Holy Smoke, A Bridgeport Traffic Jam, Debating The Ferry Location

Aerial of ballpark and arena by Morgan Kaolian

A traffic jam from downtown Bridgeport to the South End? Who’d have thunk it? To paraphrase Yogi, Bridgeport is crowded … nobody goes there anymore.

Friday night a convergence of American Idol fans at the arena, Bluefish fans at the ballpark and ferry fans at the terminal provided some driver agita. Downtown to the South End was jammin’ with folks. Shoot, I remember when the only traffic south of the turnpike was seagulls. Or maybe a few suburban drug buyers.

Yes, traffic is a pain in the butt, but I’d rather have it than not. Which brings us to tonight, two key meetings. The City Council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee is expected to hear from city bean counters about the status of the $8 million budget hole it passed that was ultimately approved by the full council. So, instead of having the stomach to deal with the problem then they’ll hear about it now and probably do nothing. Closing the gap relies heavily on employee givebacks.  Meanwhile, every day that passes into the budget year that began July 1 makes it tougher to close the gap.

Also, tonight Planning and Zoning took up a proposal by the ferry company to move its terminal to the East End. (See Town Committee’s report under comments.) This is hot stuff. Would it be more valuable to the East End than downtown? Depending on the economy roughly 500,000 folks each year transport to the other side of the Long Island pond and back. That’s a lot of peeps to potentially help support local stuff. Land use lawyer titans Ray Rizio, for the ferry company, and Chuck Willinger, for business interests that want to keep the ferry terminal downtown, duked it out into the wee hours at the last meeting.

Supporters of a downtown ferry location explain their position:


Intermodal Center location a must for economic development

The location of the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry at the Water Street Dock adjacent to Bridgeport’s Downtown and its importance as a key component of the regionally unique and essential Intermodal Transit Center is vital to the economic health and future development of this great City. Not for the Downtown alone, but for the entire City and region.

Bridgeport’s time has come. We have all heard it many times. We all have guarded optimism for what we hear and read, yet know in our hearts what is possible; Bridgeport has all the makings of being a successful, renaissance, green, model City from here forward if we join together and do things for the greater good. The “Greater Good.”  Not one neighborhood or NRZ, not one company or business, not any special interests, but for the best possible impact and benefit of every person in Bridgeport and the region; resident and visitor alike.

What then is the impact on this deserving future Bridgeport if the Ferry terminal were to be relocated from its current location? Consider these facts that were not indicated in the CT Post’s Editorial of July 4th:

● Through a Connections Study commissioned by the Business Community and the DSSD to evaluate opportunities to enhance the connection between the intermodal center components, the downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods of the City, it has been demonstrated that the Ferry Company’s needs for additional ferry berthing, improved pedestrian boarding, vehicular access and stacking and additional parking can be achieved in the current location. Additionally, federal and state grant funds were provided and used to fully design the second ferry berth and structured parking garage on the existing property to meet their operational requirements and maintain their location as an integral component of the Intermodal Transit Center (ITC).  The funding agencies viewed the ITC as a fundamental competitive advantage for Bridgeport’s economic development and growth.

● The State DEP, State DOT, the Bridgeport Harbor Commission and the Bridgeport Port Authority all wrote letters after reviewing the proposed relocation submission to strongly recommend denying the application on the grounds that the existing location can be modified to accommodate the facility improvements they seek, the use of

· The relocation site for a ferry terminal undermines the intent of the Harbor Management Plan and the City’s Master Plan of Conservation & Development to accommodate deep water dependent uses on that site and the existing location allows the ferry to be integral to the Intermodal Transit Center, the Downtown and the future adjacent Steelpointe Harbor development.

● The application submitted by Coastline Terminals (property owner) with the Ferry Company for the relocation site is flawed and inadequate in its provision of data related to traffic generation and roadway improvements.

· The potential adverse impacts to East End residents and Bridgeporters alike from traffic congestion, increased air and noise pollution and storm water management deficiencies were not addressed that could further impact system overloads.

On the merits of the application itself, it is clear that the Planning and Zoning Commission has no choice but to deny this application.  However, we should not take solace or joy in this action as the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry is an important partner and component of this City and its future and we need them to prosper and grow in step with the City. The growth should occur in Bridgeport’s downtown core at the Water Street Dock and Intermodal Transit Center.

“Without a strong and inclusive central heart, a city tends to become a collection of interests isolated from one another.” 1961, Jane Jacobs, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”

Paul Antinozzi, Antinozzi Associates; Co-Chair Downtown Task Force

Pat Fardy, Former Chairwoman, Planning and Zoning Commissioner and Co-Chair Master Plan Steering Committee

Mary Jane Foster, Vice President, University of Bridgeport

Joel Z. Green Esq., The Law Offices of Green & Gross, P.C.

