Saturday, August 30, 2008

Donovan Park Update

At this week's Board of Education meeting, the board approved the following motion:

“The Board of Education will accept a transfer of a section of the Donovan Park property from the City of Middletown should said transfer be approved by the Common Council.”

This is good news for Macdonough School and for the neighborhood. This transfer will not change the way that people use the park, it will merely give the school the ability to be strict when the playground is being abused. See our earlier blog, Problems In Donovan Park, for more details.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Website and Blog

NEAT is trying to expand out outreach abilities and get information out to as many people in as many ways possible. To that end, we now have a new, updated website, created by North End resident and web designer, Carole Phelan. While almost everything that we do is a work-in progress, this new website is much more user-friendly and hopefully allows visitors to quickly access information about NEAT's programs and initiatives. NEAT's website is

But, a website doesn't easily lend itself to conversation and narration, so we've created a NEAT blog, the North End News to give people access to the day-to-day goings on of our organization and the North End in general. We are looking for submissions. If you would like to post something about your section of the North End, an update, an event, a history, or even a profile of a North End resident, please email it to me at and write BLOG in the subject line. The more information we can collect, the more interesting it will be. The goal is to have a place to learn about this neighborhood and all of its variety. The blog address is : You're already here!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Street Arts Center and North End Action Team Announce Free Art of Living Classes

Building Computer Basics, First Time Homeowner and Credit Counseling to be Offered

The North End Action Team and the Green Street Arts Center are collaborating on a series of free life-skills classes intended to help attendees discover new opportunities and improve the quality of life. For more information, or to register in advance, call the NEAT office at (860) 346-4845. All classes will take place at the Green Street Arts Center, located at 51 Green Street in downtown Middletown.

Green Street will provide free arts activities for youth during Art of Living Classes. Please be sure to mention whether your child or children will be attending when you register.

The schedule is as follows:

First-Time Homeowner and Credit Counseling
Thursdays, September 4, 11, 18 & 25; 6–8pm

Rosa Carrero from Liberty Bank present four info sessions designed to help people take the first steps toward buying a home. Topics include credit counseling (Session 1), finding the right home (Session 2), the lending process (Session 3) and understanding legalities (Session 4). Participants in all four will receive a certificate of completion that meets one eligibility requirement for The City of Middletown grant and down payment assistance, CHFA and CHFA down payment assistance programs.

Building Computer Basics
Thursdays, October 2, 9, 16, & 23; 6–8pm

The North End Action Team and Green Street teaching artist Shawn Hill present a short, free introduction to computer basics. Learn how to create writing samples in Microsoft Word and explore the possibilities of budgets and lists in Microsoft Excel. By the time you have completed all four sessions, you will have the building blocks needed for adding a new skill to your job application, or for organizing your household bills. Absolute beginners, and people with all levels of computer experience are welcome.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Garden Party A Success!

Erin Street was alive on Thursday night with the sounds of soulful jazz, children playing and good conversation. NEAT hosted its eighth annual garden party in the Erin Street Community Garden in the North End.

Hundreds of people gathered to enjoy the sunshine (thank goodness!) and eat delicious food donated by many generous Middletown restaurants. There was jazz music by The Three Hats, which included North End resident, Bill Carbone on drums. You can hear/see their performance if you watch the video of the party.

Click Here to watch the video of the party (created by North End Resident Dan Nocera)

Click Here to see pictures of the party

NEAT presented its first ever scholarships to three outstanding young NEAT members to help them as they take their next steps toward college and career. Dylan Hansen and Tierra Gaskins have been NEAT kids for the last nine years, involved in everything from the daVinci Club, building the Dream House, making two Documentaries and building a boat, the Amazing Rowing Machine, to singing with the NEAT Notes. Tierra is not only the first person in her family to graduate from high school, but she is beginning college in the fall. Dylan graduated this year and is working as a chef at It's Only Natural Restaurant, fulfilling a dream of his to cook in a restaurant.

Rohanna Powell has worked for NEAT for the last three years, helping out in the office and assisting our kids programs. She is a hard working, kind young woman, admired by all who get to know her. She is beginning at Hampton College in the fall. She will be missed very much!

NEAT wishes all three luck and success and we will keep in touch and keep tabs on them, as we have been doing for many years!

Thank You to everyone who donated to this party, and especially to the following restaurants who donated amazing food:
Empire Pizza,Fiore II Restaurant,Firehouse Steakhouse, Forest City, Fusion , Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, Inn at Middletown, It's Only Natural , Javapalooza , Mega Wraps , Metro Spirits, O'Rourke's Diner, Pattie Palace , Pho Mai, Public, Public Markets, Puerto Vallarta, Sweet Smelling Savour Chocolates , Tandoor-The Clay Oven, Tuscany Grill, Typhoon Asian Garden

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NEAT celebrates year with garden party

