Sunday, March 31, 2019

Opinion: Granting Special Consideration?

Submitted by Karen Radz
In analyzing the proposed rates for use of athletic fields, questions linger:

  • The current ordinance provides a benefit to taxpayers who are already paying for field upkeep and a $33MM bond as everyone shares in the cost of field use - local and non-local users. Why change this?
  • Who benefits the most financially from reducing or eliminating user fees - private organizations?
  • The proposed new ordinance does not say," fees are not negotiable and can not be waived" as the current one does. Does that mean that under the new ordinance required fees could be negotiated or waived?
  • If, under the new ordinance, first priority users and nonprofits are exempt from paying any fees for the use of any fields, except Palmer Field, why would they give donations for field usage time? 
  • Are the fees for weekend use of Palmer $150 per game or $150 per day? If it's per day, will this cover employee overtime costs?
  • There appears to be a typo or discrepancy in this statement for Palmer Field: WHEREAS, the Commission has established the following rates for Palmer Field for Middletown Post 75 American Legion as well as Second, and Third Priority users ... Why are Xavier, Mercy and Vinal NOT listed here? Does this leave it up to the Director's discretion or are they NOT being charged a fee to play at Palmer Field? Xavier has ten games at Palmer this season - half of which are at night ($125/game). Is this a special consideration for this private school?
  • Will fees/donations from nonresident teams cover Public Works employees' overtime costs - nights and weekends?
  • The proposed ordinance allows tournament fees to be decided on an individual basis. Why not keep the current fee structure as it is in the current ordinance?
  • According to the new ordinance first priority users like Mercy, Xavier and Legion would not have to pay for Pat Kidney Field. Why is that when the teams are comprised of a majority nonresidents and in the current ordinance they are required to pay? 
  • Why are fees being eliminated instead of reduced for Pat Kidney when we just spent over $6MM to renovate it?
  • If second priority user requirements are being reduced to 60% residency, you would think it’s being reduced from what the first priority user requirement is, but it is not because there is no minimum residency requirement for first priority users. Why is there not a minimum percentage of residents required for first priority users? Is this to give special consideration to private organizations that can not meet a minimum requirement?
  • If Xavier and Mercy are first priority users, why are their athletic fields NOT listed as available for Middletown residents?

The city seems to be moving away from fields for all to use and toward fields for just a few ... an advantage for private organizations, perhaps?

The proposed Ordinance 214-37 Field Usage and fees ordinance will be discussed and possibly voted on at the Common Council meeting this Monday, April 1, at 7pm. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Reported Opinion: Fields Decisions Do Not Serve City Residents Well

Submitted by Jennifer Mahr. 
Mahr has previously highlighted problems with a proposed ordinance about field use policies, in particular that some teams with a majority of city residents might have a lower priority than some teams with very few city residents. 
Here she details the history of this proposed ordinance and reports on the decisions to raid the funds for new field construction. It seems that at the same time that City Hall was claiming no need for new fields, it was also claiming that the need for field time necessitated a discriminatory field use policy.
Despite a series of unanswered questions posed to the Common Council on March 15th and March 19th, the Director of Public Works, Bill Russo, insisted via email on March 20th that proposed Ordinance 214-37 Field Usage and Fees will move forward for approval at the Common Council meeting on Monday, April 1.

“This new agreement almost mirrors the existing one and it’s basically a language clean-up. I consider this matter closed…” Russo went on to say, “I also believe the other 1500 people that come through our school sports, rec programs etc are satisfied with the user agreement.”

The first mention of the Director of Public Works and the Deputy City Attorney initiating an ordinance revision is found in the September 2018 and December 2018 Public Works & Facilities Commission (PW&FC) meeting minutes.

In September, Director Russo said “…the large number of requests coming in from those that want to use the facilities cannot be met.” By December, he explained that “the purpose of the work done on the Field Usage Agreements was to recognize the institutions that have been playing in Middletown for years.”

But here’s the rub: if Public Works started the ordinance revision because more field use requests were coming in than could be handled, why was the answer to reduce the number of field users?

The current ordinance clearly states that “any person may use Pat Kidney field, Smith Park, Hubbard Little League and Snow School fields” and “any person may use Palmer Field for the appropriate uses approved by the Public Works and Facilities Commission” if a specified set of requirements are met. This language seems to assume a rotation between all eligible users.

