Monday, August 31, 2015

Mayor Drew Offers Compromise Language for Parks and Playing Fields Bond Ordinance, Lowers Bond Request

With the prospect of a reconsidered, or revote, on language for a bond ordinance that was voted on by the Common Council last week, Mayor Dan Drew has offered a compromise that allows for the renovation of enough fields to provide adequate playing time and space for all leagues, and preserves real grass instead of the proposed artificial turf fields.

Council member Tom Serra, voted against an amendment to the ordinance eliminating artificial turf fields from language in the bond ordinance, recently proposed a re-vote at the next scheduled Common Council meeting.  Drew's compromise anticipates the reconsideration, and also calls for a reduction in the total cost of the bond request.  Below find the compromise language Drew sent to Council members this morning:

Good morning councilmembers,
There has been constructive discussion this week regarding how we balance a natural grass approach to field construction with the growing demand for those fields amongst the sports programs. I am writing today to share with you a compromise that will increase field capacity, keep grass fields, and save taxpayers money from the original proposal.
As you are aware, designing and building grass fields is less expensive than turf, which begged the question of whether it would be appropriate to request a bond authorization that included funds for artificial turf fields when that additional money wasn’t necessary.
Additionally, one of the benefits of turf fields was the ability to meet higher demand from our athletic community. The parks bond proposal — even with its amendment requiring the use of grass only — provides a variety of benefits beyond new athletic fields of which we should not lose sight: new walkways, new ¼ mile track, tennis courts, bike trails, playgrounds, splash pads, a public pool, new crew docks, and a variety of other improvements throughout the city. This is a once-in-a-generation project that will benefit our children and theirs for decades to come.
The concern from some following the vote to remain with grass fields was that the supply and demand problem we currently face would not be alleviated by simply reconstructing the existing nine fields mentioned in the report.
I would be loathe to jeopardize all of the public benefits in this plan by asking for a bond authorization higher than what would be necessary to carry out those improvements.
Therefore, I am calling a special meeting of the Common Council at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 to consider and act upon the following:
1. A reduction in the bond ordinance from $36.95 million to $33.45 million. This is a savings of $3.5 million. The reduction to this number was recommended by Milone and Macbroom — the engineering firm that conducted the parks study.

2. The inclusion in the bond ordinance of language that gives us the ability to add new grass fields on any public or school property deemed appropriate by a building committee. Milone and Macbroom believes we can build up to six additional grass fields that will enable us to meet our demand while saving $3.5 million.

3. A revision to the resolution authorizing a referendum question to reflect the aforementioned changes.
This means that we can build more grass fields than turf fields to meet demand and do so for less money. These changes will do three major things that will benefit our community:
1. Save the taxpayers $3.5 million in bonded debt
2. Give us up to six additional playing fields, which Milone and Macbroom says will meet the capacity needs of our leagues
3. Enable us to ensure that all fields are grass and that they are properly constructed with appropriate drainage and irrigation systems that will make the maintenance process easier and less expensive in the long run
We will have more grass fields for less money, ensuring that our parks bond is environmentally and fiscally sustainable while meeting and exceeding the needs of our community’s sports leagues.
Meeting warrants will be forthcoming this afternoon. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Mayor Daniel Drew

Opinion: Some City Fields Should Be Artificial Turf

From Darrell Ponzio, city resident. 

