Debating The Ferry Controversy, Stay Or Move?

Roughly one million travelers each year traffic the city’s ferry terminal downtown.

Many head over to Port Jefferson, Long Island from the city and surrounding suburbs, and some come over from the other side of the pond to work and attend events at the arena and ballpark, and environs. Officials for the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company want to move the ferry terminal to the other side of the harbor on the East End.

They want a new facility with upgraded services and improved parking while cutting the trip by 10 minutes with immediate access off I-95.

Opponents, including many business leaders and officials with the Bridgeport Port Authority, a quasi-city agency which owns the ferry terminal property along Water Street, say the ferry service is vital to support business and attractions downtown.

I asked two OIB friends Denis O’Malley, chairman of the Bridgeport Port Authority and Fred Hall, general manager of the ferry company, for their opposing viewpoints. Ferry officials, trying to build support for the move, made their case to the Bridgeport Regional Business Council last week. The port authority will present its case in July.

Denis O’Malley:

The City and BPA (port authority) and hopefully still the Bridgeport Regional Business Council want the transportation hub on the west side of the harbor, next to downtown. As entertainment grows as well as housing, we would finally be able to drive day trips to the Bridgeport side for a change, supporting business and entertainment. Not there yet but it’s a very legitimate goal.

Relocating the ferry across serves only one purpose–cuts about ten minutes on travel time but more importantly, cars can zip right through to I95 in two seconds…leaving no money behind.

State DOT is against the move as well. If we can ever get this lawsuit resolved (over tariffs), BPA has plans together to build a new parking garage next to the terminal.

In essence, the ferry company wants out from under the tariff figuring they could run a smoother operation (for them) across the harbor and by not having to pay the tariff, pay for everything pretty quickly and then make even more money. I don’t fault the logic or business-sense for the ferry company but that does not mean it’s all good for Bridgeport.

I just hope the City and other stakeholders like downtown businesses and BRBC stay the course. The ferry company is very good for Bridgeport and Bridgeport very good for them.

For more information about the port authority and what it does check out When I contacted Fred Hall for comment he shared a letter to the editor to the Connecticut Post written by Lillian Wade,  president of the East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone. He explained, in an email, that her letter supports his position. An excerpt from the letter is below:

The creation of economic opportunity has long been promised to the residents of the East End. Sadly, many of the hopes and dreams of our vibrant and forward-looking community have not reached fruition. The time to move ahead is right now, and there is a transportation concern that is prepared to propel us into the future–The Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company. The ferry company moves about 1 million people a year through the city of Bridgeport; people whose presence in our neighborhood will undoubtedly lead to the creation of businesses that will provide goods and services to the ferry company’s passengers.

No doubt having the ferry link in the East End will enhance the land value and the attractiveness of the properties known as Steelpointe and CarTech. For the first time, a real opportunity exists for economic growth in the East End; jobs and new businesses, stimulated by the presence of the ferry company’s millions of passengers, will allow the area to flourish.

Why does the ferry want to relocate? Basically, it wants to create a first-class terminal that overcomes the deficits of the existing facility, a site the company has simply outgrown. Both the city and ferry customers are as deserving of a better transportation facility as the bus riders who now enjoy a vastly more modern and efficient bus depot.

At its current location, problems for the ferry include: inadequate vehicle staging that results in traffic backing up onto Main Street; reliance on satellite parking; the lack of a safety separation of walk-on passengers and vehicles; and the lack of a second berth vital to ensuring continuation of service should the ramp fail. Suggestions that the current site can meet the needs of the ferry through modifications imply that there is adequate room for expansion. But given the proximity of the train tracks and the power plant, it is unlikely that workable solutions can be found at the Water Street Dock.

So, what say you? Stay or go? Maybe we should have an OIB party on this!


Don’t Hire This Guy

I’m familiar with this contractor’s work. He has screwed a lot of people. News release from the state Department of Consumer Protection:

Trumbull Contractor Pays Restitution in Air Conditioning Work Case

HARTFORD, June 11 – A Trumbull man convicted of taking a deposit and not doing the contracted air conditioning work has paid $4,535.00 restitution to his victims.

