The Beach Battle At Saints

St. Mary's sandspit
This is another OIB moment, according to Gail Robinson. 'Hard as it is to believe,' she says, 'the secrecy continues.' A meeting took place Wednesday at St. Mary's sandspit between the DEP and some officials of the City of Bridgeport. Robinson says the Black Rock community was not informed nor were any community organizations invited to participate. The fellow in the black tee-shirt in front is Kevin Zawoy of the DEP; Parks Director Charlie Carroll is behind him, City Councilwoman Sue Brannelly is on the right in back in sunglasses.

Lots of Black Rockers are angry about the way the city is messing with the beach at Saints. This goes back a few weeks when the city did a beach “clean up” that led to a city vehicle stuck in the muck. Oh well. Some neighbors also say the criticism of city officials is much ado about nothing, the work being done is fine. Here’s the latest from Gail Robinson, one of several Black Rock neighbors keeping on top of city bureaucrats. The letter to the editor is signed by dozens of neighbors.

This may seem like a fundamental question, but it’s one that needs to be asked. What should we expect of elected officials and department heads in the City of Bridgeport?

Should we expect them to obey the laws of the State? Or should we look the other way when their actions result in fines and penalties? Should we expect them to honor their word with neighboring municipalities? Or are we willing to bear the consequences when unilateral actions result in financial harm and broken trust? Should we expect the City to protect the safety of its citizens? Or should we look the other way when young lives are at stake? Should we expect the City to act upon the principles of democracy that our country was founded upon? Or do we accept leadership by a few from behind closed doors?

The sandspit at St. Mary’s seems like a small thing, a “tempest in a teapot” as noted by one observer, however, it speaks volumes about the kind of government we have come to expect and what we fail to demand of our City.

Let’s take a closer look at the facts and decide whether these issues are insignificant or of importance:


Our State environmental laws are very clear. You must have permits to do any work below the Mean High Tide water mark. The City did work below the MHT water mark on Friday, June 24, when they conducted their “beach clean-up” and on Tuesday, June 28, when their tractor became stuck in the muck on the creek side of the sand spit. An enforcer from the DEP was present and wrote up several violations along with a “stop work” order. Channel 8 was on hand to capture the City’s debacle for their television audience. Are we willing to pay higher taxes for the City to pay fines or should we expect them to know the laws and work within them?


The Town of Fairfield obtained a DEP permit to conduct dredging operations in the channel over the winter of 2007-2008 and permission from the City of Bridgeport to conduct those operations from the sandspit. The DEP permit called for the sand dune habitat on the sandspit to be restored after the dredging was completed. This required a foot of sand and tens of thousands of beach grass plugs paid for and brought to the site by the Town of Fairfield. The Ash Creek Conservation Association along with other environmental groups organized volunteers who planted the beach grass over a two year period. The habitat restoration would require five years of light use of the sand spit for the beach grass to take hold, but pathways were created for the public and there was plenty of room near the water for the public to put beach blankets down and enjoy the sandspit. A plaque was installed to explain the habitat restoration and the City of Bridgeport supported this effort by removing the picnic tables for the plantings.

Without the beach grass to hold the sand, erosion would occur, and the sandspit could disappear in one bad winter storm, according to habitat restoration expert, Richard Orson, who examined the site and made recommendations. The City failed to inform the Town of Fairfield, the State DEP, or the environmental groups of their intent to destroy the plantings. On June 28 the City’s “beach clean up” resulted in the destruction of nearly all the beach grass and the habitat restoration plaque was removed, although the plaque was not near the beach area. The intent was clear–to get rid of the beach grass and destroy the habitat restoration project. Do we want our City to make unilateral decisions without informing the parties of interest, such as the Town of Fairfield, the State of Connecticut, and civic groups and citizen volunteers? Many school children participated in the plantings. Can we explain why their City destroyed something that was good for the environment?


