Thursday, September 30, 2010

Music in the Hubbard Room

The Kelet Duo will perform at 2pm on Saturday, October 2 in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown.  The Duo brings together a vast array of musical styles creating a fusion that is unique in the chamber music world today.  Comprised of Taiwanese pianist Pi-Hsun Shih and Hungarian violinist Katalin Viszmeg, they perform a breathtakingly varied repertoire offering audiences an extraordinary concert experience.  The duo will present violin and piano music from the two Easts, Eastern Europe and Far East; and a new work, Fábulas, by Latino composer, Dan Román, professor at Trinity College.

Based in West Hartford, both Katalin and Pi-Hsun are faculty members of the Hartt School, Community Division.  They are extensively involved in music education and have been recognized for their motivating outreach programs for students of all ages in their community.  Katalin was a top prize winner of the Hungarian National Solo Violin Competition, and Pi-Hsun also garnered a top prize at the International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition. 

For more information, call 860-347-2528.

Non Profits Alert.

This crossed through my e-mail today and I thought it was worth publicizing. The IRS reported in a late-July press release that "Small nonprofit organizations at risk of losing their tax-exempt status because they failed to file required returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009 can preserve their status by filing returns by Oct. 15, 2010, under a one-time relief program, the Internal Revenue Service announced today." The October 15 deadline is apparently a one-time Special Filing Relief Program for Small Charities.

A local activist says, "I downloaded and went through all 127 pages for CT. I was amazed. I am hoping that all of you will recognize some group in your town and alert them. There are friends groups, American Legion, Lions, historical societies, cemetery, scholarship, Knights of Columbus, you name it. It takes a few minutes but it may save the day for some worthwhile organization in your town. I was surprised to find important groups in my own."

The link to the CT list is here. It is in alphabetical order, and contains quite a few Middletown organizations.

Loffredo Challenges Resolution to Approve Deputy Chief

Common Council member Vinnie Loffredo, who is also the chairman of the city's Personnel Review Committee has sent a memo to the mayor, and his Common Council colleagues declaring that the resolution to approve Gregory Sneed as Deputy Chief of the Police Department is illegal.

Loffredo's memo:

Dear Colleagues:

As chairperson of the Personnel Review Commission, and with the concurrence of my Democratic council colleagues, I am advising you that at this time and for the following reasons the October 4 Common Council agenda item resolution 9-2  “approving confirming the appointment of Gregory Sneed as Deputy Chief of Police” is NOT in order and is NOT properly placed before the Common Council:

1.       At the Tuesday, September 21 meeting of the Personnel Review Commission, I ruled, as chairperson of the commission, that the commission would move forward with the resolution9-1 dealing with the Chief of Police nomination, and the commission would vet and act on the Deputy Chief position at some future date  after the Common Council has acted on the Mayor’s nomination for Chief of Police.  The committee did review and act  on resolution 9-1 dealing with the Mayor’s nominee, Patrick McMahon, Chief of Police.  The committee took NO action on and did NOT review  the proposed resolution 9-2 “approving confirming the appointment of Gregory Sneed as Deputy Chief of Police”.

2.       Placing  resolution 9-2  our October 4th  meeting agenda violates the special rules and procedures of the council that were adopted  at our organizational meeting of November 17, 2009, and in particular,

 Section I. Agenda and General Meeting Procedures # 3.:

“Any proposed resolutions and ordinances must be reviewed by the appropriate committee and/or commission before being included on the agenda.  Items that have been through committee and/or commission shall have a line at the bottom of the resolution indicating the date it went through committee and a statement as to the financial impact of the action on the City’s general fund and future indebtedness.  The Clerk of the Council shall ensure that each resolution shall have these statements prior to submittal to the council.

In case of an emergency where an item cannot go through committee and/or commission, an individual member of the Council may sponsor the item or the item may come through the Mayor’s office.”

3.       The city has NOT declared a vacancy for the office of Deputy Chief of Police.  There has been NO posting or advertising of this position.    

4.       The City did declare a vacancy for the office of Chief of police.  It was  properly posted, and advertised.  Applications were reviewed and candidates were selected and  tested.  The Mayor made his nomination and has asked for the Common Council’s confirmation. The nominee was vetted at the September 21 of the Personnel Review Commission.  Resolution 9-1 was properly reviewed and discussed by the commission.

Submitted by Councilman Vincent J. Loffredo
Chair of the Personnel Review Commission and with the concurrence of the Democratic members of the Common Council

Drift at Wesleyan CFA

The Jonah Center invites you to a
special eco-art event at Wesleyan


Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts Presents the
Liz Lerman Dance Exchange: DRIFT
Dance Exchange Performs a New Work About Food, Land
and How They Change Over Time

Co-Sponsored by the College of the Environment
Discounted Tickets for Jonah Center Members
When: Friday & Saturday, October 1 & 2, 8pm

Where: CFA Theater, located on the Wesleyan University campus at 283 Washington Terrace in Middletown, CT

About: Farmland becomes a strip mall. Time passes. Businesses move out and a church takes over. The corn field that yielded to a supermarket is now a church sanctuary--complete with automatic doors. By turns comic, provocative, and wistful, Drift moves forward and backward in time. What happens when land changes hands? What becomes of people and their jobs? Where does our food come from? And what are California peaches doing in Georgia?

