Archive for September, 2007

Coginchaug Cleanup:Great Turnout & Results!

September 29, 2007

About 20 folks assembled this beautiful September morn for the annual cleanup of the Coginchaug River in Middletown CT. This effort is sponsored by the Connecticut River Watershed Council and other organizations. We found carpets, mattresses, tires, and shopping carts just to mention the larger items. Other assorted trash filled scores of large garbage bags. The city supplied materials handling supplies and trucks to haul away the debris.

This post also appears at

Some video here (0:1:06)
Still photos are below. I apologize for earlier photos that did not render for most viewers.

At the Coginchaug

Coginchaug River Cleanup: Sept 29

September 21, 2007

It’s a beautiful little river, let’s clean it up!

As part of a “source to sea”effort, The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are organizing a Coginchaug river clean-up on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 9 AM to 12 Noon . This activity is in conjunction with a study of the Coginchaug River watershed that is underway. Volunteers should meet at Veterans Park in Middletown on Saturday morning. The city Parks Department will provide bags, gloves etc.

Here is information from the Connecticut River Watershed Council about the multi-state effort to clean up the Connecticut River and its tributaries.

Saturday September 29, 2007
Join hundreds of individuals, clubs, troops, students, and businesses to clean up the Connecticut River and its tributaries! We started doing this in 1997 to take care of our favorite local treasure. The Source to Sea Cleanup is fun and it involves people of all ages and abilities working together to do something good for their community. So mark your calendars and we’ll see you on September 29th!

CRWC coordinates events in all 4 states of the watershed on or near the date of the cleanup. We try to help groups get started and give them assistance and supplies when possible. If you’re busy on September 29, you can conduct your own cleanup on another day.

New posting today on our Jonah Center page.

The Coginchaug River Today 9/23/07 (video)

Environmental Survey On Open Space

September 14, 2007

The Middletown Press reports today on the presentation to the Common Council of a preliminary report on the acquisition and utilization of remaining open space in the city.

MIDDLETOWN – With farmland in Middletown dwindling and existing farmers being forced to sell off parcels of their land to make ends meet, the city’s conservation commission enlisted a environmental consultant to figure out which areas in the city could be used for farming and ways of promoting local agriculture.

The environmental group, LADA P.C., presented a preliminary report to the conservation commission detailing the potential farmland in the city and ways to encourage agricultural development, as well as what they see are the many benefits of agricultural land in a city, during Thursday night’s conservation commission meeting.

The box below provides some information about the L.A.D.A firm.

Also important meeting Tuesday Sept 18:

Jonah Center Meeting — Tuesday, Sept. 18, 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the Memorial Room of First Church, 190 Court Street.


Updates on Jonah Center projects: Recreational Trail project (including boat launch) and Landfill Gas project. Referendum on Farmland preservation to appear on November ballot.


Featured Program:  Demonstration of the Biodiversity Database, developed in cooperation with Wesleyan’s Environmental Studies program, with funding from the Rockfall Foundation.  Wesleyan intern Nick Field (who constructed the database this past summer) and Professor Barry Chernoff, President of the Jonah Center, will show us how the database works and explain why it is important.

Preserving the Coginchaug River

September 6, 2007

The photograph above is a view of my favorite little river, the Coginchaug, as it flows near my home in Middletown’s West End. The riverbed and banks are fairly clean in my neighborhood although I have noticed quite a few cans and bottles and even one abandoned shopping cart. Conditions deteriorate rapidly, I have learned, at the area known as the city’s North End peninsula near the confluence of the Coginchaug and the Mattabesset. Here debris has accumulated, carelessly discarded by campers, boaters and others. Fortunately, a group called Jonah Center for Earth and Art has put forth an ambitious plan to clean up the area and develop it as an innovative center for ecological study and community activity. A boat launch is planned.

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art wants to transform the neck of land at the confluence of the Mattabesett and Coginchaug Rivers (the “North End Peninsula”) in Middletown, CT into an innovative educational facility and a major tourist destination. This property, which now appears to be urban industrial blight, is rich in educational and recreational possibilities.

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art wants to teach — by means of a truly living, evolving facility — how energy from the sun is captured and then circulated through the ecosystem, from plants to microbes to complex human culture. This learning center will be integrated with the present recycling center and evolve into a multi-faceted science and cultural center that will eventually include space for performing arts, planetarium shows, and more.


Here is an aerial view of the area from the group’s web pages:The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


Reprinted from Right of Middle 

Open Space Referendum on Nov Ballot: Common Council Approves

September 5, 2007

Reprinted from today on Right of Middle:

Middletown’s Common Council unanimously approved the addition of the Open Space purchase and Sewage Improvement bonding to the Nov. 6 ballot. The action taken last evening will enable the city to purchase for preservation up to 500 additional acres of farmland. The amount of that bonding is $2M. The sewage improvements bonding, if approved, will authorize the spending of $8.62M. These new ballot items will bring the total of referendums on the Nov 6 to three as there is already a proposal to spend 9.99M on street improvements. The benefits of open space preservation are clear as a report in today’s Hartford Courant points out:

Preservationists told the council that there are few better investments than open space.

Bonds totaling $8 million have helped finance the purchase of nearly 700 acres of woodlands and recreation space in the past 18 years – land that likely would have become housing subdivisions had it not been preserved. As a result, the supporters said, Middletown has saved the several million dollars it would have otherwise spent in city services.

If approved by the voters, the additional $2 million would trigger up to $4 million in state grants* and allow the city to buy up to 500 more acres.

*The CT DEP has a program which helps municipalities purchase open space land:

Land acquired under the program must be preserved in perpetuity:

(1) as open space land in its natural condition, (2) for water supply protection, or (3) as farmland. The state must be given an easement to ensure that the land is preserved for the purpose for which it was acquired. The easement must include a requirement that the property be made available to the general public for appropriate recreational purposes, unless just the development rights have been purchased or where general public access would disrupt agricultural activity.

Jonah Center Executive Director John Hall comments:

“All the members of the Common Council appeared to understand the desirability of preserving farms and open space.  Not only does it preserve the aesthetic appeal of our city, save habititat for wildlife, avoid harmful storm run off from residential development, and provide for local food production, but it saves the city in the long run because housing development increases the demand for expensive city services.  Everyone wins when farms are preserved and remain in production.  Now we need to make sure the voters understand and support this initiative in November.”