April 4, 2016
Project to Develop a Greener, Healthier Middletown
Middletown, C.T. – Mayor Daniel T. Drew today announced the launch of Middletown on the Move, a project of the City of Middletown’s Department of Planning, Conservation and Development (PCD) and funded by a U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC ATSDR) Brownfield Redevelopment Grant. The project aim is to improve the overall quality of life for Middletown residents, particularly those in the Downtown, North and South End neighborhoods. Through the grant, the City and its community partners hope to transform underutilized or vacant brownfield properties into opportunities for community space use. These spaces will help to connect people and neighborhoods and give residents the opportunity to spend more time outdoors.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to build on a number of ongoing initiatives by simultaneously incorporating and improving city parks and other public spaces. Even more importantly, it is a chance for us to hear directly from Middletown residents about their current neighborhood quality of life, ideas for more active and healthier recreation options, – and how those experiences can inform the best possible reuses for these properties,” said Mayor Drew. Public input will be used to steer redevelopment planning and implementation of action plans to address neighborhood quality of life. This project is advised by a stakeholder committee made up of staff from the Middletown Department of Planning, Conservation and Development and Health Department, non-profit organizations, and advocates for health, seniors, youth, people with disabilities, local schools, and more.
Over the past few years, the Department of Planning, Conservation and Development and other local groups have conducted planning studies for Middletown’s urban areas. The results of these studies showed a need for affordable housing, green space, additional healthcare facilities, community centers, and employment opportunities. In partnership with the Project for Public Spaces, the City developed a master plan for riverfront redevelopment and an Economic and Community Development Plan to address larger community needs. Both of these plans encourage brownfield redevelopment to protect public health and the environment, prevent urban sprawl, and promote economic and community growth in Middletown. The next step is to both educate City residents and workers about health risks associated with brownfields and get feedback on the best uses for these properties.
Middletown on the Move builds on the momentum of these prior plans by developing concrete strategies to improve resident quality of life. Between now and the middle of June, the public will have many opportunities to get involved. The steering committee is planning the following events:
· Safe garden soil use workshop at 5:45 PM – May 6, 2016 at the Middletown Senior and Community Center
· May 7, 2016: Feet to the Fire Festival at Harbor Park from 12 Noon to 4 PM
· May 14, 2016: Bus tours of brownfield sites starting at 9:30 am leaving from City Hall
· A series of open houses and public forums in the three target neighborhoods on May 25th, June 1st and June 8th 2016
· On-line public input surveys
A final report with recommendations is projected to be released in September 2016. Everyone in Middletown is encouraged to keep an eye on the project website for event announcements, posters, flyers, surveys, report-back summaries from public events, potential site plans, community resources on brownfield redevelopment and active living, and more.
For more information, contact Patrice Barrett, the CDC ATSDR Community Outreach Coordinator
in the City’s Department of Planning, Conservation and Development, at Patrice.Barrett@MiddletownCT.Gov or by phone at 860-638-4836.
About Middletown on the Move:
Middletown on the Move looks at specific redevelopment opportunities in Middletown’s Downtown, North End, and South End neighborhoods to create greener, healthier places to live and work. The goals are to develop: a healthier environment; a network of streets and recreational spaces where people can safely walk, ride, play, shop, and dine; a stronger economy; more vibrant neighborhoods; and healthier, happier residents.
The City is planning a lot of ways to get Middletown moving, including investments in existing parks and open space, development along the riverfront, and exploring ways to improve connectivity throughout the City. Middletown on the Move is building on these efforts by working with residents to develop new recreational opportunities on currently underused brownfield properties.
Why does the City care about reusing brownfields and increasing opportunities for active living? One survey reports that of 436 Middletown children ages 3 to 5, 30% were overweight or obese. One of the major contributors to childhood obesity is a lack of safe outdoor space to play and be active. Further, according to the U.S. Census, the three Middletown target neighborhoods have a median income 43% lower than Middletown as a whole. Poverty can often be a significant indicator of poor health, particularly when neighborhoods have environmental concerns and public safety issues. Reusing brownfields can help in cleaning up our environment, improving health and recreation opportunities, and removing unfair blight for the residents who live next to it.
Middletown on the Move is about EVERYONE! The City seeks help from local residents, particularly those living downtown and in the North and South Ends. Over the next six months, residents and businesses will have a chance to learn more about the opportunities for brownfield redevelopment, talk about their personal experiences living and working in these neighborhoods, and share ideas for making these neighborhoods healthier, friendlier, and safer places for walking, biking, and being physically active. Because decisions made through Middletown on the Move will affect everyone, the City has developed a comprehensive public involvement program to ensure meaningful participation from all neighborhood residents, workers, and business owners.
This project will result in an actionable agenda to transform particular vacant or underutilized properties into places that can improve quality of life. Members of the project Stakeholder Committee include: Middletown Planning, Conservation and Development Department; Middletown Board of Education; Middletown Department of Recreation & Community Services; ProHealth Physicians Middletown; North End Action Team; Middlesex Coalition for Children; Opportunity Knocks; Middletown Youth Services; Middlesex Hospital; Middletown Public Health Department; Middletown Community Health Center; Community of Color and Ministerial Alliance; YMCA; Wesleyan University; and the Disabled Community in Middletown.