Five years after the premiere of Ferocious Beauty: Genome, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange returns with a new work by company member Cassie Meador. They will also be performing excerpts from from How to Move a Mountain, which examines how our resources come to us and Blueprints of Relentless Nature which explores the concept of “pure” movement. The company is known for creating groundbreaking dance works that make meaningful connections between people and art and are performed by a multi-generational company. Presented in conjunction with the campus-wide exploration, Feet to the Fire: Feast or Famine.

Artist Website

Admission: $18 Jonah Center Members, non-Wesleyan Students, Senior Citizens, Wesleyan Staff and Faculty; $21 General Admission

To Redeem Offer: Call the University Box Office at 860-685-3355 and identify yourself as a Jonah Center member

Wind and Rain Topple Tree On Wesleyan Campus

As reported in Wesleying.

Drug Bust Across From Macdonough School Playground

From the Middletown Police Department

On September 29, 2010 the Street Crime Unit with the assistance of the Major Investigations Unit and the Patrol Division executed a Search and Seizure Warrant at the residence of 54 Grove St. Apt. 1A. We had received numerous complaints concerning this address from concerned citizens that reside in the area. Neighbors complained that two Hispanic males continuously sell narcotics out of the residence. The residence is across the Street from the MacDonough School playground.

As the detectives entered the residence they discovered ten parties. Three parties barricaded themselves in a bedroom and refused officers entry. After a brief struggle all were taken into custody as numerous narcotic violations were observed. Several of the parties were juveniles: Two were 23 months old, one 13, one 14, one 15, one 16. 

The other parties in the residence were identified as Tamisha Belin 20 years old of 54 Grove St. Apt. 1A, Juan Burkeatte 29 years old of 54 Grove St. Apt. 1A, Axel Nunez 19 years old of 54 Grove St. Apt.1A, and Catherine Then 20 years old of 59 Oak St. 

The male target of our investigation Juan Burkette (AKA as Jay), the second target of our investigation, the 16 year old juvenile, and Belin were taken into custody after they barricaded the bedroom.

Burkette, who at first provided several names to detectives then intentionally misspelled his name, was found to be in possession of Crack Cocaine, Marijuana, Drug Paraphernalia, and a significant amount of US currency.  

The second target of our investigation, the 16 year old juvenile, was found to be in possession of Crack Cocaine, Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia.

Tamisha Belin was found to be in possession of Crack Cocaine, Marijuana, and Drug Paraphernalia.

 Axel Nunez was found to be in possession of a large amount of Marijuana  he also had an outstanding arrest warrant for Failure to Appear 1st Degree.

Catherine Then was found to be in possession of Drug Paraphernalia. She was also in violation of a Protective Order between her an Nunez.

Approximately 11 grams of Crack Cocaine and 1.8 ounces of Marijuana was seized from within the residence.

The Department of Children and Families was contacted as the six juveniles were present while numerous narcotic violations were observed. Detectives observed narcotics scattered throughout the residence that were easily accessible to the juveniles.


Juan Burkette was subsequently arrested for the following charges and held on a  $500,00.00 Bond as he was unable to provide any sort of identification or verification of his identity- Detectives were able to verify that an extraditable warrant for Assault 1st degree out of New York State exists for Juan Burkette DOB 5/26/82:
Possession  of Crack Cocaine
Possession of Crack Cocaine With Intent to Sell
Possession of Crack Cocaine With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
Possession of less than 4 ounces of Marijuana
Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell
Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
Interfering with a Search Warrant
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Risk of Injury to a Minor ( 6 Counts)

The 16 year old juvenile was subsequently arrested for the following charges :
 Possession  of Crack Cocaine
Possession of Crack Cocaine With Intent to Sell
Possession of Crack Cocaine With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
Possession of less than 4 ounces of Marijuana
Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell
Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Risk of Injury to a Minor ( 5 Counts)

Tamisha Belin was subsequently arrested for the following charges and held on a $200,000.00 Bond:
 Possession  of Crack Cocaine
Possession of Crack Cocaine With Intent to Sell
Possession of Crack Cocaine With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
Possession of less than 4 ounces of Marijuana
Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell
Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Risk of Injury to a Minor ( 6 Counts)

Axel Nunez was subsequently arrested for the following charges and held on a $200,000.00 Bond and $5,000.00 for Failure to Appear:

Possession of less than 4 ounces of Marijuana
Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell
Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell within 1500’ of a School
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Risk of Injury to a Minor ( 6 Counts)
Failure to Appear 1st Degree

Catherine Then was subsequently arrested for the following charges and held on a $25,000.00 Bond and $50,000.00 for the Violation of a Protective Order:
Risk of Injury to a Minor (2 Counts)
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Violation of a Protective Order

Any citizens willing to give information concerning possible illegal activities are encouraged to contact Sgt. Rich Davis of the Street Crime Unit at (860) 344-3259. All information will remain anonymous. 

