Mayor Daniel T. Drew invites members of the public to a ribbon-cutting celebration for the new Phil Salafia Canoe and Kayak Launch on Friday, June 5, at 3 p.m. at 181 Johnson Street in Middletown. The launch area is adjacent to the City’s Recycling Center and provides kayakers and canoeists easy access to the Coginchaug and Mattabesset Rivers and the spectacular 1000 acre freshwater tidal marshland and wildlife habitat where these rivers converge. Ample parking is available at the launch itself or at the nearby Remington Building.
The opening of this launch marks an important milestone of a project initiated in 2006 by the Jonah Center for Earth and Art and completed by the Coginchaug River Access Group; the Department of Planning, Conservation and Development; the Department of Public Works; and the Mayor’s office. Construction of the concrete ramp into the water was performed by Munger Construction in October 2014, funded primarily by a $50,000 Federal Transportation grant managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Recreational Trails Program. The ramp leading into the water is made of interlocking cement pavers connected by steel cables and laid on 18″ of gravel. Even at low water levels, the ramp extends well into the river channel, providing a flat, solid bottom for paddlers to launch canoes, kayaks, or any car-top or hand-towed vessel. Vehicles with trailers are not allowed to drive on the slope to the river or on the ramp surface.
Middletown’s Common Council chose to name the facility the Phil Salafia Canoe and Kayak Launch in recognition of the contributions to our community by Phil Salafia, Sr., former member of the Common Council (1954-61) and co-founder of the City’s first Parks Commission (1958). The City purchased the “Salafia property” — 20 acres of open space along the Coginchaug River upstream from the new boat launch —from the family of Phil Salafia, Jr. in 2007.
The public is invited to bring their kayaks and canoes to the ribbon-cutting and to launch into the Coginchaug River immediately after the ceremony. For more information on this event or on the boat launch itself, contact Michiel Wackers, Director of Planning, Conservation, and Development at 860-638-4840, or John Hall of the Jonah Center at 860-398-3771.