Saturday, March 31, 2018

Commuters vs. Downtown

Still thinking about the DOT's Route 9 plan?  The Middletown Eye got this anonymous comment at 9:17 am:

Commuters are taxpayers too. We live in Middletown because of family and affordability but have to commute a great distance. It’s hurtful to say commuters aren’t people too. No one commutes by choice! Agreed these plans stink! But can’t there be a compromise? People who have the luxury to bike or walk to work have no idea how dangerous the lights on the highway are. The solution to detour traffic to main Street, the rotaries, or the wall blocking the river are all bad, but there’s gotta be a better way than no fix at all.

I’ve been thinking both about Anonymous @ 9:17’s comment and the comments I've seen on the various Facebook threads on this topic, especially one that asked why the people protesting the plan didn’t care about the rights of taxpayers (in that case, I think, meaning taxpayers who live in town but commute to Hartford in rush hour traffic).

The DOT has now withdrawn the plan and will likely be back someday with another.  So I think it’s worth asking:   Was this really a battle between commuters vs. Downtown Middletown?  And if it was, should it be?

I think it is in the best interest of all Middletown taxpayers (and the state of Connecticut) to ensure that our downtown has the best shot at fulfilling its potential. One reason is that the business taxpayers in Downtown Middletown subsidize our school system, our police department and the lifestyle of single-family home owners (roads, parks, etc).   That’s true of all commercial property - it  pays more in taxes than the cost of the services it consumes - but it is especially true of downtown because of the density of our value.

I also think that vital small towns are the critical ingredient in the next phase of our economic prosperity. Maybe that sounds overblown - but I mean it sincerely. If our town centers are walkable and interesting and diverse, we stand the best chance of recruiting and retaining the millennials and empty-nesters who have been fleeing our state, to the detriment of our quality-of-life and the state coffers.  Our downtown is a place where people of different income levels and backgrounds can share a neighborhood and a decent quality of life. The appeal of this lifestyle is driving the national trend of people choosing to move to or stay in the urban core.  It's not always perfect - it takes cooperation and communication to balance all of our needs - but neither is the segregated world that we live in.   Situations like the DOT proposal show how vulnerable this neighborhood is to those who don’t see our worth in the big picture of Connecticut’s future.

I think Middletown is very fortunate to have had citizens in the past who protected our downtown.  They spoke up to stop previous ill-considered plans on Route 9, and protested against plans to destroy the South Green, demolish blocks of downtown, etc, etc, etc.   The citizens against these types of plans don’t always win, but have won enough in the past that Middletown still has a viable Main Street, which is something that you can say about very few places in Connecticut unless they are largely white and affluent.

Perhaps - and there is no way to measure this - but perhaps the presence of lights on Route 9, which force drivers to slow down and notice they are actually in a town, has been one factor of that survival.   I think most people would agree that, economically speaking, our downtown has made a lot of progress in the past 20 years, despite the DOT claim that people avoid Middletown because of the lights.  Sure, we'd like to do better - but compared to our peers, we've come a long way since the severe downturn of the early 1990's.     

It’s pretty clear that having a high-speed highway with exits to downtown didn’t do anything to save Meriden or New Britain, which became centers of blight. I would argue that it hasn’t been so great for towns like Rocky Hill, Wethersfield, Wallingford, and others who saw their downtowns atrophy and still often have bumper-to-bumper traffic on those high-speed highways as it is.   And maybe the towns south of Middletown - like Essex, Chester & Haddam - are so charming in part because the lights have spared them from the sprawl of condo complexes and big box stores that are in ample supply in the towns to the north of the lights.

Here's the thing:  there are more cars at rush-hour than Route 9 can comfortably handle without any back-up.  That doesn’t necessarily mean the lights have to go, because the capacity of the road is just fine the rest of the time.   What it does mean is that we have a problem at rush-hour.  We could ask those commuters to tolerate this bit of delay, like they tolerate the delay once they hit Route 91 or 95 where there are no lights at all, or perhaps there are other solutions.   Maybe it's not one answer but a few - like smart traffic lights or transit options - that could lessen congestion without the enormous cost of highway construction and the resulting loss to our tax base and future growth - especially the potential of our riverfront.

