Can Someone Figure Out The Ferry Fight? Plus: Himes’ Pelosi Peel


The city has a transportation jewel, the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company terminal downtown.

Some one million travelers each year traffic the city’s ferry terminal owned by the Bridgeport Port Authority. Many head over to Port Jefferson, Long Island from the city and surrounding suburbs, and some come over from the other side of the pond to work and attend events at the arena and ballpark, and environs. Officials for the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, led by Brian McAllister, want to move the ferry terminal to the other side of the harbor on the East End for a new facility with upgraded services and improved parking while cutting the trip by 10 minutes with immediate access off I-95.

Many business leaders and officials representing the Port Authority, a quasi-city agency which owns the ferry terminal property along Water Street, say the ferry service is vital to support businesses and attractions downtown. The relationship between McCallister and the Port Authority is not exactly smooth sailing. More like a canoe against the tide. Legal battles between the Port Authority and McCallister, primarily over tariff payments, have bled Port Authority finances. A federal court ruling allows the Port Authority to collect a tariff, but every dollar must go to the betterment of the ferry company or passengers. McCallister’s lease comes up next year. So how to keep the terminal downtown? Some discussions have centered on a terminal purchase. The Port Authority says it’s worth $8.5 million. McCallister says it’s worth under $2 million. Can they split the difference?

The Port Authority has little money, no staff; Chief Administrative Officer Andy Nunn is doing what he can to fill the void. The Port Authority needs a dose of purpose. The ferry company wants to know its future with the city. Be nice if someone could step up to sort it all out.

Himes’ Pelosi Peel Out

Congressman Jim Himes is trying to create distance from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Too much spending, says Jimmy. So Jimmy’s running, but can he hide from Republican attacks? The GOP is looking at a four-way primary to challenge Himes between party-endorsed Dan Debicella, former Bridgeport GOP Town Chair Rick Torres, Easton First Selectman Tom Herrmann and Rob Merkle. From Jimmy:

In Case You Missed It

Politico: Himes Pushes Pelosi to Reduce Spending

An article in Politico today highlights the impact of efforts led by Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) pushing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reduce government spending. The article explains that Himes and other freshman lawmakers are urging Democratic leaders in Congress to pay for any new spending moving forward and to cut spending across the board.

Himes’ thoughtful approach has led him to support a multifaceted strategy to fix the economy. Taking into consideration advice from economists across the ideological spectrum, Himes supported the stimulus and legislation that has helped stem the tide of foreclosures. However, he has also opposed a number of Democratic spending plans and has urged Congressional leaders to direct TARP repayments and other funds to pay down the deficit. With only half of the funding for the two-year stimulus project spent and increasing concerns—both at home and abroad—regarding the national debt, Himes believes is it time to begin signaling an intention to reduce the deficit.

From the article:

But this time was different: The malcontents were freshmen, many of whom have enthusiastically backed President Barack Obama’s agenda most of the way but now are choking on its cost.

Some of the first-term lawmakers said the dollar figure on a nearly $200 billion spending and tax cuts package was too big for them, even if some of the package was paid for with revenue offsets, according to senior party aides.

“I’m just at a point where I don’t want to see any more unpaid spending,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a freshman from a previously Republican district, told POLITICO the day of that meeting. He said concern about spending is “fairly common” in the 2008 group of freshman House Democrats because they are “a little more inclined to keep an ear to the ground.”