Nancy Hadley, Hadley Group LLC and City Trust Resident

Thomas R. Hessman, Senior Vice President, RBS Citizens

Ron Kilcoyne, President, Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority

Kris Lorch, President, Alloy Engineering Co., Inc.

Kim Morque, Vice-Chair, Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District; President, Spinnacker Real Estate Partners

Denis O’Malley, Chair, Bridgeport Port Authority

Anthony Onorato, Daily ferry commuter from Long Island who works Bridgeport

Ernest C. Trefz, Trefz Properties

Aaron Woskoff Esq., City Trust resident–recently moved from Long Island to Bridgeport

From Dan Malloy:


Dan Malloy, the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for Governor, today agreed with former Gov. Lowell Weicker, who said yesterday that Ned Lamont should debate Dan Malloy in New London on July 27. In an interview yesterday on WNPR, Gov. Weicker said he thinks “it’s important that anybody in this business of politics and government be able to stand on their feet in an impromptu way and reveal themselves to the public” and that he has “always been a great believer in debates.”

Said Malloy:

“At this point I think the only person who doesn’t think there should be a debate is Ned. Even Gov. Weicker, a strong supporter of Ned’s campaign, thinks Ned should do it.

“Gov. Weicker said yesterday that the skills he brought to bear in debates served him well in doing the job of Governor because ‘there’s no ducking that kind of confrontation.’ I couldn’t have said it better myself. Being Governor is about more than having good ideas – it’s about being able to make your case to the people of Connecticut, building consensus around your vision, and moving forward together. That’s what leadership is all about. I’m again urging Ned to change his mind, and to meet me for a positive discussion about Connecticut’s future.”

From Mayor Finch:

The City of Bridgeport Presents the Bridgeport Arts Fest – July 17, noon-6

Bridgeport—The City of Bridgeport’s Office of Planning & Economic Development is hosting the first annual Bridgeport Arts Fest. The Arts Fest—a one-day gathering of artists, artisans, craft makers, musicians and performers—will take place on Historic McLevy Green in the heart of downtown Bridgeport on Saturday, July 17 from noon to 6 p.m.

“Bridgeport has always been home to a thriving arts community,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “This first-ever festival will provide our artists and artisans an opportunity to showcase their talents to a wider audience, while giving visitors an opportunity to enjoy an afternoon in our revitalized downtown – seeing great art, listening to music and sampling our diverse restaurant fare.”

In addition to exhibits of work by area artists, the Arts Fest will delight food and drink lovers with fare selections from local restaurants, craft brewed beer from Connecticut’s Thomas Hooker Brewing Company and tastings of local home-brewed beer, provided by Maltose Express of Monroe.

For Arts Fest founder Donald Eversley, the City’s Director of Planning & Economic Development “a thriving arts community is a critical piece to all of the recent urban renaissance stories – from Baltimore to Brooklyn to Providence – our agenda is to build on the good momentum already present in the local art scene.”

Two of Connecticut’s premiere homegrown bands—ST. BERNADETTE and COSMIC JIBAROS—will provide musical entertainment on the McLevy Green stage.

St. Bernadette, led by producer and guitarist Keith Saunders and femme fatale vocalist Meredith DiMenna, with mainstay slide guitarist Joe Novelli, bass player Brian Anderson and drummer Dave Valle, is known for meshing “a disparate template of psychedelic-meets-arena rock, with a peppering of jazz, all candy-coated with sing-along choruses.”

Cosmic Jibaros, fresh from an appearance at New Haven’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas, is redefining the Latin rock band. This cross-cultural group’s highly danceable songs are sung primarily in Spanish, with charismatic lead singer Ricardo Reyes supported by funky guitars, accordion flourishes, and three percussionists.

Children’s arts activities will be presented throughout the afternoon by Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County. In addition to a lineup of exciting area bands, the Arts Fest will feature performances by the Neighborhood Studio’s youth jazz ensemble and, under the direction of Barbara DePaff, the Ralphola Taylor Community Center’s award-winning youth African dance ensemble.

An alternative to other area arts festivals, the July 17, Bridgeport Arts Fest showcases the extensive diversity of local talent in and around Bridgeport. Bring your family, friends and pets and rediscover downtown Bridgeport while you’re at it!

Arts Fest is seeking artists and their works in all mediums, including but not limited to:

Original Art:

o Drawings
o Comics/Graphic Novels
o Graphic design/Prints
o Illustrations
o Mixed Media
o Mosaics
o Paintings
o Photography
o Sculptures
o Ceramics

Crafts & Handmade items:

o Accessories
o Bags/Purses
o Books
o Clothing
o Dolls/Toys
o Furniture
o Jewelry

If you create, design, make or imagine something that you want to share, give, sell others, or for more details, contact Ben Henson at ben.henson@bridgeportct.gov or (203) 576-3972 to reserve your area and/or booth today!



