Don’t Mess With Black Rock

beach erosion
Black Rock activists are unhappy about beach issues.

Charlie Gulotta is ripping mad … at the mayor’s office, City Councilwoman Sue Brannelly and the Parks Department. So is Con Filardi, judging by an e-mail thread circulating about issues in Black Rock. Neighbors say they’re being cut out of decisions impacting quality of life. “It’s mind boggling,” Gulotta told OIB. “What are city officials thinking? This is how those of us who pay the highest taxes in the city are treated by our local officials when we submit a complaint.”

The Black Rock voting district is also the highest percentage turnout area in the city. What’s going on? Lots of stuff, but one example involves beach erosion, poor neighborhood communication from officials and picnic tables that some OIB readers claim are creating a feeding frenzy for rats. For more see Below is an e-mail thread making the rounds the past day from Gail Robinson, president of the Ash Creek Conservation Association. Ash Creek is a tidal estuary between Black Rock and the town of Fairfield.

picnic tables
Neighbors are concerned picnic tables will entice Ben and Willard for lunch.


The City of Bridgeport has destroyed the Sound facing side of the dune restoration project that ACCA led in 2008-2009. As you recall, over the winter of 2007-2008, the Town of Fairfield had been given permission by the City of Bridgeport to dredge the channel leading to the South Benson Marina. Unfortunately the heavy equipment scraped away the dunes that had been built up and destroyed the beach grass. The City of Bridgeport did not have any plans to make the Town of Fairfield restore the habitat, so we intervened. Roger Ludwig met with the Town of Fairfield Facilities Director and City of Bridgeport’s Public Works/Parks Director, Charlie Carroll and reached an agreement that the Town of Fairfield would bring in 50 truckloads of sand and pay for 60,000 plugs of beach grass. ACCA would provide the volunteers to plant the grass.

The City of Bridgeport has unilaterally destroyed a critical portion of this habitat this morning. The side of the sand spit facing the Sound is the most critical part of the sand spit. When storms come in during the winter, if there is only sand, it will be washed back out and only the underlying rocks will remain. This erosion will eat away the entire sand spit until Ash Creek tidal estuary is exposed to the Sound and then severe flooding can occur inland in the flood plain along Livingston Street, Newton Street, and part of Gilman Street. If they had removed the beach grass along the Ash Creek side, the impact would not be so devastating, but the environmental impact of what they have done is severe.

The reason that the state requires towns to review projects like this through a Coastal Area Management review process (CAM Review) is to avoid exactly this kind of ill-conceived destruction of the environment. This project did not through a CAM Review before P&Z because it would have been on the agenda and published in a Public Notice in the Connecticut Post. That probably makes this activity illegal. We’ll find out when we talk to an attorney.

Destruction of dunes is also destruction of Piping Plover habitat and according to Steven Danzer, that is not allowed. I’m not sure which authority oversees that–DEP? Again, I can find out when we talk to an attorney.

They did this right at the height of horseshoe crab mating season, further compounding the environmental damage.

We do not know what the City has planned next. New picnic tables have been added. No one has seen a plan. No one in the community that we know of has been included in any meetings or discussions about this. The work began without any notice to the community. If we don’t stop the work, there could be further damage.


1. ATTEMPTED TO CONTACT THE MAYOR Roger Ludwig put a call in to Mayor Finch today, but has not heard back. I put a call in to Lisa Miro and asked her to contact Mayor Finch. We want to alert him to what has happened in case he doesn’t know about it and stop further damage. We want to find out who is involved in this and what their plans are. We would like to meet with the Mayor and discuss this situation fully.

2. CONTACTED THE MEDIA I sent an email to Keila Torres of the CT Post.

3. CONTACTED AN ATTORNEY It’s Friday night, but I left a message to find out what laws or statutes the City may have violated and what our options are, e.g. Emergency Injunction in court?