The sand spit at St. Mary’s is not safe for swimming due to swift undercurrents near the channel. There is no lifeguard and several “no swimming” signs and yet there is now a sandy beach and inviting water on a hot summer’s day making this an “attractive nuisance” ripe for a lawsuit by grieving parents after a drowning. An article in the Connecticut Post on June 30 detailed the experience of two young swimmers who almost drowned at St. Mary’s due to being pulled under by the current. As a taxpayer, are you willing to pay for the liability of drownings?


Knowing that school children use the site for field trips, that citizens put hundreds of hours into the plantings, and that both the Ash Creek Conservation Association and the Black Rock NRZ were in communication with the City about the habitat restoration project over the past several years, wouldn’t it have made sense to hold a public forum to discuss potential changes to the sandspit?

Can we say this is a small issue when so many people may be affected by the ramifications of these actions? Perhaps you don’t care about St. Mary’s or the environment and think this doesn’t concern you. Think again. Next time it could be something you care about that is destroyed without warning. The principles of democracy are either fought for and protected at every turn or they slip away. Will we allow a few people behind closed doors to govern us or will we demand accountability and participation?

Just like the grains of sand at St. Mary’s sand spit that will be washed away without the anchoring effect of beach grass, so is our democracy is destroyed a little at a time by our silence and our inaction. We are calling for the City to be accountable for its actions and make a commitment to repair the damage that has been done now. We are asking our City officials to look at the number of supporters of this letter below–67 of them plus myself (all residents or property owners in Bridgeport) and then decide whether to continue to treat us as if our voices don’t matter.

Gail S. Robinson
247 Harborview Avenue

Beverly Balaz
Genevieve Barthe
John Bartolone
Frank Basler
Georgiann Chapman
Candice Clinger
Marcia Eckerd
William Eckerd
Alpar Erkan
Mary Erkan
Constantine Filardi
Robert Filotei
Suzanne Filotei
John Gibson
Don Greenberg
Maxine Greenberg
Charlie Gulotta
Barry Hawkins
Lilyan Hawkins
Barbara Johnson
Otmar Kauck
Marnia Kiernan
Anne-Marie Klein
Brian Kotos
Dan Kotos
Holly Kotos
Bert Krauss
Janet Krauss
Harry Laurie
Jean Layton
John Marshall Lee
Joan Lindquist
Amy Luciano
Roger Ludwig
Beau Maas
Adelaide Mandeville
Julia Mandeville
Olivia Mandeville
Turner Mandeville
Darryl Manning
Gerry Manning
Loretta Mitro
Margery S. Morrow
Lynn H. Norris
Wendy Nylen
George Ochs
Joanna Tripp Ortiz
Jorge Ortiz
Robert Perry
William Pinciaro
Jim Pyle
Suzanne Pyle
Jackie Rinaldi
Nick Rinaldi
Lizzie Rockwell
Theresa Rossi
Andre Ruellan
Patricia Scott
L. Kraig Steffen
Marilyn Thorkilsen
Theresa Tillinger
Cynthia Vice Acosta
Diane Vulcano
Joanna Wesson
William Wesson
Jim White
Judi Wilk



  1. The residents of Bridgeport allow these things to happen because year after year, decade after decade, they continue to elect corrupt and incompetent individuals to govern their city and then turn a blind eye to their actions.

  2. The Public Facilities Dept will be hauling brush and wood to A.&R. Rec. in Shelton. The City got hit with a fine from the DEP. Turns out Bridgeport never had a permit to dispose of wood and brush. Pay to truck the brush to Shelton. Pay for disposal of brush in Shelton. And oh yes, pay the contractor at the City of Bridgeport landfill for all the business he is losing due to someone’s Brain Fart in PFD. Tax Dollars well spent! Only in Bridgeport!

    1. Wingnut, I didn’t understand your post so I did some research of my own. Looks like the electrician strikes again! He didn’t know he needed a permit to dispose of the brush at Seaside landfill. DUH! So the DEP shut him down. The Seaside landfill was contracted to an out-of-state company and now that guy is screaming because he is losing money. So the city strikes a deal with him to compensate him for his losses. But they still have to get rid of the brush so they contract with another out-of-town company and end up PAYING DOUBLE. All this because the electrician didn’t know we needed a permit. WOW! Talk about incompetence.

