In the Middle: Army base meeting tonight

The public hearing on the U.S. Army’s proposal to build a training base in Middletown is tonight, from 5:00 – 6:30. Questions from the public will be answered, and the meeting is at the Common Council chambers at City Hall, which is down by the river, next to Route 9.

I’m headed down there tonight. If you’d like to go and invest yourself some more in Middletown, let me know and we can meet up somewhere. Email me before 4:30 at jlaselva@wes.

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14 thoughts on “In the Middle: Army base meeting tonight

  1. erog8000

    I don’t understand the various criticisms of the nuances of the content of Wesleying as I’m not attuned to blogging. What I do see in Wesleying an effort to involve Wesleyan with the Middletown community which is a great thing. I was at the public information meeting Thursday night and was impressed with the Wesleyan students in attendance. Wesleyan students have left their hometowns (yeah, Manhattan is a hometown) all over the country and have come to Middletown. While attending Wesleyan many come of age to vote for the first time and to legally consume alcohol. These are milestones of adulthood. Many will never return to their hometown but will go on to other places to pursue more education, careers and dreams. Civic participation is the responsibility of every citizen. Middletown is an excellent place to learn the process and be heard. We all live in bubbles. Non-Wesleyan citizens of Middletown also lead lives that are isolated from what happens around them. Careers, family obligations, and personal interests all put us into a bubble where we tend to ignore the greater world outside.Issues are what drive us to action and it seems that the Army plan is such an issue. The meeting on Thursday night was a great civics lesson. Some people attending the meeting had failed to even read recent newspaper articles that provided answers to many of the questions that where asked repeatedly. Wesleyan students (some introduced themselves as such, others appeared as such) asked questions or made statements that at least moved the discussion forward. This included questions regarding the benefit of the facility to Middletown and reusing the existing reserve facility in Middletown as homeless housing.People attending the meeting had many different perspectives or agendas such as people who are: NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard); BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Nowhere Anytime); anti-military (or perhaps they were just anti-Army); self described tree huggers; of the opinion that the Constitution is not being followed; members of the press looking for sound bites; interested in the reuse of brown fields or old industrial sites; interested in homeless housing; shocked that this is being placed in Middletown; public transportation advocates; looking to see what benefits the Army could give Haddam (sewers); environmentalists; conservationists and so on. The fact that the Army was going to build a facility in Middletown was widely covered by the media in 2005. This was when the last BRAC commission plan was put forward and accepted by Congress. The fact that the Army is looking for clean undeveloped land should come as no surprise as brown fields in Middletown and all over the country have been identified for decades yet our government has not been able to accomplish cleanups. The Army needs this project done by about 2010. They do not have twenty years to spare for delaying lawsuits from outside interests, government bureaucracy and government ineptitude to clean up a site. The question of having the Army following zoning rules was interesting. Middletown is exempt like most municipalities from following their own zoning rules so why the Federal government? The Army said they are not interested in imminent domain. This is an issue of great concern as the current administration in Washington does not support imminent domain. Another administration may support imminent domain. Interestingly the property is very close to railroad tracks that the State is trying to revive (to the consternation if the NIMBYs) so the site can have access to rail transportation as one speaker advocated. The Army’s environmental evaluation is going to need to find either a pollution issue on the property or some issue involving plants or animal species. As it has been described as pristine it should be pollution free, so that leaves something endangered. Not too likely given the location. Some at the meeting were looking for a suggestion as to what could be “placed” on the property to make it environmentally sensitive. I wonder to which group they are associated.I suspect that if the property in question is indeed worthy of preservation the State’s DEP will exercise their option to purchase the property if the funds are available. This property may not be as important to the DEP as many would suppose. Political pressure to purchase the property might be needed. This could be taking funding away from more deserving properties for preservation but if enough voices are heard that’s the way the political process works. The Army said they would then look elsewhere (this is provided the imminent domain policy doesn’t change). The brown fields probably won’t be usable. The so called Pratt and Whitney Aircraft site was in the 1950’s and 60’s the site of the Atomic Jet Engine Co. (yes nuclear powered jet engines). You can probably imagine what contaminates that site. Any use of industrial zoned land or existing industrial property will be met with municipal resistance as the Middletown doesn’t want to lose any tax producing property. The problem is locating a clean site that has the acreage that they require.Eventually the Army may just look elsewhere in the state if no property can be obtained in Middletown. The 150 permanent jobs at the facility won’t benefit the citizens of Middletown. Many of these jobs would be civilian un-skilled (maintenance and cafeteria workers for example) with government pay scales and benefits. The economic halo effect of the facility won’t benefit Middletown.

