Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Panciera Endorses Thazhampallath

On Thursday, July 18, the Middletown Democratic town committee will endorse one of the five candidates currently seeking the party’s support in the mayoral election. After reading the positions of the five, and evaluating their backgrounds, I have reached the conclusion that Geen Thazhampallath would be the best choice.

My decision was based on the following criteria: character, competency, and a comprehensive plan that will most effectively deal with the issues the town has to face. Like all the candidates, Geen is a person of good character who shows respect for those who come in contact with him. What sets him apart is the variety of experiences in his background that have prepared him to be Mayor.

He is a graduate of Middletown High School, UCONN ( economics major) , and the UCONN law school. He has also served an elected position here in his hometown on the Middletown Board of Education from 1999 - 2003. Many of us have learned from past experience that a good working relationship between City Hall and the Board of Education cannot be taken for granted and I am confident Geen will bring those lessons learned to the Mayors Office.

He has experienced some of the challenges a town leader faces while serving as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Stratford. Before that experience, here in Middletown, he served as a mayor’s chief of staff, and is currently in his eighth year as the city’s director of parking. In addition, he has worked in the private sector at Aetna where he built a leadership program and served as an executive officers chief of staff. No other candidate can tap into this wide a background with all its multiple roles. His detailed plan for his first term makes some convincing arguments in areas such as economic development, environmental sustainability, and putting the public and service back in public service. I urge everyone to visit geen2019.com to learn more about Geen and his platform for change and accountability.

It has been my pleasure to know Geen as a student, a public official, a family man, and a born leader. I encourage the Democratic town committee of Middletown to put the strongest candidate on the ballot in November.

Harold Panciera

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Friends of Russell Library Ends Year on High Note

Submitted by The Friends of Russell Library
The Friends of Russell Library finished the 2019 fiscal year with much to celebrate at its Annual Meeting.  Held in the library’s Hubbard Room, Friends members reviewed the year’s activities, which support a variety of programs at the Russell Library. The evening’s highlight came when Friends President Howard Rulnick announced the Friends had received a $10,000 donation from the Peach Pit Foundation.

Founded in 2005, the foundation is a private grant-making organization whose mission is to “plant seeds of opportunity” in the local community. “We are excited by the possibilities this donation represents. The Peach Pit Foundation has given us the opportunity to further expand our efforts to support the Russell Library and the important programs it brings to the City of Middletown,” Rulnick said.

After the election of officers for 2020-2022 (Howard Rulnick, President; Barrie Robbins-Pianka, Vice-President; Joan Fung-Tomc, Secretary; and Sandy Becker, Treasurer), Chief Public Services Officer Mary Dattilo thanked members for their dedication and support.  She also reviewed Russell Library’s achievements in the past year and offered a peek at what’s ahead.

For more information or to join the Friends, please call 860.347.2528, email friendsatrussell@gmail.com, or stop by Russell Library’s Main Circulation Desk.

The Friends of Russell Library believes libraries play an essential part in creating and maintaining dynamic communities. Since its founding in 1983, the Friends has contributed more than $500,000, funding a wide range of educational and cultural programs.  Through monetary gifts, volunteerism and program support, and advocacy, it continually supports Russell Library’s objective: creating a community where learning, reading and imagination thrive through the free and open access to the information libraries provide. The Friends of Russell Library is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Florsheim Leads Candidates in Individual Donations

From a press release for the Ben Florsheim for Mayor campaign.  Full disclosure, Ed McKeon who reposted this press release has donated to the Florsheim campaign.

Democratic candidate for mayor Ben Florsheim announced today that his campaign has raised $18,112 with 189 individual donations. This figure places him ahead of other Democratic campaigns in grassroots financial contributions, and second in terms of cash on hand, despite being the last candidate to enter the race.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support for this campaign and thrilled by the fundraising success we’ve had during our first month in the race,” said Florsheim. “Ours was never going to be the big-money campaign, especially since we pledged to decline contributions from lobbyists and city contractors. But as we’ve seen time and time again: big money doesn’t win local elections. People do.

“I am deeply grateful to all of our donors, including friends, family, and progressive leaders nationwide, as well as elected officials from across Connecticut who I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years. But, of course, what makes me proudest is that the plurality of our donors were people right here in Middletown, giving $5, $10, or $25-- because they believe, like I do, that our city has a bright future if we’re ready to work to make it so.

“As we head into next week’s convention, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the direction this campaign is taking. I’m excited to bring our vision and our movement to the Democratic Town Committee and to the voters of our city.”