This DOT plan pitted the short term interest of commuters against the long-term value of downtown, and therefore, the future of the suburban lifestyle that many in Middletown enjoy.  We should not let the DOT divide us, just because they have a little bit of funding to spend and a political need to appear like they’re getting something done, regardless of the consequences.

In the heat of the past two weeks I regret that my own rhetoric sometimes made it sound like I think the people of the suburbs are the enemy of the people downtown, or that this town's success is at odds with the economy of the whole county.  My real beef is with the failed old idea that the solution to a busy highway is a bigger highway, regardless of who is in the way.

Of course, some people want to get rid of the lights because they are tired of sitting in summer afternoon beach traffic. Those people, I say #FirstWorldProblems.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mayor Rejects DOT Route 9 Plan

In a letter published on Facebook, Mayor Dan Drew has expressed his opposition to the plan the DOT presented to eliminate traffic lights on Route 9.  Drew wrote:

I just left a meeting with DOT following last Thursday’s public hearing regarding the proposed changes to Route 9.
I have read the many letters I’ve received from the public and listened to comments made at the hearing. I told DOT this morning that the City of Middletown will not support the plan as it exists and that a new plan will be required before any changes can move forward.
To their credit, DOT was already thinking the same way based upon the feedback they had received from the public both at the hearing and in writing. 
Therefore, the most recently proposed plan for the removal of lights on Route 9 will not go forward.
We discussed with DOT some interim measures that they can take to alleviate existing cut-through traffic in the North End, the improvement of St. John’s Square and the opening of Bridge and Miller streets. They assured us that they will look into making those improvements as soon as possible. I also asked them to preserve as part of any future plan the construction of a pedestrian plaza over Route 9. They agreed.
To be clear, doing nothing is not an option. Leaving things the way they are with no changes will create in the next 20 years backups from downtown Middletown to I-91. Doing nothing will have a greater negative impact on the people of Middletown than on anyone else in Connecticut.
DOT will be back to solicit ideas from the public in the course of developing their next concept.
I encourage you, as I did with the last two proposals, to share your ideas with them.

Common Council To Vote On Naming Of High School Arts Center

Submitted by Frank Logiudice. The Eye welcomes all signed submissions, whether news or commentary.
The Middletown High School Performing Arts Center moved a step closer to it being named the Santo Fragilio Performing Arts Center. On Monday, March 5, 2018, the Middletown City Council at its regular meeting held a public hearing on this proposal.  Councilman Gene Nocera offered the following resolution naming the Performing Arts Center after the long-time MHS Band Director, Music Teacher & Arts Consultant.

“Whereas, Santo Fragilio, as a career educator for more than 68 years in the Middletown Public Schools, is personally responsible for exceptional contributions to the performing arts program for performing and non-performing students, from elementary thru high school; and 

Whereas, Santo Fragilio’s work included local programs ranging from the summer band programs for 5th and 6th graders and combined concerts with Woodrow Wilson High School and Middletown High School to bringing the Middletown High School Band and Chorus to performance venues around the world, including the 1965 World’s Fair in New York, the International Band Festival in Vienna Austria in 1972, and tours thru Austria, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland; and

Whereas, Santo Fragilio created the Middletown Public Schools Cultural Council, giving focus and direction to equity in the arts and opportunities for all students to participate in the arts by offering scholarships; and 

Whereas, Santo Fragilio had a wide positive impact on cultural growth throughtout our community as a whole, having established the Middletown Symphonic Band in 1979 as well as the South Green Annual Christmas Sing; and

Whereas, Santo Fragilio’s dedication to this community continued into retirement at the Village at South Farms where he was heard practicing his violin daily and often provided musical entertainment for his fellow residents; and

Whereas, Santo Fragilio’s love for this community was further evidenced by his bequest to our schools; and

Whereas, given the extraordinary devotion to music, our students and this community and upon the recommendation of the Board of Education’s Naming Committee, the Public Works & Facilities Commission, voted 5-0 at its meeting held on February 15, 2018 that the following name be accepted for the music hall at Middletown High School:  The Santo Fragilio Performing Arts Center.

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Common Council of the City of Middleown:

That in accordance with the Middletown Code of Ordinances, this name is hereby approved & accepted.”

