Congress Street Bridge Solution? Relocate Fire Headquarters

A buddy of mine during lunch on Tuesday was underwhelmed by all this attention focused on replacing the Congress Street Bridge that would reconnect downtown with the East Side.

This is not to let the air out of the sails of Mayor Bill Finch and Congressman Jim Himes who conducted a press conference to announce that a couple of million is now in place to take down the stuck-open eyesore. That’s a nice start, but the reality is who’s going to cough up the $40 million to replace the structure? Bridges cost a fortune, particularly when dealing with the uncertainty of river bottoms. Lots of crap to deal with down there.

My friend’s suggestion, don’t waste energy on replacing the bridge, just take down what’s there. The biggest problem with the dormant bridge isn’t the handful of small businesses denied immediate access from downtown, it’s Fire Department headquarters located right next to it slowing response time to the East Side. Fire personnel must cross other city bridges to reach the East Side.

Okay, what to do? Relocate Fire Headquarters, he said. Rather than trying to secure $40 million to replace the bridge why not just take down the existing eyesore and relocate Fire Headquarters to accommodate East Side response time? Makes sense to me.

The question is where to relocate Fire Headquarters? And what would that cost? Peanuts compared to building a new bridge. Plus, if you move Fire Headquarters you have a nice piece of waterfront property to market. (Let’s not place a prison there, okay?) This must be done, of course, keeping response time in mind for downtown, etc.

So let’s start a campaign. Forget the new bridge. It’s not going to happen. Take down the existing bridge. Is there enough money in place to remove the bridge and relocate the fire house? If  not, it would be a lot easier for Finch and Himes and the city’s legislative delegation to skunk out the dough to relocate it.

Let’s relocate Fire Headquarters. Suggestions?

Ferry Debate Tabled

Speaking of relocation, a City Council committee on Tuesday debated a non-binding resolution to move the Bridgeport Port Jefferson Steamboat Company ferry terminal from downtown to the other side of the harbor. East End councilmen James Holloway and Andre Baker made the pitch to the committee overseeing economic development. Ferry officials support the move. Most business interests want to keep the ferry terminal at its current location. The issue was tabled for further study.

BCAC Announcement

The Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce Mary Pat Curran Healy as our new Executive Director.

Mary Pat is no stranger to Bridgeport. She has extensive knowledge of the Bridgeport community and has been actively involved as a board member in numerous non-profit organizations. Most recently, she served as the community relations and government liaison for AT&T. Mary Pat has a passion for the well-being of Bridgeport’s children and families and the issues that have long engaged members of BCAC.

Mary Pat brings to BCAC deep knowledge and experience in fund development and community relations. She is well-known in the business and non-profit communities in Bridgeport and the region and will build on the foundation and community respect established under Marilyn Ondrasik’s leadership.

The BCAC Board would like to thank Barbara Edinberg for serving as our acting director for the past four months. Barbara will continue to work hand-in-hand with the new Executive Director by continuing to conduct research on the current issues and moving the Action Agendas of our Task Forces forward. Mary Pat will begin working with Barbara and the rest of the staff on the transition process and will join the organization full time early in February.

News release from union coalition

Business, Education, and Healthcare Advocates Join State Public Service Workers to Oppose More Budget Cuts to Public Services

At a press conference on the steps of the State Capitol today, members of the unions in the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) joined business, labor, education and advocacy groups to decry Governor M. Jodi Rell’s latest round of proposed cuts. The conference was organized by District 1199/SEIU, a member of the coalition.

In addition to the wide array of cuts the Governor has already enacted, she has proposed even deeper cuts to services that serve the elderly, children and the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Speakers who took the podium highlighted the shortsightedness of the Governor’s plan, and showed that slashing funding for vital services will further endanger Connecticut’s recovery and prolong the pain felt by so many across the state.

District 1199/SEIU President Carmen Boudier said “The Governor’s plan won’t make people’s lives better; it will make them worse. That’s why our members are standing up for the people we care for, night and day, all across Connecticut. This is about protecting the services our mothers, our grandmothers, our sisters, our aunts and everyone we serve depend on.”

In addition to the impact felt by those who use the services, the Governor’s current proposal will add to the jobless rolls indiscriminately. Her proposal will cost another 5,000 jobs, on top of the approximately 30,000 jobs that have been lost due to previous budget cuts.

CT Association of Health Care Facilities Executive Vice President Matthew Barrett put it even more bluntly, “The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name. This deficit mitigation plan has a right name, and it is ‘job killer.’ It also undermines and jeopardizes the quality of care in CT nursing homes.”