This One’s A Lulu

I devoured the most amazing turkey and Swiss panini Tuesday afternoon while lunching with Ken Kahn, the new executive director of the Bridgeport Arts & Cultural Council. It was my first visit to Lulu’s Café located on the ground floor of 881 The Lofts on Lafayette Boulevard across from Housatonic Community College. This place is the berries. Check it out. You’ve got to try owner John Passaniti’s panini. It’s nice to see Ken aboard helping to bring vitality to the city’s arts and cultural scene. Lots to promote. Ken has loads of experience in Connecticut and around the country. He’s interested in your thoughts, ideas, suggestions. Write to him at
From Ned Lamont

Unveils Strategy to Renew Connecticut Cities

New Haven, CT – Today, businessman and Democratic candidate for governor Ned Lamont unveiled his “Plan to Renew Our Cities” at a press conference with his running mate Mary Glassman, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, New Haven State Senator Toni Harp, and Hartford City Council President Pedro Segarra. Lamont outlined a comprehensive strategy to revitalize Connecticut’s cities and grow the state economy by improving transportation and education, focusing on smart development and bringing the jobs of the future to the state’s urban centers.

“Connecticut’s cities were once the hubs of our economy, but over the years they’ve fallen behind,” said Lamont. “As governor, I will fight to revitalize our cities and make them places where people are proud to live, work and raise a family. By focusing on smart development, improving education and giving Connecticut families the tools to build a better life, we can renew our cities and begin a new era of prosperity for the entire state.”

“Ned is the leader our state needs right now. He understands the challenges facing our cities and he has the right plan and the right experience to meet them. As a businessman and an educator, Ned has a proven record of bringing people together to solve problems and he is going to bring that results-oriented leadership to Hartford. I’m looking forward to working with him here in New Haven and across the state to create jobs and move Connecticut forward,” DeStefano said.

As governor, Lamont will:

• Transform urban education from cradle to career by pulling together teachers and administrators, students and parents.

• Focus transportation strategy on our urban train and bus hubs, revitalizing downtowns, liberating commuters from rush hour traffic, and creating thousands of jobs.

• Ease the property tax burden on city residents by making PILOT payments a top priority, and making it easier for cities to redevelop brownfields, turning yesterday’s industrial sites into tomorrow’s high-tech facilities

• Help families succeed by increasing access to child care, financial literacy training, job placement assistance, and implementing a state Earned Income Tax Credit

• Foster transit-oriented development by encouraging public-private partnerships and providing incentives for higher-density affordable housing near public transit

Read Lamont’s full Plan to Renew Our Cities on his website:

Dan Malloy response:

Dan Malloy, the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for Governor, today responded to Ned Lamont’s ideas for revitalizing Connecticut cities:

“The state needs to do more to support our cities and urban areas, and I’m glad to see Ned taking an interest in that discussion. But urban revitalization requires a much more comprehensive, holistic approach than what Ned suggested today. I should know; I spent 14 years turning a city around. Yes, job creation is a huge piece of what we did; almost 5,000 new jobs. But that wouldn’t have been possible without the other issues we focused on: we lowered crime by 63%, expanded access to health insurance, made pre-k available to all children, built thousands of units of affordable housing, improved transportation and mass transit, dramatically overhauled the city’s infrastructure, and made government smaller and more effective. That’s why Stamford has been recognized as one of the safest, best cities in the nation. I welcome Ned to this discussion, and I again urge him to have that discussion with me in cities and towns across the state.”



  1. The Derecktor Shipyard’s newest addition of a huge dry dock points to what the deep water port should be. See:

    The Ferry boat has a draft of less than 15 feet. It does not belong on the deep water side of the harbor. The Ferry Boat company needs to have complete control of the existing terminal site to grow their business. The traffic congestion around the Harbor Yard area especially when there are major events, parades and the like make it a nightmare for the ferry passengers to go to and from. That situation must be solved. The showdown will be June 28th at the PZC meeting. That is when their petition to move across the harbor will be considered. They want to be grandfathered under the old rules because the new master plan and zoning rules do not permit a passenger terminal on the east side of the harbor. Bravo to Derecktor. Bravo to the Federal Stimulus money that enabled the dry dock to happen. Bravo for Bridgeport. Thumbs down to the Ferry Boat Company and City grudge match. Both sides have to compromise. The ferry boat operation must stay where it is for that is what the confluence of transportation modes means; bus, rail, boat and taxi. It is one of Bridgeport’s fundamental strengths. Run the ferry boats on the west side. Fix the boats on the east side.

