Friday, July 12, 2013

Full house for dedication of the Katchen Coley Mount Laurel Preserve

Last night at 7pm the Common Council held a special meeting to dedicate the recent open space purchase of 50 acres formally known as the Bellfant property to longtime social, conservation, environmental, and animal activist local Katchen Coley. Over fifteen people spoke in honor of Coley with tales of her dedication to Middletown. Community Health Center CEO Mark Masselli spoke of Coley's perseverance in the founding days of The Connection Inc. and listed numerous occasions were Coley told him "exactly how it is and how it should be."
Rep. Matt Lesser speaks about Katchen Coley
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Beth Emery read a letter on behalf of the other commission members. 

Members of the Wadsworth Mansion Committee, the Rockfall Foundation, the Conservation Commission, the board of The Connection Inc., and the Garden Club of Middletown - all of which Coley is a member of spoke gave accolades on her behalf. Councilmember Joe Bibisi spoke about the brokering of the purchase and his joy in participating to make the dedication happen for Coley. Rep. Matt Lesser, once a tenant of Coley, presented Katchen with the proclamation signed by the mayor and council. Many members of the public, and Councilmen Phil Pessina and Bob Santangelo remarked about the annual daffodil party held at the Coley residence and her own diligence in keeping her property as a natural habitat for wildlife and plants to thrive. A expressed love for Coley's dog Benson who often accompanied her to meetings. Mayor Drew closed the public comment portion of the meeting with remarks.

Katchen Coley spoke at the end of the remarks bringing brevity to the dedication. She jokedly remarked how proud that the GOP members of the council allowed $100k to be drawn from the general fund for a environmental project on her behalf, Coley herself is a republican. Coley chided Masselli about his wife Jennifer Alexander, Kidcity CEO, as being a huge driving force behind changes in Middletown, and that everyone, especially Mark should listen to Jen more often. Coley imbibed the crowd to stay active, speak up,  be good stewards to the earth, and foremost not be afraid of opponents of their views.

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