In February of this year, SEBAC leaders delivered an open letter to Governor Rell warning of exactly the cycle that is occurring — specifically that drastic cuts to balance the budget would lead to a slower recovery which would lead to a new budget crisis and prolonged hardship for the people of the state. The letter including the following statement:

“[C]utting public services in this economic crisis would only make the problem worse for everyone. Connecticut’s people deserve more from their government than simply joining in the cycle of spending reductions, cutbacks, and layoffs. They deserve a government that invests in its people and infrastructure even more in difficult times, and so helps to spark the process of turning the economy around.”

“We were amazed when we saw that the governor proposed cutting the LPN Training Program — when the best social program is an opportunity to be trained for a good job. Our message to the Governor is: if this is the plan you want us to accept, we are here to say we need a better plan for the residents of CT,” said Alex Johnson, the Chief Operating Officer for Capitol Workforce Partners.

The Governor’s latest proposal also includes $84 million in cuts to towns and cities for local services, exacerbating the already frayed safety net that so many Connecticut residents need to get back on their feet. Public statements from SEBAC have pointed out that a solution based solely on spending cuts is untenable and that increases in revenue from those most able to pay is the only feasible next step.

The Governor has cut enough. Cutting funding for kids with Autism, people with AIDS, reducing heating fuel aid, funding to nursing homes and people with Alzheimer’s is not the way to close the budget gap. It is time to take a serious look at what Connecticut needs to recover. SEBAC leaders call on the Governor to begin a positive cycle of reinvestment, hope, and renewal, rather than a vicious cycle of cutback, despair, and decline.

District 1199 is one of thirteen unions in the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC), which serves to unite approximately 50,000 Connecticut State Employees to address issues of common concern. To learn more about the coalition’s campaign for a fair budget and a livable state with great public services visit



  1. I find the scenario you present very interesting. Fire headquarters that is in place today is too big and is costly to maintain.
    I think relocating the fire headquarters further down on Housatonic Ave would be a good idea. There is a very large parcel of land located adjacent to the United Rental building that would be ideal for a Fire Headquarters and possibly a fire training center.
    Building a new fire headquarters would and could mean a smaller building. Right now there are 8 apparatus doors and bays for 3 fire companies, Engine 1 Truck 5 and Squad 5. The top floor or 4th floor is occupied by 911 center that will soon be moved to a different location.
    Moving the Fire headquarters will definitely decrease the response time to the Hollow and to the lower and middle portions of the East Side. The response times will be better for a good portion of the East Side by moving fire headquarters to Housatonic Ave. Coming out of fire headquarters forces fire companies to negotiate getting through the busy intersection of Congress/Water St & Housatonic Ave.
    I am sure that there is federal Homeland Security Money available for this project. Adding a training facility here would be a win-win for the FD. This is one of the largest Fire Departments in the State and outside of New York City and Boston it is probably the largest Department in the northeast. Yet we do a lot of training in Fairfield.
    I agree that once the bridge is taken down it will not be replaced for generations. Politicians do not like to build things like bridges and such, they see no political plus coming from doing that. Example ask anyone living in the North End or upper East Side about rebuilding the Congress Street bridge and you will either get a blank stare or a response such as why waste the money.
    I say build a new Fire Headquarters, knock down the old Fire headquarters and sell the property to a developer with a solid development plan.

  2. While the emotions surrounding the issue are strong, the truth is money to replace the bridge will not be coming anytime in the near or distant future. Your friend is very, very smart Lennie.

  3. Fire Hq:
    Viaduct issues to the Lower East Side?
    Anything that helps firefighters get real training rather than too much “on the job” training should be considered.
    I disagree with TC only to the point that the city can get away with a smaller garage for equipment. The trucks keep on getting bigger and the city has consolidated a lot.
    Having adequate or slightly more than adequate space for offices and quarters is not a bad thing.
    The harbor bottom issue, I think, is bogus with a competent engineer and contractor. The cost of the bridge required is not.

  4. Enlightened: What I meant was you don’t need a building with 8 apparatus bays when you are only running 3 pieces of equipment out of 3 bays. The size of the equipment does not come into play in this scenario.

  5. TC: Check. Thanks.

    You guys are all going to turn into Iraqis throwing shoes, but there is a social wicket in play. Closing Congress Street drops direct Downtown access from two bridges to one from the East Side. What if something goes wrong with the Washington Ave bridge?
    The biz-types probably hope all the bridges fail to discourage poor people from Downtown.
    Some people will probably be just as happy to plant a palm tree at the East Side footing of the Congress Street bridge and declare the independence of “Little Guayama.” After all, the PRs don’t vote, so what the hell?

  6. Jeez enlightened it reduces the bridge total from 3 to 2. I count the Stratford Ave Bridge. While under ideal situations I would like to see the bridge replaced, I know that the feds and/or the state are not going to come up with the money it would take to rebuild this bridge. When did race enter into this?
    Politicians do not like to spend money replacing old infrastructure. The state is broke, the city is broke except for its preferred hiring slush fund and the Feds are spending their way to being broke. Where does the money come from? I live on the upper East Side and when I go downtown instead of using Noble Ave I have to use Knowlton St to East Washington no big deal.