The proposed ordinance greatly expands the number of fields covered to include fields at Bielefield School, Donovan Park, Hubbard Romagielli, Hubbard Barone, Lawrence School, Ron McCutchen, Snow School, Smith Park, Country Club Road, Pat Kidney, Palmer Field, Moody School, Spencer School, Vinal Technical High School, and Long Hill Road, but essentially limits use to named First Priority users.

Director Russo stated at the December 2018 PW&FC meeting:
The message needs to be that the amount of time given to 2nd and 3rd priority groups will be limited. 2nd and 3rd priority users can utilize fields that are not scheduled. Public Works is not saying that teams cannot use the field we are saying that there is a priority structure in place. Once we open it up to one we need to open it up to everyone.
When and where will there ever be a field that is not scheduled? What’s wrong with trying to schedule everyone who wants field time?

Even if there is an unscheduled moment, “In determining field usage, attention needs to be paid to field maintenance. Because Middletown has grass field versus turf times will need to be set aside to complete field maintenance to preserve the fields.” (December 2018 PW&FC minutes)

Recently, some members of a Middletown High School sports team experienced how seriously field conditions are taken: while trying to play a pickup game on the upper Pat Kidney field, they were told this was not permitted, because the grass “wasn’t ready for play.” They were also told that they should have called to see if the field was even available to play on.

Hmmm…kids saw grass at a park and wanted to play on it. That’s a huge problem.

So the question now becomes, why does Middletown have a shortage of fields? Didn’t we just take out a $33M 21st Century Parks bond? Let’s look at that bond more carefully. In images to the right is the May 2, 2016, Common Council resolution approving the original spending priorities.

The original draft of this resolution, found in the April 4, 2016, Common Council minutes, includes this language:
Whereas, the 21st Century Parks Committee is hereby charged with the following responsibilities: 
1. Identify and make appropriate recommendations to the Common Council for the location of additional sites for new athletic grass fields.
Clearly, more grass fields were a high priority in 2016. The Grass Fields line started with $2,920,000 in it.

By February 6, 2017, the first major transfer of monies OUT of the Grass Fields line occurred. Director Russo’s explanation for transferring $500K to the Butternut Hollow Park Playscapes: “Public Works and Facilities Commission heard from Little League and Soccer when we put the budget together there was money for six additional fields and they told us if we light Country Club Field 2 and East Main Street they wouldn't need new fields. They budgeted $500,000 per field; two fields would be $1 million and we earmarked about $100,000 for the playscape and after the Commission heard a presentation for different playscapes. It will be $364,000 to build it but it will last for 20 years. It is the best place for it. It is out in the open and there will be security cameras and the money we save not to provide grass fields, we can transfer the money to the playscapes.”

In September 5, 2017, another $1,000,000 was taken from the Grass Fields line (plus an additional $1,500,000 from the Pat Kidney Improvement Account), this time for Palmer Field’s ever-expanding renovation. A most interesting conversation takes place during that day’s Special Meeting, Questions to Director’s Workshop:
Councilwoman Bartolotta asks how the determination was made about the grass fields. Director Russo responds: “working with Little League, using the bond funds, the City was able to light the fields at Hubbard Field near Harbor Park. Now that the field is lit, they get more play time at that location and Little League has now reported that they do not need more fields. With Frank Marchese in youth soccer, the second field at Country Club Road is lit so they have more playing time. They have now told Public Works Commission that with the field lit, they do not need additional grass fields. They can utilize this field.”
Councilwoman Bartolotta goes on to ask if the City can keep up with the pace of growing youth sports by decreasing the number of fields available. Director Russo replied that “they watch the soccer and lacrosse numbers and believes it has maxed out, having remained steady for the last two (2) years. There is growth in a couple of sports such as Frisbee football. There is now no need to build new fields for that activity. These teams are on existing school fields at grass field at the City schools, places like Keigwin. The City does not need to build team fields.”
Councilwoman Bartolotta replied that “sitting on the Parks & Recreation Commission, in conducting interviews, that Commission hears their point of view, saying that building new fields cannot happen quick enough. This was a big question during the parks referendum.”
In June of 2018, another $800,000 was transferred from the Grass Fields line to the Palmer Field Entry & Bleacher Repair Line for “additional improvements.” From the June 27, 2018 Finance and Government Operations Commission meeting minutes: “Bill Russo explained that they have

Tempest Celtic Rock Benefit Show- April 5th!

