The Middlesex Land Trust supports the proposal to close Lyceum Rd. As a property owner of several properties along Sumner Brook, we hold a public interest in this particular area.
In addition to saving the City significant cost to upgrade, repair and maintain into the future, Lyceum Road and its stream crossing, there are significant ecological benefits to abandoning the road, that extend not only to the City of Middletown, but to the larger Connecticut community. It is not often that the opportunity presents itself, not just to preserve an existing natural area, but to enhance it and save taxpayer dollars at the same time.
Currently, Lyceum Road, a lightly used road, is in extreme disrepair and the culvert under the road is undersized and not well situated. The stream regularly overwhelms the culvert to flood over the road causing damage to the Road and sweeping a lot of road debris (road gas & oil, degraded asphalt, salt, sand, silt, dirt & trash) into the stream. To meet modern standards, rebuilding this country road and culvert would require a large amount of fill and road materials be trucked in, in order to substantially raise the roadway and prevent further damage to it. A larger more heavily built and surfaced road will be used more often and will deliver more road contaminants into the stream, and it will bring additional artificial light and road noise into this less developed area.
The steady encroachment into our shrinking natural world, which is already under severe stress from climate change, requires that we make more deliberate decisions about our choices. In this case, the choice to abandon this lightly used road where other viable alternatives exist, and instead of degrading the surrounding environment by rebuilding a bigger and better road, we can substantially increase the ecological value of this Sumner Brook corridor.
In the immediate area, wildlife will benefit from better connections between Middlesex Land Trust conserved parcels upstream and downstream of the road. Reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds, whose populations have suffered double digit declines in the last 50 years, need better quality habitats to, at a minimum, maintain their current, degraded populations. Biologically diverse habitats sequester and store more carbon than our typical suburban Connecticut landscapes. Connected flood plains along the brook, allow high volume rain events to dissipate into adjacent wetlands, and one less road will mean less non-point pollution entering the brook. Better water quality in our streams improves the habitat for fish in Sumner Brook, the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.
This has important economic consequences for our recreational and seafood industries that help keep our state fiscally healthy. Providing natural areas for our streams to spread out into during high rain events, helps mitigate damage to downstream city infrastructure, that if damaged during storm events, cost taxpayers more money to repair and maintain.
Taking care of our environment isn’t just a nicety that we can relegate to someone else. We all must take steps to address both the biological diversity crisis and climate change in a positive manner. Rarely are we presented with a choice such as this, that improves the environment and saves taxpayers money. We support this win-win solution of discontinuing Lyceum Rd.