Turn Up the Volumes: Wesleyan Library Book Sale Saturday

(Editor's note: Watch out, that might be me elbowing you out for an early Faulkner.  My favorite sale of the year, and on my birthday.)

Come to the Annual Friends of the Wesleyan Library Book Sale and Silent Auction
Saturday, October 2 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Olin Memorial Library Lobby
252 Church Street, Middletown

There will be over 3000 academic and popular books and other media for sale. Most items will be priced $1-$5, with special books priced $10 and up. There will also be a Silent Auction of collectible and older titles from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Titles to be auctioned include Zen Painting, Working with Kazan, Mythologies, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, The North American Indians in Early Photographs, A Moveable Feast, and much, much more.  A complete list of auction items is posted on the Friends web site at .  

The Friends are still accepting book donations through September 30, and we are also looking for volunteers for this big undertaking.  

For more information, email

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fire Safety Festival Saturday

Born Learning Trail Opens

Middlesex United Way and Comcast were today joined by local community and school leaders, including Middletown Mayor Sebastian N. Giuliano, and 30 local school children to officially mark the opening of the first “Born Learning Trail” in the City of Middletown. The trail is located at Wilbert Snow Elementary School. A special ribbon-cutting ceremony featured a number of fall-themed educational activities for the children. 

The trail, just the fourth in the state, was installed by Comcast employees and their family members and friends along with United Way volunteers on April 24th during the ninth Comcast Cares Day, the company’s annual day of community service.  Comcast employees also installed the first Born Learning Trails in both the City of New Haven and the City of Hartford during Comcast Cares Days in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

“We are pleased to be able to make this Born Learning Trail available to families with young children in Middletown, and are grateful to Comcast and the United Way for providing it,” said Mayor Giuliano. “We know that learning starts at birth, and we want to do all that we can to support parents and caregivers in the very important work of nurturing Middletown’s young children.”

“Our sincere thanks to Comcast and its employees for sponsoring and installing the first Born Learning Trail in Middletown,” said Kevin Wilhelm, Executive Director of the Middlesex United Way.  “What happens in a child’s critical early years will impact their readiness for school and ultimately their success in life.  Born Learning Trails are a valuable early learning tool that will aid in children’s development in addition to being a fun activity for families.”

“Comcast believes deeply in powering dreams in the communities we serve, and we are proud to support the City of Middletown through ongoing partnerships with organizations like the Middlesex United Way,” said Kristen Roberts, Vice President of Public Relations and Community Investment for Comcast’s Western New England Region, which includes Connecticut.  “Our employees had a wonderful time installing this trail during Comcast Cares Day, and after seeing how successful the Born Learning Trails we installed in Hartford and New Haven have been, we were proud to continue our support of this initiative and by bringing this valuable resource to the Middletown community.”

As a part of United Way’s focus on early childhood education and school readiness, the “Born Learning Trail” is a tool that helps parents and caregivers provide opportunities for everyday learning in fun and relaxed environments.  A “Born Learning Trail” is a set of fun, physical learning activities that parents or caregivers can play with young children in an outdoor setting, arranged on a walking trail.  The trail offers a variety of activities that encourage children to talk, listen, read, think, imagine and create, helping to lay the foundation for developing problem solving, critical thinking, leadership and team building skills.

Council Hears Plan For Parking Garage

Parking Director Tom Hartley presented his plan to use the Melilli Parking Plaza as the site for a new, multi-story parking garage to a receptive Common Council last night. The occasion was a Council workshop to learn more about why Hartley wanted to scrap the 2008 plan to put a parking garage at the site of the current parking arcade between the courthouse and Riverview Plaza.

Hartley repeated much of the presentation he gave to the Economic Development Committee in August. This time his presentation included a 13 slide Power Point presentation with data comparing the requirement for parking at Mellili Plaza and the requirement for parking at the arcade near Riverview. Hartley claimed that since there is less retail space near Riverview than near Melilli, "The arcade has less of a need generator than the Melilli lot." Moreover, he said that far fewer spaces would be lost, and for a shorter time, during the construction of a parking garage at Melilli than there would be during the construction of a similar structure at the arcade site.

Hartley estimated that repair and maintenance of the Riverview arcade during the next five years would require payment of about $100,000 per year. He said this could be funded by the revenue from parking at the arcade.

Rate Changes
The rates charged for parking in Middletown have remained unchanged since 1984, and have some features which the Council members found surprising. For example, the most desirable parking, on Main Street, is cheaper than the more distant, off-street parking in Melilli Plaza. Hartley proposed to redress this imbalance, by reducing the cost of parking off-street from $1.00 per hour to $0.75 per hour, and by increasing the cost of parking on Main Street from $0.50 per hour to $1.00 per hour.

Public Comments
A dozen members of the public spoke during a special public comment section of the workshop. Most were owners of businesses near Melilli Plaza or further north, they all supported the proposal to put the parking garage in the Melilli Plaza.