Tempest Benefit Show

Opening By Mulcahy Academy Dancers

April 5 @ 7:30-10 pm, $20

This is a special show with the amazing, electric Celtic Rock band from California, TEMPEST!
This show is a benefit concert to support Oddfellows Playhouse here in Middletown, a youth theater company and our own community arts programming at The Buttonwood Tree. Besides the incredibly lively music of Tempest, we’ll have games, food, beverages and fun and the lively dancers of the Mulcahy Academy of Irish Dance  Join us! Save the date!  Doors at 7 pm.  APRIL 5

Besides the incredibly lively music of Tempest, we’ll have games, food, beverages and fun and the lively dancers of the Mulcahy Academy of Irish Dance  Join us!

This event will be held in the beautiful space of First Church of Christ at 190 Court Street, Middletown. Plenty of free parking and lots of room to dance! The space is handicap accessible.  FOOD and BEVERAGES will be available.

Tempest:• Lief Sorbye – Vocals, Mando Guitar, Acoustic & Electric Mandolines• Adolfo Lazo – Drums• Kevin Florion – Guitars• Kathy Buys – Fiddle• Mirco Melone – Bass

Celebrating more than 30 years of Celtic Rock!
Since forming in 1988, Tempest has delivered a globally-renowned hybrid of high-energy Folk Rock fusing Irish reels, Scottish ballads, Norwegian influences and other world music elements. The last 30 plus years have seen the San Francisco Bay Area based act release seventeen critically acclaimed CDs and play more than 2,500 gigs. It’s also enjoyed an evolving line-up that’s enabled musicianship and creativity to rise with each new member.

Hailing from Oslo, Norway, founding member and lead singer/electric mandolinist, Lief Sorbye, is recognized as a driving force in the modern folk-rock movement. He started Tempest after years of touring and recording on the folk circuit. San Francisco fiddler Kathy Buys brings her international award winning playing to the Tempest stage. Her experience performing world-fusion music with high energy dance bands combined with many years of playing Irish traditional music in America and Ireland makes her a perfect fit for Tempest. And straight from Bologna, Italy, we welcome the big, rich bass playing talent of Mirco Melone. Mirco has a diverse background in rock, jazz and ethnic music, and holds an advanced degree from Italy’s Classical Music Conservatory. And recently relocated to the Bay Area from Chicago, we are delighted to introduce Kevin Florian‘s progressive rock guitar and lush stage antics to our fans! Cuban-born drummer Adolfo Lazo, an original Tempest member, thickens the band’s sound with inventive rhythms, and rock-steady drumming!
Signed to Sony-distributed Magna Carta Records, Tempest’s releases are acclaimed worldwide. This year, the group celebrates its 30th Anniversary with the latest studio CD, Thirty Little Turns, a collection of inspired new original and traditional material — with a cheeky surprise or two.
Lief Sorbye, the founder of Tempest, has introduced unusual instruments into their own blend of world folk music. Keeping the spirits of the audience and the band uplifted through energetic and entertaining performances that span the spectrum from Celtic and Folk Festivals to Rock Clubs has always been the ultimate goal for Tempest.

Tempest Social Media
Tempest website:
This Event is sponsored by

Doors at 7 pm.   Plenty of free parking off Court St, Broad St. and Washington St.

Friday, March 29, 2019

MxCC Regional President Candidate Forums Open to Public

The public is invited to attend the Region One, Capitol-East community college Regional President search forums to be held at Middlesex Community College on April 1, 2 & 3. Following a nationwide search, the three final candidates for the Regional President role have been identified and will be meeting with regional leaders, community and foundation members, students, faculty, and staff. Click here for details on the candidates. 
MxCC candidate forums:
April 1 at 4-5:30 p.m. Ronald Cantor
April 2 at 8-9:30 a.m. Rob Steinmetz
April 3 at 1-2:30 p.m. Timothy Taylor
The forums will be held in the Founders Hall Pavilion, Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Road, Middletown.
For questions about the MxCC forums, please click here to email
As announced late last year, the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR), along with the CT State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), began the process of moving forward with the Students First initiative, with plans to consolidate the 12 independently administered community colleges into a singly accredited institution by 2023. The consolidated community college will have a president for each of three regions: Capitol-East (Region One), North-West (Region Two), and Shoreline-West (Region Three). Middlesex is part of Capitol East along with Capital Community College, Manchester Community College, Three Rivers Community College, and Quinebaug Valley Community College. 