  1. No Footsies being played. It would be a real kick in the ass for Mayor Finch and Bridgeport if the Ferry moves. Even Roto-Rooter couldn’t solve these traffic drains. You can kiss Seaview Plaza, with Simon Konover and Tate George, good-bye if this doesn’t get worked out between Bridgeport and the Ferry Company. Coastline Terminals also owns Terminal in New Haven Harbor. Forget the Downtown and Inter-Modal BS or it will be next station stop New Haven for the Ferry!!!

  2. Can someone please tell me what exactly the Ferry adds to Bridgeport’s economy? Sure it’s convenient to get to if you want to go to Long island but what else?
    The cars that come to Bridgeport on the Ferry are directed away from the center of the city. They are directed to the easiest way to I-95.
    Moving the Ferry to Seaview Ave will give the ferry passengers an easier access to I-95. So what economic benefit does the Ferry present for Bridgeport?

  3. The 2006 Downtown Master Plan laid out the traffic solutions to the ‘perfect storm’ situations when the ballpark and arena events collide with the regular ferry terminal schedule (really–go read page 81!). It just needs to be implemented. Although a traffic jam may sound positive it really has a negative effect on the South End residents and businesses as well as the Downtown.

    First the rail underpass gate on Water Street in front of the People’s Garage has to be reopened and staffed to get the ferry boat passengers (cars, not trucks) in and out of Water Street.

    10,000 people cannot park immediately in front of Harbor Yard. It is totally impossible but that is where everyone heads in the last 30 minutes. The police have to structure their traffic details in a completely different way. Those assigned need to be trained on traffic intercept patterns and have the correct mobile signs to help them. It just can’t be cops from the overtime list that get assigned without the training. The City needs a permanent traffic detail.

    There are over 9000 parking spaces in the Downtown within a five-minute walk to Harbor Yard. The cars need to be intercepted and head into the Downtown, not ‘head on’ into the limited Harbor Yard parking. The owners of the parking structures in the Downtown need to put up signs and discount prices. The price to park in front of Harbor Yard is $5. and they collect it up front which ties up traffic. Congestion parking policies should be put into effect making the cheapest parking available in the Downtown and the most expensive parking right next to Harbor Yard. When you go to the Yankees or Mets games the most expensive parking is right next to the stadium. Same should happen in Bridgeport.

    Signage, maps, internet eBlasts need to tell those that are coming to town to take the intercept routes to the other parking lots and garages with a less than five-minute walk. Discounts at the restaurants have to be offered so those that want to come to an event take the time before or after the event to stop and have something to eat, a drink, coffee, dessert and walk a couple of minutes.

    Those that haven’t been to Bridgeport have to believe it is safe because it is. Those wgi are stuck in the old world of ‘it’s not safe’ need to get with the new program of actually supporting Bridgeport as a good place for family and friends to enjoy their leisure time.

    I could keep going but know this: Chris Shays got the City Federal funding to do all of the physical improvements and much more to connect the Intermodal Transportation center (ferry, train, bus, taxi, van and cars), Harbor Yard and the downtown. I think there is at least seven million dollars of Federal money that has been allocated to the City for years and may lapse if the 20 percent match money isn’t found. I think the Connecticut DOT is considering whether they will match the Federal money. That is they were before Commissioner Marie suddenly resigned last week. There are solutions to the ‘perfect storm’ problems and the everyday traffic problems. We have known what they are since 2006. The City and the Downtown stakeholders just have to implement them.

    1. Imagine if Magic Johnson’s project went through it would be a levitating act to get the cars in and out. Oh Yeah! I forgot Magic pulled a rabbit out of his hat and then did a disappearing act.

  4. If the only factors weighing in on the Ferry moving across harbor were what was optimal for ferry operation then the move is a no-brainer–It will allow all the passengers to immediately be on I-95 and out of the City.

    However moving the Ferry is not good for the City of Bridgeport.

    There is the intermodal aspect to consider; that is a legitimate function and one that only grows with time, increasing populations, employment mobility, and traffic.

    There are many who believe the Ferry is a key component to a central downtown business district. There have been some very large commercial real estate transactions downtown that are based around the New Urbanism concepts … Business and residential in a downtown area. The ferry certainly weighed in on that planning. Ernie Trefz made that point very emphatically at the P&Z hearing … Why can’t Bridgeport help existing downtown taxpayers? What they pay now and with continued development of their properties dwarfs any potential taxes from a Ferry terminal in the East End.

    More importantly if you separate all the emotion and hyperbole, it violates the City’s master plan. What message does that send to other “Grade A” developers? Maybe that’s why the City keeps getting proposals from 2nd tier developers?