  3. The sky is falling, the sky is falling … The world as we know it will be destroyed … The Ash Creek Hysteria Association did not have their ass kissed or their intellectual superiority acknowledged so the entire US Democratic experience is devolving into fascism … Black Rock will be swept away because 10-20 feet of seagrass was removed so humans (who pay the freaking bills) can sit and enjoy the water!

    Cry me a river … Can anybody say overkill? How did this little sandspit last through hurricanes and Nor’easters prior to the seagrass being planted a couple of years go?

    Little children drowning … Spare me the drama. This is not a swimming beach and nobody has suggested it is. But yes, sometimes stupid humans do stupid things and tragedy results so why not build the Berlin Wall all around this sandspit?

    This is a perfect compromise.

    Tell you what, if the DEP comes back and says this will result in an ecological disaster with species being wiped off the face of the earth and a massive flooding that makes Fairfield Ave the new St. Mary’s, then I’d agree.

    Next thing you know Al Gore is going to be flying in!

    1. FBD, people are angry about the lack of a democratic process in the City. A small group decide what’s best for the rest of us. The sand spit is an example, but many signers of that letter are not environmentalists, they are just fed up with the way our City government operates and want a fairer process.

      1. Jimfox // Jun 25, 2011 at 8:53 pm

        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?

    2. These same folks fought the Ellsworth improvements because they wanted to “keep people from other parts of the city using Ellsworth” as quoted from one of the folks on the above petition at the parks board meeting regarding Ellsworth.

  4. Gee, I live in Black Rock (40 yr resident) and it’s only a few people who are up in arms about this, most people applaud it. It’s funny how Gail Robinson is all upset about the environment on this tiny little sand spit that has been there a lot longer than she has. It’s also funny that she didn’t raise a stink when Fairfield was building into Ash Creek to build its new train station. All the plant life and wildlife that was displaced had no voice! Where were you Gail? Wait a minute, you are a realtor and a new train station would increase property values! Part time conservationist, as long as it doesn’t pertain to making money! Gotta love it!

    BTW, since when does the city need to inform residents when officials are looking at something and taking a walk on a beach? STOP the conspiracy theory, GROW UP!

    1. The Ash Creek Conservation Association is not a group of radical environmentalists. Two Board members work in the real estate profession. ACCA met with environmentalists opposed to the train station, with the developers, and with Town of Fairfield officials on the Fairfield Metro train station environmental issues and attended public hearings on it. They did not ignore the environmental issues of the train station. The vegetation had to be removed on the train station site for the remediation to occur because it is a brownfield site. This is a best practice in environmental remediation. They are replacing the vegetation and creating a wetlands area.

  5. In a follow up, the Ash Creek Conserv. Assoc, Black Rock NRZ, and not mentioned is the Black Rock Home Owners Assoc, (pretty much all the same board members for each group) planted all the seagrass WITHOUT city permission! It grew out of control. So the people crying about not being informed about ‘secret meetings’ are the same people who ‘secretly’ planted the grass with the city’s knowledge. Gail, please stop making Black Rock the laughing stock of the city …

    1. burman,
      Your follow-up post above is inaccurate as to the identity of the organizations involved in the “seagrass planting.” However, it must be satisfying to ‘dis’ those who have lived in Black Rock less than your 40 years and who may have a different point of view from yours.
      For instance, what would a sand spit with seagrass growing “in control” look like? Can you post a picture of same? Then we can compare the picture of the Public Facilities vehicle stuck in sound water below the mean high tide line! That is the picture that is going to stick in people’s minds, not my words or your words …

    2. The restoration was part of the DEP permit for the dredging and was required of the Town of Fairfield. It was done in cooperation with the City of Bridgeport, who removed the picnic tables so the plantings could occur. Paths were deliberately left through the beach grass so the public could use the park land and there was plenty of room on the sand for beach chairs and blankets. The City did not have an issue with the remediation plan at that time. The beach grass had not grown out of control. It was serving its purpose to catch the sand and build up dunes. Eventually it would be covered over by sand and destroyed by use, unless replanted or protected by fences, like they do at Cape Cod. Visit www and look at the documents, photos, and timeline.