Joseph Walsh, age 44, of 19 Knollcrest Drive, Trumbull, pleaded guilty to one count of larceny in the 4th degree in Norwalk Superior Court, Housing Division, on May 28, 2009.

Mr. Walsh, operating under the name of JW Heating and Cooling was given a check by a homeowner to install an air conditioning system at a home in Norwalk, but never did the work nor repaid the homeowner.

Walsh has now paid the $4,535.00 in restitution and was sentenced to one year incarceration, execution suspended and two years of probation by the Honorable Judge Jack L. Grogins. As a further condition of his probation, Joseph Walsh cannot work without the proper license.

“The Department of Consumer Protection takes cases like this very seriously and brings those requiring criminal prosecution to the criminal justice authorities,” Commissioner of Consumer Protection Jerry Farrell, Jr., said. “Sometimes criminal prosecution is the only way that we can get restitution to a consumer,” Farrell said.

The case was prosecuted by the Office of the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Norwalk Superior Court, Housing Division in conjunction with Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, Occupational Licensing and Enforcement Unit.



  1. On the surface moving the ferry to the east side makes sense. My understanding is that the site will be updated with shops and restaurants. It does give easy access to I-95.
    The present location does nothing for downtown Bridgeport. It is difficult to find (for out-of-towners). When you exit the ferry all signs direct you to I95 and away from the downtown area. You drive through an undeveloped or tough area that does not give a positive impression of Bridgeport.
    When the arena and ball park was built and lower Main St cut off from the rest of the city no one thought of the ferry and getting people into Bridgeport.
    You know what, even if you got people to come from the ferry and visit downtown, parking areas such as garages are poorly marked. Combine that with the traffic brigade and their ticket books why the hell would an out-of-towner go there more than once?
    I think that this latest issue with the ferry highlights why the Port Authority was on the administration’s hit list. Denis watch your back.

    1. “You drive through an undeveloped or tough area that does not give a positive impression of Bridgeport.”

      You must be talking about some part of the 138th district.

  2. On the surface it appears that the relocation is the better option. The current site has too many drawbacks including a lackluster terminal building. The site is cut off from downtown and has very few pedestrians. Moving the site across the harbor offers more potential for economic development of the East End. I thought B’port had money for a water taxi? Well, connect the new terminal, downtown and Pleasure Beach. It should be all about economic development and potential. The move has a better chance of putting shovels in the ground than the “steal” point project.

  3. Re: The Bridgeport Ferry, should it stay or should it go?

    Answer: It should stay. Here’s why:

    Moving it would require a new terminal and that’s costly and selfish (more on that later, keep reading).

    Less costly improvements and alterations can be made to the existing docking spot to rectify legitimate problems.

    Economic Development is all about human initiative and not a new terminal. Put some brains to work. Mind-over-mortar; you know, that kind of stuff. Denis O’Malley, stand your ground.

    Finally, moving the ferry would require me to change my top photo and alter my color scheme. Guess what? I’m selfish, too.


  4. Lennie,
    Thanks for the Point/Counterpoint editorial approach to this issue. Couple of follow-up points.

    As Lillian points out, the East End has long been promised economic opportunity and too many times, it was a case of opportunities lost. To the best of its ability, the Port Authority has listened. To wit:

    1. East End community leaders, city councilmen and state rep’s approached the BPA with the complaint that their neighborhood had lost too much housing and could the BPA take its property across from Derecktor and next to the park and develop owner-occupied housing. With the strong support of the Fabrizi administration and an advisory committee from the neighborhood, that happened.

    2. The East End came out strongly against the Feeder Barge program that the BPA, City administration and our state rep’s fought so hard to capture. That site was just advertised in Sunday’s CT Post for retail use and the space far exceeds that of the the Ferry company proposal.