  2. erog8000

    I don’t understand the various criticisms of the nuances of the content of Wesleying as I’m not attuned to blogging. What I do see in Wesleying an effort to involve Wesleyan with the Middletown community which is a great thing. I was at the public information meeting Thursday night and was impressed with the Wesleyan students in attendance. Wesleyan students have left their hometowns (yeah, Manhattan is a hometown) all over the country and have come to Middletown. While attending Wesleyan many come of age to vote for the first time and to legally consume alcohol. These are milestones of adulthood. Many will never return to their hometown but will go on to other places to pursue more education, careers and dreams. Civic participation is the responsibility of every citizen. Middletown is an excellent place to learn the process and be heard. We all live in bubbles. Non-Wesleyan citizens of Middletown also lead lives that are isolated from what happens around them. Careers, family obligations, and personal interests all put us into a bubble where we tend to ignore the greater world outside.

    Issues are what drive us to action and it seems that the Army plan is such an issue. The meeting on Thursday night was a great civics lesson. Some people attending the meeting had failed to even read recent newspaper articles that provided answers to many of the questions that where asked repeatedly. Wesleyan students (some introduced themselves as such, others appeared as such) asked questions or made statements that at least moved the discussion forward. This included questions regarding the benefit of the facility to Middletown and reusing the existing reserve facility in Middletown as homeless housing.

    People attending the meeting had many different perspectives or agendas such as people who are: NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard); BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Nowhere Anytime); anti-military (or perhaps they were just anti-Army); self described tree huggers; of the opinion that the Constitution is not being followed; members of the press looking for sound bites; interested in the reuse of brown fields or old industrial sites; interested in homeless housing; shocked that this is being placed in Middletown; public transportation advocates; looking to see what benefits the Army could give Haddam (sewers); environmentalists; conservationists and so on.

    The fact that the Army was going to build a facility in Middletown was widely covered by the media in 2005. This was when the last BRAC commission plan was put forward and accepted by Congress. The fact that the Army is looking for clean undeveloped land should come as no surprise as brown fields in Middletown and all over the country have been identified for decades yet our government has not been able to accomplish cleanups. The Army needs this project done by about 2010. They do not have twenty years to spare for delaying lawsuits from outside interests, government bureaucracy and government ineptitude to clean up a site. The question of having the Army following zoning rules was interesting. Middletown is exempt like most municipalities from following their own zoning rules so why the Federal government? The Army said they are not interested in imminent domain. This is an issue of great concern as the current administration in Washington does not support imminent domain. Another administration may support imminent domain. Interestingly the property is very close to railroad tracks that the State is trying to revive (to the consternation if the NIMBYs) so the site can have access to rail transportation as one speaker advocated.

    The Army’s environmental evaluation is going to need to find either a pollution issue on the property or some issue involving plants or animal species. As it has been described as pristine it should be pollution free, so that leaves something endangered. Not too likely given the location. Some at the meeting were looking for a suggestion as to what could be “placed” on the property to make it environmentally sensitive. I wonder to which group they are associated.

    I suspect that if the property in question is indeed worthy of preservation the State’s DEP will exercise their option to purchase the property if the funds are available. This property may not be as important to the DEP as many would suppose. Political pressure to purchase the property might be needed. This could be taking funding away from more deserving properties for preservation but if enough voices are heard that’s the way the political process works. The Army said they would then look elsewhere (this is provided the imminent domain policy doesn’t change). The brown fields probably won’t be usable. The so called Pratt and Whitney Aircraft site was in the 1950’s and 60’s the site of the Atomic Jet Engine Co. (yes nuclear powered jet engines). You can probably imagine what contaminates that site. Any use of industrial zoned land or existing industrial property will be met with municipal resistance as the Middletown doesn’t want to lose any tax producing property. The problem is locating a clean site that has the acreage that they require.

    Eventually the Army may just look elsewhere in the state if no property can be obtained in Middletown. The 150 permanent jobs at the facility won’t benefit the citizens of Middletown. Many of these jobs would be civilian un-skilled (maintenance and cafeteria workers for example) with government pay scales and benefits. The economic halo effect of the facility won’t benefit Middletown.