    In my opinion, the Ferry company is an economic bully … They are leveraging the weak financial state of both the City of Bridgeport and the Longshoreman’s union to essentially play one against the other (remember the Longshoremen owe a boatload of tax on the property). Then they make incredibly misleading economic development promises to the East End NRZ and “buy” a few of the East End politicians pretty cheaply to support their case.

    The Ferry company is not going to New Haven … Ever. That’s just a way to play to Bridgeport paranoia and insecurity to leverage their best deal.

    1. Oh! And Ernie didn’t buy his support from Ron Bianchi and St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Fairfield University among others who were at the hearing???

      1. Grin Ripper–I just want to set the record straight on your comments. St. Vincent’s has employees who live in Long Island and work at St Vincent’s. They take the ferry every morning. I know I met them.

        As for Fairfield U–the NCAA competition is fierce and Fairfield U, in addition to the great athletics department and Stags, is always trying to get NCAA tournaments to book the arena. It is in that context they want the Ferry to stay on the west side of the river. Walking off the boat and into the arena is important to the NCAA. Adding a shuttle or boat trip across the harbor would weaken Bridgeport’s chances. Your implication is out of bounds and just bad form. Nobody was ‘bought’ in the Opposition testimony. Could we please move on and figure out TOGETHER how to grow the downtown as well as the Ferry Company business. It can be done so let’s figure it out together please.

  5. Bridgeport has not developed an effective marketing effort since the Ganim days. The ferry passengers look at Bridgeport as a pass-through stop on their way to somewhere else. Yet Port Jeff with just a few restaurants and neat little stores has a full-blown marketing plan and walking tour that can encourage folks to go there and spend the entire day. Setting aside the Master Plan policy issue and the fact the brand new zoning regs DO NOT ALLOW a passenger terminal on the east side of the harbor, Bridgeport’s challenge and opportunity is to turn a pass-through stop into a real destination where people will spend a couple of hours, a day and SPEND MONEY. Foot traffic is critical to support the retail businesses. Right now, those ferry passengers do not have a clue about the new Bridgeport. Here’s one example: They could spend a full day at Housatonic Community College, a five-minute walk from the Ferry Terminal. Why? There are 4000+ pieces of original artwork at the Housatonic Community College, the likes of Monet, Warhol, Renoir, Rodin et al. Yes oh ye of little faith, HCC has ORIGINALS by the Masters that are up on the walls in the hallways and classrooms for everyone to see! The Barnum Museum is, well, a treasure in its own right.

    Look, the ferry boat employees go out of their way to diss Bridgeport because their boss wants to move to the other side of the harbor. Bridgeport has to counter that behavior at every turn.

    It is the future Bridgeport economy we have to focus on growing. Just because the Downtown and South End hasn’t captured the economic spin-off from the ferry passengers yet, it doesn’t mean we won’t. Go look at the Downtown Connections study on my ‘Bridgeport’ webpage. The practical solutions have been identified and the cost is reasonable. We know what we need to do. We know where the Federal money is to pay for the improvements. We just need to do it–with the Ferry Terminal at its present location.

  6. One of the problems I see downtown is that no one is doing anything to make it business and visitor friendly. Yes we have many, many groups and committees that meet regularly but accomplish nothing.
    Nancy how many meetings have been held that address signage directing visitors to parking areas? Many have been held and many agreements reached on signage and yet nothing has been done.
    As you well know and help get the study that detailed how to handle parking during multiple events being held downtown yet the PD refuses to implement it. BTW where the hell is Economic Director Eversley? Wait don’t tell me he is stuck on a train between New York & Bridgeport.

    1. TC, why don’t you join us at one of our next volunteer DSSD or Task Force meetings and see how much effort and good intention goes in … while progress might not be happening at your preferred pace, none the less, we are making progress each and every day.

      we have thriving new businesses in town, mine included, we have a weekly concert series and arts fest taking place this weekend, the task force has identified funding to implement wayfinding and signage improvements that might have otherwise gone overlooked, and so much more.

      I encourage you to come by and be part of it or let me buy you a coffee and we can catch up.

      There are great things happening at the hands of many, many volunteers, hand in hand with the municipality.

      1. Jennifer Thank you for the invitation. I do think the volunteers try and do a good job but it’s still a lot of talk as it relates to getting people from out of town into the downtown area.
        My wife was on the downtown task force for years and was and is a big booster for downtown.
        My gripe is a simple thing like signage for where people can park their cars has been discussed forever and still nothing. How much does it cost for a few signs? The city has or used to have a sign department.
        I know I sound negative about downtown it’s just frustration. I do applaud you and others who have put your money and time into downtown.
        I guess I really should be madder at this do-nothing administration for not doing anything.

  7. Let’s pull another study out of the Bridgeport Hall of Fame studies that are a Litany of Aint’s!

    Still waiting for the Urban Institute implementation. In answer to TC regarding what the Ferry brings to the city? How about under the new proposal it will bring in more taxes.

