Mayor Bill Finch on Friday issued a year-ending news release chronicling his administration’s successes in 2013. In a year that produced more taxes, a highly criticized city response to a crippling snowstorm, a controversial airport-related land deal, the closure of a Downtown market and a North End Staples store, and a whole bunch of Democratic-endorsed candidates torpedoed at the polls, it’s always good to remind folks about progress. Below you will find a series of successes highlighted by the mayor. How does the year stack up to his battle cry? “Together we are making Bridgeport the cleanest, greenest, safest most affordable city, with schools and neighborhoods that improve each year.”
Collectively as a City, Bridgeport accomplished much to be proud of in 2013, said Mayor Bill Finch. Now the goal is to build on those successes in 2014.
“From the opening of the City’s first new high school in 50 years to the millions of dollars in private and public investment hard at work on Steelpointe Harbor to create jobs and more economic growth, there is much to be excited about in Bridgeport as we look ahead to 2014,” said Mayor Finch.
“Growing our City’s tax base, expanding employment opportunities, building new schools, lowering our carbon footprint, and making Bridgeport cleaner, greener and safer have been the highest priorities of my administration. This past year was full of success and significant steps forward on all of these fronts.
“In 2013, we secured $30 million in funding from the State to enable the construction of a Bass Pro Shops–the first retail anchor tenant at Steelpointe, secured $2.5 million for the demolition of the former RemGrit site (the potential home to a second train station for the City), broke ground on the largest fuel cell project in North America, and grew our Grand List.
“There were many highlights in 2013, but the work continues. I look forward to a successful 2014, where we will continue moving Bridgeport forward.”
Check out a 2013 year in review photo gallery at www.bridgeportct.gov/2013.
Infrastructure work, funded by an $11 million federal grant, the largest grant in the City’s history, at Steelpointe Harbor is underway. (May 2013)
Steelpointe Harbor development has secured $30 million in funding from the State to enable the construction of the development’s first anchor tenant–Bass Pro Shops. (September 2013)
Worked with developers in Downtown North garner $15 million in grants to assist in the redevelopment of the neighborhood’s historic buildings that will result in hundreds of units of housing and over 50,000 square feet of commercial space. (May 2013)
A feasibility study funded by the White House’s Sustainable Communities Initiative for a second train station was completed in the spring. The study lays out positive prospects for the second train station, which is planned to be located in the East Side of Bridgeport in the heart of the East Bridgeport Development Corridor. Demolition of blighted industrial building located on Barnum Avenue abutting the railroad tracks, funded by $2.5 million awarded to Bridgeport by the State is currently underway. (December 2013)
The doors to Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus, the first new high school in 50 years are open. The City has doubled the number of high schools with the opening of four new high schools on the new Fairchild Wheeler complex, the first new high school built in Bridgeport in 50 years. (August 2013)
This new campus houses three science, technology, engineering and math academies. The Bridgeport Military Academy also opened in the fall of 2013 and is focused on first responders’ vocations. (August 2013)
The construction of a new Roosevelt School is currently underway, along with the construction of an addition to Black Rock School. (October 2013)
James J. Curiale Elementary School, the City’s first Commissioner’s Network School, has had significant improvements.
Dr. Michael Sharpe and FUSE, a nationally recognized education management organization, are leading the school turnaround at Dunbar School. (June 2013)
Through the City’s BGreen2020 sustainability efforts we have managed to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by five percent. (November 2013)
Through a partnership with United Illuminating, the former municipal landfill site will be transformed into a Green Energy Park producing clean, renewable energy from a solar array and fuel cells. (October 2013)
The largest fuel cell project in North America broke ground in the Eco-Technology Park and will soon be operating. The Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell will produce 14.9 megawatts of clean energy–enough to power approximately 15,000 homes. (May 2013)
Recycling rates are up 67% thanks to our conversion to single-stream recycling, the introduction of 64-gallon recycling bins and the success of the Mayor’s Conservation Corps. Increased recycling rates have resulted in $400,000 in savings for the City. (October 2013)
A Farmer’s Market opened in the East End, giving residents of this neighborhood much-needed access to fresh fruits and vegetables. With the addition of the East End Farmers Market, the City now offers a total of four Farmers Markets open in the summer and fall. Additionally, more than 20 gardens have been built on school grounds, teaching students how to grow their own food. This year also marked the opening of a 1.5 acre urban farm on Reservoir Avenue. (June and July 2013)
Solar arrays were installed on Cesar Batalla School and Blackham School. (December 2013)
Water Pollution Control Authority and Anaergia Inc., announced a 20-year partnership that will enable the City to utilize renewable electricity generated from organic waste including wastewater sludge and food scraps using advanced anaerobic digestion technology. The anaerobic digestion facility will generate over 10 million kWh of renewable electricity per year–enough to power more than 1,000 homes. (November 2013)
Parks/Capital Improvement Projects:
The implementation of the Parks Master Plan continues with renovations to existing parks and the creation of new parks in neighborhoods throughout the city.
The highest priority remains the re-opening of Pleasure Beach. The City has secured two water taxis that will transport residents to the peninsula from the East End.
Mayor Bill Finch hosted a series of free summer events in the City’s parks in 2013. Mayor Finch’s Park City Celebration events were held at Newfield Park, Washington Park and Beardsley Park. Park City Movie Night gave residents an opportunity to attend free outdoor movie screenings in Baldwin Plaza, located in downtown. The fourth annual Bridgeport Arts Fest, a one-day celebration of local artists, crafters, and performers, and Downtown Thursdays, a summer concert series featuring local bands and musicians brought large audiences to downtown this summer. (Summer 2013)
Phase II of construction of Knowlton Park, located in the East Side, is underway. This phase will include access to the waterfront, as well as, basketball courts and other recreational spaces. (October 2013)
The City is also in the process of building new parks in the Nob Hill neighborhood on Virginia Avenue and on Wayne Street in the North End. Additionally, the City is also currently working on building its first all-inclusive playground in Beardsley Park.
We are also proud of our progress on various complete street/green infrastructure initiatives including:
The corner of Iranistan and South Avenues.
To date, the City has seen a 20-percent decrease in crime.
The City continues to invest in our police department:
19 new police officers completed training in February and joined our patrol division.
The City purchased 31 new police cruisers
This summer, school security guards patrolled in three city parks, keeping children safe and continuing to building relationships with the community. (Summer, 2013)
More than 900 guns were turned into the Bridgeport Police Department as a result of the largest gun buyback program in the City’s history. (December 2012, January and February 2013)
The Fire Department working with a non-profit partner, has surpassed 40,000 free smoke detectors installed in Bridgeport homes. (October 2013)
Eleven new firefighters joined the city department in December after completing 14 weeks of training at the Connecticut Fire Academy. (December 2013)
Bridgeport’s 2012 Grand List grew by $62,948,426 or a 0.9 percent increase to a total Net Grand List of $7,052,118,795.
By category, the changes in the Grand List are as follows: net motor vehicles increased by 1.7 percent, or $6.9 million; net personal property increased by 0.95 percent, or $61 million; and net real property decreased by .084 percent or $4.9 million.