  3. Justin

    Some quick thoughts on the comments posted so far:Anonymous @ 1:15: While I respect your position, I think you’re entirely wrong. Things happening in Middletown are not “regular Wesleyan news” items; rather, they are something different: Middletown news items. I think it’s important to differentiate the two, for two important purposes.First, the In the Middle heading serves immediately to identify the type of news being posted. It allows readers to easily identify important issues in Middletown, as opposed to the litany of YouTube videos, campus event notices, and opinion pieces (which are all, true, very valuable) that we otherwise post on Wesleying.Second, this immediate identification and, yes, differentiation, is important precisely because student interest in Middletown is so sorely lacking. The heading points out in a very clear way that it’s not just Wesleyan we should be concerned about; that we are literally living “in the middle” between the bubble-life and the permanent residents of the City of Middletown. And as such, we are not only stakeholders in the politics of the city, but also have a responsibility to give back to the greater community of which we’re a part.If you could prove that the heading on an article has the tangible effect of separating student opinion from supporting Middletown issues, then maybe we should talk. But judging by the dearth of students I saw at such an important meeting (on the Army’s plans), I don’t think it’s three words that are separating students from Middletown. While your claim might make an interesting theory, you need to bring it out of the realm of concept and actually prove it before I give it any weight.Anonymous @ 5:48: I agree. As for the timing, I, too, wish I could have posted it earlier to give people more notice. Unfortunately, I did not know about the meeting, either, until I posted it.Anonymous @ 3:58: I completely agree, and judging by the comments made at the meeting, I’d say most concerned citizens in Middletown feel the same way. Unfortunately, it apparently is not that simple. I’ll try to elaborate more in a future entry.

  4. Justin

    Some quick thoughts on the comments posted so far:

    Anonymous @ 1:15: While I respect your position, I think you’re entirely wrong. Things happening in Middletown are not “regular Wesleyan news” items; rather, they are something different: Middletown news items. I think it’s important to differentiate the two, for two important purposes.

    First, the In the Middle heading serves immediately to identify the type of news being posted. It allows readers to easily identify important issues in Middletown, as opposed to the litany of YouTube videos, campus event notices, and opinion pieces (which are all, true, very valuable) that we otherwise post on Wesleying.

    Second, this immediate identification and, yes, differentiation, is important precisely because student interest in Middletown is so sorely lacking. The heading points out in a very clear way that it’s not just Wesleyan we should be concerned about; that we are literally living “in the middle” between the bubble-life and the permanent residents of the City of Middletown. And as such, we are not only stakeholders in the politics of the city, but also have a responsibility to give back to the greater community of which we’re a part.

    If you could prove that the heading on an article has the tangible effect of separating student opinion from supporting Middletown issues, then maybe we should talk. But judging by the dearth of students I saw at such an important meeting (on the Army’s plans), I don’t think it’s three words that are separating students from Middletown. While your claim might make an interesting theory, you need to bring it out of the realm of concept and actually prove it before I give it any weight.

    Anonymous @ 5:48: I agree. As for the timing, I, too, wish I could have posted it earlier to give people more notice. Unfortunately, I did not know about the meeting, either, until I posted it.

    Anonymous @ 3:58: I completely agree, and judging by the comments made at the meeting, I’d say most concerned citizens in Middletown feel the same way. Unfortunately, it apparently is not that simple. I’ll try to elaborate more in a future entry.

  5. Anonymous

    There’s nothing anti-military about opposing an army base in the middle of a pristine wilderness. Put it elsewhere in Middletown — in an abandoned industrial area, where it would actually do some good.

  6. Anonymous

    There’s nothing anti-military about opposing an army base in the middle of a pristine wilderness. Put it elsewhere in Middletown — in an abandoned industrial area, where it would actually do some good.

  7. Mad Joy

    Ahh yeah, I meant to go to that :( Oops, I forgot. I wish I’d read Wesleying earlier in the day today :(

  8. Mad Joy

    Ahh yeah, I meant to go to that :( Oops, I forgot. I wish I’d read Wesleying earlier in the day today :(

  9. Anonymous

    I’m sick of the anti-military attitude on this campus. Who’s for starting an ROTC branch here?

  10. Anonymous

    Meh, I think it makes sense to keep the “In the Middle.” At least for me, it draws my attention more to reading it than the other topics.However, it would have been useful to have this post a bit earlier, so those of us who were in classes all afternoon could read it in time. :)

  11. Anonymous

    Meh, I think it makes sense to keep the “In the Middle.” At least for me, it draws my attention more to reading it than the other topics.

    However, it would have been useful to have this post a bit earlier, so those of us who were in classes all afternoon could read it in time. :)

  12. Anonymous

    While I think it’s good to pay attention to Middletown events, I feel like giving them the special “in the middle” title does more to separate ourselves from the town rather than keep up involved. I think it should be posted as regular Wesleyan news

  13. Anonymous

    While I think it’s good to pay attention to Middletown events, I feel like giving them the special “in the middle” title does more to separate ourselves from the town rather than keep up involved. I think it should be posted as regular Wesleyan news

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