    How about under the zoning regs would this allow a Mixed Use Waterfront Development if it incorporated retail and housing???

    With this parochial way of thinking then those that supported the Steal Point PPD should have said it would turn Downtown into a Ghost Town. Listen Ernie is a nice enough kind of guy. He so nice he stole the old muni-garage from under our noses. This is all about parking revenue for Ernie. That’s reality but no different from the Ferry Company’s right to a free-market and not a fee-market system that if denied Union Square Dock would make a nice location for a Flea Market system.

    Politicians of all flavors have noted a substantial drag on economic progress in CT is the traffic on I-95. Bridgeport can become an integral part of the solution to that problem by helping the ferry company grow the utilization of the ferries and removing traffic from the highway not by holding the ferry company prisoner in a location squeezed by the power plant, the railroad arena and ballpark. The Stena report says it all. The City needs to help move the ferry across the harbor and closer to the mouth of the harbor.

    The ferry company has been at the same location since 1968. The messianic expectations of a handful of downtown merchants who believe they somehow have ownership in the ferry customers are bizarre to say the very least. This magical, mystical market can’t be exploited by downtown interests because the primary ferry focus and function is the movement of vehicles that have other destinations in mind! Oh, and the vast majority of walk-on customers want to spend the day in Port Jefferson. If BPT’s own residents won’t stay in town and downtown, what the hell makes anyone think Long Islanders would be interested?

    Understand that the federal court said as much as 57% of the taxes collected from ferry customers were collected illegally. That total liability should be worth more than $5MM and could be north of $10 MM and as I’m sure you are aware, there were a number of class-action lawsuits (now consolidated) filed to recover same. The ferry company has filed a claim for $2MM to reimburse legal fees spent to litigate the tax issue. Add to that the $900K you are aware of and the outstanding cash (Denis and Nancy, $7-8MM? You know better than I) owed by the BPA to the City.

    Do the Figures and you should be able to Figure this problem out.

  8. Up on Bridgeport–You wrote:
    “If BPT’s own residents won’t stay in town and downtown, what the hell makes anyone think Long Islanders would be interested?”

    Why is that, I wonder? I know lots of people who believe in Bridgeport and frequent restaurants and shops in Bridgeport. I know lots of people who moved to the Downtown because it is close to the train, ferry and bus and frequent Bridgeport businesses. They could have moved to Stamford, Norwalk or New Haven but they came here and that is a very good thing. They are spending money in Bridgeport.

    I think we have to do much much more to help Bridgeport folks ‘believe’ in Bridgeport. I also think those who work in Bridgeport need to take a fresh look at Bridgeport. I met lots of people during a 10-hour period I spent on the boardwalk talking to Ferry boat passengers that use the train, vanpool and park their cars. Lots more marketing is needed to raise the ‘Believe in Bridgeport’ meter.

    TC–yes there have been meetings and I am happy to report those meetings identified where the money is to pay for the signs, the new lighting, the new kiosks etc. On March 24th the Downtown Task Force and DSSD sent a letter to the Mayor identifying where that federal money is and how it could be used. The Mayor has been looking for the 20% match. I am hopeful that the CDOT has agreed to the match and the actual design and construction process can begin. My worry is that the federal money will lapse. That would be terrible.

    As for the Urban Land Institute report implementation, I have posted the update status report that was issued a couple of weeks ago on my Bridgeport webpage. Take a look. Lots and lots of recommendations have been implemented. I can attest personally the ULI report did not sit on a shelf.

    As for all the litigation which, in my opinion is what this is all about … a grudge match over a passenger tariff. There is nothing about Bridgeport’s future that figures into that equation. All of the major port authorities in the country use passenger tariffs to support port activities such as that required by homeland security. All of them. The Ferry Boat company has been trying to use little ol’ Bridgeport to have the courts throw out the passenger tariff mechanism. Then they could proceed to throw out the mechanism at all of the national port authorities. We are a small player in a very big money game. We need to keep an eye on what is best for Bridgeport’s future. We have a Master Plan and we need to stick to it.

    I repeat: “Without a strong and inclusive central heart, a city tends to become a collection of interests isolated from one another.” 1961, Jane Jacobs, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”

  9. Nancy
    Certainly some good talking points. The tariff was deemed illegal by the courts. It wasn’t so much about the tariff but the amount of the tariff, and the illegal use that was applied in collecting the tariff.

    Certainly if you would look at the Statistical Survey Market Area of Greater Bridgeport you would see a lot of asses but no seats as a retail inventory for downtown Bridgeport. Your marketing idea is a no-brainer but without the dough-re-mi we are fa-so-la-ti without customers. Furthermore if you used one of those protractors or compass, they always confused me, you could see that most of our demographics are in Long Island Sound. Geographically, the downtown is not that large. How many people live in Downtown Housing to your demographic? 600 not including the Barnum, Stratfield and the other senior housing near the Congress Plaza.