Others expressed reservations. Michael Arafeh said that construction of the parking garage would likely impact his business, The Coffeehouse Recording Studio, and Melissa Schilke expressed concern over the height of any parking garage in the Melilli Plaza. David Sauer questioned the assumptions and the numbers underlying Hartley's presentation, and expressed his frustration that the city had not moved forward with the original plan, and was instead now considering moving the proposed garage to Melilli.

Catherine Johnson, architect and town planner, spoke at length to the Council, reiterating what she wrote in a commentary in The Eye.

Johnson said she has been very actively following the parking situation in Middletown for quite some time, "Quite honestly, I may be the only person who understands the complete ramifications of parking." She expressed her support for moving the parking garage to Mellili Plaza, but voiced concerns over where the parking garage would be put within the Plaza.

Johnson said that it would be wrong to place a parking garage on the Washington Street edge of Melilli Plaza, "Washington Street is one of the most important streets in the city ... You do not front your most important street with a [car] storage space."

Hartley was hesitant to endorse any design or even location for the garage. He said that the design should be done in close consultation with many different people, "In no way should your Parking Director design the garage by himself."

Council to Vote on Monday
The Council will vote at their next meeting on a resolution authorizing the expenditure of $120,000 for the preliminary design of a Parking Garage at Melilli Plaza.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Candidates For Governor Debate Education At Macdonough

On the gymnasium risers at Macdonough Elementary School stood the future governor of Connecticut, but there was not a Board of Education member, or a member of the school board administrative staff in sight.

On this night when the three candidates for governor came to debate, sponsored by ConnCan, at a school which represents achievement despite odds, the Board of Education decided against postponing a scheduled workshop called "The Board: All About Us" (no lie) and so failed to attend. 

ConnCan also failed to invite, or introduce Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, who attended anyway, and made sure that organizers understood his feelings about being left off the guest list.  On the list were many state-level Democratic politicians (Tom Gaffey, Joe Serra, Jim O'Rourke, Matt Lesser and Paul Doyle) and Meriden Mayor Michael Rohde.  Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission Quentin Phipps and member Richard Pelletier along with alternate board member Michael Johnson attended along with numerous teachers, union representatives, parents and other interested parties.  Members of the Common Council were also absent due to a workshop on parking held at city hall.

The substance of debate revolved around the need for change, and each candidate, Democrat Daniel Malloy, Republican Tom Foley and independent Tom Marsh all took slightly different approaches to what each described as a seriously-flawed system.

Malloy repeated referred to his "seventeen page plan" for education in the state from pre-K to higher ed as "the only plan" on paper issued by any candidate.  He championed recently-legislated parent governance council which allow parents at failing schools to reconstitute education there.  He also demanded that more money be put into classrooms than into administration.

Malloy, like his counterparts, extolled the virtues of charter and magnet schools, noting that he was the only one on the dais to have approved the creation of a charter school when he was mayor of Stamford.  He emphasized the importance of student performance but called for strengthening of school management teams, mentoring, intervention and supervision.  To solve the achievement gap, Malloy felt that his call for a universal pre-k program would go a long way to giving all students the preparatio they need for a solid education.

In terms of higher education, Malloy said that higher education needs to be more in reach for all families.

Foley took a more revolutionary approach to change, indicating, for example, that "tenure is a corrosive system for education," and stating that when he becomes governor, "kids will come first."

"I think people who are against teacher performance evaluations are against progress," Foley said.

Foley champions what he calls the "market forces" of choice including the support and creation of magent and charter schools, the identification and promotion of excellent teachers, the need for money to "follow the student" and not lag behind with test results, strict teacher evaluation and reform-minded people on the state Board of Education.  Foley also called for a universal high school graduation test.

"This is a war, and we can't afford to lose it," Foley said.

Marsh emphasized that the responsibility for students lies with parents, primarily, and not with schools, and that schools should not "become the dumping ground for society's social programs."   He also assailed a system in which teachers are rewarded for length-of-service and not performance.

The debate was not without its sniping.  Foley called Malloy a "career politician" and indicated that Stamford had the highest achievement gap of any city in Connecticut.  Marsh noted that Malloy found support from teachers and their unions "the people who brought the education system to where it is."  Malloy said that neither Foley nor Marsh had the experience or the plans to make any significant changes.

Surprisingly, no candidate talked about the inequities of municipal property taxes as a method for funding schools across the state, or how that impacts the achievement gap between wealthy suburban districts and strapped city schools.  Nor did candidates acknowledge that the success of many schools of choice (magnet and charter schools), is determined by their ability to be selective about students admitted, to reject and eject students who are problems, to ignore standardized testing and to work outside of negotiated contracts with teachers.  Though each candidate did concur that not enough magnet or charter schools could be created in the state, early enough, to solve the crisis they observed in education.


Notice provided by Catherine Johnson

Tonight in city hall at 7 pm there will be a workshop to aid the common council in considering transfering funds to design/plan a parking garage from the College/Court St block to Washington/Court. A federal fund of approx $8 million plus the required 20% city match of $1.6 million will pay for the garage construction once designed. A 2007-08 parking study led by a committee headed by Gerry Daley concluded with the decision to use the funds to rebuild the city-owned Arcade over other choices.