By: JENNIFER SPRAGUE , Press staff
MIDDLETOWN - It's a fundraiser, yes - but more importantly, NEAT's eighth annual Garden Party is about celebrating the accomplishments of a neighborhood organization, said Izzi Greenberg.
"The importance of this event is to showcase what NEAT has done the past year," said the North End Action Team executive
About 20 Middletown restaurants have donated food, desserts and drinks for Thursday's affair, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Erin Street Community Garden at the corner of High Street in Middletown's North End. With vegetables and herbs harvested from the garden, the planning committee will prepare additional menu items.
"We have a lot of tomatoes and basil, so we will probably be serving dishes with those ingredients," Greenberg said.
Bar tables will be set throughout the garden, and Erin Street will be closed while about 300 guests mingle and enjoy live jazz and hors d'oeuvres passed out by neighborhood kids.
The trio The Three Hats - organist Sammy Myers, guitarist Lance James and drummer Bill Carbone - will perform a mix of original jazz tunes as well as "some funkier jazz," said Carbone, a Pearl Street resident.
"We're part of the North End, so it's more than just a gig," Carbone said. "I live in the North End, and I enjoy the good things about it and suffer from the bad things about it."
Carbone, who also runs Wesleyan University's steel drum band, said "NEAT is a voice" for the people of the North End.
"Lydia Brewster, community organizer for NEAT, and Izzi [Greenberg] serve such an important purpose for people who live in the North End," he said. "There have been a lot of major issues on our block. If you report it to NEAT, they advocate for you. They're so huge. They give me hope for the North End."
Funds from Thursday evening's garden party will benefit NEAT's programs, but more importantly, Greenberg said, it will give people a chance to see "what this neighborhood is all about."
"It's a really special place," she said. "It's important to realize what good neighbors and what incredible beauty can be achieved in a neighborhood."
When NEAT first began working at the Erin Street garden, a collaboration with the city of Middletown, the lot was overgrown and filled with junk cars, Greenberg said. Now there are 20 plots, tended by groups and individuals.
"It's really a testament to the committee that runs this garden," Greenberg said. "They're a force to be reckoned with."
Neighborhood kids, proud of what the garden has become, sometimes give tours during the party, she said.
"That's a really powerful feeling for a neighborhood that's often criticized," Greenberg said.
The garden party is open to anyone. A donation of $20 is suggested for individuals and $35 for families. Donations benefit NEAT's programs.
For more information about the garden party, call (860) 346-4845. For more information about NEAT, visit
The North End Action Team is a neighborhood organization that began in 1997 to develop grassroots leadership in the North End. NEAT is made up of residents, business leaders, property owners and stakeholder groups. NEAT's mission is to provide neighborhood-based participation and leadership, to identify concerns, define strategies and develop resources to improve the quality of life in the North End.
Jennifer Sprague can be reached at or by calling (860) 347-3331, ext. 222.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hot Spots: August 6, 2008

Compiled by residents, property owners, retail staff, and stakeholders to inform municipal officials of conditions identified as chronic problems in the North End.


  • Positive collaboration and communication existing between NEAT and police personnel.
  • Playground at Green and deKoven is clean and seeded
  • City organized a meeting with Wharfside, NEAT and city representatives to begin dialogue
  • General improvements to living conditions on lower Grand St.


  • 85 Grand and 281 Pearl (site of recent fire) appear abandoned and overgrown. Trash is accumulating and weeds are becoming a hazard.
  • 11 Johnson St. also appears abandoned; neighbors have been keeping the lot clean.
  • 47 Ferry St.: suspicious activity behind the building. Possible prostitution, women going to the back for a few minutes, coming out again, possible drug activity.
  • Space between 56 Rapallo and 47/49 Rapallo and area behind building: possible drug activity/dealing.
  • Vandalism and unsupervised children at the playground behind Wharfside/GSAC. Fence is being taken apart and it is becoming unsafe.
  • Continued reports of problems at the intersections of Liberty and Pearl and Frazier and Liberty. A lot of drug activity and presence of loitering all day and night. From High and Liberty all the way down to Main St. Prostitution reported at Frazier and Liberty.
  • Possible drug activity at 105 Liberty.
  • Continued problem with garbage at 48 Liberty St.: improper storage and litter on ground.
  • 40 Ferry St.: repeated noise in late evening hours
  • Parking lot/Fire Lane at the top of Ferry Street: people selling out of car trunks, illegal parking (can signs be put up?), noise
  • Reports of continued presence of prostitution in Liberty/Frazier area.
  • Constant litter outside of Aresco’s Market. Can trash cans be put there?

Monday, August 4, 2008

African Drumming at Erin Sreet

On Wednesday, the final Arts in the Garden workshop took place in the Erin Street Community Garden. It was by far the best of this series that we've ever held. Over 70 people from all over the state gathered in the garden to drum and dance on what turned out to be one of the nicest nights of the summer. The workshop was led by Abdoulaye Sylla, who has a knack with groups of kids. He had people aged from 2-80 drumming in time and sounding good! The kids took turns leading the drum circle, they did the limbo and stuffed themselves with watermelon.

What a wonderful way to cap off the summer series. One woman, who had traveled from Farmington said: "we just don't have anything like this where we kids love this kind of thing." I heard similar sentiments from other participants. It's nice to know that our little garden is unique and welcoming.

If you haven't checked it out, please stop by and sit on a bench or walk around. You'll be amazed at this year's bounty.

To see more pictures from the event, go to:
Thank you to the Green Street Arts Center from co-sponsoring this series and to the Middletown Commission on the Arts for generously funding it!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Voter Registration

We're inching up to the 2008 election and many North End residents are not yet registered to vote. I can't stress enough how important voting is for a neighborhood like ours. So, we're launching a voter registration campaign. Our teen leadership group, the Teen Dreams Society, will be doing voter registration drives and, along with other NEAT members, intend to hold a political forum in October.

In the meantime, are you registered to vote? Are you confused about the registration process? Do you have a criminal record and don't think you can vote? You may be wrong. Please contact the NEAT office if you would like help registering to vote or would like more information about the process.

If you're interesting in helping with NEAT's North End Votes campaign, please email or call the NEAT office at 860-346-4845.