Newfield Trail Delayed

Progress on route determination and design of the Newfield Corridor Trail between Tuttle Road and Mile Lane has been delayed over the past year due to several issues. First was an archaeological survey required to determine if the route crossed the remains of a Wangunk settlement believed to be somewhere in the vicinity.  That survey has been completed, with no Native American settlement remains identified.

The current delay involves a proposed land swap between the city and a local developer who wishes to build 2 apartment buildings off Kaplan Drive, just east of Lawrence School.

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Eat Less Meat – Help the Environment and Your Health

Here are some reasons to reduce your meat intake.

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: Livestock farming, particularly cattle production, is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Animals produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Also, the production of animal feed and the energy-intensive processes involved in meat production contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Conserve Energy: For every 100 units of energy input into beef production (including the energy used for growing and processing feed, animal maintenance, transportation, etc.), only 3 to 20 units of energy are available in the form of edible beef.

Lower water usage: Livestock farming requires large amounts of water for animal hydration, feed crops, and processing. By consuming fewer animal products, we can conserve water resources, especially in regions facing water scarcity.

Decreased water pollution: Livestock farming generates substantial amounts of manure, which can contaminate water sources if not properly managed. The runoff from animal farms can carry pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus into rivers and lakes, causing water pollution and harming aquatic ecosystems.

Reduced deforestation: Large-scale animal agriculture often leads to deforestation, not only to create grazing land, but also to grow animal feed crops such as corn and soybeans. Deforestation contributes to the loss of biodiversity, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and reduces the earth’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Health benefits: While not directly related to the environment, reducing meat consumption can have positive effects on your health.

Public Works Commission Decides to Save Pameacha Pond

Photo credit: Mary-Ellen Sutton

At its February 8 meeting, Middletown’s Public Works Commission voted unanimously to consider only the repair or replacement of the Pameacha Pond dam.  The decision was enthusiastically welcomed by members of the Save Pameacha Pond group who have been organizing and speaking out since last spring. The minutes of the Feb. 8 meeting of the Public Works Commission may be found here. Continue reading

Marissa Gillett Stands With Ratepayers

Marissa Gillett, Chair of Connecticut’s Public Utility Regulatory Authority

When Eversource argues before PURA, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, for an increase in electricity rates, the cost of that proceeding (to hire attorneys and experts) is paid by us, the ratepayers as a cost of doing business.  Okay, fair enough. But then, if Eversource appeals the decision, ratepayers pay for another round of attorneys and experts.  It’s another so-called a “recoverable expense.”

Here’s another hint about Eversource’s professed devotion to its customers. Eversource pays various lobbying and trade groups to represent the interests of Eversource shareholders and management in meetings with state agencies and the legislature.  Very often, those interests are directly opposed to the interests of ratepayers, but ratepayers are forced to pay those expenses too.

PURA’s new Chairperson, Marissa Gillett, is shining a bright light on these practices. She is a true ratepayer advocate and she is bringing change to the way public utilities, ie.monopolies, are regulated in Connecticut.  SB 966, An Act  Concerning Procurement of Standard Service Electricity and the Regulation of Public Utilities, if passed, will put an end to a number of ways in which ratepayers have to pay expenses that benefit management and shareholders to the detriment of ratepayers. This is one of many bills that the Jonah Center has supported through written  testimony in the current session of the Connecticut General Assembly. As you might guess, Eversource and Avangrid (the holding company of United Illuminating) have testified in opposition to SB 966.

Are Your Recyclables Being Thrown In The Trash?

Since the market for single-stream recycling trash collapsed several years ago, tip fees for single-stream recycling can be greater than for regular trash. This creates a temptation for waste haulers to dump recyclables into the trash. According to investigators working for MIRA (Hartford’s Materials Innovation Recovery Authority), at least one waste hauler has been video recorded dumping “blue bin recycling” in with the regular trash in order to pocket the cost difference. A recent article in the Connecticut Mirror by Mark Pazniokas describes the situation and the enforcement challenges.

Join our campaign to reduce solid waste

Connecticut has a problem: What are we going to do with all our municipal solid waste?

Send us a message with the words “waste reduction campaign” by clicking here. We will get you the information you need to send testimony to the state legislature.

Here is the background:

The Hartford trash-to-energy plant (MIRA) has closed. The main reasons for that closure were: the huge financial investment that would have been required to keep the plant operating; and the harmful air-quality impacts that came from the plant. Governor Lamont and DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes agree that we need to find another solution – one that reduces the volume of trash, maximizes recycling, and does not burden low-income communities that have suffered the serious health effects of living near incinerators and landfills. Continue reading

Progress on Air Line Trail

Thanks to Congressman Joe Courtney, the recent $1.7 Trillion federal spending bill that passed in December 2022 includes a grant of $1.4 million for the Town of East Hampton to complete the 1800-foot gap in the Air Line Trail. The RiverCOG and the Jonah Center worked to support East Hampton in the funding request back in 2020-21. This gap in the trail could not be completed in the 2017-2019 period along with the sections on either end of the gap due to the creek running through the gorge, the presence of utility poles and a power line, and the high cost of construction because a boardwalk will be required.

Prior to the grant award, Eversource and the Town of East Hampton agreed to share the cost of re-locating Eversource’s power lines to bypass the gorge, which in turn will allow the poles to be removed. The re-routing work should be completed by the end of January, according to the crew working on the site on January 18, 2023. Continue reading

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.