4. TAKEN PHOTOS OF THE DESTRUCTION Gail Robinson and Gen Barthe took photos. Gail will put them up on the ACCA website



1. ACCA will hold an Emergency Board Meeting to discuss this situation

2. BRHA and the Black Rock NRZ will get back to us on their organizations’ level of involvement


1. Ask your City Council Representatives what they know about this and ask them to use their power to stop further destruction (get others to call as well, the more calls the better)

2. Call Mayor Finch and leave messages about your concerns about this and ask him to return Roger Ludwig’s call (again, ask others to call, the more calls the better)

3. Ask around and see if anyone has any knowledge of who might be involved in this and what is planned (the Parks Department didn’t think this up on their own, someone in Black Rock wants this to happen and knows what will happen).

Sue Brannelly responds to her constituents:

I’m sorry I’m just getting all these e-mails this morning. I was at a wake out of town last night and am just getting to e-mails this morning.

I take full responsibility for this upset. The clean up of the beach area occurred in response to complaints I have received about the deterioration of the park. I have been asking the Parks Department all along to tend to all the complaints, issues, requests that have been brought to Marty and me in making St. Mary’s a more enjoyable, safe, family friendly park. The lighting, the overgrowth of all the plantings all along Gilman and Eames, the animal holes all along St. Mary’s, the overgrowth of the seagrass on the beach, the debris on the beach, among many other issues.

To speak specifically of the beach, the complaints I receive are that the beach is neglected by the city making it unkempt, overgrown, un-walk-able and un-sit-able. This comes from complaints I have received from our neighbors that say that they used to be able to throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic with their families there. That is no longer the case.

I would facilitate a meeting with Charlie Carroll, the Director of the Parks Department so that your concerns can be heard.

I am going to shoot for Tuesday. I will let you know when we have a meeting arranged.



  1. So … where’s Don Clemons on all this? He’s the one I heard talking about saving the Piping Plover on Pleasure Island and that was a huge campaign issue for him.
    Charlie Carroll is an electrician, not an environmentalist, and is way over his head on issues like these. He’s in this position solely because his family controls one of the largest unions that both contributes to the Democratic Party and has extraordinary influence on who gets what jobs in city hall. Blame the idiot also known as Finch for this … this was who got him elected in the first place. Otherwise Chris Caruso would be your mayor now.

  2. Clearly Ms. Brannelly does not understand the ecological and environmental impact of her actions. I suppose next she will be recommending we pave Capozzi Park the wooded enclave on the curve of Saint Mary’s. That little patch of beach is pebble beach and I don’t mean the golf course. At least she responded to her overtaxed and underserved constituents.

    1. It’s time for a change! Sue Brannelly drops the ball again!

      Sue Brannelly: “I’m sorry I’m just getting all these e-mails this morning.”

      Give me a break, the Dune Restoration is only a small part of the neglect St. Mary’s and Black Rockers have gone through for the past few years, the home invasions, cars and homes broken into on a daily basis. While our City Council people put their heads in the sand.
      We had three woman raped in Black Rock, and what was Brannelly’s response? Nothing!
      Did she warn anyone about the rapes? No!
      Did she hand out flyers? NO!
      Did Brannelly call anybody? NO! Only after the third woman was raped, and the police apprehended the person, and it was in the CT Post.
      One of those poor ladies lives right behind me.
      And Brannelly’s answer was the police kept her out of the loop. Bullshit, while the whole neighborhood knew of the rapes, Brannelly was silent!
      Did Brannelly have a neighborhood meeting? No!
      Does she return phone calls? Never!
      This is your DTC Machine at work in Black Rock folks!
      She only cares about getting reelected, and Lake Ave.
      Another Danny Roach and Mario Testa great pick for City Council.
      When the hell is Black Rock going to learn?

      1. I voted for Brannelly last time, but she will never get my vote again.
        St. Mary’s is the pits, thanks to the I don’t give a shit attitude by our City Council Democrats. Anybody But Brannelly!

  3. This is what happens when you have unqualified people in critical city positions. Phil Handy, former Parks Director, is an educated man, a landscape architect. Charlie Carroll went to high school and is … well … an electrician.

