The Pleasure Is Back At The Beach, Long Lines For Water Taxi But Most Say Worth The Wait

Finch at Pleasure Beach
Saturday afternoon, Mayor Finch chats with peeps waiting for water taxi.

Mayor Bill Finch woke up Saturday morning, hopped a water taxi to Pleasure Beach, walked out to the water and took a dip. So did hundreds of others. Armed with picnic baskets, beach accoutrements and fishing gear, Pleasure Beach lovers waited in line for up to two hours along Seaview Avenue to board a water taxi and touch down on the peninsula that had been shut off to the public for nearly 20 years following a fire to the drawbridge.

Pleasure Beach opening day
Looking at Pleasure Beach from the pier to access the water taxi. The burned, inaccessible drawbridge in background.

The mayor worked the line of folks waiting patiently for the 23-passenger water taxi to transport them from the fishing pier off Seaview Avenue for the five-minute ride or so to the 600-foot pier that juts out into the harbor from the peninsula. As beachgoers returned from Pleasure Beach, the mayor asked “How did you like it?” The feedback was largely positive, except for the people who waited patiently in line to hop the two water taxis the city put into use for the day. At one point, the mayor shrugged and smiled, “The line won’t be as long on Sunday.”

Dolphin's Cove
Looking across the harbor from Dolphin’s Cove in the East End with Pleasure Beach in distance.

At 1 p.m. about 150 people were in line waiting to board the water taxi. City officials weren’t sure what to expect, but were excited about the turnout on the first day. Free water taxi service commenced 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. The folks waiting in line included a mix of city residents, East End neighbors and elderly suburbanites curious just to once again touch the soil they had remembered in their youth when Pleasure Beach was among the elite amusement parks and recreational areas in the northeast.

Pleasure Beach
Aerial of Pleasure Beach courtesy of Morgan Kaolian.

“Mayor Finch, why can’t you fix the bridge,” asked one person in line.

“Because it will cost $40 million,” Finch responded.

“Isn’t the city insured for the bridge?”

“The city is self insured.”

It’s unclear the long-term price tag to taxpayers to keep the beach accessible with all the associated costs for safety, security and regular staffing. But for Finch, this is the realization of a campaign promise he made in 2007 to reopen public access. Finch then had promised a two-year plan to reopen Pleasure Beach to the public. But as Finch enters reelection in 2015, Pleasure Beach is an accomplishment he can take take to voters, particularly East Enders waiting nearly two decades.

City officials, led by parks chief Charlie Carroll, have cleaned up the peninsula for passive recreation. Lifeguards will be on duty this summer. An elderly gentleman from New Haven who had heard about Pleasure Beach from his friends was hoping to spend some time there. The long wait to hop the water taxi deterred him on this day. “But it’s okay,” he said, looking out across the harbor, “I will be back soon.”

Pleasure Beach
Pleasure Beach. Image from city website.


  1. He promised in 2007 it would be open by 2009. Five years late he finally opens it to the public if you are willing to wait two hours for a five-minute boat ride. They are probably still ferrying people back. And this will be a lynchpin in the mayor’s reelection campaign? Good luck, Bill. Nice job, Mayor!!!

    1. Bob Walsh–why are you so down on everything? This is a step in the right direction and there is now access to Pleasure Beach, think positive for once. Do you really hate Finch so much you can’t recognize any of his accomplishments? Hop on a water taxi and see people enjoying themselves, maybe it will be contagious.

    2. Bob, no offense, do you ever give credit where it is due? This may be fluff, but this is a good thing and the Mayor deserves a pat on the back. You may have an endless list of reasons to dislike Finch. This should not be one of them. Mayor Finch. Good job today!

  2. Steve,
    You have got to be kidding me. The residents and taxpayers of the city of Bridgeport have been so disappointed by so many undelivered promises for so many years, they do not demand more and demand better. They have allowed the politicians to set the bar so low, they applaud when the politicians accomplish anything even if they trip over that bar in the process.
    In the real world, the business world, someone would be fired over a fiasco like this but Bridgeporters have such a low level of expectation they celebrate. This is B’port’s number-one reason it will never succeed. So sad. So doomed to fail.

