South End Resident Questions Housing Authority Neighborhood Plan

Marina Village
Waterfront depends on your interpretation.

The Bridgeport Housing Authority is moving forward with a demolition plan for Marina Village apartments in the South End as part of a “comprehensive plan to revitalize significant areas of the South End and East Side neighborhoods.” See zoning proposal here. Andrew Martinez, a South End resident who hosts a website devoted to examining social issues in the city, raises questions about the impact of the proposal on residents. His commentary follows:

The Bridgeport Housing Authority plans to use U.S. federal dollars to build “waterfront” subsidized housing in Bridgeport’s South End neighborhood between Main Street and Broad Street. And what I mean by “waterfront” is housing that is in a flood zone, not the scenic views of Long Island Sound. This action is concerning for a few reasons.

marina map
Proposed Choice Neighborhoods Initiative areas. From Bridgeport Housing Authority.

Ethical concerns: Let’s begin with the ethical concerns. Most people in their right mind raising children would not choose to live in an active flood zone that has been devastated consecutively for two years with over 5 feet of water. But somehow, these living conditions are suitable for poor families? During hurricane Irene this area was flooded and could not be accessed for weeks. What will a working family do if they cannot access their home? How will their children attend school? This can be devastating to a fragile family and this can be avoided with better foresight and planning.

Fiscal Concerns: For those who are not moved by these ethical issues, the plan also presents a host of fiscal concerns. How is it that an area that has been ravaged by two consecutive years of more than 5 feet of flooding (Hurricanes Sandy and Irene), and remains in an active flood zone, now becomes the location to spend taxpayer dollars to build subsidized housing? Apparently the bottom level of this structure will be parking spaces. This is important and required given federal regulations when building subsidized housing in a flood zone. However, this does not address the displacement of families over a sustained period of time. When you have over 80 displaced families who cannot access their home (some estimate that this translates to somewhere between 200-300 people) and who would need to be housed elsewhere for a duration of weeks (maybe up to a month)–where will families be housed? Who will pay for this bill? There will be inspection costs, mold issues, structural damage, and debris that will need to be moved–who will pay for this cost? And what about litigation costs if a disgruntled tenant is upset about not being properly relocated, housed etc? And what about the flood insurance costs? Is there a displacement plan–should a storm occur? What are the projected costs? Is is cheaper to build a scaled-down version of this site and build another portion of the site in an area that is not in a flood zone? And by the way, this is not only a Bridgeport issue. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a federal department. This means that as long as you are an American taxpayer–this affects you. But of course, the local citizen will bear the brunt. Should a flood occur, this will impact local resources such as the city’s police and fire department resources. Because when you have 200 people that need to be evacuated from a flood zone (many of whom do not own a vehicle but the BHA says it will encourage bicycle use) and then want to return to their home to access belongings (understandably so), this will impact local resources such as police and firefighters. Has this been discussed with the City of Bridgeport? Has a determination been made as to what this would signify given the city’s current economic standing?

There are other issues as well that I will not address here, but will defer to others in the community to address. For example, the historic preservation of the South End and how the design is not in line with the historical nature of the South End’s housing. Others have voiced concerns regarding traffic and the fact that this may potentially leave the Ferry without parking if the L.I. Ferry does not relocate on time. During a recent public meeting with the BHA a question was raised by a local resident about the capacity of the sewage system given that the sewage backs up. In other words can the sewage system handle 80 new units? BHA responded that this is a city issue.

You see, residents have local understanding of the nuances and contours of neighborhoods. When citizen input is not genuinely elicited, ill-conceived plans such as these are developed–but the problems arise later. Sewage problems worsen, the American taxpayer bears the brunt, vulnerable families become homeless during the next storm, and future generations suffer as a result of these poor decisions. This plan goes before the zoning board in September and is being pushed through quickly. My fear is that such haste will make waste.



  1. The 257 units here in Seaside Village Homes, which were build in 1917, are right across the street from Marina Village apartments in the South and they were hit by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene and are in that same flood zone. What about doing something about the flood zone first?

  2. If “Most people in their right mind raising children would not choose to live in an active flood zone …”, why haven’t they moved by now?

    Looking at the Marina Village dumps and then looking at Seaside Village across the street is like night and day.

    Ron Mackey’s right about trying to do something with the flood zone.

    Realistically, anything is going to be better than what’s there now … Even if it floods semi-regularly.

  3. I think there might be a bit of confusion on the location of the Marina Village Apartments that are to be constructed. The old Marina Apartments on Broad Street were torn down years ago and are to be rebuilt per HUD. That is the parking lot the Ferry is using.

    1. John, are you referring to Marina or Pequonnock Apartments? Okay, got it now (sometimes I don’t turn on the fastball like I used to). Jim Callahan reminds me that Marina Apartments were between Main and Broad, and Whiting and Railroad. Marina Village is at Iranistan (across from Seaside Village) down to Park Avenue.