  2. The port authority needs a full-time experienced leader. Nunn was put there as a stopgap after Riccio was let go.
    I don’t know Riccio and maybe he needed to go but no thought or plan was in place when that circus came to town.
    We need a full-time competent leader for the port authority. The key word here is COMPETENT.
    Moving the ferryboat docking over to the East Side will be a mistake. It will just give travelers a quicker way to get out of Bridgeport via quick access to I-95.
    When most cities and towns are looking to get people into their towns and cities Bridgeport is thinking about how fast they can get these same people out of town.
    Right now the port authority is doing the same thing on a smaller scale. They closed the railroad underpass that led directly downtown and funneled traffic on a circuitous route through the South End and out of town.
    They need to open that underpass to arriving cars and families and more importantly they need to put up signage advertising and directing travelers to the downtown restaurants and attractions. They need to work with the ferry company and have pamphlets and such advertising Bridgeport on each ferry.
    Where the hell is the economic development head? What the hell is he doing? Does he know there is a ferry service?
    Bill Finch and his cohorts need to get their collective heads out of their collective asses and get to work here. These things keep popping up and they sit around wringing their hands. They have had over a year to figure this out, they knew over a year ago they were going to get rid of Riccio. Here we are again at or near a crisis stage and still no plan. Just like there is no plan for deepening the harbor and no plan for Pleasure Beach.

  3. Let’s blow up the Port Authority!!!
    Get rid of the board.
    Make it a city department.
    Make it work and hold people responsible.
    And if the ferry moves across the channel we have no one to blame but ourselves!
    We created this mess and refused to deal with it over the past decade.

  4. Maybe we should rename it the Be Green PA and Finch might even pay attention to it.
    The Port Authority started with Ganim under some good intentions.
    Then it grew into another vehicle by which Joe could try to avoid council oversight and control. It slowly became vehicle by which Joe could condemn properties and turn development rights over to a select few.
    And under Fabrizi and Finch it became this little cash cow in which they decided they could bleed the ferry dry since that was the only revenue-producer it had.
    Finch should publicly call for the resignations of all board members and take control before it ends up costs the city millions.

  5. Hold on, TC. Kudos to OPED on getting the best possible zoning in place for the Steelpointe Harbor development. They had the BFJ team back to help them insure what was approved would have strong connectivity to the East Side, East End and downtown. That zoning approval step was huge. On behalf of all of the OPED directors before him I congratulated Mr. Eversley and staff during the public comment period. I also think the creative financing they are working on for the East End sea-view plaza deal is going in the right direction using a developer-backed loan through the Community development block grant program. That arrangement isn’t finalized yet but it makes sense from what I heard at Monday’s council meeting. Bravo OPED!

  6. Nancy what the hell are you talking about? I wrote about the ferry and its potential move. You write about blowing smoke up Eversley’s skirt. Nancy Blah! Blah ! Blah! a lot of smoke and mirrors.
    I am so tired of all the promises and bullshit and nothing gets done. Write again when people are shopping at the sea-view plaza.
    Connecting the East Side and downtown; what are you drinking I want some.
    In the meantime no comment about the ferry boat and its moving.

  7. I would guess if anyone actually thought for a moment something would actually take place at Steel Point and it would be a true destination point people would flock to, and Steel Point will dwarf downtown, we would all simply wait for this to start and move the ferry there.
    The fact no one even mentions this confirms the fact Steel Point is simply a mirage, a sick economic development joke, a gift from the Economic Development Fairy.

  8. And I guess you can add the Sal DiNardo Memorial East Side Train Station to the above.
    We have Countdown arguing the ferry must stay by the train station and then on another day will argue there must be a second train station for no apparent reason other than this way the city will have to bail out Uncle Sal by buying his contaminated site for megabucks with no real intention of actually building it.
    This is why there is no economic development in the city. Everyone outside of Bridgeport sees it as it is. A parochial mindset that first must satisfy everyone else at the public trough before actually doing something in a thought-out, comprehensive plan that may just hurt the normal players while helping the city immensely.
    Just like we blew up the old UI generating plant let’s blow up the PA. That would be a start.