Another Busy Council Meeting: Plastics, Fields, and a New Councilman

The Common Council will consider several controversial issues at its next meeting, Monday, April 1st, 7PM in the Council Chambers in City Hall.

Appointing a new Council member
The death of Tom Serra created a vacancy on the Common Council. The City Charter specifies that after the Mayor declares a vacancy, the Common Council has the authority to appoint a replacement who will fill out the remainder of the term.

Bishop W. Vance Cotton, Sr. has been suggested to fill this vacancy. Cotton serves the congregation of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. He gave the orison at the 2015 swearing in of the Mayor and Council members, praising God for giving us Dan Drew (An Interventionist God Invoked At Inauguration).

Bobbye Knoll Peterson has been suggested as an alternate to Cotton. Peterson has been active in the community for many years, and is currently the vice-chair of the Democratic Town Committee. Many of those advocating for her have praised her extensive involvement and dedication to improving our city, and also pointed out that women are significantly under-represented in leadership positions at city hall and on the council, women comprise only 3 of the 12 council members, and only 1 of the 8 Democrats.

Fields use ordinance
The priority given to different athletic teams for use of city fields for practices and games is regulated by an ordinance, and administered by the Public Works Department. A proposed new ordinance was considered at the March Council meeting and after considerable public objections, the council postponed its decision. The same ordinance will be considered anew Monday.

A separate ordinance, also on the agenda for Monday, would set the fees that teams and leagues would pay to use each field.

The primary concern about the proposed ordinance is that it enshrines inequity. It grants the highest priority to teams that are not required to have a minimum proportion of players who are Middletown residents, solely because of historical relationship between some leagues and the city. Lower priority teams are required to include a minimum of 60% of city residents as players.

The priorities determine not only field access, but also the fees that teams must pay for each league.

Plastic bags ban
The Council will consider an ordinance that would ban the use of plastic bags for retail checkout of purchased goods, and require use of reusable checkout bags. Its purpose is to improve the city's environment, by reducing the presence of plastic bags in our local streams and rivers.

The full text of the ordinance is HERE.

Towards a plastic fields ban
The current installation of artificial turf in a city park was a surprise to those who understood that city leaders had clearly voted to oppose this. Residents were further surprised to learn that this had been facilitated by decisions made in the Public Works and City Attorney office, and overseen by Councilmen serving on the Public Works Commission. These men realized that when the city leaders voted to oppose artificial turf, they had technically only prevented the use of city money on the fields. They used this as an opening to give a private club artificial turf in a city park.

The private organization Middletown Youth Soccer has an exclusive lease of two fields on Country Club Road, the lease includes a commitment to make substantial improvements to the soccer complex. The Public Works Commission has taken steps towards spending $1,000,000 on doing the improvements that the lease specifies are the responsibility of MYS, leaving MYS free to spend its money (approximately $750,000) on the installation of artificial turf (more here: Soccer Fields: I've got questions).

The resolution submitted by Council members Mary Bartolotta and Gene Nocera calls for the city to take steps towards closing the loophole,  "Approving that ... the Office of General Counsel draft an Ordinance to [ensure] that any new athletic fields constructed on City-owned property ... shall be limited exclusively to natural grass."

The full text of the resolution is HERE.

COMMENTARY: Bump-out Construction Begins on Main Street


I had heard they were coming.  I knew they were coming.  They're here.

Main Street bump-outs.  Bump-outs are extensions of the pedestrian sidewalks that protrude into traffic lanes.  Their goal, ostensibly, is to make pedestrian crossing on busy streets easier, and to calm traffic.

The bump-outs were offered as part of a much larger plan to eliminate traffic lights on Route 9.  The DOT made a presentation to the public twice in the past four years.

Both plans were roundly criticized at the public meetings where they were presented, and eventually rejected by the city.

However, the DOT apparently had some money burning a hole in their pockets.  They claim, without any evidence, that the bump-outs were accepted by the public at those meetings.

They were not.

In fact, the DOT promised in October of last year that they would not move forward with the project
until they conducted another public meeting.