Recently hired parking director Tom Hartley has suggested the change of location would be a better use of funds, as the Washington/Court (“Melilli”) block has significantly more retail and commercial space along Main Street than the College/Court (“Arcade”) block. Hartley believes the Arcade is best used as is (can be repaired, paid for by parking fees), and left to a future developer to reconfigure the parking as a future project would deem necessary.

Hartley’s primary interest is to increase parking capacity on the Melilli block, not to advocate a particular location or garage design within that block. His hope is that if funds are transferred, then the ideal design can be figured out. He has made one suggestion of where the garage might be located, so as to not disturb more than a section of the current $900,000+ repaving and regarding of the Melilli lot. The suggestion is to build a 270’ long parking garage along Washington Street, one of the 2007 plans. Some property and business owners have been led to believe this is the purpose of the workshop tonight: that is incorrect. The workshop is only to discuss the benefit or disadvantage of shifting the money to the Melilli block from the Arcade block.

COMMENTARY: How to Kill a Street

By Catherine Johnson

Why building a parking garage along Washington Street is a Bad Idea

I fully support the idea of investing in a garage on the Mellili block instead of rebuilding the Arcade. I believe Tom Hartley’s logic is sound regarding the Arcade: repair it but otherwise leave it as is and reserve it for a deserving future project. It will not help a developer or the city encumbering the site with a recently built but possibly inappropriately designed parking garage on this site. However, the location of where it goes on that block and how it relates to existing surroundings must be done with great care.

In my opinion, it would be a bad idea to use it to build a 4- or 5-story garage along Washington Street.

Washington Street is one of the most important streets in the city and some of its most valuable real estate. A parking garage is a piece of infrastructure, a utility, a storage area. You do not front your most important street with a storage space. If you’re wise, you never front any street with a garage or a lot because parking along a sidewalk is detrimental to retail- and commercial-viability. No one wants to walk next to a garage or a parking lot. No one wants to look at a parking garage. No one wants to live or work next to a parking garage. Even if you put retail on the first floor, no one is going to be fooled into forgetting the 4 upper stories looming above. If you face the front of the building with a façade that looks like a commercial building, people will still know it’s a garage. People can perceive the building as lifeless: it’s level upon level of car. No seemingly clever design can replace the power and energy of human presence. People make a 4- or 5- story building an active place day and night, and in turn create an inviting street where people stop, stay and enjoy the experience.

Many of you may not remember what Court, Broad and College Streets looked like before the office building (now Middle Oak) and parking garage were constructed in the late 1980’s. There was a whole range of buildings 2-4 stories tall, some ornate, others plain, with a mix of styles, uses and occupants. Parking was behind buildings in the center of the block. I would look for any excuse to take a little walk around that block when I went downtown or to the library. These 3 streets had an appealing urban character. I especially liked Court Street with its pair of brownstone buildings: the First Church of Christ and the building across from it, a Victorian with storefronts at street level and an athletic club on the third floor. While different, one secular and dolled up, the other sedate and stolid, they felt like kindred spirits. Together the two buildings framed a great street.

Later, when I studied architecture and urban design, I learned that the qualities that made that street so inviting were the same qualities which make all great streets: human presence, many different buildings, many different activities at all times of day, detailed facades, the play of light, definition, boundaries, variety. But most importantly, the car and its storage do not dominate.

Today College and Court Streets feel very different. All the buildings that gave the street its charm and character were demolished. Beautiful First Church lost its mate across the street. The 11-story office building and 6-level parking garage lurk over the street, creating a permanently oppressive quality. Now across from the church’s Gothic-arched doors and stained glass window is the gaping hole of the parking garage entrance and loading dock. It’s the dumpiest 100 feet downtown. I no longer look forward to walking down this portion of the street, and attempt all other variations of route to avoid the banality. They killed my street.

If you have never thought about this relationship of building and parking before, you may not realize how making a poor choice affects perception and ultimately, real estate values and wealth. Pretty counts. Ugly costs, and often more than just money lost from buildings and businesses. Lifeless, unoccupied buildings ultimately steal people from the street, significantly reducing its safety, its attractiveness and its value. When adjacent streets are affected, aggregate lifelessness can deaden a community.

When the time comes to plan the parking, whatever the location, let’s not make another blunder and kill the street by putting a garage or parking lot next to a sidewalk. Let’s plan for new buildings along the sidewalk and set the parking back about 80 feet. The Washington/Court block is a huge block, about 700 x 720’, so large it can accommodate 750-900 parking spaces and about 350,000 sq ft of development (40 rowhouses, 5 commercial buildings, and can double city hall). There are plenty of options for locating a garage or garages, and for planning in phases.

So I encourage us to use planning this parking garage as the first opportunity to mend and improve the quality of the streets downtown in order to restore and rebuild the place we call home. People aren’t attracted to come downtown because there’s a parking spot waiting for them. They come here because downtown Middletown is a place, a real place with a genuine history and a complexity that comes from generations of building and honoring civic character.

