Parks Master Plan Forum August 10, 2011

Approximately 55 residents attended the Parks Master Plan Forum at the Cesar Battalia School on August 10, 2011.  ACCA members and supporters comprised about 12% of the attendees and emphasized that natural areas had been left out of the online survey.  Please fill out the online survey which we discussed in an earlier post.  The Mayor would like to have 1,000 responses.  Be sure to write in the need for natural spaces and the need to protect the Ash Creek tidal estuary.

The Mayor opened up the forum by discussing Bridgeport's reputation as "The Park City," which grew out of Frederick Olmsted's involvement in designing Beardsley Park and Seaside Park.  Olmsted also designed Central Park and believed that parks should bring nature to city dwellers and allow city inhabitant to get to know one another and socialize.  He said his goal is to have a park within a 15 minute walk of every resident.  He then introduced the consultants, Sasaki Associates, a renowned urban design/landscape design firm based out of San Franscisco, who discussed their findings and facilitated break out sessions and report outs among the attendees.

Some of the findings were that we have approximately 45 parks in Bridgeport comprised of a total of 1,346 acres.  However, 65% of our park land is devoted to regional parks and only 6% to neighborhood parks.  Compared to Boston, we have less park land per person.  One of the unique aspects of Bridgeport is its ecology.  It is a city comprised of coastal habitat, riparian corridors, and upland habitat.  Mayor Finch said its one of the few cities where you can see a Bald Eagle in flight.  The East Side of Bridgeport is underserved by parks and residents have no coastal access, which they find frustrating as they are surrounded on three sides by water.

One of ACCA's Board members, Andre Ruellan, spoke out to the consultants before the entire audience about the lack of any focus on ecology or natural areas in the survey they created.  He said that ecology and natural areas need to be taken into account in the plan.  Several ACCA members spoke to Mayor Finch about our dismay about the destruction of the beach grass at the St. Mary's sand spit.  What we took away from our discussions with him is that some restoration will occur in the fall.

The Parks Master Plan has three overarching goals: (1) Connect - connect the parks to one another through bike trails and other means, (2) Enhance - natural areas along coastline, family-oriented amenities, and (3) Expand - more neighborhood parks, alliances with NRZ and schools, nature habitat (the sand spit at St. Mary's was identified on the Expand map as a nature area).

The next public forum will held in October.  We hope you can attend.  We need to keep the focus on Ash Creek.


Mayor Finch Addresses Parks Master Plan Forum on August 10, 2011
Connect - First Goal for Bridgeport Parks Master Plan
Enhance - Second Goal for Bridgeport Parks Master Plan
Expand - Second Goal for Bridgeport Parks Master Plan
System Amenities - Bridgeport Parks 2011 Survey