According to a October 25, 2018 article in the Middletown press:

“'We’re not moving forward without another public info meeting,'” according to Connecticut Department of Transportation Project Engineer Erik Jarboe. That meeting is expected to take place some time in the spring."

The bump-out project is expected to cost the state $2 million.

It will cost the city more.

By creating bump-outs at most Main Street intersections, the state will cause traffic tie-ups because cars will no longer be able to easily make right turns on red, thereby alleviating traffic tie ups.  City trucks removing snow on Main Street will have to maneuver around the bump-outs.  Clearing snow from the bump-outs themselves will be difficult because there will be no areas where snow can be easily piled.  In addition, the bump-outs are more difficult to navigate for larger trucks.  The bump-outs will also make it impossible to create future bike lanes on Main Street.

Several years ago, Meriden added bump-outs in their downtown for some of the same reasons cited by the DOT.  They are now removing all bump-outs at a cost of millions to the city.

At the beginning of his term, the governor's office was contacted to indicate an easy way to save $2 million would be to cancel the bump-out project.  No action was taken.

Opposition to the DOT plans was widespread, with two exceptions that the DOT said could be easily remedied.  Fixing the traffic light patterns at Main and Grand, and creating a traffic flow from Bridge Street to Johnson Street.  Work on neither of those projects has proceeded.

Views opposing the DOT plans included those by the mayor, the mayor againa member of the Downtown Business District, the public and yours truly.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Moving Conversations / Making Community

Moving Conversations/Making Community is an opportunity to explore ideas and make art as a group. We will talk about skills of communication and investigate how those skills work for us in making our project together and beyond. We will structure movement improvisations, where an individual can make personal movement choices within parameters set by the group. We will reflect on images that are important to us, building them with our bodies and drawing/writing a mural each meeting. We will create sound, listening for rhythms, melodies, and harmonies as we move and invite the musicians among us to play. What else will we do?

We are hoping to gather people who are interested in meeting folks with different strengths and points of view! All ages are welcome, including families with children as long as there is a participating adult. A commitment to the group is important because we each individually compose and contribute to the group. Commitment means respecting each other with sensitivity and optimism. The group will meet four times and share what we have created at the end of the fourth meeting with friends and family. We hope you will commit to all four meetings but are happy to include folks who cannot make all of the meetings as well.

Meetings will be held in the Russell Library Children’s Activity Room (although the program is not just for children) from 6:00pm to 7:30pm on April 1, and April 8. On April 15, we will gather at the Russell Library Hubbard Room for a culminating meeting at 6:00pm with the sharing event for friends and family at 7pm. The group will also reflect on how we made what we share. This program is FREE.

Featuring live musical accompaniment by Joseph Getter.

Contact Julie Mulvihill at for more information.

Mondays 6:00-7:30pm
April 1; April 8; April 15 (performance sharing on this day at 7pm)

Russell Library
123 Broad St
Middletown CT 06457

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Middletown Young Democrats Demand Answers, Action from Mayor, Common Council, PD

Following the discovery of strongly-biased social media posts by Middletown Police Sargent Sebastian Bartolotta, Middletown Young Democrats have addressed a letter sharing their concerns to Mayor Daniel Drew, members of the Common Council and Middletown Police Chief William McKenna. The letter offers suggestions for short-term and long-term solutions  

Distinguished Mayor Drew, Police Chief McKenna, Councilpersons, and Elected Officials:

Last week, the City of Middletown made state headlines when screenshots of Middletown Police Department Sergeant Sebastiano Bartolotta’s Facebook page were shared by the Greater Middletown Young Democrats. Posts that were offensive--in particular to communities of color, undocumented people, and queer people--troubled many community residents, most especially because they came from a long time officer in a position of leadership within the department.

The original post can be found here:

What was originally shared were not the totality of the concerning posts. The page was taken down before further evidence could be collected. A complete collection of the screenshots--some more egregious than others--that were taken before the Sergeant's page was deleted, along with a number of supporting documents referenced in this letter, can be found here.

The Hartford Courant article concerning the posts, with a response from the Sergeant can be found here.

Our public safety officials are entrusted with the great responsibility of responding to the needs of people in our city of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, faiths, political beliefs, socioeconomic means, and legal statuses. While our population is predominantly white, our demographics are, and have been, shifting over time (1). It is vital that our community supports police officers who are not just well-equipped with an understanding of the diversity of the community they serve, but who value and celebrate that diversity as a strength. Sergeant Bartolotta regarded entire groups of people as objects of ridicule. This is unacceptable. While the joint response from Chief of Police McKenna and Mayor Dan Drew is appreciated, the statement does not go far enough.  

