The Battle For The North End–Election Day Becomes Focus Of Sacred Heart Students

Oct. 24, city officials hosted a forum to address concerns about SHU in the North End,.

City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons’ arms are being tugged sharply in opposite directions in a town-gown divide between a growing Sacred Heart University and North End constituents stressed by what they consider an invasion of student partying leading to parking, zoning and public safety issues.

It’s become an election issue just days from a vote with hundreds of SHU students registering to vote who feel singled out for criticism.

Sacred Heart is no longer the little commuter college founded by the Diocese of Bridgeport, it’s a mini metropolis that provides a positive economic impact but also with it a growing student residential presence with accessible off-campus housing rentals in Bridgeport close to the school.

Campus proper is located in Fairfield, but the university’s outgrowth has created classes, administrative buildings and a housing confluence across the street along the Park Avenue side of Bridgeport.

Michelle Lyons, Finch
City Councilwoman Michelle Lyons

A community meeting last week to address issues featured more than 100 neighborhood residents venting about students carrying on to the detriment of the neighborhood. Students assert we’re being maligned unfairly, most of us get it right, don’t castigate all of us because some make merry. Burning off the class load is part of the experience.

Students and university leadership view Lyons as the most vocal public-official critic. Lyons responds she’s working toward a diplomatic solution that considers everyone to resolve the issues. She cited, for instance, 9 students occupying a condo basement in her neighborhood in violation of zoning, health and fire codes and pressing Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration to direct resources to enforce those regulations.

“My place is to listen to concerns,” says Lyons, a 14-year veteran of the council and member of the Public Safety Committee. “This isn’t about picking on students, it’s about establishing guidelines for landlords. I’m trying to be helpful making landlords accountable so our neighborhood enjoys peace and quiet.”

Nov. 2, retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez shares an image taken on Frenchtown Road in the North End that captures a collection of students in a residential area including out-of-state license plates.

Sacred Heart leadership is also weighing in electorally including this Oct. 18 letter emailed campus wide to students by SHU President John Petillo and Denisse Rodriguez, Student Body President

Dear students:

Recently, members of the Bridgeport city council from the North End joined the mayor at an impromptu press conference to announce a proposal that would limit the number of unrelated people who can live together in a Bridgeport house to three (it is currently four). More than that would be considered a rooming house, which requires annual licensing and enforcement by the Bridgeport Health Department and would be discouraging to potential landlords. The proposal has been extensively covered by various news outlets, including News12.

This proposal would impact students by limiting the number of roommates who can live in a rented home to three–no matter the size of the home. It is likely to make North End housing more expensive for you as there will be fewer of you there to split the bills.

Even if you are not currently living in the North End, you may choose to do so in the future. It is in your best interests to support the rights of those currently living in off-campus housing as well as your future rights and the rights of all those students who come after you.

Local issues like this make it so important to register to vote. You need to let your voices be heard. In fact, I think this is a perfect opportunity to implement PioneerVote.

What we need to do:

— We need to get involved. We need to mobilize, and we need to vote.

— If you live in Bridgeport and have not registered to vote there, consider doing that, so your voice can be heard. This link will let you know in which district of Bridgeport you reside and where you can go to vote.

— If you want to register, call 203-416-3333 to request a voter registration card.

— Once you are registered to vote, be sure to use this privilege by voting on November 5.

If you are currently living in the North End, please use this form to let us know who your landlords are so that we can share the information in this letter with them.

This proposal is aimed at controlling the amount of off-campus student housing in the City’s North End by promoting the false narrative that property values are falling as a result of landlords buying homes and renting to students, along with the false narrative that students contribute nothing to the neighborhoods except noise and destruction. The University has responded with a statement reminding the community of how much you and your families spend in the area as well as the amount of time you volunteer in Bridgeport.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that we all come together to defeat this proposal. It is up to us to protect our rights and our reputation. The best way to do that is to vote. I hope you will join me in working together to on this critical project.

Hundreds of students have responded by registering to vote in Bridgeport. How many will turn out and could they make a difference in the results?

Lyons and the other long-time Democratic councilwoman representing the 134th District AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia are being challenged by Republicans Joe Leonetti and Anthony Puccio.

Will students march into Winthrop and Blackham voting precincts to send a message? If so, how?

For both sides of the issues see recent commentaries from SHU Dean of Students Larry Wielk here and retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez here.



