An Invitation From Middletown’s Complete Streets & Bikeways Committee

by Laura Baum

We are a city committee and we meet on the second Monday of each month at 7pm (via Webex). We would love for any citizen to attend a meeting and get to know our friendly, collaborative team. Every new person brings new insights.

In the broadest sense, we’re working to make Middletown a safer and more enjoyable place to bike and walk. Some people choose to bike and walk, for others it’s a necessity. We work with city staff and raise issues and draw attention to big multi-year projects like the Long Lane bike path all the way down to small, but important sidewalk gaps. We maintain a map of priority walking and biking routes and we see ourselves as watchdogs for people who walk and bike in Middletown. Where do we need sidewalks, how could the city make it easier to bike where you want to go? Continue reading

Rising Electricity Rates

As you probably know, electricity rates in Connecticut have risen sharply, due in large part to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The conflict is putting pressure on the price of natural gas.  The “standard offer” through Eversource for the generation portion of your bill has gone from 12.2 to 24.17 cents per kWh. Here’s what you can do. Continue reading

Progress In Saving Plum Island, NY

Back in 2008, the Jonah Center advocated for the preservation of Plum Island, New York, as a U.S. Wildlife Refuge. The island is located east of Long Island and was used as the site of an animal disease research center. The federal government was planning to sell the island to private developers to build a luxury resort. We arranged for local conservation advocates to take a full-day boat trip and tour of the island from Old Saybrook. A recent article in the Hartford Courant revealed that the recent omnibus funding bill passed the U.S. Congress in December included funds that bring us closer to saving the island and its precious wildlife habitat.

Here is an article in the CT Mirror about Plum Island and the federal budget.

City and DEEP Meet About Pameacha Dam

The upper 2-3 feet of the dam has disappeared.

The City of Middletown and staff from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) met in late December at the Pameacha Pond dam. The purpose of the meeting was, apparently, to discuss progress and next steps toward fulfilling the requirements of the August 2018 consent order regarding the dam. Continue reading

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.