  3. I think this is fabulous. I love the beach and it’s just a short hop of a ride. There are walking trails and much to see. It would be awesome if the Monk Parakeets took up residency on the peninsula. It is only going to get better too, as the development of the beach and available recreational activities continues. LIKE. 🙂

    1. I agree, Mustang! That would be a great place for the Monk Parakeets. They have started a condo in a tall evergreen by Finch’s house at Beardsley Park as well as Black Rock.

      Note to Bob Walsh: if people look at the water taxi as part of their experience, why piss on their parade? Bob, you lose credibility when you go after the jugular for a positive action. If I were the Mayor, I’d be feeling pretty good about this accomplishment. If I were his opposition, I’d still celebrate this moment.

    1. Yeah Andy, like Jesus walked on water. And his point was?? Hey look at me, I’m walking on water! 🙂 Let me raise some dead people, how creepy is that? Lolololololol. Andy, do you imagine I believe Finch walks on water? If I were debating Finch, I could wipe the floor with him and still acknowledge with respect all of the positives he has done. I have always acknowledged the positives of even the worst people. Take Hitler, he was actually a very good artist. Too bad he was not complimented on his ability. He may have become an artist and history would have been so different. Andy, you have another candidate in mind so you can get off your I hate Finch soap box. I do not see anybody yet.

      1. Steve, I don’t hate Finch, I just think he is incompetent, I really don’t have another candidate I’m supporting at this time. I will tell you it’s not Finch and it’s not Fabrizi and it’s not Ganim.

  4. I’m thrilled, Pleasure Beach is open and happy we have our water taxis. Both of them. I’m looking forward to visiting and taking a picnic with the family, maybe some volleyball and a swim. It’s all good. That said, Walsh is not wrong. Finch is a guy who over promises (that’s kind) and under delivers and by the time he finally under delivers and declares great victories, we’re all so worn out by the hyperbole and he gets a pass. Walsh is also right, this guy has now been in office almost seven years and has nothing–almost nothing–to show for it but hyperbole. For those of you who prefer more direct language, you can substitute “bullshit” for “hyperbole.”

    1. Baffled,
      Thanks for bringing up the subject of “bullshit.” The opening of Pleasure Beach to the people of Bridgeport involved much logistical planning after the fund sources were tapped and the final preparations came into view.

      What surprised me was to hear “portable potties” were rushed onto the scene at the very last moment, at the so-called “hind end.” Had someone forgotten the subject of basic elimination for beachgoers? If that story proves true then it will be in that genre of Bridgeport story where people listening are ready to say at story end: “No shit!!!” The question remains, “Is the story for real?” Time will tell.

      1. John Marshall Lee–That was your best post yet. If that were true, it would be too sad but extremely funny. Not of course to the individuals who need to use it.

  5. Having the beach open is great. However, the water taxis are going to be a financial nightmare. At a minimum we have: two Coast Guard certified captains (God knows what happens if one or both guys are sick), two line handlers/crew, upkeep on the boats, winter storage, fuel, insurance, etc. A walking bridge that could be drawn up for boat traffic (unless the boat traffic could pass underneath) would have been fine. The area behind the beach is small and shallow. Only small skiffs and jet skis really go back there. Here is a very nice bridge.
    The kind of thing you would use to get over a castle moat would work, too. One guy to work the bridge or the bridge could just be pushed up by the boater and pushed back down by the beacher or you pull a rope. A boater pulls the rope and the bridge goes up and stays up until a beacher pulls the rope. Then the bridge stays down. At the end of the day the beach guard pulls the bridge up and locks it until the next day. The drawbridge could have a button, like when you want to cross the street, to operate it. One button for the boaters one for the beachers. Low maintenance, cheap and dependable. Has anyone ever heard of KISS? Keep It Simple, Stupid.
    My only real concern is the cost involved in operating the boat.


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