chestnut plants from the Floating Meadows and the Connecticut River next spring and summer. (The Floating Meadows is the freshwater, tidal marshland between Middletown and Cromwell by the Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers.)

The Jonah Center purchased the 14-foot boat pictured here. It will be powered by a 10 h.p. outboard motor donated by Jim Sarbaugh. The other boat is a 12-foot, lighter boat donated by Kent Ritter. It can be easily towed. Both boats are equipped with oars and can be easily rowed into shallow water, which makes them very useful in this work.

The boats are important tools because most kayaks can hold only a single bag of plant material at a time. Also, water chestnut plants are proliferating far from public launch sites (requiring a long paddle to be reached) and in locations where the shoreline is not accessible for off-loading plants. Infestations of water chestnut have become worse in recent years, seriously threatening the river ecosystem.

Waste Reduction Pilot Project

Pictured from left to right: Tracy Babbidge, Interim Deputy Commissioner of DEEP; Mayor Ben Florsheim; State Senator Matt Lesser; Katie Dykes, Commissioner of DEEP; Chris Holden, Middletown Director of Public Works. The orange (bag for food waste) and green bag (for other trash) in the center will be used for the co-collection pilot project.

The City of Middletown has received a state grant of $350,000 for a one-year pilot project on curbside food-waste collection in Middletown’s Sanitation District.  Now we need citizens (whether we live in the Sanitation District or not) to learn about this program, help make it successful, and advocate for its continuation. Continue reading

Another Native Tree Threatened

Dark green striping or other discoloration between veins of beech leaves indicates disease.

By Jane Harris

Although Beech Leaf Disease has been observed in the U.S. since 2012, little as yet is known about the spread of the disease, and a cure is still to be found.  While it is most often seen on younger forest trees, it can spread to, and kill, ornamental European beeches, including the enormous purple and copper beeches seen in of large estates and cemeteries. Typically, the first sign of the disease is in the form of thinning leaf canopies.

While it is known to spread via a nematode, the way that the nematode infects the trees is not well understood.

Beeches have suffered for some time from Beech Bark Disease, and trees already weakened by one disease will be more susceptible to the other. More information is contained here, including diagnostic photos of infected leaves.

Air Line Trail – Farmington Canal Trail Connector Route Update

The Jonah Center’s most far-reaching project — to connect the 2 longest multi-use trails in Connecticut — has been awarded 2 grants: a $315,000 route study grant by CT DOT this past February; and a $500,000 grant by the state bond commission in April. The bond commission grant will allow preliminary design work to be done on at least some sections of the connector route. We are well on our way to making the connector route a reality for regional bicyclists.  Continue reading

The Future of Pameacha Pond

Photo credit: Mary-Ellen Sutton

What will happen to Pameacha Pond? 4 years have passed since Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the city of Middletown signed a consent order in August 2018 requiring the relocation of a main sanitary sewer line from the dam’s discharge culvert and the repair of the Pameacha dam.  For decades, DEEP had expressed concern about deterioration of the dam, but when another break (like numerous previous ones) in the sewer line in June 2018 resulted in the discharge of raw sewage into Long Hill Brook, DEEP required the city to take certain steps leading to the repair of the dam.    Continue reading

Source To Sea Cleanup On River Road

On September 24,  35 hard-working volunteers removed many bags of trash, a mattress, 5 tires, several coolers, discarding clothing, and many other items from River Road and the shore of the Connecticut River near the decommissioned sewage treatment plant. Shown here is about ½ of the total of the Jonah Center’s haul. Continue reading