The Study and Recommendations

In April 2015, at the request of the City of Middletown’s Public Works Department, Milone & MacBroom provided a thorough analysis of the City’s parks and recreation facilities.  There are three components to the study:  1) an analysis of the existing conditions at each facility, 2) a demand analysis, and 3) recommendations for improving the facilities.  This effort was commissioned to support an anticipated bonding referendum for a program that has two overall goals:  
  1. To thoughtfully and with appropriate vision, build a capital improvement program that would offer the city’s residents modern, useable, maintainable and sustainable park and recreational facilities.
  2. To provide sufficient facilities for all athletic programs, inclusive of practices and games, now and in the future, as appropriate to each such athletic program.  This would include fields of appropriate size, markings and conditions, with reasonable availability for the various seasons needed.
A common theme in the current-state analysis was that the rectangular fields and diamonds are overused; resulting in compaction, weed growth and large bare/dirt areas.  The conclusions of the study are many with specific recommendations for each identified facility.  Among the many recommendations, a keystone to the overall study is the recommendation for new artificial turf installation and natural turf renovations as follows:
  1. Lawrence School – natural turf renovation of the multi-use and softball fields.
  2. Moody School – natural turf renovation of the baseball ball and 1 softball field.  Installation of artificial turf for the rectangular field and the 2nd softball field that will add an “overlay” rectangular field.  Both artificial turf fields are lighted with existing field lights.
  3. Snow School – natural turf renovation of all existing fields.
  4. Wesley School – natural turf renovation of all existing fields.
  5. Woodrow Wilson & Pat Kidney - installation of artificial turf fields for Pat Kidney and Woodrow Wilson, to accommodate baseball, softball and a rectangular “overlay” field at Pat Kidney and a rectangular multi-use field at Woodrow Wilson.  All fields would be lighted.
  6. Hubbard Park – installation of artificial turf on both baseball fields.
  7. Smith Park – natural turf renovation of the baseball and rectangular fields.
  8. Country Club Road Complex – natural turf renovation of 1 field and artificial turf installation at two rectangular fields.
  9. Long Hill Road Complex – natural turf renovation of the two existing fields.
  10. McCutcheon Park – natural turf renovation of the existing baseball, softball and rectangular “overlay” fields
As shown above, the recommendations offer a balance of natural and artificial playing surfaces to ensure the city can meet the demand for field hours with accommodations that can stand up to the volume of usage expected.  It should be noted that the study does not recommend the creation of any new fields or facilities.  This is because the combination of artificial and natural turf facilities would accommodate the current and future demands of all the city’s athletic programs’ demands.  Critical to understand is that the each artificial turf field yields between 2 and 4 times as much available playing time as natural turf fields.  According a Montgomery County Turf Report in 2011, “…even under the most conservative assumptions, an artificial turf field provides hours of use equivalent to approximately 3 natural grass fields.  In other words, to achieve the same programming benefit of one artificial turf field, three natural turf fields would have to be build and maintained.”  This is because artificial turf fields require no “rest”, mowing, watering, fertilizing, aerating, or lining at any time.  They can be used during and immediately after rain events, and they are lined for all sports that may possibly use the field, which allows for immediate transition from one sport to another on any given day.

Common Council Vote and Impacts to Improvement Program

On Monday August 24, 2015 at the regularly schedule Common Council meeting, the Council was slated to vote on the bond legislation with a planned referendum in the November 2015 election.  At the meeting, a group of approximately 25 environmentally conscious residents offered their opinions on health concerns of artificial turf fields.  In particular, the concerns centered around the potential for cancer-causing agents in the crumb rubber infill used on artificial turf fields.  A proposal was put forth to alter the bond language to specifically exclude any artificial turf fields from the program.  The motion was seconded and voted to a tie.  Following procedure, the Mayor had to cast the deciding vote in favor of the motion.  

Unfortunately, this entire process was conducted without ensuring that the Council members and Mayor had all the necessary factual information at hand.  Even more unfortunately, the vote hog-ties the City and the Public Works Department by prohibiting the option to use artificial turf fields – and this effectively nullifies the most important benefit of the entire program, which is to build a set of facilities that can accommodate the demands of all the city’s recreational and athletic programs now and in the future.