After Councilman Nocera made the resolution he had a few kind comments about Mr. Fragilio.  “I worked with Santo for a good 50 years.  I worked along with him on the Cultural Council.  Santo was such an incredible person of integrity.  He was an educator that epitomized the reflective practitioner approach.  He would always of course be very positive about whatever students and the administration was involved in.  But, he would always find a way to say how can we do this better the next time.  He had a way of always raising the bar.  What a wonderful man.  It was a honor to work with him for so long.”

Marco Gaylord, the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Naming Committee and the Director of District Operations/ K-12 Fine Arts Director for the Middletown Public Schools also commented on naming the PAC after Mr. Fragilio.  Gaylord said “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Santo. He means a lot not just to me but also to all of the students that he touched and to our entire community.  I want to thank you and everyone involved in making this happen.  It is quite an honor for a man, mentor teacher, department head, director, conductor, musician, and everything that he’s done for the students.  Sixty-eight years in a position to help improve the community.  It is a great honor for Santo.  Gaylord noted that at the April 2, 2018 City Council Meeting Santo Fragilio’s family would be at this meeting when the City Council will vote on the resolution to formally name the PAC at MHS after Mr. Santo Fragilio.

Former Board of Education Chairman Vincent J. Loffredo thanked Mayor Drew, and City Council members for their consideration and endorsement of naming PAC after Mr. Fragilio.

City Councilman Gerald Daley pointed out the reason the City Council could not act on the resolution at the March 5th meeting.  Daley said “The reason we can’t vote on the ordinance tonight is that the code of ordinances for the city requires that before the council name any city property they are asked to hold a public hearing at one council meeting and not take action until the next council meeting.  We are precluded from taking action tonight.”

The Middletown City Council will vote on the proposal to name the Performing Arts Center at MHS after long-time MHS Music Teacher & Band Director at it’s April 2, 2018 meeting at 7 p.m. at the Middletown City Hall.

I encourage all former students of Santo Fragilio, former colleagues of his and fellow musicians to call and write to Mayor Daniel Drew, members of the City Council and to show up at the April 2, 2018 City Council meeting at 7 strongly urge them to vote yes to name the Performing Arts Center at Middletown High School after him.  If you cannot make the meeting please call the Mayor's Office at 860-344-3401 or e-mail Mayor Drew at and e-mail the city council at to let your opinion known.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Milardo Commentary: Tax Abatements and Sewer Shortfalls

COMMENTARY by John Milardo

Well, well, well!  Middletown Mayor Daniel T. Drew has now become the most underhanded, untrustworthy, Mayor of all time in our City!  He has now decided that he does not need the Common Council to approve tax abatements for businesses.  

Reportedly,  Mayor Drew gave one or more businesses, between 2015-16, a reduction in their property taxes of $150,000.  That’s right, $150,000!  How are your property taxes?  Seen any reductions in them lately?  We should all go see Danny and ask him for one.  Gee, I wonder how much these companies donated to his campaign funds?

Whether it’s called a “deferral” or an “abatement”, this issue should have gone before the Common Council members for approval.  The Mayor does not have the unilateral authority to approve a tax abatement…. for anyone.  He has violated the City Charter and the public’s trust.

As those who have college student loans know, a deferral means what you currently owe is placed on hold until the individual finish studies.  Once you’re finished your courses, payback of all money owed begins again.  
Abatement, means a certain amount, let’s say $150,000 is forgiven.  You don’t pay it back.  These above-mentioned companies don’t have to pay tax money back.  Therefore, it’s an abatement, not a deferral.  No matter how you cut it, the Mayor violated policy and City law.

Supposedly, Mayor Dan received a legal opinion from the City Office of General Counsel giving him the authority to do so.  Whomever in legal gave him that opinion should be under investigation, as should the Mayor.  Impeachment and termination should be on the table as well.

How could this have been kept a “secret” for all this time?  If this was on the up and up, the Mayor would have been tooting his horn about it.  Shame on the Democrats and Republicans of the Common Council if they knew about this and said nothing! 

Questions.  Why this/these businesses only?  Why this certain amount?  Why didn’t the abatement have to go through any other Commission, Committees, or Council meeting?   Why was the issue hidden from the public? 

On to different topics.  