  9. Can we at least finish one project before we get started on another? Would’ve been nice to get the bridges repaired as a start. Oh wait … they did build that “nursery prison” downtown in record time.

  10. I have been a keen observer of the Ferry Company for over 30 years. In fact my first trip on the ferry was in 1958 when it departed from the foot of California Street.

    I don’t know how many economic development policy wonks have ever had to grow a business or make a payroll. I do believe they have sniffed a lot of glue in building their models. The harbor has been dragged up in studies and discussions dating back as far as a 1946 study by the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce. How’s this been working out for us?

    Bridgeport over the years has wanted to be Baltimore, Cleveland, Providence and Lowell MA. The closest we ever got to Providence was when Buddy Cianci blew into town one night for the BRBC before he got into hot sauce, and maybe watching that TV show called “Providence.” Later on, the Providence-Bridgeport connection was solidified when Joe and Buddy were bunko mates at Fort Dix. Certainly no Divine Providence was ever established for us, even when Eddie Egan was running the Diocese of Bridgeport.

    Here we have a multi-million dollar company, not including the other McCallister holdings, and we want to tell them how not to run their business.

    The BPA is technically bankrupt from a flawed legal argument that cost them over $900k financed through a loan they can’t pay. The Ferry Company is willing to bail them out and buy the existing Ferry Terminal property and develop another property at the former Turbana site. Interesting we are selling 50 acres for Steal Pointe for $5 million, with $500k down payment and performance and final payment not due until 2021. Talk about the time value of money!!! Additionally we paid Pequonnock YC $4.5 million to sail out of town. And we want to shake them down for over $8 million? Speaking of that big Las Vegas Big Box Convention for Steal Pointe ended up being a Big Bust Convention for Bridgeport and I’m not talking about the girls over at Ruby’s.

    Furthermore, if I’m part of the Tate George/Simon Konover group proposing the gas station and shopping center project next to Derektor, I want all those cars going by my front door.

    Finally, don’t forget the Ferry Company would build an 8000 sq ft new building, with the possibility of developing a mini-Port Jeff Village theme on our side of the pond. This would bring about a push-pull effect for Bridgeport and perhaps enable other development to be pushed down Seaview Avenue towards Pleasure Beach. The Ferry Company has also promised to operate a water-taxi service to Pleasure Beach and across the Union Square Dock for downtown steerage.

    Finally, if you think the Ferry Company leaving Union Square will be the be-all and end-all of downtown then let me suggest we are really in Deep Shit in a Shallow Harbor.

  11. Tom Kelly,
    Take a deep breath. Come in off of your ledge/patio.
    If this means that much to you may I suggest instead of taking a leap off of the fourth floor, take the plunge.
    Into the harbor. Tie a weight to your ankles for old time’s sake and keep with the theme. The good news is you will make a big splash. The bad news is the harbor is in such need of dredging you will probably end up in two feet of water.

  12. Reaper,
    You have me Grinning from Rear to Rear. I’m happy I live on the second floor. Maybe I can do a Swan Dive and bury me head in the sand.

  13. I guess this puts an end to the rumor the Grin Reaper is really Tom Kelly because the Grin Reaper doesn’t even know what floor TK lives on.
    Unless … this is a trick by TK simply trying to confuse the bloggers.
    Curses, foiled again …
    Will the Real Grin please stand up?

  14. The Oracle of Omaha Steaks!

    I had the Italian/combo panini sangaweech. It was a real LuLu! A great place with a very tasty atmosphere.

  15. Ah yes, a Bridgeport firing squad, form a circle and shoot inward …

    Let’s all agree the city needs some positive action. It would seem to me the ferry company, a business that’s been around longer than any of us, must be doing something right.