In an Executive Order dated July 11, 2017 (2), Mayor Dan Drew declared that our local police department would “continue its longstanding practice of not detaining an individual at the request of United States Immigrations and Custody Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection absent a judicial warrant or probable cause of a crime”. Can undocumented residents living and working peacefully in Middletown, reasonably feel safe calling our police department for help if our first responders can publicly espouse hateful views about them with no repercussions?

While the actions of Sergeant Bartolotta are the ones in question right now, bias within the Middletown Police Department is not limited to one or two individuals. A quick look at the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Data Project (3), shows that although black folks make up about 12% of our population, they represent 25% of all Middletown Police traffic stops.

Resolution 124-17, passed by the Council in October 2017 (4), resolved that:
[T]he City of Middletown rejects and renounces any and all acts, forms, and philosophies, which may engender and/or support, either directly or indirectly, racial, ethnic, and/or religious supremacy, intolerance, hatred, and/or any other threat to, and/or breach of, the fundamental rights and liberties as set forth in, and as guaranteed by, the United States Constitution and our State and Federal laws.
Allowing people sworn to protect all our residents to publicly espouse derogatory views about some of those residents without consequence, engenders bias. That Sergeant Bartolotta is in a position of leadership, implies to less experienced officers that they too can participate in hateful, disrespectful rhetoric at the expense of people whose taxes pay their salaries, and still expect to be promoted.  

Resolution 124-17 also states that the Human Relations Committee is responsible for identifying:
...any potential adverse impacts to the guarantees and protections of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, employment, age, gender, pregnancy, citizenship, veterans, marital status, familial status, housing, disability, equal access, and the right to vote within this City.
However, complaints lodged against officers alleging violations of civil or human rights are not presented before this body--or any external body--for review or consideration.  

Below are some action items, both immediate and long term, that may serve to ensure this incident leads to some positive outcomes and redress for those most directly affected.

  • Mayor Dan Drew and/or Police Chief McKenna, and/or any relevant city employee should extend or release a public statement to include information on the scope of the investigation into Officer Bartolotta’s conduct as an officer; including information on any corrective or punitive measures being sought or taken.
  • The parameters of an investigation should include at least the past 5 years of Officer Bartolotta’s stops, ticketing, and arrests history with respect to racial proportionality and use of force; as well as consideration of any civilian complaints or lawsuits lodged against him during the entire length of his time on the force.
  • While our current policies may not specifically allow for this, the Mayor’s Office and the Chief of Police should look into any way possible to get feedback into the investigation as well as any next steps from non-PD affiliated citizens, perhaps the Human Relations Committee, the NAACP, the LGBTQ+ Committee, or the Middletown Racial Justice Coalition. 
  • The Middletown Police Department should post the Middletown Police Department Code of Conduct (or any other standards of conduct) on the MPD website, preferably alongside information on filing a civilian complaint. 
  • Middletown Police Department should translate the “Civilian Complaint Form Policy” (5) into Spanish and post on the MPD website. They should also make clear, in all versions of the form, that the measures taken to assuage the concerns of civilians fearing retribution, extend to civilians of all legal statuses.
  • Mayor Dan Drew and/or Police Chief McKenna should reaffirm the commitment of the MPD to not detain an individual at the request of ICE or Customs and Border Protection absent a judicial warrant or probable cause of a crime; and confirm that this has not happened in the time since the 2017 Executive Order was made. 