The Mattabasett/Middletown sewer project is underfunded…...again!  Town voters approved the first bond for this project a couple or more years ago.  For those who may not remember, Middletown’s’ Sewer Treatment Plant is obsolete.  We voted to pump sewage from Middletown to Cromwell’s Mattabasett sewer treatment plant.  After the installation of some of the pipe work was done, Director Guy Russo, who retired this past year, ran out of funding for the project so another $15 million dollars was approved by town voters to complete the work.  He assured the Common Council members at that time, $15 million would be more than enough to finish everything, including the pump station.  Well, the money is gone, and the pump station cannot be completed.  I guess they’ll ask us for more funding AGAIN! 

I hear the State of Connecticut will be blamed for the additional cost because they are demanding different mechanical and technical equipment and the like.  It’s not the States fault.  You don’t ask for bond money without having all your permits, architectural drawings, designs, etc. approved by the State before you begin any portion of the project.  It is the City’s fault!  Taxpayers’ will be on the hook, again!

There is one exception to the rule - the $35 million bond approved for Park improvement by the voters which had no plan at all.  It’s a $35 million blank check to do what the Public Works Department wants to do with it.  A Park/Public Works Committee was put in place after the bond was approved to decide what improvements will be made.  I have a suggestion.  Why not take money needed to complete the Sewer project from the Park bond?  The Park bond funding was predicated on building artificial athletic fields.  That fell through, so natural turf fields are being constructed.  There is a vast difference between the two.  There should be a surplus of millions of dollars in the Park bond due to natural field construction.

We keep on hearing about “transparency in government” by our local officials.  Yet few question the illegal activities of Mayor Drew.  It’s about time both Democrats and Republican Common Council members question this Mayor on his inappropriate behaviors.  If they don’t, then they are just as complicit!

Women Center Stage at Russell Library Thursday March 29

Women Center Stage focuses on Connecticut women performers such as Kate Hepburn.
The Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame will be presenting "Women Center Stage" at Russell Library's Hubbard Room on Thursday March 29 at 6:30pm.

The presentation focuses on Connecticut women performers.

Once barred from the stage because it was seen to be 'dangerous” and 'immoral,” women have struggled to find their place in the spotlight for centuries. Chronic under-representation, sexual harassment, and the loss of roles after a certain age are still issues women in the performing arts face today. CWHF Inductee Sophie Tucker faced discrimination due to her weight and Katherine Hepburn struggled to take roles that defied stereotypes. Marian Anderson became a reluctant icon of the Civil Rights movement simply for doing what she was trained and loved to do … sing before an audience. Help us put the spotlight on the Connecticut women in who found a voice for change in the performing arts.

All ages welcome.

Drop-in, no registration.

Sponsored by the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame (

LIVING WELL at First Church in Middletown

Living Well,
a Day of Alternative Healing
& Recovery

Saturday, April 7
9am - 12 noon

at First Church

First Church in Middletown hosts Living Well, a community wellness fair, on Saturday, April 7. Registration begins at 8:30am and admission is FREE.

Displays and conversations with counselors and teachers will describe various alternative healing activities, including 

         Music therapy     REIKI     Art therapy   
    REFLEXOLOGY        Cooking for health     Meditation     
Essential oils      TAI CHI     Chiropractic care

First Church is located at 190 Court Street. For more information see our website--First Church Middletown or our Facebook page--First Church Middletown UCC.

First Church is open and affirming. Come and bring your friends, family, and children.

Common Council to Introduce Resolution Opposing DOT Route 9 Plan

On Monday at their regular Common Council meeting, the Council will consider a resolution to oppose the most recent DOT proposal to eliminate traffic lights on Route 9.

The bipartisan resolution sponsored by leading Democratic and Republican council members Tom Serra and Seb Giuliano reads as follows:

Approving that, unless and until the Common Council is formally included in the design and review process for the State of Connecticut’s Route 9 project, the Common Council is, and will remain, opposed to the projects and any others that may be brought forward; and that given the range of potential adverse impacts that may result from this project, the Common Council opposes the aforesaid State of Connecticut’s Route 9 redesign projects, and will take all steps needed to protect the overall health, safety, and general welfare of the City and its people, especially those in the North End as well as to protect the social, cultural, economic, physical, industrial, recreational, and commercial elements and values of the City as a whole.