    3. I take exception to Independent Soul’s description of the current terminal as “lackluster”. Does I.S. remember what was there before the BPA? It was a disgrace to both the City and Ferry Company. There is absolutely no doubt in almost everybody I’ve spoken with from lower Fairfield County that the terminal and improvements are why the ridership has increased so much since the inception of the Port Authority.

    I would very much agree that the BPA and the City of Bridgeport take a long, hard look at what changes can be made to make the existing site a better site. More than just an on-site parking garage. That may well mean shifting roads around, working on the rail underpass, signage, etc.

    Whatever the BPA and the City can do to help the Ferry Co., we should do.

    Bridgeport has a tougher task that most when it comes to development but much of the old planning models are dramatically changing to reflect urban living. A great example would be the City Trust building and the Arcade Building. This new urban living trend is only going to grow. That’s why there have been very significant real estate ownership changes in the downtown district.

    Moving the Ferry Company across the harbor would be a short-term gain but a long-time loss for downtown merchants and the City. The Ferry company will play a huge role and I would urge all stakeholders to support the downtown side of the harbor for the Ferry terminal.

  5. I have read with interest Denis O’Malley’s comments. While I don’t really disagree, I do question how the Ferry service on the downtown side benefits downtown. Denis at best the BPA has had a love-hate relationship as exhibited by the tariffs the BPA installed. While we are directing all traffic from the ferry away from downtown how does this benefit downtown? The areas traveled by visitors going to I95 are not favorable to Bridgeport’s image.
    Denis I am tired of waiting for long-term gains that never materialize. Right now in this economy and in Bridgeport’s condition I will take any type of gain, short term or long term.
    Without tying the ferry into your commercial space program for the dock area it will fail pure and simple.

    1. “The areas traveled by visitors going to I95 are not favorable to Bridgeport’s image.”

      Again, you must be talking about some streets in the 138th district. Pearl Harbor Street area perhaps?
      You couldn’t be talking about the Housatonic Comm. College area; the Arena and Bluefish area; the State Police Barrack area. This is the area where the closest entrance and exit to I-95–from the Ferry post–are located.

  6. I thank the Almighty God that Paul Timpanelli is involved in this critical issue. He knows what to do and, by God, he’ll do it. ***Right, Mario?***

    Hey Finch … remember??? … you have to cut costs AND FIND NEW REVENUE SOURCES TOO!!!

  7. *** I don’t buy that the B.P.A. is interested in what happens in the East End, more so they’re interested in the financial future of the B.P.A.! And basically if that’s what they really want to do as far as moving is concerned, it will happen. I like the downtown area since that’s the present & future hub of attention for further improvements in public transportation, entertainment, eating establishments, business offices, etc.. *** Unfortunately, it seems that regardless of the present economy, Bpt. development in general just seems to move much too slowly to warrant any real interest from other tri-state business looking for a change of location or investments. There needs to be some sort of incentive to draw more interest in general to move downtown Bpt. into the 21st century! ***

  8. A quick response to Local Eyes … don’t be blind to the potential of change. I thought the article of the terminal move stated that the ferry co would be footing the bill for the new ferry. Am I wrong? Also, human initiative is the fuel behind economic development; I agree, but where is the initiative from any B’porter to new development? Locals don’t seem to be supporting any new venture, so why not an adventure and see what happens (unless we are fearing the old pay to play game).

    Denis, please don’t take exception to my comment re a lackluster terminal. Want something to eat, go to a vending machine, then look at a dirty bathroom. How many pedestrians actually come off the ferry and walk into downtown? Most that I observe get picked up and I bet 90% of the vehicles head to I95. Turn the lackluster terminal into a water taxi terminal to shuttle people not cars to Pleasure Beach.

    Finally, why not tell the ferry co to put up or shut up? Let’s see the plans they have for an East End terminal complex before we start shooting at each other any more.

