Gomes: Vacant Harding A Symbol Of City Neglect

YouTuber Steve Ronin has developed a mighty following exploring the contents of abandoned locations. One of his latest ventures, the five-year vacant, old Harding High School, exposed a hoarder’s delight of chemical messes, destroyed books, desks, supplies and artwork, much of which could have been saved and repurposed on behalf of other students.

The adjacent Bridgeport Hospital is among the concerns eyeing the site to enlarge its healthcare footprint.

Meanwhile, one of Mayor Joe Ganim’s opponents John Gomes asserts the city’s neglect has created a physical and emotional stain.

From the Gomes’ campaign:

In response, Bridgeport Mayoral candidate John Gomes stated, “As a near lifelong Bridgeport resident, it hurts me to see the original Harding High School become another symbol of neglect in our city. The Mayor and the City’s Economic Development Department have squandered another government property that could be put for better use. It’s clear health and safety processes were not put in place prior to the transfer from the Board of Education to the city. Unfortunately, as with the recent backlog of FOIA requests, the Mayor is inept in his ability to fix broken processes seven years into his Second Chance term.”

Gomes continued, “Bridgeport, like many cities, struggles with low housing inventory and a high homeless population. At the very least, the property could have temporarily repurposed as a shelter during the pandemic.”

Gomes continued, “It’s been nearly five years since the ribbon was cut at the new Harding High and still no action has been taken to put a vacant city owned property back on the tax roles. With the plan and construction of a new Bassick High School on the horizon, it’s imperative we do not repeat the mistakes of Harding. Going forward, we need a hands-on mayor who will work in partnership on pre-planning with the Superintendent, members of the Board of Education, Economic Development staff and the City Council, to ensure a closure, transition, and repurpose of a vacant property that takes a year instead of half a decade.”

Gomes concluded, “An abandoned school and multiple investigative articles on the city’s failure to comply with CT transparency laws continue to have a negative affect on our city’s image; while the current Mayor is still focused on profiting from his personal real estate deals and fighting to obtain his law license. Actions speak louder than hollow words, and it’s as clear as daylight that Bridgeport’s current Mayor solely cares about his future and not yours. The reign of this absentee and ambivalent chief elected official must end so that we can have a city government that works for you.”



  1. My mom and her sisters graduated from Harding, classmates of Grace Mandanici and so many others. What a typical disgrace this is for the Ganim-Finch era. Love him or not, Mandy wouldn’t allow this idiocy on his watch.

  2. Jesus Christ people this is definitely getting blown out of proportion. 🙂

    This is a whole lot to do about nothing. The fact the 100-year-old school building was vacated for a new state-of-the-art high school and not set on fire upon its sale show progress. Good Job Port. 🤣

    Outside some kids break into it and smash things up I can fathom what all the Pols are harping about. No average citizen gives a shit about date books, desks, and art, lab equipment not being utilized at the New Harding High. But you got to love the Pols’ pontification on the matter. On a more positive note, I guess it’s good practice though. 🤣


  3. RT (and assorted readers),
    The quality of oversight over the “common good” would likely include a regular review of hard assets with significant dollar value as well as human behavior especially including quality actions from City public servants, and finally the OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT, and HONEST reporting by those leading a City, elected by the citizens.
    “Blown out of proportion” and “Can’t fathom.” as separate responses to this story indicate that we are not thinking at the same level on City matters of this kind. Would you just throw away this site of land, building, and interior equipment, each of which may appear as assets, though depreciated, on a departmental balance sheet? Or would you rather lead the public attention and ask what ideas are forthcoming from the community, especially from a local NRZ?
    You have recently linked your identity as a writer, with mine without notice or request. Frankly, I object for the reason that you have resisted meeting me in person to discuss life, worldviews, and living in the City of Bridgeport, and a great many other things likely. Why do you resist meeting? You do not ever say. It is likely something we can discover in person, together and not waste time parading publicly. Phone 203-259-9642 and reach me or leave a voicemail. Time will tell.

  4. Wow, blown out of proportion? Can you or anyone else say for sure that all confidential student and staff records were removed from the site before they left? Confidential student and staff recommendations, disciplinary actions, federally protected special education documentation, papers with SSN and other personally identity info and countless other confidential records? I guess you are right, no big deal. One video had them going through file cabinets. Who know what was left behind, but no big deal. How about all the history and archival pieces from the school that were lost? The video had them going through a scrap book on the history of the school all left behind. Again, it is just history, who cares, no big deal. Zero comment from the people that were in charge at the time, what did they just forget that that they left a whole building full and just closed the doors? Has anyone asked for a FOI request on the communications about the Harding closing between the former Superintendent, facilities director, and all the executive directors at the time? Was there just a collective amnesia over the school full of usable equipment, artifacts, and records? What I can’t fathom is how so many people dropped the ball on this year, after, year, after year.

    1. Let me see,

      “Can you or anyone else say for sure that all confidential student and staff records were removed from the site before they left? Confidential Student and staff recommendations, disciplinary actions, federally protected special education documentation, papers with SSN and other personal identity info, and countless other confidential records?”

      At like a 50% dropout/barely literate rate I think other records should be examined more proportionally. But perhaps they left the students behind also, and continue too. JS

      To your point though, I would hope students’ confidentiality records weren’t left being, but nothing neither indicated in the video nor in the press that there were. Just a few desks/chairs, furniture, books, art supplies, dead frogs, and damage from people breaking in.

      A scrapbook with old articles could have been a student project or a library book. They were in a library you know. So yeah, PERHAPS this is getting politically Blown Out Of Proportion. 🙂

      BTW, Not true, Comrade Joseph. S said they (BBOE) dropped the ball. 🙂

      While I wouldn’t say zero proportion. I just neither would 99% proportion nor would I say 1% proportion. 🤣

      However, let’s not go down the FOI road. Information is based on the writer’s context. You say potAto
      (usable equipment, artifacts, and records) I say POTaTO (a bunch of crap) left behind

      (Exclusion of personal confidential information) I’m giving you that 3 percent proportion. Pivot, Pivot. 😂



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