Health Concerns – Fact and Emotion

In October 2014, NBC News published reports on safety concerns related to the crumb rubber infill on artificial turf fields using an informal set of observations from a soccer coach at the University of Washington.  The coach identified an alarming trend that correlated frequent use (and in particular rolling around on) turf fields with increased risk of certain cancers.  This kind of concern understandably hits home with all parents, including me.  Many towns, schools and colleges looking to renovate and improve their sports facilities look carefully at artificial turf.  These organizations are fully aware of the health-related concerns as well as the potential legal risks of installing facilities with known (or what can be reasonably known) health risks.  And yet we continue to see artificial turf being installed all around us.  Wesleyan University and Fairfield University both installed new artificial turf fields in the last 18 months.  Here are the facts that have been made available to the City of Middletown’s Common Council, Planning and Zoning and Public Works Departments:
  1. Letter from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts to Health Department of Town of Medway MA, March 2015 – “…the scientific literature continues to suggest that exposure opportunities to artificial turf fields are not generally expected to result in health effects.  Testing results on the crumb rubber infill indicated lead content less than CPSIA statutory limits established for children’s products.  For the turf fibers, APT provided a statement that this material did not have lead used in its manufacture, but no additional documentation was provided…With respect to cancer concerns reported in the media stories, it is important to note that the reports of cancers were of a wide variety of different types, each with its own set of risk factors.”  The letter does recommend some common sense best practices to minimize any potential exposure including the washing of hands after each event.  This kind of recommendation would be the same for natural turf fields.
  2. State of Connecticut DEEP, Result of State Artificial Turf Fields Study: No Elevated Health Risk, July 2010 – “A new study of artificial turf fields containing crumb rubber infill conducted by four state agencies shows that health risks are not elevated from playing on the fields…The four state agencies, the University of Connecticut Health Center, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Protection evaluated the health and environmental impacts associated with artificial turf fields containing crumb rubber infill.  Overall, approximately 200 chemicals were tested at each field.” 
  3. Artificial Turf Study, Leachate and Stormwater Characteristics, Department of Environmental Protection, July 2010 – “The DEP concludes that there is a potential risk to surface waters and aquatic organisms associated with the whole effluent and zinc toxicity of stormwater runoff from artificial turf fields…the study did not identify any significant risks to groundwater protection criteria in the stormwater runoff from artificial turf fields.”  To mitigate any risks associated with runoff water, the report offers suggested measures to reduce zinc concentrations.
  4. A Scoping-Level Field Monitoring Study of Synthetic Turf Fields and Playgrounds, United States Environmental Protection Agency, November 2009 – “…All Particulate Matter (“PM10”) air concentrations were well below National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM10.  All concentrations for lead were well below the NAAQS for lead…The average extractable lead concentrations for turf blade, tire crumb infill, and tire crumb rubber were low.  Although there are no standards for lead in recycled tire material or synthetic turf, average concentrations were well below the EPA standard for lead in soil...Likewise the average extractable lead concentrations for turf field wipe samples were low.  Although there are no directly comparable standards, average concentrations were well below EPA standards for lead in residential floor dust.”
  5. EHS Circular Letter #2015-02, Re: Recent News Concerning Artificial Turf Fields, State of Connecticut Department of Public Health, January 20, 2015 – “Various media outlets have continued to run this story and a number of local health departments have inquired as to its validity.  Since many Connecticut towns have installed or are considering artificial turf fields an elevated cancer risk would be an important consideration.  However, this news story is still based upon very preliminary information and does not change CTDPH’s position that outdoor artificial turf fields do not represent an elevated health risk…The Connecticut Department of Public Health has evaluated the potential exposures and risks from athletic use of artificial turf fields.  Our study of 5 fields in Connecticut in 2010-2011 was a comprehensive investigation of releases from the fields during active play.  This study was conducted as a joint project with the CT DEEP and the University of CT Health Center and was peer-reviewed by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.  Our study did not find a large amount of vapor or particle release from the fields confirming prior reports from Europe and the US.  We put these exposures into a public health context by performing a risk assessment. Our risk assessment did not find elevated cancer risk…The Connecticut Department of Public Health has evaluated the potential exposures and risks from athletic use of artificial turf fields.  Our study of 5 fields in Connecticut in 2010-2011 was a comprehensive investigation of releases from the fields during active play.  This study was conducted as a joint project with the CT DEEP and the University of CT Health Center and was peer-reviewed by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.  Our study did not find a large amount of vapor or particle release from the fields confirming prior reports from Europe and the US.  We put these exposures into a public health context by performing a risk assessment. Our risk assessment did not find elevated cancer risk…Our risk assessment did cover carcinogens that are known to be in recycled tires and the crumb rubber used to cushion fields.  Once again, we found there to be very little exposure of any substances, carcinogenic or not, in the vapors and dust that these fields generate under active use, summer conditions.  Background levels of chemicals in urban and suburban air from heating sources and automobile traffic are much more significant sources of airborne carcinogens.  The fact that we sampled 5 fields (4 outdoor and 1 indoor) of different ages and composition suggests that the results can be generalized to other fields, a conclusion supported by the fact that results were similar to what was found in California, USEPA and European studies..  Our study did not evaluate ingestion of the crumb rubber itself as players are unlikely to ingest an entire rubber pellet.  However, two studies, one in California and one at Rutgers University did evaluate the cancer risk if children ingested a mouthable chunk of playground rubber (10 gram), using laboratory extraction methods to estimate the amount of chemicals that might become available in the stomach and absorbed into the body.  Both studies found very low cancer risk from this scenario (Cal OEHHA 2007; Pavilonis et al. 2014).  Thus, CT DPH finds no scientific support for a finding of elevated cancer risk from inhalation or ingestion of chemicals derived from recycled tires used on artificial turf fields.  US EPA has a similar position: “At this point, EPA does not believe that the field monitoring data collected provides evidence of an elevated health risk resulting from the use of recycled tire crumb in playgrounds or in synthetic turf athletic fields.”   “In summary, federal and state authorities have taken seriously the concerns that artificial turf fields may present a health risk due to contaminants in recycled rubber.  The best way to investigate these concerns is via an exposure investigation.  Studies conducted in Connecticut and elsewhere have shown a very low exposure potential, less than from typical outdoor sources of air pollution.  The current news reports of a list of soccer players with cancer does not constitute a correlation or causality and thus raises a concern that currently lacks scientific support.   Thus, the CT DPH position expressed in 2011 at the conclusion of the Connecticut study, that outdoor artificial turf fields do not represent an elevated health risk, remains unchanged.” 

Based on the above sampling of facts provided from a reasonable cross-section of objective health organizations and other governmental agencies and notably devoid of any lobbies or industry groups, one must conclude that the installation and use of artificial turf fields presents health risks to players, coaches and fans that are no greater than natural turf fields.