    Other than being a passenger, knowing the boats float and all the captains seem to be able to get back and forth across the LI Sound, I don’t know a whit about running a ferry company. But if I were in government, I’d want to talk to these guys and find out what would keep their business sailing.

    Moving along, the feds are accepting bids for a new White House helicopter and Boeing (formerly of Seattle now of Chicago) is planning a bid. It would seem to me ALL the Chief Executives of the Fairfield-New Haven County area would want to link arms and push for Sikorsky to get the contract. Not only did they have it for years, they employ scads of Connecticut people in that building alongside the Parkway.

    How many local mortgages, college tuitions, vacations and new cars have been paid for thanks to that payroll?

    It’s jobs, jobs and more jobs. Connecticut is losing them by the day, the population here is shrinking and leaving the rest of us to finance what’s left.

    Go after the jobs, whether they are on land, in the air or on the sea.

    Let’s stop the Ready-Fire-Aim mentality.

  16. *** Bla, Bla, Bla, show me the money is the phrase in the business world during these hard economic times. Bpt P.J.F. will try & do what is much more economical & money-making for them first! Any Bpt taxes or revenue is merely an afterthought in the overall scheme of things. *** Also, “seeing is believing” when it comes to anything that has to do with “Steel point.” *** It may be premature but I would not be surprised if the Bpt D.T.C. is looking to maybe make a deal with Caruso on what stays & what goes should they endorse him for Mayor? Sound “crazy,” never say never in politics I’ve learned! Time will tell, especially the way things are going in City Hall lately. Most workers & their Unions on both sides, city & BOE are saying enough, show us the “pink slips!” *** Vote with your mind for the right candidate & not just for the party! Time for voters to show their voting power for “new” change in Bpt. *** FORGETABOUTIT ***

  17. The transportation hub argument for the ferry at Union Square is thin. Little foot traffic is generated either way for buses or trains and the ship.
    The ferry is a motor vehicle link from the mainland to Long Island bypassing New York City. People don’t want to stop in Bridgeport for a meal and a pop. They want to go. Downtown has been hostile forever in any case. Why think that will change now? Seaview Avenue makes a lot more sense moving traffic. (Forget the trinkets. It won’t work there either.)
    On the other hand, a ton of money was spent to make Union Square more attractive, including routing traffic. Why was the ferry locked up for so short a time?

  18. InterModal transportation concept is what is mentioned to have the Ferry stay where it is. Someone explain.

    One day I went to the waiting area at the Ferry terminal to see for myself what people think.

    Will people using the Ferry come downtown to local restaurants and events? “No way,” was the response I got from a Westport resident, waiting to board the Ferry … “It’s too dangerous in Bridgeport.”

    You would need an image marketing campaign to re-position the city. (Something I have offered, though no takers yet!)

    I have reviewed docs from city council reps and seen the stats on how many people actually come into the city from the Ferry and it was very low, maybe 5 to 10 percent. The stats are a couple of years old though.

    I think the whole Ferry terminal could be turned into a Stamford Cove restaurant-like area, with live bands. That is if the Ferry moved. Plus, take a look at the view from the Ferry Terminal, it’s much better than from Pequonnock YC/Steel Pointe.

    Seaview Avenue towards Pleasure Beach is more in need of development at the moment. Plus, traffic concerns could be an issue during Bluefish games. Don’t you think it’s a bit crowded there?

    Why not just extend the whole Intermodal area to Seaview Ave from its current footprint?

  19. Mr BPT,
    As Mayor, it would be a lot more than just a new beginning that Gomes would provide.

    On another subject, does Grin Reaper think Mr BPT. is John M. Gomes? Just a trivia question.

  20. I think the Reaper was referring to John Gilmore. Bridgeport trivia question? Who is John Gilmore? Inquiring minds want to know! Maybe we can all become better enlightened.


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