Rockfall Foundation Seeking Grant Proposals

From the Rockfall Foundation

The Rockfall Foundation invites grant proposals from nonprofit organizations, towns, and schools to support environmental education, conservation and planning projects in Middlesex County. The deadline for receipt of completed applications is November 11, 2010 and awards will be announced in mid-February, 2011.

            "Rockfall grants often serve as catalysts for imaginative ways to preserve our natural environment while enhancing the quality of life for all county residents,"  according to Rockfall Grants Chairman, Anthony P. Marino. "Grant selections also often reflect Rockfall's focus on grassroots programs, particularly those that encourage residents to spend more time outside and better understand the county's natural resources and unique character."

            Of special interest are: projects for youth that integrate activities with local, standards-based curricula; projects that encourage community growth that is in harmony with the environment; and internship projects with measurable outcomes for college students. Priority will be given to projects that serve as models throughout Middlesex County, explains Marino.

            All those who are interested in submitting a proposal are invited to an informal grants informational workshop on Tuesday, October 19th from 5 - 6 p.m. at the deKoven House Community Center. 

      Detailed guidelines and eligibility requirements as well as a grant application can be obtained from the foundation's website,, or by calling the Foundation's office at 860-347-0340.  To register for the workshop, or for additional information about Rockfall grants, contact Virginia R. Rollefson, Executive Director,, or phone  (860) 347-0340. 

            The Rockfall Foundation supports environmental education, conservation programs and planning initiatives in Middlesex County. Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2010, it is one of Connecticut's oldest environmental organizations. Rockfall's mission is to be a catalyst-- bringing people together and supporting organizations to conserve and enhance the county's natural environment.

Middlesex Community College $cholarship 5K

MIDDLETOWN – Runners, walkers and spectators alike at the seventh annual $CHOLARSHIP 5K October 30 at Middlesex Community College are in for a special treat: the Pratt & Whitney Screamin’ Eagles Jazz Band will be back for a second year.

The Screamin’ Eagles are a 20-piece big band of Pratt & Whitney employees led by Dr. Charles Gendrich.

The $CHOLARSHIP 5K is part of Community Day, presented by the Middlesex Community College Foundation. Residents are invited to run or walk as families and connect as a community. Major sponsors of the event to date are MiddleOak Insurance, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Whelen Engineering, Teamsters Union Local No. 1150 and Webster Bank. Additional sponsors include Tower Laboratories, Ryan Business Systems, Technical Education Solutions, Reid and Riege, P.C., Super 8 Motel – Cromwell, The Lee Company, and World Instructor Training Schools.

The 3.1-mile tree-lined race course starts at the college’s main entrance on Training Hill Road, runs up Training Hill past Connecticut Valley Hospital Reservoir #3, turns left on Brooks Road, left on Cedar Lane and, just past the Reservoir Road intersection, does a U-turn and returns to campus via the same route in reverse. The finish line is near the college parking lot on Training Hill Road.

Last year nearly 150 runners and walkers took part in the event. Organizers are hoping for an even larger turnout this year--runners, fitness walkers, alumni, campus neighbors, and community members looking for an invigorating run or walk on the beautiful treelined roads near the CVH reservoirs behind MxCC...a great starting point toward a healthier lifestyle!

Registration is accepted up to the starting time and opens at 8:30 a.m. on race day (in Founders Hall cafeteria). Registration forms are available on the Foundation website (

For additional $CHOLARSHIP 5K information, please contact race director Trenton Wright, coordinator of Institutional Advancement at MxCC, at 860-343-5708 or via email at

The MxCC Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to the support of Middlesex Community College. The 5K is a fundraiser to benefit student scholarships and programs at the college.

Things seen in other places

Brattleboro, VT

•gives you an extra five minutes when you buy an hour of parking:

•feels strongly about street trees

•uses the topography to offer unobtrusive parking

Northampton, MA

•has a traffic sign that allows "right on red" for drivers, but reminds them that pedestrians have the right of way:

•has gardener storekeepers:

•has joined the FroYo revolution:

New York City, NY

•has FroYo too...on a truck

New Haven, CT

•is building a pretty new parking garage on Chapel Street (with retail on the first floor!)

Speaking of New Haven, they not only have FroYo, they have Self-Serve FroYo. Middletown doesn't have Froyo -- self-serve or otherwise -- but back in the day, you could unleash the Captain Crunch dispenser over your Soft Serve at MoCon.

But we do have Fred Carroll, who papers my Main Street neighborhood with stick-figure wisdom, often on the topic of coffee, but sometime on other topics too.

One from O'Rourke's:

Two from Klekolo:

No place like home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Seeking ... someone to spare a couple hours...

Middletown will be hosting its Household Hazardous Waste Collection on Saturday Oct. 2nd from 8am to 1pm at Moody School. Volunteers are still needed to help take surveys and direct traffic from 11 - 1pm. If you can help, email the City Recycling Coordinator at or call Judy Synder, the HazWaste Coordinator at 860-347-7214 and tell her you read about it in the EYE and want to help!