Conclusions and Recommended Actions

Any actions suggested by City agencies and voted on by the Common Council should have in mind the best interests of the City of Middletown and its residents.  In this case, the Common Council is being shouldered with the responsibility to put forth a referendum to the residents of the City that will fund improvements and renovations to the City’s parks, recreation and athletic facilities such that the City’s residents can enjoy premier facilities that can reasonably be expected to accommodate all current and future demands for use by the City’s many athletic programs.  The vote on Monday August 24th, 2015 to specifically exclude artificial turf fields from the improvement program flies in the face of the recommendations of the Public Works Department and those of Milone & MacBroom.  The vote was purported to address environmental and health concerns that are based on emotion and hearsay.  Although it might be hard to argue the pleasure of using a well manicured and maintained natural turf field, the reality is that offering a sufficient number of such fields, absent the building of a number of additional natural turf fields, is not viable under the existing plan and bonding referendum.  
When considered from a practical and pragmatic perspective, the installation of a balanced number of artificial and natural turf fields, as was the case in original the bond referendum language, is the most beneficial approach to improvements for the City’s parks and athletic facilities.

I call on Mayor Dan Drew and Council Members Bartolotta, Kasper, Kleckowski, Streeto and Santangelo to propose a Request to Reconsider so that the full Council can evaluate the language and vote on legislation that takes into consideration the objectives of the program, the fact-based risks and the impacts to any changes to the original language.  I also ask the Council to fully evaluate the documentation provided by the Planning and Zoning Commission, much of which was referenced in this letter, and to work with appropriate resources to either propose adoption of the originally worded referendum or offer an alternative that would ensure that the original objectives of the program can be met.

Lastly, I call on all City residents to become fully informed of the needs, benefits, and fact-based risks associated with this improvement program.  The $37 million for this proposed program is not a small amount of money.  The benefits to the City go well beyond available playing time to increased property values, increased bond ratings, increased revenue to local businesses and thus increased tax revenues.


Darrell Ponzio

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Small Business Program September 10

From the office of Joe Serra, our city's senior Representative in Hartford.
Rep. Joseph Serra on Friday urged companies to take advantage of a state Labor Department program created to help their businesses flourish and expand.

“If you are a business owner or employer of any size, I want to invite you to the free Middletown Regional Employer Step Up Conference Thursday, Sept. 10, at Middlesex Community College in Middletown,” Serra said.
“As you may be aware, the conference is not a job fair, but a great opportunity for employers of any size, including small businesses, manufacturers, retail, non-profit and faith based organizations to learn more about the numerous state programs that are designed to help grow their businesses,” he said.

This free event, from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. with registration and light refreshments beginning at 7 a.m., will provide valuable information on how your company can take part in the state’s Subsidized Training and Employment (Step Up) programs, Small Business Express, tax incentives, tax credits and more, he said.

Even though the event is free, registration is required. For more information on participating and also being a sponsor, click this link:

Friday, August 28, 2015

MxCC Offers Middle School Enrichment Academy and New College Classes at Meriden Center

In a move to expand services at The Meriden Center, Middlesex Community College is opening the Center on Saturdays this fall to offer compelling programs for residents. The College will bring back its popular Middle School Enrichment Academy and will offer college-level credit courses in computer graphics, algebra and American government for interested learners of all ages. Both the academy and the college courses begin September 19th. Enrollment information can be found at or by calling the Meriden Welcome Center at 203-608-3050.

The Middle School Enrichment Academy for high-achieving students was begun several years ago in partnership with the Meriden School district. Last year, the Southington Public School district also participated. This year, MxCC revised the program to offer space for interested, high achieving 6-8th graders from Middletown and all other local towns (including homeschooled and parochial school students). The academy, which runs for five Saturdays, will include new courses on Meriden’s cityscape and architecture, 3D printing, and forensics. Tuition for the program is $200 and classes are held at The Meriden Center from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Availability is limited so interested students are encouraged to contact The Meriden Center as soon as possible.

“While forensics is always a popular topic for middle school kids, our faculty is looking forward to introducing them to the wonders of 3D printing and the importance of local architecture,” Tami Christopher, Meriden Center director, said. “The cityscape class is particularly exciting because it will tie in nicely with all of the economic development taking place in downtown Meriden, demonstrating to students how art and architecture work together to define the places where we live.”

The Saturday morning credit course offerings provide individuals an opportunity to start, continue, or return to college on a part-time basis. Students may also combine the Saturday courses with a weekday schedule to help them progress through a degree or certificate program. Credit courses are held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday beginning September 19 (with no class during the Thanksgiving weekend) through December 12.

“These Saturday courses are a great way for adults to learn new skills, or simply test the waters and see if they are ready to head back to school on a more formal basis,” Christopher said. “Of course, these classes are also a convenient and cost-effective way for current college students to earn credits. In both cases, we are happy to open the Meriden Center for their use and personal development.”