Commit to Community Policing values, and to seeking community input:
  • Community leaders have alluded to the existence of a 10 Point Community Policing Plan that was passed by our Common Council. Please confirm the existence of this plan, make this document public on the Middletown Police Department website, and detail how the department is implementing the recommendations of this plan.
  • If no Community Policing Plan exists, create a process through which, with extensive community leadership and input, one is created. 
  • Some suggested action items for the PD that could come from this plan include:
  • Updating policies, training, and data collection on use of force, implicit bias, and adherence to code of conduct. Working to make sure these processes are transparent. 
  • Examining hiring practices for ways to include community input, diversify applicant pools, and encourage a more diverse workforce. 
  • Developing a strategic plan for relationship building via interactions between officers and community members, with a specific focus on communities of color, LGBTQ+ folks, undocumented residents, and youth. 
  • Create a Civilian Review Board, or ratify some process by which the Police Department is not solely entrusted to police or investigate itself, and where community members are given an opportunity to review complaints and vote on recommendations.
 Commit to Police Department-wide training on implicit bias:
  • The Human Relations Committee is in the process of arranging a racial equity training for City Officials and high ranking department leaders. This training could be expanded to include police officers and public safety personnel either now, or in the future.
  • While implicit bias training may not be required by the Connecticut Police Academy, our municipality can consider making this training mandatory upon hiring. 
  • Consider a partnership with the Institute for Regional and Municipal Policy. While they focus on public policy, a closer relationship with them can lead to an examination of racial profiling data for our city, as well as deep consideration of best practices; and they may serve as a resource for officer bias trainings. 
  • Re-examine our commitment to protecting undocumented residents and marginalized communities:
  • In 2017, a group of concerned constituents drafted a Resolution Affirming Middletown, Connecticut As Welcoming and Inclusive (6) 
  • Council should examine this resolution and move to pass it as is, or in amended form. 
It is our sincerest hope that City leadership is taking this as seriously as community residents are, and as the joint statement released today implies. Most of the outlined immediate goals are achievable within a week. While any investigation into Sergeant Bartolotta will understandably take time, and while publicly confirming that an investigation will take place (albeit nearly a week after the fact) is a good first step, it is important to be as transparent as possible about the scope of that investigation and the specific steps being taken to make sure our city is best reassuring residents they are safe. Any longer than a week to address these issues degrades the public faith in the City’s commitment to its own stated values, and in its leadership.

Plans to act on any of the longer term goals suggested here, or any others suggested elsewhere; or to create a timeline for bringing some of these suggestions into fruition, can form part of conversations moving forward that should include community members and community partner organizations.

We have shared this communication with some community and organization leaders, so that they know what we are requesting and can consider supporting our asks, or making their own.   

Thank you so much for your consideration,

Diana Martinez, Co-President, Greater Middletown Young Democrats
Will Arther, Co-President, Greater Middletown Young Democrats
Steven Kovach, Treasurer, Greater Middletown Young Democrats
Kate Arther, Secretary, Greater Middletown Young Democrats

1. Middlesex Coalition for Children’s report: “Middletown’s Children: A Reference Guide”
2.  Copy of Executive Order included in shared drive:
3. CT Racial Profiling Prohibition Data Project: Traffic Stop Data
4. Common Council Minutes, including passing of Resolution 124-17:
5. Civilian Complaint Form Policy, City of Middletown Website:
6. Resolution Affirming Middletown, Connecticut As Welcoming and Inclusive:

Soccer Fields: I've Got Questions

The spate of recent reporting on Middletown's soccer fields, here and elsewhere, has got me asking questions.  Here is my list:

1.  In response to an outcry on the part of residents, the mayor and the city took action to preclude the spending of bond money on artificial turf in 2015.   It is no secret that the residents opposed artificial turf in general, not just the expenditure of city funds on it.  What is the current position of the mayor and members of the Common Council on this matter?  Have they changed their minds?

2.  At issue has been the lack of sufficient playing time for the needs of youth soccer players.  This is an important point.  Why haven't solutions to this problem been found in the years that have gone by since the issue was raised?  Or do solutions exist, but they are just not preferred by the soccer organizations?

3.  It seems that the Middletown Youth Soccer organization is spending its own money on the new artificial turf field at Country Club Road.  Its 25-year lease with the city also obliges it to "diligently pursue the construction of" improvements such as lighting, bleachers, and pavement.  So why is the city now taking responsibility for these improvements?  The appearance is that the city is indirectly installing artificial turf by taking over Middletown Youth Soccer's other financial responsibilities.

4.  In 2016, Middletown Youth Soccer had half a million dollars in the bank, and was accumulating money at a good clip.  How wealthy would a sports club need to be to be held to the terms of its lease?

5.  Why is the city complicating the situation further right now by proposing puzzling changes to the way fields are made available to teams, including Middletown Youth Soccer?

For those who are interested, let me add a little more information to bring my questions into sharper focus.