  1. SHU students come and SHU students go – because they are renters. Michelle Lyons and AmyMarie Vizzo-Panniccia need to focus on the voting property owners whose quality of life is being destroyed by the bully across Park Ave

    1. No, Michelle Lyon and AmyMarie Vizzo-Panniccia are the ones who come and go renters because they are getting paid with taxpayers money and they come and go in dealing with issues in their district, they act like renters.

  2. wait a minute…Lyons wants to introduce a proposal that would limit the number of UNRELATED people that live in a house??? isn’t there such an ordinance ALREADY on the books?? if such an ordinance DOES exist, why isn’t it enforced??? oh yeah – all these unrelated people live in SINGLE family homes. not multiple family dwellings.

  3. Every new registration should be challenged if upon voter check-in they can’t present a proper CT ID. Furthermore, every car that is from out-of town should be cited and be forced to register their vehicle in Bridgeport. BTW – Senator Moore has been asleep while not counting her sheep. She’s no Little Bo Peep!

    1. Oh, talk about voter intimidation!!!
      Grin your true colors are showing.
      Why does the city of Bridgeport’s problems like zoning all of a sudden become the problem of the State Senator? Especially if the mayor or other elected officials have not even made her aware of the problem and asked for her help???
      The mayor, Michelle Lyons and Amy Marie have ignored the problem or worse helped the landlords out by not enforcing zoning.
      But now that they are actually afraid 😱 of the consequences they try to blame it on the State Senator.
      Voters in the North End don’t buy this last minute shift to the state.
      Vote the whole bunch of the out.

      1. Bob….I mailed in my absentee ballot with not one vote for an endorsed Democratic candidate. I did my part. I only wish I could do more. Wait! I’m a registered Democrat! hmmmm

  4. NOTHING GETS ENFORCE unless someone files a complain. People see things and they know something is wrong but they don’t follow-up. If it’s a health and safety issues then call the Fire Marshall.

  5. Like The Who said, Don’t Get Fooled Again!!!
    Joe Ganim has not done a damned thing about this situation since before I left the council.
    He is cowtowing to the landlords and ignoring the residents.
    Nothing will change after the elections too.
    Vote for Moore. AT LEAST SHE’SNOT JOE GANIM!!!

  6. Ganim’s lost the Black Rock over reval and won’t get them back until he makes them whole on property tax. Not raising them but returning the back to where they once were.
    Ganim is at risk of losing the North End over SHU and by favoring landlords over residents.
    Ganim’s losing the Central precinct to Moore simply because she not Joe Ganim.
    Ganim is at risk of losing the black vote by taking them for granted for the last four years and not doing anything with A J Perez.
    It could be a deadly combination even as Lennie keeps trying too blame everything on Marilyn Moore.

      1. Like how many inept department heads has Joe Ganim hired in his 20 years of Mayor???
        How many department heads has he hired who continue on in the job after embarrassing the city time and time again????

  7. Bob: I attended a public safety meeting at Park City Magnet school in late-May 2018, to address 135th District problems. It was held by the councilpersons of the district to address the public safety/quality of life issues of the area. Shootings at Trumbull Gardens, a wild shoot-out on Lakeside Drive, and SHU student problems were the main topics. Senator Moore was a presenter at the function — since part of the 135th lies within her 22nd District… Senator Moore is well aware of the problem. It was an issue when she ran against Tom McCarthy for the seat, because he was a SHU-expansion facilitator… She promised to play into solving all of the problems at the aforementioned meeting… After the meeting, she disappeared from most of the District until this mayoral election…
    Below, is an unedited version of the commentary piece that I sent to OIB last week (which was heavily edited by OIB) in response to the bs/bullying responses in the Post and OIB by SHU President Petillo and Dean of Students Larry Wielk…

    So; it is interesting to see how seriously the bully-institution, Sacred Heart University (SHU), is taking the mood of the Bridgeport public and their elected officials in regard to their parasitic, neighborhood-destroying relationship with the city that they love to use to abuse, but whose name they take great pains to dissociate from their name and zip-code…