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Opinion: Healthy Playing Fields are Important for our Children

From Rebecca MacLachlan, resident of our city.
Bravo for Mayor Drew and 5 council members for voting to support the health of our children by removing language from a referendum that would allow for artificial turf playing fields. And, our heartfelt thanks to Councilwoman Mary Bartolotta, who proposed that the referendum specifically be for natural grass playing fields only. Deb Kleckowski, Hope Kasper, Bob Santangelo and James Streeto all voted in favor of keeping toxic plastic artificial grass out of our referendum and out of our children’s sports fields. The referendum that will go before the voters this November represents a better health choice for our children and community.

This is a big step forward for the health of our children and our environment, but we still need to maintain our fields organically without the use of chemicals and pesticides. There have been numerous studies that link many of the pesticides and chemicals put on grass fields to increased risk of asthma, several types cancers, birth defects, reproductive problems, nervous and immune system disorders, liver and kidney damage. Studies have recently shown that even ambient exposure to pesticides has been found to considerably increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Our neighbors in Branford and Cheshire have been successfully maintaining their fields organically for over 8 years. We should follow suit!

We all want to improve our playing fields, but playing sports should be a healthy outlet and not played on fields that can make our kids sick. Support for this referendum, as well as our continued work to go organic, deserves a big yes vote in November.

Rebecca MacLachlan

Jay Hoggard To Be Named City's Music Ambassador

From Stephan Allison, Coordinator, City Arts Office

The Middletown Commission on the Arts/City Arts & Culture Office will formally announce the City’s newest awardee of the title Music Ambassador for the City. A brief ceremony proclaiming Jay Hoggard Day on August 31 will take place in the Mayor’s Office, Room 209 of the Municipal Building (City Hall) at 9 a.m. on Monday August 31, 2015.

Jay Hoggard is a world-renowned jazz vibraphonist and composer. He is an alum of Wesleyan, and currently an Adjunct Professor of Music there.

In addition to being recognized for his valuable artistic and creative contributions, the Music Ambassadors’ music becomes the featured ‘music on hold’ for all City phones. While the City strives to answer calls promptly and avoid putting someone on hold, when those occasions do occur the music you will hear is that of our local artists - our inaugural Ambassadors Dave Downs and Rani Arbo or this year’s Ambassador, Jay Hoggard.

The City endeavors to elect similar ambassadors annually, highlighting the great talent that exists within our city limits. The public is invited to the ceremony. Please call the Mayor’s Office at 860.638.4801 if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ HEIDI


Rabies Vaccine Clinic Saturday

From the office of Matt Lesser
State Representative Matthew Lesser (D-Middletown) will be hosting a rabies vaccine clinic with the Connecticut Humane Society on August 29th at Woodrow Wilson Middle School from 10:00 AM -2:00 PM.

Please note that the Connecticut Humane Society recommends that dogs and cats receive a rabies vaccine every three years following their initial vaccinations. If you are seeking a three year vaccination for your pet, please bring proof of a valid rabies certificate with you. While at the clinic, dogs must be on leashes and cats in carriers. There will be a $10 cash only fee for each vaccination.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


We are taking the bold path and staying outdoors this evening! Please join us at Harbor Park, we promise a fine show.

The City Arts Office/MCA present the annual Summer Sounds series on Tuesdays at Harbor Park from July 7 through September 1. The shows begin at 7 p.m., there's plenty of parking in the Municipal parking lot at Melilli Plaza (it's free after 7 p.m.). From the parking lot, it's a short walk to the park via the Harbor Park pedestrian tunnel.

Remember that in case of inclement weather the show will go on in the sanctuary of the South Church located at the corner with the YMCA and the City's South Green (Union Park), Main & Pleasant Streets.

Here's the penultimate band for 2015, followed by the last show!

Aug. 25
Elite Syncopation - ragtime/early jazz

Sept. 1
Middletown Symphonic Band - popular tunes

Date:  Aug 25 2015
Time: 7:00 pm

City Fields To Remain Grass After Council Action

The Common Council voted to amend the $37M bond ordinance on park improvements to ensure that the money could not be used to install artificial turf on city fields.  It did so after 25 people spoke against artificial turf during the public comment period of the special meeting.

If passed by voters in November, the bond would fund improvements to city parks recommended by a study commissioned last year by the Council. One of many recommendations was that 9 city fields be replaced with artificial turf. 

Zack Ettinger spoke in favor of artificial turf on behalf of the city's youth soccer league, saying that it provided consistent bounces and a smooth surface for the ball, and would provide players with more time to practice and play, by extending the season.  Others with soccer experience disagreed on the value of predictable ball bounces. Resident Scott Kessel, who has coached at the intercollegiate level, said that the elimination of irregularities would deny children one of life's most important lessons--learning how to deal with irregular bounces.

Mary Bartolotta proposed, and Hope Kasper seconded, the amendment removing the phrase "artificial turf" from the bond ordinance. Gerald Daley argued against this amendment, and offered a substitute that would mandate that the infill of the artificial turf be "organic, plant-derived".  He argued that it was important to allow for multiple options. Bartolotta would have none of it, she felt that leaving options open for artificial turf was not good for residents.    

