The Jonah Center for Earth and Art invites the public – especially those who ride bicycles and are interested in making our city more “bicycle-friendly” – to attend 2 important meetings. The reason: Middletown has an excellent chance to receive $800,000 in U.S. Dep’t of Transportation funds for infrastructure to make urban areas more bicycle-friendly. But we must act quickly, since the window of opportunity is very brief.
On Tuesday, November 29, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 208 of City Hall, Middletown’s Director of Planning, Conservation and Development, Bill Warner, will present a bicycling “master plan” developed by city engineer Tom Nigosanti, followed by a proposal to construct one section of that plan: a bikeway connecting downtown Middletown, Wesleyan University, and the Wesleyan Hills residential community close to the borders of Middlefield and Durham. The proposed bikeway would include mostly “off road” trails, with helpful signage, curb cuts, street crossings, and bike storage lockers at Spear Park at the corner of Main and Williams St.
Public input on the details of the plan and support for the project in general is being sought. The Jonah Center for Earth and Art is a “project advocate” on the grant application and wants to engage all interested parties and partners to make the most of this opportunity and contribute to the bikeway’s design. Many details need to be decided: the exact route; which trees need to be removed; and where the trail should be a painted lane on the street and where it should be a separate paved path. This is our chance to evolve toward a less “car-centered” culture and make it easier and safer for people to use bicycles not just for recreation but for transportation.
To meet the grant application deadline of December 21, this matter needs to come before the Common Council at the Dec. 5, 7 p.m. meeting in the Council Chambers. On the agenda, we anticipate a resolution stating Common Council support and pledging appropriation of matching funds as needed at a later date. A public demonstration of support by large attendance and some spoken testimony at the beginning of this meeting is needed. We hope Middletown will take advantage of this exciting opportunity to join sustainability-minded communities around the nation and become more bicycle-friendly.