    We should be flexible in our Master Plan. Markets drive the market not a Master Plan.

    Many smarter people than us have tried and failed in figuring out the Bridgeport puzzle. I appreciate and respect your passion and I like Jane Jacobs work that was written in 1961. Bridgeport is the post-mortem of her work. We need real jobs, then housing and retail will come to create the 24 hour push-pull effect that you long for.

  10. Another Downtown draw for those who enjoy a variety of music outdoors with their neighbors is the Thursday evening series at McLevy Green, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. Bridgeport employees and volunteer Board members have been present the past two weeks. (TC, if you want to see Don Eversley after hours in Bridgeport, go to McLevy on Thursday evening.)
    About jobs, jobs, and more jobs, it is getting a bit tiring to listen to this national mantra. A job is not a Constitutional right, nor a government guarantee. As a matter of fact, increases in productivity in the US may foreshadow higher unemployment levels in the future, but problems remain, so applying your gray matter, coming up with solutions and seeing if they work, is a patriotic activity to contemplate and put into action.
    How many people posting on OIB have met employee payrolls year after year with business cash flow? I am not talking about work in municipal, State or Federal administration. How many have started their own business, self-employment, and know how difficult it is to produce revenue, cover necessary expenses and make a profit? Yes, jobs are a component of a growing economy but to get those rolling city government with private support like Special Service Districts need to promote, make efficient, and make clear, then get out of the way. A Master Plan that has been professionally developed, had community review, and with any necessary revisions, then adopted for a ten year period, must be open to change, but not necessarily the gross change contemplated by Ferry management.
    I have traveled to Port Jeff for a meal and a walk around more than once. Can’t understand why all the bright PR, community relations, and six-figure talent of the current administration haven’t created a simple message for Downtown, a map, and a walking route for people looking for something different. (Mayor Finch will always be remembered for his simple pre-election message promoting a $600 tax credit! So the capacity for catchy and simple messages exist. Now all you need is timely and accurate.)
    As the baby boom generation ages (still the largest population group) and remains ambulatory, Bridgeport is a regional market for the art, museum, history, entertainment and restaurant mix that is present in Bridgeport now. More people coming to town, will get more business people to take a risk. Then come jobs. The potential exists independent of the memory, enthusiasm and passion of Nancy Hadley. Why can’t more people get on board and get the simple things done?

  11. The ferry between Bridgeport and Port Jefferson is an interstate transportation connection between Connecticut and New York. The communities provide a docking connection for activities that begin and end somewhere else.

    If there was an economic benefit to Downtown Bridgeport it would have made itself evident in the past 50 years.

    If the intermodal transportation link were important it would have made its own case long before a planning study was written.

    The train argument leaks because of persistent pressure to build a new station at Black Rock. Efforts to bring increased development to Downtown by restricting train stops failed to increase development and failed (after 25 years) to stop the new station.

    Jane Jacobs doesn’t wash because when you walk through the underpass from Union Square you see the butt-end of the People’s Bank Building, the parking garage. Water Street is not exactly a vibrant urban streetscape.

    Economic forces for the ferry pull it toward the edge of Downtown where traffic is less restricted than Downtown and Union Square.

    East End politicians no doubt see Downtown business interests fighting for something and think there is a buck in it. There is not. A dock there is a pass-through, same as Downtown. Just extra traffic.

    Classic Bridgeport: everyone is Dumpster-diving for pennies and the privilege of breathing diesel fumes.

  12. Ferry debate:

    If all Bridgeport city council and P&Z decisions were made in secrecy, there would be little difference from today’s state of affairs. Why?

    The public knows nothing about what goes on in the city.

    There is an occasional article in CT Post, for those who read it daily, like me, and of course our TV show in which we discussed with city council members and showed images of the ports from an airplane to illustrate the issue. We did the same with the Airport safety expansion, Pleasure Beach, preserving historic neighborhoods, highlighting Bridgeport’s history, etc.

    Here are some good quotes from comments above:
    “Bridgeport has not developed an effective marketing effort since the Ganim days.”

    “Many smarter people than us have tried and failed in figuring out the Bridgeport puzzle.”

    And here is the answer to your puzzle: internet marketing.

    Do a search. There is not one video that comes up when you punch up “Bridgeport, CT” on Google, nor for adding “nightlife.” Don’t think this is rocket science? Balancing the budget could be, but not this. Forget about handing out water bottles to commuters who never set foot into the city, forget about or the pricey Cablevision or newspaper ads that come and go. It’s the internet that everyone is on. And this is exactly the user demographic that all your research indicates will jump-start the city.

    What do people know about Bridgeport? CRIME. What do you want them to know? ART, NIGHTLIFE.