Sebastian Giuliano argued that even Daley's version of the amendment was unacceptable, he urged that all options be available to those responsible for the fields. He justified this by proclaiming his ignorance, "I don't know enough to know if this stuff is dangerous or is not dangerous." 

Jim Streeto was also strongly opposed to the amendment, but he said he would support it for "political reasons". He was worried that residents would vote down the bond appropriation if it included artificial fields, and he thought the appropriation as a whole was too important, "half a loaf is better than none." 

The city's bond counsel informed the Council that the removal of the phrase "artificial turf" from the ordinance meant that any improvements to city fields would have to be natural grass.

The vote on Bartolotta's amendment was tied 5 to 5, with Bartolotta, Kasper, Deb Kleckowski, Streeto, and Robert Santangelo, voting in favor.

Mayor Dan Drew cast the deciding vote in favor of the amendment.

The underlying resolution to approve the ordinance passed unanimously, and thus voters will decide in November whether to authorize $37M in park improvements that would NOT include artificial turf fields. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Learn with Lynda at Russell Library

Libraries have always been the place that people come to learn things on their own. Whether it is a question about gardening or researching a new career, the library is the first destination. Most recently, patrons have discovered that library resources also can be accessed from a home computer. There are many books that can be borrowed through Overdrive (a library application) as well as a wide range of databases that can help you research a wide variety of subjects.
This year, Russell Library patrons also have the opportunity to learn on their own from home (or on one of the library’s computers) with our new source for online learning,
You don’t have to take our word for it. PC Magazine’srecent review of states, 

The site is exceptional at teaching technical skills and technique, such as software for video editing, photography, programming, and even animation. Beyond multimedia training, also helps people pick up business principles, money-management advice, and much more. When you need skills training fast, is the go-to source for high quality results and a PCMag Editors' Choice.   
If you need help accessing this source from your home computer, please call or visit the library!

Friday, August 21, 2015

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

The Matt Flinner Trio

Friday, August 21

8-10pm  $15 (cash or check at the door)

In 2006, three musical pals decided to get together to play a few gigs; since then, the Matt Flinner Trio has been exploring new pathways and setting new standards for the bluegrass trio sound all around the U.S. and Europe. This trio specializes in “Music du Jour”. On the day of the show, each member of the group composes a new piece on and performs it that night. This guarantees that each show will be different from anything you’ve seen before or will see in the future!

untitled-32“Flinner continues his reign as perhaps the most exciting and creative mandolin player on the scene today.”—Jazz Times

“(Flinner) blurs the lines between jazz and bluegrass, traditional and avant-garde.”—Associated Press

“Flinner provides the next logical evolutionary step to David Grisman’s unique ‘Dawg’ style, and does it with a nod to the past and a vision of the future.”—Bluegrass Now

More on Matt Flinner:

 Jazzage - Concert and Photo Show

Saturday, August 22 

8-10pm $10 

Jazzage is a dynamic trio offering a refreshing blend of tastefully arranged Jazz standards and original selections written by Carol Daggs on piano & voice. The performance features James Daggs on double bass and Billy Arnold on drum set. 

Owen McNally of the Hartford Courant and WNPR online wrote:

Photo Exhibit Seen Through a Jazz Lens
As part of the Saratoga Springs, New York, Centennial Celebration, The Buttonwood Tree is exhibiting selections from an historical photographic collection that documents the Daggs family, a tight-knit group of African-American, Native American, and Dutch ancestry that has resided in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods since the 19th century.
A special exhibit at the Buttonwood presents about 25 of the complete collection’s 100 photographs of mostly black-and-white images, which chronicle 100 years of the Daggs’ family history. More than just an individual family portrait, the exhibition celebrates a universal sense of place, kinship, community, and continuity, linking present with past generations.
With their evocative sense of time and place, the images will serve as a kind of visual accompaniment for a performance on Saturday, August 22, at 8:00 pm by Jazzage, a trio featuring two musical members of the Daggs family, Carol Daggs on piano and voice and James Daggs on double bass.
The trio is rounded out by the highly skilled drummer Billy Arnold, a longtime favorite in the Hartford and Springfield region. Along with jazz pieces and, perhaps, slices of soul and R&B, Jazzage will also serve original compositions by Carol Daggs. Tickets: $10.00.

For ticket reservations, email us at or call 860.347.4957 


International Student At Xavier Needs Host Family Urgently

From Dianna Shek, director of Uni-Ed, an international student exchange program.
We are urgently seeking a local American family who would be interested in hosting a male Chinese student Ryan who will be attending 11th grade at Xavier High School (181 Randolph Road, Middletown, Connecticut). He is 17 years old, 6 feet tall and plays basketball and volleyball.