  9. Who in their right mind would come from some other place (excepting perhaps Mars) to feast on the cultural, the magnificent shopping, I think we still have an army navy store, or whatever in downtown Bridgeport?
    We delude ourselves.
    There is nothing here, it is like a Beckett play “Waiting for Godot.”
    I forgot to mention there is an exemption and that is Paul Timpanelli who appears on some days to collect his $2,400.00 weekly pay, speak of theater of the ABSURD.
    I don’t know what Beckett is all about and I sure as hell don’t know what Timpanelli is all about.

  10. While some complain about Bridgeport’s shortcomings, others see its enormous upside.

    independent soul: Many Bridgeporters are supporting new ventures here and it’s easy to use Mankind’s most accurate measuring device to prove it.

    BR: Maybe you’re deluding yourself, but you’re not deluding me. There’s plenty here and that’s why I’ve cast you in the leading role of my new play: Waiting for Black Rockin’.


  11. Here’s a reminder on something positive happening tonight in Bridgeport:

    As mentioned yesterday on Lennie’s blog, my solo artist show Greetings From Ghostland opens tomorrow, June 11th at the Gallery at Black Rock, 2861 Fairfield Avenue. The opening reception is from 6-9PM.
    21 of my large painted works and over 40 smaller, more affordable works are included in this show.
    For the opening night only, there will be a video installation of five of my photographic slideshows. Included videos are of Pleasure Beach and St. Margaret’s Shrine.

    I’m pleased to announce that The Gallery at Black Rock and I will be donating the entire $500 sale price of my painting “Wait No More” to The Black Rock Food Pantry. We’re taking this opportunity to give back to our community in these harsh economic times.
    What’s in it for you? Your purchase of this original work of art by me is a tax-deductible $500 contribution to The Black Rock Food Pantry. You get art, you get a tax-deduction, and people get to eat.
    For those who think that the arts don’t contribute to the community, take a bite of that!

    Here’s a link to the painting:

    We expect the opening to be well attended and a great time. Hope to see you all there.

    Oh, and this isn’t my first post on this blog. I’m not prepared to reveal my secret indomitable identity at this time.

    Greetings From Ghostland
    Michael Raleigh

  12. yahooy:

    Winners know how to answer their own questions–it’s a core success trait. If you’re moving out of town, I wanna help pack your suitcase.

  13. I may be in favor of moving the Ferry Dock over to the area around Derecktor. I have to think that some day an enlightened administration might get Steel Point up and running. Would it not be beneficial to have the Ferry dock at this magnificent facility?

    Let’s face it for real. Who in their right mind would get off the Ferry at this point in time and wander up Main Street to (shop???). Port Jeff is a whole other story. Anyone who has made the trip over the pond just to go to PJ knows what I mean. If downtown Bport could emulate PJ then it would make sense to keep the Ferry where it is.

    The counterpoint would be to keep the Ferry where it is and develop the proposed property into something that would actually generate revenue for the city. This way we would get “new” revenue while the Ferry people continue to pay whatever they pay. Win Win as opposed to shifting one good payer from one spot to another. N’est-ce pas???

  14. yahooy:

    Profanity is used when words fail or escape people. It’s a (lousy) substitute for a thoughtful reply. You disgraced yourself. I wonder what the OIB blogosphere thinks (that’s a statement, not a question and ends with a period).

    Your last post suggests that you feel strongly both ways, n’est-ce pas?

  15. Black Rockin’:

    You’re the only one who’s ever accused Local Eyes of being blind but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
    Your comment doesn’t surprise me. Understanding reality is a specialty of mine. C’mon, let’s compare track records.
    What’re you waiting for–a dance instructor?

  16. STAND BY In the next week you will see the Port Authority dissolved and placed under the mayor’s office. More to follow in the coming days. The question of where the ferry boat is going to be has been answered.

  17. *** Wherever BRBC wants it to be, with the Mayor’s blessing of course! *** Yahooy has lost his cool, seems L/E knows what buttons to press to tick the “Bitch” off! *** I would love to press the nose button, just a tap to hear the dog yelp in public, like in a cartoon episode on the Cartoon Network. ***


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