Main Street Paving Begins Tonight

This just in from the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce:


Since September 14th, when Main Street milling began, along with the CL&P project, it has been a challenge to negotiate your way down Main Street , whether walking or driving!

All the work for milling and paving was done after 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. each day. CL&P has been removing vaults located under Main Street , as the salting of the street in winter, along with the rain and snow, has deteriorated them. They are being placed under the sidewalks, where they will be better protected.

All road work has been completed, so today, September 27th is when paving will begin at 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Tuesday (weather permitting) and will continue with these hours until the paving and striping is completed!

CL&P will continue with the sidewalk work and depending on weather (rain), all work, paving included, should be completed by Friday, October 1st.

Questions? Contact Bill Russo at 860-344-3410 or e-mail at

Sunday, September 26, 2010

From 1965: Wesleyan Finds Romance goes Whrrr, Bleep, Click

This article is from exactly 45 years ago today, published in the Hartford Courant of September 26, 1965. It was written by Robert H. Boone. I've left original typos and occasional word gaps intact.

All the images are from a delightful article about computer dating in the February, 1966 Look Magazine.
Computerized romance has hit the Wesleyan University campus here with a vengeance.

The campus was blanketed this week with flyers proposing a “computer matched date” pool covering the “thousands of students at the leading New England colleges.”

The ad is from a Boston-based operation which bills itself as CONTACT.

The ad goes on to explain: “You describe yourself, your personality, and the qualities you like in a date by answering the CONTACT questionnaire.”
After submitting the questionnaire, “your answers are ... computer matched with the replies of thousands of other New England area college students and the names of ALL your most compatible dates are mailed to you.”
CONTACT promises to deliver ‘at least four’ compatible dates. And tht cost? Four dollars.

For girls there is this come on: “You learn immediately the names, schools, class year, etc. of all your dates, but you never even have to call them because they have your name and will contact you.”

The 100-part questionnaire is divided into six main sections: “Perequisites, interests, correlations, compatibility, opinions and values.”

“Perequisites deal with height, age, race, college class and religion.

Who is behind CONTACT?

“A machine,” suggested one Wesleyan Student.

What are the chances of CONTACT’S success in plans to to a pool compatible form dates from New Enland campuses?

The firm claims that its system “works,” but doesn’t explain the basis for its claim.

“Do you think it really works?” asked one student at all-male Wesleyan in a tone of mingled hope and doubt.

Random checks at other Connecticut campuses--Yale, Trinity, the University of Connecticut and Connecticut College for Women--failed to indicate that CONTACT had yet made its appearance there.

But a Wesleyan CONTACT’s appeal to “simplify the FUN of calling or being called by someone whom some giant bundle of wires says you would enjoy dating” was being widely read.

And a few students could be seen furtively fingering pencils ...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Native American Dance Workshop at Green Street Saturday

Native American
Dance Workshop with Rebecca Perry-Levy
Saturday, September 25th | 2 PM
$10 Adults; $8 Members/Children/Seniors
Wesleyan Students: Free Admission

Join Rebecca Perry-Levy and her family in an exploration of a number of different Native dance traditions, in full regalia, from the Northeast and beyond. Workshop includes a question and answer forum, explanation and teaching of social dances, and requests (but does not require) audience participation. Learn about the northern traditional dances, the jingle dance, and much more. This event is co-sponsored by the Wesleyan University Dance Department.

Green Street Arts Center 51 Green Street Middletown, CT    06457 860-685-7871

Gubernatorial Candidates To Debate on Education at Macdonough Tuesday

From the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now

On September 28, Connecticut gubernatorial candidates Dan Malloy (D) and Tom Marsh (I) will participate in a forum hosted by ConnCAN and focused exclusively on public education in Connecticut. Candidate Tom Foley (R) was also invited to participate, but has not responded to our request at the time of this release.

The forum – which will be moderated by Robert Frahm of the Connecticut Mirror and Tom Monahan of NBC 30 – will take place at Macdonough Elementary School, a 2009 ConnCAN Success Story school that has made exceptional progress in closing the achievement gap in Middletown.

The forum is designed to elevate the issue of education reform in the gubernatorial race and provide the candidates with a unique opportunity to speak to voters in depth about their plans to fix Connecticut’s public education system.

On why ConnCAN felt it was important to hold a debate on education, Alex Johnston, ConnCAN's CEO, said: “Every other pressing issue we face in this campaign season, from the budget to jobs to security, is ultimately an issue about getting public education right."

ConnCAN is elevating the issue of education reform in the campaign season through its Vote for Ed campaign. For updates on forum coverage and for more information, please visit

Friday, September 24, 2010

Today at the Market

The North End Farmers Market runs Fridays from 10 am - 2 pm in front of It's Only Natural Market, 575 Main St.

Looking for exciting new ways to prepare meals? Tired of the same old recipes? Take part in the North End Market Cookbook Swap! Bring an old cookbook to the market and grab a new one! The swap will continue until the market ends the last week of October.

This week's guest restaurant is Tandoor, and the guest vendors are Crystal's Hula Hoops and Addeo's Italian Ice. For this week's live music, there will be a guitar and vocal duo.