He finished his first year as a 10th grade student at Xavier High School and really likes the school. His former agency placed him with a host family who has two big dogs knowing that Ryan Ji is allergic to dogs and cats hair. Considering Ryan is arriving U.S. on August 27th. We have very limited time to help him find another host family.

FYI, some basic responsibilities as a host family include the following:
  1. Transportation to and back from school by car or by school bus
  2. Three meals a day
  3. A bedroom and a single or shared bathroom with internet connection
  4. Treat the student the same as your own child

 Host family will be compensated with a monthly stipend depending on housing and transportation situation. Please ask any interested host families to fill out the attached application form and send it back to and I will get back to him/her as soon as possible. We will then schedule a phone conversation and home visit. A host family agreement will need to be signed before we share student contact information.

Contact Dianna Shek for the host family application form, Ryan’s photo and Xavier school bus route.

The host family doesn’t have to live in Middletown and neighboring town works as well as long as the host family can drop him off at one of the school bus stops.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Activist's 75th Birthday Party Disrupts Spectra Pipeline Construction

From Dan Fischer and Adina Bianchi.
In celebration of his 75th birthday today, Middletown resident Vic Lancia locked himself to two giant “birthday cakes”—actually concrete-filled barrels decorated with candles and frosting— on the sole road leading up to a site where Spectra Energy stores construction equipment and materials for use across Connecticut. By blocking Spectra workers from accessing the site, Vic aims to disrupt Spectra's ongoing construction of its "AIM Project", a billion dollar fracked-gas pipeline expansion affecting communities across the State.

“It's simple,” Vic explained. “Capitalism and the burning of fossil fuels are destroying our beloved and beautiful planet, the habitat for all humanity and life, all for profit and convenience. Isn't it time to resist? Do we not care for our children, the generations beyond our lives, and for life itself?”

Vic is a member of Capitalism vs. the Climate, a horizontally-organized, Connecticut-based group that takes direct action against the root causes of the climate crisis. About ten other members and supporters joined Vic, sharing chocolate cake and waving balloons. Beneath the festivities, however, they expressed outrage at Spectra's pipeline expansion.

“Spectra's pipeline expansion is catastrophic in many ways. It creates incentives for fracking in the shale fields. It transports highly flammable gas just one-hundred feet from a nuclear power plant in New York, potentially endangering tens of millions of people. It accelerates global warming, since fracked gas has an even higher impact on the climate than coal does,” said Willimantic resident Roger Benham.

Updates and photos will be posted later today at The public is urged to make donations to support the action at:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2015-16 Season Now On Sale! World, U.S., New England, CT Premieres

Director of the Center for the Arts Pamela Tatge discusses some of the highlights of the upcoming season at Wesleyan University in this entry from the CFA blog.

This year, we are looking forward to introducing you to artists who are asking important questions about our world today, questioning why things are the way they are, and helping us to envision how they might be.
Dorrance Dance make their Connecticut debut on
September 25 and 26 as part of the Performing Arts Series.

Michelle Dorrance, described by the Chicago Tribune as "edgy, seductive and smart," brings Dorrance Dance to the CFA Theater September 25 and 26. You'll have the chance to see tap dancers push the boundaries of what tap dance looks and feels like: her company will dazzle you as they transform the stage into one sonic instrument.

At a time when our country is struggling to find its way in terms of race relations, we've invited writer/performer Daniel Beaty to campus for a residency that includes the October 9 performance of Mr. Joy, his highly acclaimed tour de force solo show about a community's efforts to heal in order to dream again.

Composer, visual artist, and new media innovator R. Luke DuBois takes over the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery from September 16 through December 13 with his exhibition In Real Time, creating maps, scores, and videos that use real-time data flows and media footage to raise questions of artistic agency, privacy, and fair use. In time for the election season, the CFA has commissioned him to create a new work using research generated by the Wesleyan Media Project.

Dancer/choreographer Eiko Otake returns with a series of intimate performances in unlikely places, including a commissioned work in honor of the 100th-anniversary of Wesleyan's Van Vleck Observatory.

This year's Navaratri Festival of Indian music and dance features one of the world's greatest veena players, Sri Rajhesh Vaidya, on October 10, and Bharatanatyam dancer Alarmél Valli on October 11.

All this shares the fall schedule with performances by faculty and students, including the final class performance by students of Adjunct Professor of Music Abraham Adzenyah, who is retiring after teaching Ghanaian drumming at Wesleyan for the past 45 years. You won't want to miss that concert on December 4.

As always, we hope you will look to the CFA as a place of enlightenment and enjoyment in the months ahead.


Pamela Tatge
Center for the Arts

Mayoral Film Series Starts Saturday

Mayor Daniel T. Drew and Wesleyan University’s Film Studies Department are pleased to announce that they are partnering to offer the first annual Mayoral Film Serie. The series will consist of three time-tested, classical gangster movies and will commence with a showing of The Maltese Falcon on August 22, 2015 followed by Angels with Dirty Faces, starring James Cagney, on August 29, 2015. The third and final film screening will be The Usual Suspects, on September 5, 2015.