1.  Noisy opposition to artificial turf occurred in 2015 after it became known that, at the recommendation of consultants,  the city was proposing to float a bond to create nine artificial turf fields in the city.  Some didn't want their children playing on artificial grass; some opposed the use of ground up tires on public health grounds; some noted the environmental impact; and some were opposed to the additional expense of maintaining artificial turf fields.  The city council was split in its response, but with the additional vote of the mayor, mention of artificial turf was dropped from the bonding initiative.  At that time, Mayor Drew said
...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 runWe 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.
That sounds pretty convincing.  It has been understood since then that none of the proceeds from that bond would be used for artificial turf.  Is that just a technicality that now must be worked around?  If so, what changed?  The minutes of of the Public Works Commission certainly make it seem as though the ordinance language is just a nuisance that must be circumvented.

2.  Given the above, I really don't understand why there isn't enough playing surface in Middletown for all the Middletown soccer teams that want to play.  Not only did the city secure bond money, with the mayor's pledge to create additional natural turf fields as needed; in addition, in its 2011 lease with the city, Middletown Youth Soccer agreed "At such time as Parks and Recreation will need to maintain additional fields for for soccer above the current number of 23 [sic] fields, then MYS will negotiate a reasonable contribution towards maintenance costs...."  So it seems that adequate natural turf was provided for in 2011 and 2015.  What happened?

A look at the 2019 calendar of Middletown Youth Soccer shows heavy use of the fields on Country Club Road and very little use of those on Long Hill Road.  Is that because the latter are heavily used by other soccer groups, or just because MYS prefers the Country Club Road location?  As you can see from the sign at the top of this post, the city seems to think these are Middletown Youth Soccer's fields even though they barely use them.  They are certainly more conveniently located for the majority of Middletown's residents than the far-flung Country Club Road fields, out near Route 91, yet they are dramatically underutilized.

Is it because those fields present themselves poorly at present?  On March 13, the fields on Long Hill Road were under snow, but the approach to the fields looked like this:

As an aside, I note that there is silt fence that seems inadequate, resulting in erosion that looks to be in urgent need of attention:

3. In July 2011, the city leased the soccer fields at Country Club Road to Middletown Youth Soccer for $1 per year for 25 years.  The lease states
In exchange for a 25 year lease, MYS will diligently pursue the construction of the following improvements:
  • Install lighting on soccer fields on Country Club Road
  • Fencing all around four fields
  • Parking lot paving
  • Concession stand
  • Construction of Restroom Facilities
  • Installation of a Scoreboard
  • Installation of Bleachers
After seven and a half years, have any of these improvements have been completed?  Why is the city taking over responsibility for them now?  Middletown Youth Soccer has exclusive rights to the fields, granted in their lease.  No one else is permitted to use these fields on the city-owned property of Smith Park.

Also interesting to note is that MYS received a state grant in 2010 in the amount of $150,000 for precisely these improvements.

Despite all this, MYS has now broken ground at Country Club Road on a new artificial turf field.

4.  In 2011, Middletown Youth Soccer was able to get the city to appropriate $355,000 to complete its unfinished soccer fields on Long Hill Road, citing "financial strain" as the reason it could not complete the project without the city's help.  But just three years later, MYS had more than this amount on hand, and in 2016 it had more than a half million dollars in the bank.  Interestingly, that is equal to the sum of the state grant and the city's appropriation to complete the Long Hill Road fields.

Middletown Youth Soccer is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, so unlike POTUS, its tax records are publicly available, at least for the years 2013-2016, with some information available for 2010-2012 as well.  They show the following dollar amounts:

year revenue revenue less expenses cash on hand
2013 575,239 72,343 171,900
2014 821,003 177,602 360,082
2015 890,889 79,497 454,436
2016 976,535 76,773 506,245

With a nest egg of $500,000+ that is growing by more than $70,000 per year, MYS appears to have the resources to deliver on its contractual obligations.

5.  The city is proposing to completely redo the way ball fields are made available to the public, with a three-tiered system to be put in place.  The second and third tiers will be required to have 60% of their membership be city residents, but not the highly prioritized first tier, which includes Middletown Youth Soccer.  Why?  It is rumored that the matter will be taken up at the Monday, 1 April Common Council meeting, but as of this writing, no agenda has been posted.

As you can see, I've got questions, and I would really like some answers.  Perhaps a knowledgable individual or city official who sees this post can provide them.  I am sure some readers are thinking, "you just don't understand!"  You are right.  Help me out.