  7. *** As far as the F/D issues are concerned, they would be better off asking all the present & retired firemen their ideas on the Headquarters matter first before any final decisions are made. *** The Congress St. issue is over, once the money arrives & the old bridge is gone. No money nor real interest in actually replacing the bridge is obvious from the city government, state or B.R.B.C. so it’s back to the dusty wish-list shelves again.*** Councilman Walsh may get railroaded on this “masta” issue only because he’s an admin. target whom sometimes goes overboard trying to get his point across. Anyone that knows the man knows he’s usually one of the first members to take up any legitimate cause that involves Black or minority issues. If he were “black” & made that call, nothing would have been made of the incident, period! This should have been handled in-house without the negative publicity that the Admin. & Council leadership has stirred up. Also, without me knowing all the actual details involved, Walsh should have reached out shortly after the incident to Ms. Brantley with an apology! But sometimes people’s “pride”, especially men not knowing that women are much more sensitive, seems to get in the way of doing the right thing. I hope all works out for everyone involved & their relationship as council members representing the same district. ***

  8. TC: I see your point on the Stratford Avenue bridge. I threw that one out because it is so far south. When I think East Side, I think Congress Street or Washington Avenue.

    Besides, no one lives on the other side of the Stratford Avenue bridge anymore, at least not south of the turnpike.

    That’s my logic, as disturbed as it might be.

    You know, I was thinking: When this latest Steel Point pipedream doesn’t work out, I propose a British Isles-style, links golf course to be built on the site. Ya got those harbor views and all.
    Maybe put the first tee on Waterfront Park Downtown to create “linkage.” How about a Tiger Woods-themed clubhouse with a dock to bring in out-of-town tourists? I am sure there are many more ideas with great merit. Hell, just recycle some of the ones from around town over the last 40 years.

    We can call it Pwynt Dur.

    Please send all my checks to Guayama, PR.

    1. Tiger may get shaved by Gillette. However, he was named Athlete of the Decade by the AP. Just shows this guy has some real staying power. Viagra and Cialis are in a bidding war for his erectile projections.

  9. On Obama’s Facebook he urges us to call our senators on behalf of health care … 202-559-1161. I’m about to do the same and give Joe L or whoever is representing him an earful!!! I urge you to do the same. Kudos to Dodd for going along with health care.

  10. My dear enlightened … While a British Isles links along our harbor sounds great, two problems stand in your way, no Brits and we’re still waiting for Mr. Demetrakis to return to Bridgeport with a roller coaster for our only isle (a.k.a. Pleasure Beach). Yes, Mr. Demetrakis and HIS visions for downtown, right up there with Leonard’s former client–The Donald–who wanted a Nascar track at Seaside Park and Mayor Mandanici’s fantasy of a bridge to Long Island. Yes, ideas are like … well, you know the rest. We gots plenty of them around here, and like Tiger/Nike–Just Do It! (Oh, he did!)

  11. Mr. Grimaldi

    I am a long-time fan of this forum with 3 children in the public school system in a falling-apart building.
    I try to stay involved as much as possible through this space and by going to board meetings and and informational gatherings as much as time allows me.
    I have followed the goings-on about the board maybe doing something positive for my children and our school by bringing in a woman to run the maintenance and custodial department and I thought it was a grand idea. It shows me that maybe they care about the children as to me isn’t that what it’s all about?
    I was happy that a doctor was in charge but like the rest of them he only lasted a few years if that.
    Then in the interim a custodian was put in charge but that can’t last. A budget the size of Bridgeport’s is a serious matter although I’m sure the gentleman is doing his best, and watching channel 12 I saw the radon problems he faced and I felt sorry for him, a delicate matter must be handled with experience and so does a crew of employees.
    But what makes me write into this forum for my first time is what I was told by a relative who is in the old city hall building that a John Marsilio could be in charge of the Board buildings. Is this the same person who was working for Mayor Ganim? Didn’t he get fired with that regime?
    I’m a firm believer in change is good and thinking outside of the box to make things better is best, and I have read here and being married to the same lovely lady for 26 years, I can say a woman’s touch is needed in these rough times. Bringing in a Joe Ganim employee only brings back nightmares from a horrible time in our history.

    Thank you for your service to the city Mr. Grimaldi.