Council leaders have been petitioned by Planning and Zoning Commission member and chair of the P&Z Stephen Devoto (full disclosure: Devoto is a writer and editor of the Middletown Eye), to include the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Education in the list of city boards and commissions to be consulted in consideration of any Route 9 project.

Devoto cites state statute in his plea to have the P&Z involved.  According to state statute:

Sec. 13a-57a. Consultation with municipal officers in planning of highway within municipality. Whenever the Commissioner of Transportation is engaged in the planning of any limited access highway, interchange or connector to be located within the limits of any town, city or borough or consolidated town and city or consolidated town and borough he shall consult, to the fullest extent possible, with the chief executive officer and the planning commission, if any, of such town, city or borough or consolidated town and city or consolidated town and borough so as to conserve, preserve and, if possible, enhance the environment by insuring through such consultations that the proposed works will have the least adverse impact on the environment. 

The DOT did not consult the Common Council, the P&Z, the BOE or any North End community groups before presenting their most recent plans for Route 9.  The mayor and the Director of Planning were consulted.

Community members who would like to speak about the plan, its effect on Middletown and Middletown's neighborhoods are invited to speak at the public session during the Common Council meeting.  The meeting will be held in City Hall council chambers Monday April 2 and begins at 7 PM.  The public session is held at the beginning of the meeting.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Kids Author Event at Wesleyan RJ Julia! Sara MacSorley: Super Cool Scientists


Saturday, April 21, 2018
10:30 AM
Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore
Super Cool Scientists is a coloring book that celebrates women in science. It highlights amazing women from across the country doing important work in technology, marine science, computing, and more. They are leaders in their fields and also in education, art, business, and mentoring other young people to pursue careers in STEM. Join us in celebrating women in STEM - recognizing the people who do this work every day and also inspiring the next generation of scientists.

Science stole Sara MacSorley’s heart the first time she visited an aquarium. She studied Marine Biology at the University of Rhode Island thinking she would become a researcher. Instead, she learned that a science degree opens up many more career options and started on a path of science education and outreach. After earning a graduate degree in Business Administration, Sara moved into project management and leadership roles in higher education. The Super Cool Scientists project is Sara’s way of bringing more science into her life. This time around as a communicator and as an advocate for inclusion in science and technology.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week ~ Nathan

Cat Tales ~ Cat of the Week


Breed:Domestic Short Hair

Color:Brown Tabby

Age:6 years old
Hi, I'm Nathan!  I have been through so much with living on the streets and getting my foot caught in an inhumane trap but I have been shown compassion and patience which really has me feeling like a whole new cat!  It also helps that my foot is completely healed as well. I think belly rubs are the best things ever and I really enjoy a good pet session! I think people are pretty great although it may take me a little bit of time to adjust to my new home but I know I will love it once I am there! I have FIV but please don't let that scare you - humans and dogs can't get this and its very difficult for other cats to get. Just keep me healthy with annual vet exams and I can live just as long as any other cat. I'd love a family to finally call my own. Please adopt me today! ​
Phone:   860.344.9043
Watch our TV commercial:

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Four North End Leaders Oppose Route 9 Plan

Earlier this week, four former directors of the North End Action Team (NEAT) took the time to write to Middletown city leaders about their concerns on the proposal to make changes to Main Street and the North End in order to remove the traffic lights on Route 9.  

In these letters, Precious Price, Bobbye Knoll, Izzi Greenberg and Lydia Brewster noted the devastating impact that the proposed changes will have for the residents who live in downtown neighborhoods, and also the students and staff at Macdonough School.  

Their letters are printed in full below - please take a moment to hear their perspective. 

More information on the DOT plan is available here, here and here. 

From Izzi Greenberg:

Dear Mayor, Elected Officials, City Leaders, and Friends,

I am writing to share my opinion about State Project Numbers 0082-0318 and 0082-0320. These projects are "proposed to reduce congestion, improve safety, and improve access to downtown Middletown." I understand the Department of Transportation priority, and the proposed project will likely meet the goal of improving safety of people in cars, but at what expense?

As it exists, this plan and its ramifications have racial, economic, and environmental justice impacts and city leadership should be standing up for residents and opposing this project.  