    SHU president, and weekend, New Jersey resident, Dr. John J. Petillo, having largely avoided any response to previous, Bridgeport-neighborhood ire, regarding the hoard of hedonistic, neighborhood-destroying, 10%-er, pseudo-scholars, unleashed on the City of Bridgeport by his parasitic, elitist-serving/elitist-supported, bullying, pseudo-academic (cash-machine/country-club) institution, finally broke wind on the issue. President Petillo takes a ridiculous, arrogant, half-witted stance – a Trump-like stance, possibly learned directly from DJT during the Trump-rally hosted by SHU in on 8/12/16 – in his 10/25 President’s-blog comments concerning the 10/24 meeting held by the City to address the North End, SHU problem.
    Petillo states, with smug arrogance, that he is impressed with his SHU-brats challenging Bridgeport on its right, and duty, to enforce and strengthen its safety and quality of life laws (on the whole gamut of such laws/ordinances – zoning, parking, noise, fire code, et al.), with respect to efforts to rein-in the undisciplined, entitled, SHU students that have destroyed the North End, and how he is impressed with their voter-registration efforts (603), per its implicit political leverage over the Bridgeport political system. He also throws-out/throw-up numbers asserting the economic/social benefits of SHU to Bridgeport (which were also recycled by his Dean-of-Student’s YES!-man, Larry Wielk, and are addressed, below).

    But, in regard to President Petillo’s attitude toward his victim, we can see that SHU is, indeed, an institutional-bully, involved in the business of training elitist bullies. We can also see that, from his collective statements in his 10/25 blog-entry, that he is as capable as any Catholic cardinal of manipulating people, and the truth, to further his institutional ends and to feather his own nest. Indeed; his style is very Trump-like… (The SHU/Trump relationship is actually quite deep… Do they impeach university presidents?!)
    Petillo has thrown down the gauntlet to Bridgeporters; we must pick it and smite him with it (at the polls, and in court, if necessary)…

    Now; on to some Champagne Prevarication, with Lawrence Wielk:

    Larry Wielk’s commentary on the OIB web magazine takes advantage of the opportunity to make points on his boss’ blog-points, in which numbers are used in cooked-books-accounting (taught at SHU) style, in which the book-cooking, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities cites SHU/SHU visitors as spending $101 million in Connecticut each year, with the implication that some large portion of that is spent in Bridgeport. Now we know that with basic tuition starting at $41,420, most of that is put directly into the university, whatever is spent in Bridgeport is spent on the neighborhood-wrecking rentals and dangerous, drunken partying at issue. We know that SHU visitors aren’t renting Bridgeport hotel rooms or dining at Bridgeport restaurants… And the costs to Bridgeport families in neighborhood peace and safety exacted by the behavior of immature, spoiled-brat, utterly-selfish, often-belligerent SHU students – with our most needy neighborhoods losing police coverage during critical weekend hours, when most of our on-duty police are dispatched to the North End to police/babysit the dangerous, disruptive partying of undisciplined, spoiled-brat SHU students – would indeed indicate a much higher dollar-value cost, and extremely-high cost in other, non-measurables – to Bridgeport families than any paltry amount that SHU’s presence might put into Bridgeport resident pockets or Bridgeport-based-business coffers.

    And of the 100,000 “volunteer” hours logged by SHU students in Bridgeport? We know that the vast majority of those hours were logged to complete course requirements. (And the Seaside Park clean-up hours? What about the trashing that SHU students frequently give to Seaside Park – not to mention Veteran’s Memorial Park, adjacent to SHU…)

    As far as the 700 donated, Thanksgiving turkeys go: I would bet that the recipients would be happy to trade them for a Thanksgiving weekend with the kind of heavy, 24-hour police patrols that they could have if the BPD OT-budget weren’t being drained by the 9 months of North End, weekend, SHU-party patrols that tie-up BPD during violent-crime prime-time in the distressed neighborhoods of the city…

    So, really; Larry Wielk’s little faux narrative of the SHU Story can be viewed in the same context that we might view any other propaganda from any other parasitic agency in regard to the enumeration of “benefits” to the host… But what else should we expect from SHU’s, 20-year Dean of Students, who’s been lying like a Catholic bishop to Bridgeport neighborhoods for all of those 20 years?!
    Just say shoo! to SHU, on Election Day, November 5…


  8. Bob, Jeff Kohut just likes to read his writings put where is comments about the lack of action from the current mayor, Joe Ganim or the past mayor, Bill Finch, or the two City Council members from that district or from Mario Testa the owner of Test’o Restaurant and who is the head of the Democratic Town Committee, no, it’s ALL Senator Marilyn Moore fault. Hey, where is your draft proposal for legal change?

  9. Jeff is desperately trying to avoid coming in last among the write-in candidates. So all he does is attack Moore.
    He can all ways fall back on the answer to everything; it’s the Gold Coast effect. If it doesn’t fit, make it.

  10. For someone who has a plan for every problem his campaign seems to be solely to stop 🛑 Moore.
    It’s almost as if he’s not trying to win just trying to make Moore lose.


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