    1. HA! You think that board’s kids go to public schools? They go to private schools in Westport. They could care less about those kids only their sorry-ass positions in life. Forget a woman running that place. Those dump schools can fall apart ‘cuz their kids are safe in Westport. They will never do the right thing; onlything they do is sit in ivory towers and screw the taxpayers. Not bad enough the politicians keep getting jailed in Bpt, now the kids don’t have a chance to get out of here ‘cuz they get a crappy education in schools that are collapsing. Who’d the new board lady pay to get the job? She is from Peoples Bank ain’t she she got to owe somebody and they must know this Marsilio, don’t they have appliance stores?

    2. Oh, so that’s why Marsilio has been sucking up to Mario. Don’t be surprised if John Norko comes back to the BOE also. He was let go by the new mayor in Stratford. Rumors that Mike Freimuth may come back too as he is getting kicked out of Stamford by their Republican mayor. And Trumbull hires former Mayor Moran as their tax collector. And it goes around and around.

        1. I bet you ain’t got kids anna who you want to be better than you in life. Maybe you are on that board and your kids go private schools. Mine don’t. But what the heck I only vote once in elections so who cares for me or my kids? The board people probably figure we poor city people can’t buy computers so why not shove this up our butts? Maybe the board people buy computers at Marsilio’s store.

          1. I can live with a women doing that job. It’s change and it has guts. That I can handle it at least she can try hard and I know she will care somebody has to.

  12. donj; Don’t get a case of the ass when you read this. Have you been following the health care debate at all? If you have that’s one thing if you have not I urge you to do so. There have been many changes in the original bill. There will be no public option there will be a cost to people getting health care it could be quite a bit per month. There will be a fine if you don’t get health care. What Lieberman did was prevent these senators from weakening Medicare and stopped them from reducing their pay-in to Medicare.
    As far as Dodd goes I urge you to look into his role in the bank and mortgage scandal. I am not advocating voting Republican I am just urging you to study a little more.
    What Dodd and congress did to the poor and minorities was criminal. Their thinking that everyone should own their own home was badly flawed. Giving 100plus percent mortgages to the poor and nearly poor only hurt them as when payments were due after the initial grace period they could not afford the mortgages and lost the house.
    There is a lot more here than the idealistic bullshit all politicians want us to believe. Have a good evening and stay involved.

  13. Mr. Gilmore:

    Your suggestions are just the formula for leading the city forward from the crossroads of the present to the future of our founding fathers.

    For example, from the first tee at Riverfront Park our golfers can take paddleboats to the landing zone of the first hole on the east side of the Pequonnock River.

    In the warm-water months of August and September the same paddleboats can carry diving parties from as far away as Ansonia to explore the harbor depths in search of Westinghouse washing machines, Kenmore dryers, other appliances of exotic origin, let alone the wrecks of various automobile chassis arranged to recall the community’s industrial heritage while serving the vital task of maintaining the piscatorial paradise and crusty New England bounty of lobster, crab, clam and wood-boring mollusks of our waters.

    Thank you.

  14. How would one judge an applicant based upon gender? I am not saying the Female who has applied isn’t qualified for this position. I am saying there were more candidates who have enormous experience/knowledge with the construction/maintenance of these buildings. Also, you shouldn’t judge John Marsilio because of Joe Ganim’s legal problems. When John was the Director of P.F. he and his deputy John Cottell brought a lot of knowledge and organization to the dept. Either individual mentioned here would be an outstanding choice to head BOE maintenance! I will say this: Should either John get this position, accountability is for sure on the horizon to each and every employee! So the slackers need to get ready because these guys are all about business, not bullshit! This is what the BOE needs … Imagine that, CHS and I agree on something?

  15. I’ve been busy catching up with all the little important things I had to do around the house and my transportation means. While you all went home–drunk driving–after the OIB party, I was dealing with about a year’s worth of neglect. I still have much to do, but it’s tough getting help as a Republican. If anyone has Lennie’s address, please share it with me so I can kidnap “Stinky” and keep him in my basement to deal with those elusive mice. Can’t survive on “Woodpeckers” alone.
    Move the Fire Headquarters to increase response time?
    Wouldn’t that decrease the response time for others living in the opposite direction from the suggested sites? If the Fire Headquarters were moved, will the firemen get to a fire at the City Trust Building just as fast as they would had they been left where they were? It sounds like some of you guys are still drunk from the OIB party.
    Talking about fire, what’s up with the “Shadow Committee” and their effort to talk about fire safety in P.T. Barnum alone? Has anyone gone to the Green’s Housing projects? Check out the condition of the fire escape stairs–bring a breathing mask–and while you are there, check out the sprinkler system plumbing running through all the floors in the fire escape stairs. Fire prevention and education is the key, but how can one prevent when no one pays attention to the obvious? I’ll try to come back and maybe make some 2010 predictions. It’s easy to make predictions when so much is transparent.
    For the record, it is not true that I had made a deal not to blog at OIB in return for John Gomes’s position.
    I think I had made it clear in the past that I will consider such a deal for the weights and measures position.


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