  6. Well there Beacon, when did the city give permission to plant that grass?

    Who is taking care of it?

    Was the plan to just let it grow like crazy?

    The city was trying to groom and make it look better, let’s chastise that. It’s this sense of entitlement that’s going on. The groups above who did the planting did it on their own without working with the city in the first place.

    Once again no one seemed to care about the town of Fairfield building into Ash Creek and displacing all the plant, wildlife, and thousands of mosquitoes that have now moved into Black Rock.

    … and what is the complaint about the tractor, I saw someone complaining about it when it happened about oil leaking into the sound, BUT all the boats leaving the marina 100 feet away from there, leaking oil and gas every day, is perfectly fine. It just seems that Ash Creek Conservation Association picks snipits out, distorts or doesn’t tell the whole truth here.

    Why not fight Fairfield’s train station expansion into Ash Creek?

    Why not fight the boats leaking oil and gas into LI Sound and Ash Creek?

    If ACCA is going to criticize, then they have to open themselves up to it.

  7. burman–you are probably the asshole who chainsawed to trees at St. Mary’s. You spew a lot of bullshit and you are a newbee to this site. Are you a recent Finch appointee? You sound like the rest of the Black Rock leaches or the Roaches–Danny is DTC and wifey Bonnie works for the DEPT of aging. Brannelly is the worst of them all. An earlier posting by Jimfox points out all her failings–Is she stupid or just acting stupid because Finch is telling her to ignore crime stats?

    I encourage Jimfox to run for the CC representing Black Rock. He will need to join John Gomes’ camp because Foster is just too stupid to run an opposition to Testa/Finch’s butt boys.

  8. Actually Ronin, you are wrong on all accounts, I didn’t chainsaw the trees, but I would love to see the person lynched who did it. I am a Republican, haven’t voted for any Democrats, ever. I own my own business here in the city and have nothing to do with Finch at all. I have nothing to do with Roach, Testa or the DTC. But please by all means continue to make false accusations.

    1. “The city was trying to groom and make it look better.” Perhaps you need to actually walk on the St. Mary’s sand spit. There isn’t one blade of beach grass left. There was no grooming. Just big heavy earth-moving equipment that scraped off the beach grass and dumped it and sand in an intertidal zone, which requires a DEP permit.

  9. burman–they weren’t accusations, they were probabilities. I also have nothing to do with Finch, Roach or Testa and the DTC–thank you for keeping your business in BPT for 40 years.

    I started off as an independent–in Norwalk I was a Republican. When I moved to Black Rock I then registered as a Democrat–the only reason I am not unaffiliated now is so I can vote in the primaries. Unlike you I have voted across party lines as conscience required. You remind me of a gold metal winner in the Special Olympics–Congratulations, but you are still retarded.

    1. Ronin, do you know the difference between metal and medal?

      If you want to start name calling, be a man and leave your name, and other than the fact you hide behind your online persona here (I’m guessing you are otherwise a coward), why do feel the need to bring the Special Olympics into this? It’s a good organization.

      My opinion is mine, and yes I haven’t posted here for very long, but you feel the need to chastise because you have been posting here for years I guess.

      1. burman–the metal/medal was part of the joke–I’m sorry I needed to explain that to you. I have ignored you hoping you would just go away–yet you remain a problem. I have a set of balls that fit into the trunk of a 1970s Cadillac; anybody who knows me will attest to that. You act like you walk the walk and talk the talk–here’s my counteroffer. You post your name and telephone number and I will call you back.

        Ball’s in your court now, burman.

  10. Well Ronin, you have regressed from making accusations to acting like a 10-year-old and calling names! Bravo! I’ve also noticed your reading and comprehension skills need some work. I said I had lived here for 40 years; I have only had a business here for a decade.

  11. Please don’t try to cover for your lack of spelling. Second thing I called you out and you didn’t answer the question. Don’t give some random junk in the trunk deal and call that revealing anything. So in your words, “ball’s in your court” still.


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