The fact is that the state is trying to ease the safety, health, and social burden on commuters, and in turn is shifting it to the folks who live in the North End. This neighborhood is home to the densest population of People of Color and is the lowest-income census tract in Middletown.  It is no surprise that they bear the heaviest burden, as projects like this typically favor higher-income people over low-income people.  But that doesn't mean it is acceptable, and it doesn't mean our city leadership has to accept it.  City leadership should fight for its residents, not allow a prioritization of commuters who do not live here.

From a social justice perspective, the worst aspects of this plan are that:

*It prioritizes the safety and health of people in cars over the safety and health of people who live in this dense downtown neighborhood by forcing more traffic on to residential streets.

*Instead of reducing the already overwhelming crush of cars that cut through North End streets, it appears to be poised to increase the load. 

This plan is insufficient.  If safety were indeed a priority, pre-existing conditions would be included in the plan (they are not):

*The ramp that takes cars from the westbound lane of the Arrigoni Bridge and directs them onto Spring Street would be removed. It should be removed. This ramp exists to encourage commuters to cut through our residential neighborhood and speed past the city's only neighborhood school.  This ramp would not be tolerated if it dumped traffic into higher-income neighborhoods--it shouldn't be tolerated here.  

*The other traffic patterns that allow commuters to cut through would be changed.  The fact that our neighborhood, east and west of Main St., is a cut-through has not only reduced quality of life, but has reduced property values, reduced its visual appeal, and allowed absentee landlords to thrive.  This is not what we want for our downtown.  It should be no surprise that the streets with the most dilapidated housing are those which receive the most cut-through traffic.

The goal for commuters is to shave time off their drive. In doing so, they treat the children and families of the neighborhood as a burden.  Nearly all of the children at Macdonough School walk. We are lucky to have one of the few neighborhoods in the city with relatively continuous sidewalks. And yet, it is unsafe for children to walk, as cars speed, disregard stop signs, and generally are not considerate of the pedestrians in the neighborhood. 

The quality of life, health, and safety for residents is greatly diminished by the excess car exhaust, the litter from cars, and the general unpleasantness that exists when your small neighborhood streets are overwhelmed by the cars of people who don't live in or respect your neighborhood, but are only trying to get home as quickly as possible.  Our families can't use their bikes safely, in fact, we can't even park in on-street parking safely because the speeding commuters so often knock off the car’s side mirrors.

It is an embarrassment that commuters have been prioritized over residents for as long as they have. It is insulting and unjust to worsen the pattern.   North End and Downtown residents, along with the City of Middletown have worked hard over the last 15 years to increase the quality of life, improve housing, and make our downtown more resident and pedestrian friendly.  But we didn’t do it all.  We still have a long way to go, and this plan would put those improvements in reverse.

As city leadership, I hope you will do what is right and stand united against this plan. Stand firm and prioritize the people you serve over those who live outside of Middletown.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Izzi Greenberg

North End Middletown Resident, Columbus Ave.
Parent, Macdonough School
Organizing Committee Member, Middletown Racial Justice Coalition
Past Director, North End Action Team

From Lydia Brewster:

Dear City Officials:

I would like to support all of the points made by my former colleague and friend Izzi Greenberg and those of Jennifer Alexander in urging you to take a strong stance against the DOT –proposed changes to Route 9 that would severely impact quality of life, the appearance and the functionality of the North End.  I have spent much of the last 25 years working in some capacity on behalf of residents and institutions within the North End.  Those of us who have chosen to work there or to live there have seen many changes, most for the better, as a result of concentrated, patient, two-steps forward one back, momentum.  Frankly, slow, evolutionary change within a struggling neighborhood  is the speed that can result in deeper systemic improvements that result in long term success that is not at the expense of existing residents.  The proposed changes would, in my opinion, be a huge step backward.

My grandchildren attend Macdonough School and live on a North End street that is vibrant, friendly and connected.  My son works in the North End.  He and his family eat in North End restaurants and shop in local stores.  What’s even more important is that as they walk on the neighborhood’s sidewalks they see and know their neighbors.  I urge you not to forsake that kind of neighborhood atmosphere for the benefit of a bit of commuter convenience.

I implore those of you who represent the residents, the neighborhood and the city to react strongly and quickly to this misguided plan to destroy Rapallo Avenue and negatively impact all of the smaller internal neighborhoods within the large one. 