    We proposed to downtown folks an inexpensive plan and got approval but no funding. Instead, the city funds $100k for this research and that, but where are those docs? They have had some impact, but the public knows little or nothing about them.

  13. UOB,
    The lawsuit had two findings: first, the Port Authority imposing a passenger tariff WAS FOUND TO BE LEGAL. Second, the tariff had to directly benefit the passengers through operational or facility improvements. The tariff was fine at 50 cents on each ticket. But when the Port Authority, pressured by the other Port Authorities nationwide to stay in the legal fight, increased the tariff to $1.00, the Court ruled the amount of the increase was not valid. So, months and months, years and years and lots of lawyers benefit, not Bridgeport, not the Ferry Boat Company but the lawyers benefit. The Ferry Boat Company is still holding the tariff money (millions plus interest) until the lawsuit settles once and for all. Then there are the class action suits by passengers who feel aggrieved. I get all that. Messy legal stuff that should be solved between the City, Port Authority and the Ferry Company in a reasonable manner. My simple solution is to sell or give the Ferry Boat company a very long-term lease for the entire Water Street Property. If they want to sell them the property then do it at a reasonable price, emphasis on reasonable. If they want to lease it to them then make it a very long-term lease so they can use it to finance their improvements. But that is for others to decide.

    Here’s the other part that fries me. Back in early 2001, the Feds gave the Port Authority over $3 million to design and construct the second emergency dock and parking structure at the Water Street Dock. So the designs get done and bids come in, higher than expected, so the BPA was about to sign a construction loan when the lawsuit on the tariff was filed by the Ferry Company. Everything stopped and the lawyers filed in. Fast forward five or so years and the precious federal money to build the second dock and parking structure lapses. All because of a legal grudge match over the validity of a passenger tariff.

    As for jobs, could we please get real here? Bridgeport has had a very screwed up land use system for decades. The top-flight developers with the top-flight companies in search of office space would not come near Bridgeport. Only Bob Scinto, Ernie Trefz and David Carson took the leap and invested big time in Bridgeport despite the advice from their psychiatrists and religious advisers. The rest of the really good developers stayed away until they started to see the Master Planning process really take shape. Now we have a couple of great top-flight developers invested in Bridgeport.

    Jan 1, 2010 marked the start of the new land use system (five freakin’ years after the ULI report was issued!) Now after the financial crisis hit, there are new larger equity requirements for those lending institutions that are slightly interested in investing. So, the gap needs public incentives as well as a strong market. And you know how helpful Hartford has been to Bridgeport …

    The office vacancy rate in Southern Fairfield County is over 13% so getting offices to come to Bridgeport in the near future is not likely. Manufacturing jobs, like the new elevator company that is moving here from Port Chester is difficult at best even with the public incentives. So what do we have? A new set of zoning regs that reinforce the Master Plan for the Downtown. Lots of developers watching how Bridgeport behaves with its new Master Plan and regs. Don’t give me the ‘be flexible’ argument. Stick to the Plan. Stick to the direction that we have laid out. Now is not the time to screw around.

    Finally, I think having residents downtown is a very good thing. Of course I do. I am into my fourth lease at City Trust. However the retail needs more foot traffic to survive, ergo keeping the ferry where is it. Everyone on this blog should plan a trip to a downtown restaurant or venue. Do this over and over again. I promise, you will be positively impressed.

    1. Nancy, I really appreciate your efforts to explain what’s going on. It seems your explanations are more fact driven than others who object. As someone who really has no opinion on the matter, your argument for the ferry not moving is convincing.

      But I am troubled it seems you are the only one who is making an understandable and lucid argument. Where are the people who get paid to keep the public informed?

      This speaks to what I see as a deeper issue. In fact I believe it’s an example of what is so frustrating about Bridgeport. There seems to be very small pockets of people duking it out in public over issues that seem to be fueled by politics and bitter rivalries. If this is best for the city, then we all should know it, and we should be hearing it in more places than this blog.

      It just seems the public and private sectors in the city do a poor job at keeping the interest of the people in the city’s development. It’s hard to be excited about something you don’t understand or worse, never knew existed.

  14. Some pretty good dialogue regarding the Ferry and Bridgeport today … A real shame we do not have a daily newspaper that chronicles both sides of the issue.

    Never working in the public sector and responsible for running my own small business with payroll, benefit costs, etc, I agree with Beacon … Why hasn’t the City been far more aggressive and innovative at promoting downtown and other attractions?

    Maybe in recent years there was little to promote but that’s not the case now … It is starting to gather some momentum and if that remains the case as demographics suggest, then there is the very real potential that unlike Jim Callahan’s comments suggest, Long Island residents might take a ride to Bpt for the same reasons as CT residents take that outing to Port Jeff.