  4. This issue is much bigger than “The Bridgeport Housing Authority moving forward with a demolition plan for Marina Village apartments in the South End as part of a ‘comprehensive plan to revitalize significant areas of the South End and East Side neighborhoods.'” Where is the study from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that has approximately 37,000 dedicated civilians and soldiers delivering engineering services to customers in more than 130 countries worldwide. We are energizing the economy by dredging America’s waterways to support the movement of critical commodities and providing recreation opportunities at our campgrounds, lakes and marinas.
    And by devising hurricane and storm damage reduction infrastructure, we are reducing risks from disasters.
    Bottom Line
    The Corps’ goal for its environmental mission is to restore ecosystem structure and processes, manage our land, resources and construction activities in a sustainable manner, and support cleanup and protection activities efficiently and effectively, all while leaving the smallest footprint behind.

    This information came from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, now the question is has Congressman Himes, Mayor Finch, the State Senator, the State Representative and the two City Council members, have they met and discuss the flooding problems in the South End of Bridgeport and come up with a workable plan for the public safety of this community and will they ever make it public? Time will tell but trust me they have done nothing.

  5. *** You have two city council members who live in the South End, (Marina and Seaside Village) to be exact. What’s their personal take on these neighborhood plans to create waterfront properties and at the same time rid the city of more low and needy income housing and citizens? What has the representing 131st council members done “new” for the South End, West Side and Downtown areas that wasn’t already on the drawing board from the Fabrizi Admin. era? Every fall, all the sewer drains must be cleaned out, flood areas remarked and storm and flooding emergency parking and procedures updated if needed and the info passed on to the residents of the South End! This was done (though not every year I must say) back when I was on the city council for six years. And the flooding problems in the South End back then are still there today! The residents need to get together and find out all they can about these future waterfront plans, no doubt! *** TIME FOR CITY GOV. CHANGE! ***

  6. Ron:
    The city recently released information on South End flooding and the Post did a story. There is an engineering study underway on the flooding. Didn’t offer a timetable for solutions or the cost of it.

    The biggest “problem” is apparently from your end of the neighborhood. They were talking about Cedar Creek. That may be so, but I’ll bet there is more to it.

    There is a road at Seaside Park before you get to the beach called Barnum Dyke. That’s a hint, to me, that at one time the city thought they raised the roadway high enough to keep water out. Maybe that could be raised again. Dunno.

    It is a no-brainer the city is going to have to dyke the neighborhood more effectively.

    I’d raise the seawall east from the area of the P.T. Barnum statue at Iranistan Avenue, but I’m no engineer. There was some neighborhood chat I heard from that end of the neighborhood that the city would look at extending some sort of rock fill into the Sound to act as a water breaker instead of raising the wall. That’s rational from what I’ve read on the subject, but again, I’m no expert. Me? I’d take a wall.

    If the city is getting rid of the parking lot for the ferry, there is no reason why they can’t turn it into housing if they do it right and get it high enough.

    If you are not a South Ender, I’m not sure people really realize how miserable it is when the neighborhood floods. A lot of these planners think: “Oh goody, vacant land, let’s put something here.”

    It’s on a bus route. It is close to Downtown. Those are pluses.

    But the area does flood some. Does anyone care if putting housing next to the Metro North tracks is the best use of the property?

    I know this is as popular with the mayor as eating broccoli, but the big, big stakeholder in the neighborhood is the University of Bridgeport. If everybody would play nice maybe everyone would have a better idea of what is going on.

  7. *** By the way, the apartments on Main St. just down the way from Seaside Park and across from Little Liberia were called Marine Apts., not Marina Apts., and further down by Lafayette Boulevard was Pequonnock Apts. Many areas in the South End are prone to flooding from time to time depending on the actual storm, amounts of rainfall and high tides! And remember the high property taxes and insurance paid by these homeowners, etc. for living near a “HOOD” waterfront area! *** LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION,MY ASS! ***

  8. I am clearly in favor of tearing down blighted ghetto public housing. Demolition, however, does not revitalize. Demolition, as we saw when Father Panik Village, was razed, forces relocation but offers no place for the dispossessed to go. No one should have to live under desperate conditions regardless of who pays the rent nor should the dispossessed be faced with no place to live. Stamford ‘revitalized’ their downtown in the ’60s with no regard for resettlement of those kicked out. So did Norwalk some years later as we did with FPV. Subsidized housing is necessary. Where do the dispossessed live while subsidized housing is being constructed? Motels?

  9. The apartments torn down across from Little Liberia were called Marina Apartments not Marine and those are the ones torn down. The City does not own the land, Housing Authority per HUD is to build new housing. When Father Panik was torn down the tenants were not homeless, they were moved throughout the city into residential apartments. They referred to it as “Scattered Housing.”

    1. Some were ‘scattered.’ Not all. I remember speaking with BPD Detectives who were sent to places like New Haven, West Haven, Hartford and New London to familiarize local police with known FPV residents with violent criminal tendencies.


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