Sincerely yours,

Lydia Brewster
St. Vincent de Paul Middletown

From Bobbye Knoll:

Dear Mayor Drew, Elected Officials, and other involved or interested parties:

Please allow me to be the third former director of the North End Action team to ask you to take a strong and public stance against the proposed DOT changes to Route 9 and Main Street.

There is no doubt that these changes will adversely affect the quality of life for North End residents and families attending Macdonough School.

I agree wholeheartedly with the points made by both Izzi and Lydia, I do want to strongly reiterate that if we allow this plan to go through we will again be choosing to neglect the needs of North End residents and place an unfair burden on our most vulnerable neighborhood to ease the burden of others. We cannot continue to overlook the needs of families residing in the North End to benefit other areas in our city and communers. It has happened to this neighborhood too many times. These changes will have negative impacts on families who walk to and from the school, who walk to and from the downtown, and who live in areas that will see increased cut through traffic (a problem that North End residents have been asking for solutions to for years). It will also negatively effect the air quality in the neighborhoods in which North End families live and play.

Our city has made great strides to become friendly for downtown living. Please don’t ignore the impact these changes would have to the folks that are already living downtown. We’ve seen initiatives to create walkable and bikeable neighborhoods in Middletown. The North End is already a walkable/bikeable neighborhood. If we prioritize these initiatives in other areas why wouldn’t we work to protect them in our most vulnerable neighborhoods?

This plan is insufficient. It creates harm to residents of Middletown. I ask our city leaders to hold DOT accountable to answer the following points: will there be changes after the public session? Has there been a traffic count study done to see what the impact will be for the proposed Rapallo exit? Will it be publicly available? How many vehicles exit Washington Street currently? How many northbound travelers exit Hartford Ave.? Do we know the real and true impact these changes will have to the residents of our city most densely populated neighborhood?  What will the new traffic counts be on the residential streets of the north end?

Again, I urge you all to publicly oppose this plan and push for solutions that don’t unfairly place the burden on on North End residents again.

Thank you,

Bobbye Knoll Peterson, Middletown Resident
Former Director North End Action Team
Former North End Resident and Homeowner

From Precious Price:

Dear Middletown City Leadership & Elected Officials

I am writing to share my opinion of the Route 9 Project 0082-0318 & 0082-0320 proposed by the state of Connecticut’s Department of Transportation. As former community director of the North End Action Team, current director of the Middletown Racial Justice Coalition, and future Middletown North End resident (April 1, 2018), I strongly oppose this plan. 

As I am not yet a North End resident, I can’t speak to plethora of the concerns already mentioned by many Middletown residents. I can say that, socially, this plan has many implications that would be detrimental to North End residents. The proposed plan seems to increase the flow of commuter traffic through these residential neighborhoods, and this will no doubt increase the health disparities that are already prevalent in this historically disenfranchised community. It’s no secret that car exhaust and other pollutants increase respiratory illnesses such as asthma in children and heart complications. Not to mention, there’s an elementary school where students would be negatively impacted by increased traffic, both in regards to health and safety, as they commute to school each day. These are the commuters we should be prioritizing. 

When we follow trends of the workings of systemic and institutional racism, we understand it is not a coincidence the streets chosen to have the greatest impact from this plan are heavily populated by people of color. Many members of this neighborhood already live near railroads, bridges, and highways, so much so that it could be hard to conceive that the health of these residents are of any importance to those in power in our city or state. After a while, they start to seem like throw away neighborhoods. People in power created this. This is environmental racism at its core and will only be exacerbated by adding a Route 9 off-ramp in the proposed location.

One of the reasons I chose to move back to Middletown is because I feel that this is a place that, despite its issues, wants the best for its residents. Being a part of NEAT and the Racial Justice Coalition convinced me that although communities aren’t perfect, they stand up and support each other. I guess in this regard I have very high standards for this city and hope my future move will be a worthwhile investment of my time, expertise, and money. 

I wholeheartedly oppose sections 0082-0318 & 0082-0320 this DOT project for these reasons, those expressed by my friends, neighbors, and colleagues, and hope that you will come out to support and prioritize the safety, and well-being of the residents of Middletown. 

Best regards, 

Precious Price, 

(Soon to be) North End Resident, Prospect Street 
Middletown Racial Justice Coalition Director
Former North End Action Team Community Director