Kim O'Rourke, Middletown's recycling coordinator, will also be at the market with information and recycling bins to give away!

This week check out new products from some of our farmers. Chris from Chaplin Farm grows his own line of herbal tea, called Ummah Teas, and will have some available at the market. He'll also bring fresh cheeses from SweetPea Farm. And Gotta's Farm will have homemade apple cider, right from the orchard!

See you there!

BOE Says Elementary Class Sizes "Look really good"

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Barbara Senges said that class sizes in Middletown's elementary schools are at predicted levels after the redistricting which was put in place this school year.

"I look at those class sizes," Senges said.  "And they look really good."

Senges said that class sizes across the district average between the high teens and the low twenties. The lowest class sizes are three kindergarten classes at Wesley School which are at 12, 14 and 15 students.  Initially, three fifth grade classes at Laurence School, and one fifth grade class at Macdonough, topped out at 28 students, but new teachers where assigned for each of those classes, effectively cutting class size in half in each case.

The teachers certified and are interventionists who were already in the system, though being paid an hourly wage of $20, and not on contract.  Interventionists are used in situations where individual students need special attention.

While the redistricting had two goals, to relieve overcrowding at Moody School, and to improve racial imbalance at Macdonough, Senges was only sure that one goal had been met.

"Moody's not crowded," Senges said.  "And they've gotten their rooms back."

Moody had been using offices and other non-classroom space as classrooms during severe overcrowding which occurred during previous school years.

Senges said she didn't know if Macdonough had achieved the goals of racial balance which had been projected with the redistricting.

"We don't know that yet," Senges said.  "But even if we don't make the goals, I don't think we will be sanctioned by the State Board of Education.  They just approved our plan and I have a feeling we will be given credit for making the effort."

Senges said she didn't know if the State Board of Education would make demands about racial balance after the current school year.

"The truth is, they (Macdonough) do a better job of handing kids classified in the free and subsidized programs," Senges said.  "All you have to do is look at the scores.  It's a real learning community."

Children in the free and subsidized lunch programs are often from families lacking financial resources, and have a high percentage of minority students.

"When we look at the class size numbers, we are really pleased with the effect redistricting has had," Senges said.

The enire district serves 2731 pre-K through fifth grade elementary school students.

School census as of Setember 14 is as follows:

Bielfield - 364
Farm Hill - 372
Laurence - 377
Macdonough - 251
Moody- 361
Snow - 352
Spencer - 342
Wesley - 312

From the West Coast Bureau

One of The Eye's regular correspondents sent us the above photo from California and writes, "Almost as nice as the Arrigoni."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Coginchaug River Cleanup & Duck Race: Oct 2

Volunteers are needed to for  the Coginchaug River clean up! 

Join the fun, be part of the annual "Source-to-Sea" effort, and help clean the river!  On October 2, 2010, the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District and the Middletown Regional Agricultural Science and Technology Center are leading a Coginchaug River cleanup at Veteran's Park in Middletown 11:00 to 1:00. The cleanup is being held in conjunction with the Connecticut River Source To Sea Cleanup.

The City of Middletown Parks Department has generously offered to contribute gloves, bags and other supplies.  Any additional donations from businesses to help with the clean-up, such as food and drinks for the volunteers, would also be very much appreciated.
Source to Sea Cleanup is an annual four-state community cleanup of the Connecticut River and its tributaries coordinated by the Connecticut River Watershed Council.  As a volunteer you will be one of thousands working watershed-wide on the same day to clean up our watershed.  If you would like to participate as a volunteer or make a donation, please contact the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District at (860) 346-3282, or email The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Middletown, works to conserve the natural resources of towns in the lower Connecticut River watershed and coastal areas.  For more information about District technical and educational programs and services, please click the above link.

If you are like me, without any children in school, you might not know that Middletown Regional Agricultural Science and Technology Center (MRASATC) is an educational program of Middletown HS. This is the first year that the program will host what they hope will be an annual Duck Race in Middletown. This year the race is being held in conjunction with
the Coginchaug River Clean-up. Funds raised this year will help to cover the cost of a trip to the National FFA Convention and competition in Indianapolis, Oct 20-23. Early in the year the team of four  (Josh Mrozowski, Paul Kiniry, Andzrej Skonieczny, all of Middletown and Liam Mellaly of Clinton, CT) competed against teams across CT to earn an invitation to attend the event. 
The competition required students to gather and evaluate environmental data, demonstrate skills, calculate results and communicate management recommendation. The practicum's in the competition included identifying wildlife, evaluation of soil profiles to determine land use, testing of water quality to determine potential sources of pollution, assessing ecosystem quality and creating management plans. 
Because this contest includes such a wide range of skills, this team's accomplishment is a notable achievement.  The team is hoping to raise $4000. For more information on this event contact Courtney Johnson at (860)704-4599 or by email at

So come on down to Veteran's Park and the Coginchaug River and lend a hand, and a buck or two for a duck. Duck racing starts at 10:00. Good luck. The cleanup starts at 11:00.