Ben Florsheim Entered race: 5/30
Total raised: $18,112
Cash on hand: $12,972
Number of individual donations: 189
Average individual donation: $92

Mary Bartolotta Entered race: 3/19
Total raised: $18,247
Cash on hand: $9,191
Number of individual donations: 169
Average individual donation: $95

Bill Russo Entered race: 4/24
Total raised: $48,570
Cash on hand: $38,629
Number of individual donations: 126
Average individual donation: $380

Geen Thazhampallath
Entered race: 4/3
Total raised: $12,530
Cash on hand: $8,835
Number of individual donations: 91
Average individual donation: $131

Opinion: Mary Bartolotta for Mayor

Submitted by John Kilian, Middletown Democrat.
The Eye welcomes all signed opinion pieces.
Mary Bartolotta has distinguished herself as a public servant for our city with her tireless and selfless service. She has used her position of trust to defend people who otherwise would have been defenseless and encouraged people in the right to not give up the fight. It should not come as a surprise that she is now the target for arrows thrown her way by those who, uncontested, promise more of the same, to the detriment of a city that needs reform in its municipal government.

Her defense of the Clerk of the Common Council, who has been put under extreme pressure by those who feel unrestrained by law and common sense, is a case in point, illustrating the benefit that would be felt by people whose integrity is being challenged by the current regime. We need a break with the past. We need a woman who is not going to let other women get pressured and marginalized. As our Mayor, the needed changes, allowing employees of our city to make constructive criticisms of the status quo without feeling the threat of reprisals, would come to fruition, and in short order. This is just a small sampling of why I am supporting Mary Bartolotta for Mayor and encourage my fellow Middletown residents to do the same.

Middletown WORKS turns ‘me first’ concept on its head

By Rebecca Lemanski, Director | Middletown WORKS
What do flower pots and foster parents have to do with each other? Well apparently, when you bring together people from various backgrounds and diverse perspectives, unlikely things happen.

These unlikely combinations have been emerging as a result of our Community Cafés, which began in January 2019. During these events, community residents, staff from nonprofit agencies, business owners and parents gather together to talk, share food and participate in unique activities, such as  “table talks” and a “marketplace.”

During a marketplace, community members have an opportunity to state their name and make an offer, a request, a declaration or simply pass.

Members have offered things like clothing, art supplies and handmade slippers. Others have made requests such as, “If anyone is able to offer me a ride to the grocery store this Saturday, please let me know,” or “I’m looking for new flower pots — mine are broken,” or “We are looking for foster parents in the Middletown/Middlesex area, so if you know of anyone, please let me know!”

After sharing this story at a team meeting, one of our partners shouted, “from flower pots to foster parents!”

Our culture is highly individualized — placing a huge focus on self-expression and self-interest, with little regard for the collective whole.  Creating intentional space(s) where people can be themselves, and gather with others they may not normally see on a regular basis allows for these unlikely ideas to emerge.

How many times have you heard the phrase: “Just do you.” Middletown WORKS is working to change that.

We intentionally put relationships first. In the words of David Brooks, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, “Culture changes when a small group of people, often on the margins of society, find a better way to live, and other people begin to copy them. We need to create hubs where these decentralized networks can come together for solidarity and support,” Feb. 18, “A Nation of Weavers”.

For just under a year, we have been working diligently to create hubs for people to come together to dialogue across differences, and connect with others in our neighborhood. Along with offering a monthly café, we have also been offering monthly conversation circles.  These are more intimate and take place on the third Thursday of the month from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Family Wellness Center, 635 Main St. We welcome all single parents and/or anyone who cares about single-parent families in Middletown to join us for conversation and light refreshments.

As Middletown WORKS expands, we are looking to grow not only good ideas, but also our social network. All individuals and businesses who would like to make a difference for Middletown’s single-parent families are invited.  Increasing the prosperity of Middletown’s single-parent families will take all of us coming working together.

We invite you to reach out and get involved by visiting us on Facebook, going to our website or joining us at our next Community Café, scheduled for Thursday, August 8, from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. at Wesleyan University.  You might be pleasantly surprised by what you experience!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Films on Foss 2019 is Here!

Films on Foss kicks off it's 5th summer of offering free, family-friendly, outdoor movies on July 13th. Join us for... 
Picnic starts at 7pm and movies at 8:30pm (or shortly after depending on the sunset).
This completely youth-developed and youth-led project by Middletown's Mayoral Youth Cabinet wouldn't be possible without the generosity of our community. A HUGE thanks to our lead sponsors Wesleyan University's College of Film, Middlesex United Way, and Eli Cannon's. 
For weather updates and cancelations be sure to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Public Input Sessions For Long-term City Plan

The author is Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The consultants hired by the city to facilitate the writing of the next Plan of Conservation and Development will present what they have learned about the priorities of residents with respect to sustainable development and infrastructure at the beginning of tonight's meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission (7PM, City Hall).

The summary of input at the previous public workshops is available HERE.

Tonight's meeting is dubbed a "listening session" for the consultants and for the Planning and Zoning Commission: members of the public are encouraged to provide further input into what they feel are important considerations to be included in the city's most important long-term planning document.

According to the consultants:
  • Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Doing so must integrate and balance economic, environmental, and social goals.
  • Infrastructure refers to the basic facilities and installations that help a government or community run, including roads, schools, phone lines, sewage treatment plants and power generation, plus services including law enforcement, transit, emergency services, healthcare, education, etc.
At the listening sessions, the consultants will give a brief presentation of many of the issues identified in the surveys and community input sessions that took place in the spring.