    1. General consensus from people who worked with him and knew him was he wasn’t an electrician either. He has got to be the least popular person in city hall, at least Finch can be a decent person at times.

  4. Unlike other parts of the city Black Rock speaks up and I am in no way happy about what I see. And correction to Lennie Black Rock is the second highest voting area. Park City magnet leads the top spot. As a Black Rock voter and a lifelong Democrat I think we need change in our district ASAP and I have no problem crossing over to Republican on a local level, I did it in 2009 when I voted for John Slater. Finch will never see my vote in September and I hope all Black voters who vote at Black Rock follow my lead and vote for Foster or Ganim. Black Rock School leads the way for change in September.

  5. This campaign is weekend at Bernie’s.
    MJF’s people keep propping her up to look like she’s got a heartbeat, and her people don’t live in our city.

      1. OTB and 6 Pack–“and her people don’t live in our city.”

        I’ll show you mine (tax bill) if you show me yours. You guys should be more worried about getting Bill Finch out of office. Then again, “desperate people say desperate things!”

        P.S. The tax bill says Bridgeport!

    1. OTB (“Off Target BS”)
      Let’s see, did you go to Vision Appraisal to find the area of MJF’s house? Are you impressed? This was purchased privately, without public funding, so what are you saying, about citizen rights to purchase and maintain real estate? While you are at it, did you look at the property tax bill? I guess it is regularly paid (unlike some in the City who have been elected). I would think that makes them real stakeholders in Bridgeport, concerned about its past, present and future. Any problems there, Bill?

      Private waterfront road means it does not qualify for City services I would guess dating back to some time in the dim past when one or more developers laid it out that way and no one has ever bothered to get City approval for becoming a public thoroughfare. There is no gate house, no “Private only” sign and no guards keeping anyone off the road. Is there a problem here, Bill?

      Bill, the problem may be you can’t relate the way MJF does and has in public for many years. She has participated as invited for years in sharing her sense, her time, her energy and expertise to a variety of service ventures for City residents. Perhaps you have been too busy personally Bill to do this yourself, to see how working together for and with people builds relations? So what part of Bridgeport is MJF lacking in relation to??? Had you announced a specific community your “investigative outing” would be more impressive, but probably as inaccurate in tone as the rest of your writing today.

      I have not yet decided where my vote will be cast, but I am certain it will not be for Bill Finch. For those who hold a different opinion, OTB included, try putting up some bona fides for the Mayor!!!

  6. Interesting column today by David Walker that basically parrots what BECON2 has been saying over the last several months about city pension plans. Isn’t Finch’s fiscal architect the same guy who helped get us in this mess? A fiscal house of cards.

  7. Neither of Black Rock’s representatives on the City Council have done much in the way of helping the neighborhood. This just the latest example of how out of touch the CORRUPT POLITICAL MACHINE is with the needs, wants and desires of the PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF BRIDGEPORT. We deserve better. Susan Brannelly claimed she “has been asking the Parks Department all along to tend to all the complaints, issues, requests that have been brought to Marty and me in making St. Mary’s a more enjoyable, safe, family friendly park.” Oh, really? REALLY??? Marty McCarthy had an outstanding tax bill with the city of Bridgeport (I don’t know at this time if he actually did the the right thing and PAID THE FUCKING TAX BILL). If Mr. McCarthy is unable, or more likely, UNWILLING to pay property taxes while serving in the city’s parliamentary body, he needs to consider a different line of part-time work. Brannelly and McCarthy have not been looking after the interests of the district’s residents. It would appear serving as an alderman is a part-time job, supplemental income. If that’s the case, well hey. The world needs plenty of bartenders.

    This is another example of incompetent City Council representatives foisted upon unsuspecting voters. Mario “Big Squid” Testa and his henchmen on the Democratic Town Committee have had the run of the show for too long.