Films will be shown at 7:30 p.m. at the Film Department’s theater located at 301 Washington Terrace.

Mayor Drew personally selected these films. “These are among my favorite films and each is both entertaining and informative. I appreciate the Film Department opening their doors to the community and I look forward to seeing people at the screenings.” Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and founder of the film department at Wesleyan says, “We’re all delighted to work with the Mayor on this series. He is definitely a movie lover! All these films are crowd pleasers and the Mayor made great choices. It’s a pleasure for all of us at the Center for Film Studies to be able to present these films for the community.”

Admission is free, with a requested donation of $5 per person to benefit The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center.

​Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week! ~ PUDDY

Cat Tales presents... The Cat of the Week


Gender:  Female
Breed:  Domestic Short Hair
Color:  Calico
Age:  5 years

Hello - my name is Puddy! Aren't I simply gorgeous?  My owner recently passed away, and I've been feeling so displaced.  I am still very sad, and I'm also confused as to why I'm at Cat Tales.  The volunteers have been so good to me - they pet me, feed me, love me and even give me treats!  However, with all the cats at the shelter, I'm feeling overwhelmed.  I am used to being the only pet in a quiet household, so I think it would be best if I could go back to what I'm used to. I am a bit shy at first, but once I know you I am very sweet girl and an excellent companion. I'd love to curl up in bed with you or sit on the couch by your side. Please come meet me, and I bet you will want to adopt me!

No Cats  /  No Dogs  /  No Children​​
Phone:  (860) 344-9043

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Green Street TLC Registration Day and Open House!

Please join us for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center Registration Day and Open House this Thursday, August 20th from 12:00-5:00PM!
This will be an opportunity for parents to come in and ask questions, tour the facility, and learn more about Green Street and the Discovery AfterSchool and Wesleyan Bound programs.

Discovery AfterSchool (Grades 1-5)
Every year, the Discovery AfterSchool Program at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center offers a range of classes in the arts, sciences, and math for children in Grades 1- 5.

Our AfterSchool team is made up of our core education staff, professional instructors, and Wesleyan University Students who serve as instructors, teaching assistants, and homework tutors. We pride ourselves in being able to offer such a diverse group of role models with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise to the children in the program.
The Program is flexible for busy schedules. Children can be sent for five days a week or for one specific class of interest once a week. They can also be signed up for homework time where we have college student tutors available to get them started with their homework for the day.
Classes Offered
Grades 1-3: American Sign Language, Art and Science, Art Around the World, The Art of Dr. Seuss, Ballet Technique, Beginning Breakdancing, Beginning Hip Hop, Do It Yourself Orchestra, Environmental Art, Musical Mentoring, Science Club, Yogi Fun, Creative Movement, and Intro to Photoshop
Grades 3-5: African Drumming, Art and Math – Young Masters, Art and Science, Art Around the World, Ballet Technique, Beginning Step Dance, Capoeira, Improv Comedy, Intermediate Breakdancing, Intermediate Hip Hop, Kids in the Kitchen, Make Your Own Book, Musical Mentoring, Science Club, Simply Stylin’ Fashion Design
The cost of each class is $150 and each day of homework help is $75 for the fall semester. To calculate the total cost, you multiply those fees by the total number of days the child will attend. Financial assistance and payment plans are available for free and reduced lunch families and those who otherwise qualify. We don’t want to keep any child away from these opportunities so if you think our classes would be beneficial, talk to us about how we can help.

Wesleyan Bound (Grades 6-8)
Wesleyan Bound is a unique after school class for middle school students (Grades 6-8) based at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center in Middletown, CT.

The class exposes middle school students to the holistic college experience - so much more than academics and admission tours. Each week, students visit the Wesleyan University campus for a wide range of activities like workshops with students groups, talks with professors, tours of science laboratories, and guided visits of art galleries.

The class is co-taught by two Wesleyan University students who coordinate a wide range of activities for the middle schoolers. Past activities have including a step dance workshop with the WeStep student club, baking cupcakes at a student program house (a residential option at Wesleyan where students with similar interests can live together), digging up artifacts at an anthropology site, meeting with the rugby team, touring the theater department behind the scenes, and so much more.

Wesleyan Bound will take place on Friday afternoons this fall from September 18th - December 11th with a student showcase on the last day. Students arrive at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center around 3:00pm for a 3:15pm class time.

The class is shuttled to the Wesleyan University campus for their activities and brought back to Green Street for a 5:15pm dismissal. Parents are responsible for pick up.

The cost of the class is $300 for the fall semester. Financial assistance is available for free and reduced lunch families.

Do these programs sound like something your child would enjoy? If so, please join us on Thursday!