    I am pleased with the restaurant/entertainment that is slowly sprouting downtown. Same for housing. Won’t happen overnight but with Beacon’s demographic comment in mind, seems there could well be a rebirth similar to South Norwalk or Stamford entertainment (which also took years in the making).

    To that end and since it seems Bridgeport Port Authority does have harbor siting approval, let’s keep the ferry where it would help Bridgeport the most. To that end I agree with Jim Callahan that a proposed move to the East End will provides nothing other than diesel fumes.

    Let’s stay the course with the new master plan.

    1. Hopeful

      The biggest problem with Bridgeport is the people in city government have never had to grow a business, make a payroll and make tough decisions that won’t interfere with their personal and personnel agendas.

  15. Nancy
    With me in many ways you are preaching to the choir. I’m just not in your pew regarding the Ferry. A Master Plan is okay to have as a guideline but you have to be flexible. If the Ferry Company came in with a Mixed Use Waterfront Development plan that met all the requirements of the zoning regs you would still be against that MUD???

    Part of Bridgeport’s problem is that we are always stuck in the mud! Once again to put the ONUS on the Ferry Company regarding downtown is to say you OWN US!

    The courts ruled in favor of the ferry company on the illegal aspects of the tariff. How much more is the city going to cost us in protracted litigation until the Ferry is going prevail and in Australian terms they are going to say; “Check! Mate!!”
    I am losing my Faith, Hope and Charity on Bridgeport. I have now become a “Doubting Thomas!”

    1. UOB,
      Could the Coastline Properties become a Mixed Use Waterfront zone similar to the 60 Main Street development (former Remington Shaver site)? It has more than 10 acres and on a major transit corridor so sure, it would meet the threshold. Would the ferry make sense as a component? In my opinion, only if it was IN ADDITION to the ferry terminal on the western side of the harbor–i.e. where it is now. When you go to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, you have two docks from which to choose. Is it too much to consider that Connecticut’s largest city with 22 miles of waterfront could have two ferry docks–one on the west side and one on the east end? I would want to have that option available as the City grows, recaptures its waterfront and becomes a great and bustling city once again. If you are talking about ‘and’ and not ‘or’, it is worth a discussion. Right now the Ferry Company was proposing only the ‘or’ proposition and from my perspective that would be shortsighted for the City.

  16. With all due respect, we have come out in favor of the ferry move.

    We support business ownership in the city, which is what will happen if they move. They currently lease. They would also expand.

    We love the view from the historic Bridgeport port which is really zero usage by the public except a waiting room for the Ferry. This is sad. We are a city named after a PORT! Go take a look at the Ferry terminal.

    The Ferry move saves 10 min. in the journey, it adds business to Seaview ave, and could help Pleasure Beach revitalization.

    The other point of view opposing, is the intermodal but that is a small percentage. Do we care for less than 10% of train-takers over the future of the city?

    Disclosure: I have approached the Ferry company to appear on or call into the TV show, and they never ever responded, even though I met the president at a council meeting once. I don’t work for anyone on this issue. I am only looking at the merits of the issue.

    1. Mr. BPT IS John Gomes.
      I conducted a unscientific survey of people jumping off of the ferry boat and NO ONE can ever remember seeing Mr. BPT and John Gomes together at the same time.
      Case closed.

  17. I just returned from the Planning & Zoning meeting. The ferry boat proposal FAILED to pass. It need 6 votes to pass the vote was 3 for and 3 against. Three commissioners were absent for the vote. It is my understanding that 2 of the missing commissioners could not have voted anyway because of conflict of interest reasons.
    I had a pleasant surprise while at the meeting. I met BEACON2.

  18. Thank you Nancy for giving us so much insight into the planning process and what it takes to re-make Bridgeport. Too bad you weren’t allowed to stay the course. Even worse, they hired an incompetent person to implement the groundwork you laid … and he can’t do it!!! Another nail in Finch’s coffin!!!

    But with all your knowledge and dedication to this adopted home of yours I think the ferry solution is a compromise. Let the company move to the other side until the Intermodal Complex is built. In the meantime time will tell who was right about the move.

    Also, if Nancy is right about the pots of Federal gold waiting to be delivered to B’port where is Jimmy-boy? Where is birdman? Forget the higher-ups in this administration caring about the ferry or intermodal or downtown … they all live out of town!

    Without a compromise it will be money talks and the ferry walks … to New Haven.

    9000 parking spaces downtown can fill a lot of water taxis shuttling to Pleasure Beach island and a new ferry terminal complex. Putting things to see and do on both sides of the harbor will double the pleasure.

  19. I checked out the Gomes website. Pretty impressive. I especially liked the explanation of CitiStat and why it failed in Bpt because of the political corruption. Interesting that the city council continued to fund all the CitiStat staff even though they produced nothing. Speaking of the city council, how did the budget committee meeting go? I heard the unions were going to pack the room. Were any union presidents allowed to speak?


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