  8. The loyalists are going to the polls in sufficient numbers to keep Calamarian control. MJF just isn’t doing enough to wake up the stagnant registered voters to get them out to vote. This Gomes vs. MJF thing is not good for the city. The two of them are cancelling each other out. I wish Gomes would wake up and realize he is the underdog here with no chance. His continuing in the primary campaign is hurting our only chance to rid us of El Squid. Primaries bring nobody out to vote yet they are critical, especially now, in identifying the next mayor of Bridgeport.

    We can’t go on any longer with the Madison Avenue Mob.

    She really should file as an independent just in case. If Caruso did that, he would have won the general despite losing the primary.

  9. We in Black Rock can expect what we deserve. We keep voting them in and this is what we get. At the very best it shows how little respect Branelly gets from city hall. That little toenail of a beach is the least of their concerns. If any relief is received it will be just before the primary.

  10. Sad that you can’t have a spirited debate with MJF and her people on here without being censored and posts pulled.
    Freedom of speech, not if you don’t back MJF.

    1. If Lennie is censoring and pulling posts unfriendly to MJF, then you should post the same comments on My Left Nutmeg.

      Why don’t you repost those items you allege were edited and/or removed?

  11. These comments seem either a bit hysterical, egotistical and/or elitist as it relates to the Parks Department doing some work at the end of St. Mary’s.

    Most of the comments relating to this “beach” emanate from the Ash Creek conservation group. While their goal is to be admired, they seem to forget that humans are at the top of the pecking order, not behind the piping plover.

    As I understand it, that beach was replanted by volunteers not all that long ago. I do not recall any public hearings, furor, etc., about planting over where people used to sit.

    Many people enjoy just sitting at the tables or on the sand, enjoying the view.

    Just drove down to see all the carnage … Talk about a tempest in teapot! The sea grass was trimmed back a bit but nothing has really changed. This seems like a perfect compromise.

    In full disclosure, Councilwoman Brannelly is my sister-in-law and while we often vehemently disagree on matters political, this isn’t one of them.

  12. Full disclosure: things didn’t happen until the digital dynamo got involved. Here’s how I intervened:

    How I add value to Black Rock residents is my secret.

    Where I do it is now public record on OIB.

    America might be a free country but that email address is my little kingdom. I’m just finding out what it can do.


  13. We will be discussing this issue on TV show Bridgeport Now Live, tomorrow at 8pm on Ch 88.

    We want to represent both views, though we could only find people against the city on location yesterday.

    Search for ASH CREEK BEACH on Google, or click here:

    Mary-Jane Foster was scheduled for tomorrow, however is postponed. Bridgeport Mayor candidate John Gomes will appear on the Bridgeport Now TV show Tuesday, July 12. All candidates have agreed to appear, and are doing so one at a time.

  14. I applaud getting rid of the “beach grass.” It was planted without city permission and has grown out of control and is a mess. We have a bunch of people here in Black Rock giving the rest of us a bad name, they couldn’t afford Westport or Fairfield so they moved here and feel entitled, often trying to give the city the end-around to get what they want. I’m a 40-year resident and have lived my whole life here. These are also the same people who get ‘offended’ that a city park like Ellsworth gets used by kids. Guess what, if you don’t like it, move out! We won’t miss you.

    1. burman has not been added to my list of Special People in Black Rock aka F.O.L.E. (Friend Of Local Eyes).

      burman is an unintended beneficiary of my Black Rock efforts and will not receive an invitation to my next birthday party.

  15. OOOPS!!! Bad on me, I guess I found out Local Eyes is one of those folks against children and families and feels some sense of entitlement. Bad on me …

  16. I want to make one correction to the e-mail above. We went back through the records with the Town of Fairfield. They sent over 802 cubic yards of fine beach sand (we don’t know how many truckloads that translates to) and the Town of Fairfield delivered 32,000 plugs of beach grass–16,000 in the fall of 2008 and another 16,000 in the spring of 2009. Sorry for the inaccuracies in the initial e-mail that was sent out (shown above). For more info visit www and click on the News tab. Thank you.


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