The presentation for Wednesday's session is HERE. Following the presentation, members of the public will be given ample opportunity to make suggestions and comments on what should be included in the POCD.

Below is the full schedule of listening sessions.

July 10th at 7:00 PM 
Sustainability and Infrastructure (Presentation)
  • Ecologic/Economic Sustainability
  • Resiliency (Hazard Mitigation, Adaptation, Response and Recovery, Energy)
  • Complete Streets Sustainable CT, Environmental Justice Input
  • Community Facilities and Services, including General Government
  • Education, Social Services and Public Safety
  • Vehicular Systems and Transit
July 24th at 7:00 PM
Development and Revitalization:
  • Downtown
  • Riverfront
  • Corridors/Key Nodes
  • Business, Economic Development, Housing Needs

August 14th at 7:00 PM
  • Natural Resources
  • Open Space
  • Historic Resources
  • Community Character/Scenic Resources

Democratic Mayoral Candidates Forum Saturday

From the Rob Blanchard, Chair of the Democratic Town Committee.

Please join us and hear from our 5 declared Mayoral candidates! Everyone is welcome, invite a friend!

Saturday, July 13th 11:30am-1pm
Exley Science Center- 265 Church Street, Room 121

Parking is available in the lots on Church Street, and behind the building on the Lawn Street side.

*We ask that you please reserve the first row of seating for folks needing accessibility, and for the hearing impaired.

Looking forward to seeing you!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Crystal Lake Hike and Picnic

Saturday, August 3, 2019 (rain date 8/4)
Group Hike: 11:30am

Picnic: 1 – 4pm

Crystal Lake at McCutcheon Park, Livingston Road, Middletown

Join a group walk led by The Rockfall Foundation through the hilly, wooded trails of McCutcheon Park. Experience large mountain laurel groves and rock formations from the early Jurassic period, 201 million years old. Narrow, packed dirt trail with some flat and some steeper sections. Approximately 1.5-2 mile hike meeting at the Crystal Lake pavilion at 11:30, wrapping up around 1pm for a picnic**. Time permitting we’ll also explore a short lakeside trail where blue heron and other birds may be spotted. Bring water and tick repellent. Wear sneakers (no sandals). Rain postpones hike and picnic to August 4th. No dogs on the hike, please.

**Enjoy a Summer Picnic with The Rockfall Foundation environmentalist community on August 3, 1-4pm. Burgers and hotdogs (meat and non-meat options), corn-on-the-cob, watermelon, and soft drinks to be served at the pavilion on Crystal Lake at McCutcheon Park, Middletown. Potluck dishes to share would be a welcome addition. Swim in Crystal Lake or bring your paddleboard or kayak. Wildlife, birds, and hiking trails surround the area, with a guided walk beginning at 11:30am, concluding in time for the picnic. All are welcome to join the hike and/or the picnic. Free for members of The Rockfall Foundation and their immediate family or a plus one guest. $5 donation for non-members for the picnic. RSVP required for the picnic. Please RSVP to amanda@rockfallfoundation.org by 7/31 with the number in your party, and a potluck dish, if you’re bringing one.  Bring your own place setting or we’ll have recycled paper plates, cups, napkins and utensils available. Rain date for both activities is August 4th, at the same times.

Directions to Crystal Lake at McCutcheon Park: From Randolph Road (Route 155), turn south onto Millbrook Road. Follow Millbrook for 1.5 miles and take the fifth right onto Livingston Road. After 0.2 miles, take the first right off Livingston into McCutcheon Park.  (Don’t rely on GPS, but if you do, “Crystal Lake Park” is the most accurate destination in Google Maps.) After passing the guard booth, turn left and park at the far end of the lot where you will see our pavilion.


Founded in 1935 by Middletown philanthropist Clarence S. Wadsworth, The Rockfall Foundation is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations. The Foundation supports environmental education, conservation and planning initiatives in the Lower Connecticut River Valley through public programs and grants.  Learn more about our work and other events, such as our monthly Meet Your Greens networking social, at www.rockfallfoundation.org.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Wednesday at 7pm: Free Outdoor Concert by Phat A$tronaut at Wesleyan University

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at 7pm
Center for the Arts Courtyard, 283 Washington Terrace, Middletown, Connecticut

Bring a picnic, then dance with family and friends at a free outdoor concert at Wesleyan University by New Haven's experimental soul ensemble Phat A$tronaut, who have created meticulously crafted arrangements with pop-sensible songwriting since 2016.

Click here for more information about this event.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

NEAT Notes - Summer 2019

A lot has been happening down at the NEAT offices, and we figured, well we better let everyone know!!

NEAT tabled at pride and had an awesome rock painting event.

This Saturday, we are co-hosting a family water bottle painting event.  
see more info herehttps://www.facebook.com/events/407996756456097/

And Finally, the Ferry Street Garden is getting organized, thanks to the help from Rockfall Foundation, Forest City Farms, and Long Lane Farm.

Stay tuned for more news about the garden especially, it's looking HOT this summer at NEAT!