I am writing in regards to the Resilient Bridgeport’s proposed version of what appears to be a wall in Bridgeport. I have had a few people reach out to me to ask me questions about this as I am involved with the local environmental community in the Greater Bridgeport area.
My first question, and no disrespect to yourself, but what does the CT Department of Housing have to do with this and why is this going to Hartford if this involves Bridgeport? Also, why is a group from Delaware involved? Who wrote the website? The language runs in circles and in some cases is clearly misleading. The opening line I read was, “today, water ponds in low-lying areas”. It’s a scientific fact from the beginning of human observation that water always follows the path of least resistance. Water has always “ponded” in low-lying areas and will always “pond” in low-lying areas whether one lives in Connecticut or anywhere else in the world.
Another question, who is funding all of this, the meetings, paying University of Bridgeport for the space, the website, the materials to promote this? Why does Bridgeport get to be the test case when I’ve had my share of driving through flooded streets in New Haven, Norwalk, Stratford, and even Fairfield?
I have spent and spend a lot of time walking Seaside and the surrounding area as it has a gorgeous vista and I enjoy the water and scenery. I don’t understand the rationale behind a “barrier”/ “flood control”/ “wall” that only goes through certain parts of the City and skirts the major plants that spend millions of dollars, or maybe billions, of dollars trying to maintain their infrastructure and also skirts the area of Captain’s Cove, also highly prone to flooding.
Also, why on earth is one end of Seaside Park going to be completely blocked off? Isn’t the purpose of the Park to improve the quality of life, as you so highly talk about on the website? Won’t this stop people from walking and exercising in the Park, or is this the subliminal intent? What about all of the people who live near the entrance? Won’t they be blocked in? Won’t this increase crime? Traffic congestion? How are emergency vehicles supposed to respond? How are the huge fire trucks supposed to turn around with a wall? Fire hydrants? What happens to those? What if an ambulance can’t get through to someone having a heart attack in the Park because of that wall? What then? One life for the sake of what?
What happens if the wall doesn’t work and it still floods? What are people supposed to do? What’s going to happen to their houses? The Eliza Freeman Houses? History is just going to be swept away, or people just just don’t care about history anymore?
What is this wall going to be made out of? Water is the strongest element on Earth due to it’s chemical composition and my experience with contractors is they like the use the cheapest materials available. Right now everyone in Connecticut is paying $12 on home insurance because pyrrhite was used to build houses in the greater Hartford area and the foundations are crumbling. The homeowners have no help and little recompense. Are you going to personally guarantee something like this is not going to happen?
I spent many years building with Habitat for Humanity in the 1990s when the City of Bridgeport put up concrete barriers thinking they were going to solve all of the crime problems. They were a nightmare and did nothing. I remember driving around trying to find locations and running into those barriers and having to circumnavigate them to get to where I was going. I wonder how many people died waiting for help because those barriers were there.
Then there is the drainage/ catch basin idea. Nature has already created everything we need for natural drainage control. Unfortunately, we don’t listen and don’t research. There is a grass called spartina, there is the fragmites that are native to Connecticut and that maintain a species biodiversity of 24 species, there are ribbed mussels, oysters, there are trees, there are native grasses that can be planted.
I don’t know who put all of the rocks at Seaside Park that edge the water now. However, all of the natural plants have been stripped away. If the initiative was taken to put in grasses that aren’t European grasses, grow ribbed mussels and oyster beds, spartina, and other native species, I guarantee you within 5 years you will have a greatly improved environmental impact and a greatly improved flooding situation. You can grow them in and outside of the park.
As for the streets, the City of Bridgeport gave United Illuminating carte blanche to cut down trees. Now the impact is being felt. There are plenty of tree species that are fully adapatable to urban environments. If you want a list, I am happy to provide one or you can contact the National Arbor Day Foundation and they will gladly assist you. Additionally, downtown New Haven surrounding Yale University, has storm water run-off drains that are pleasingly aesthetic to the area and do not interfere with pedestrian or vehicle traffic. Have you researched these? Perhaps the University of Bridgeport would prefer these over pipes and walls? They have shrubbery and grating. Before you begin more piping and more basins, look around and see what other areas have done. Give property owners plants that they can plant in their yards or on the medians or their curbs that will sop up the water before they hit the streets. Butterfly bushes are most excellent for this. Wouldn’t twenty thousand of these be cheaper and much prettier and improve the quality of life over pipes? You plant them and they are very low maintenance and meanwhile they prevent flooding, even for houses as they suck in water before it can go into basements. Their roots are shallow, they don’t crack foundations, and they are beautiful to look at and provide support for many species of animals. I have three planted in my own yard for this very reason and I am always looking for more. I have no problems with floods or pooling water.
The website speaks of safety. It’s been proven in study after study that the more trees and wildlife you have that it improves everything from mental health to property values. I don’t understand how “retrofitting” sewer pipes does this. Stratford has spent millions on this exact same thing and the same areas still flood. Even in Petra, Jordan, the ancient Romans created a magnificent sewer system and the area still floods when hit with winter rains because the system can’t catch everything.
The website also talks about “green” areas with the water being channeled into them. I’m confused. I thought you wanted all of the water to go out? All I can think of is bugs and more bugs. Don’t you want to attract birds to eat the bugs? Maybe a wildlife sanctuary? Maybe a skate park, a possible “recreational area”, since the one was taken down in Seaside. Maybe a combination of the two?
This plan has a lot of vague language and unanswered questions and smells of corruption. This can be much better thought out and better solutions can be found.
Thank you for your time. Have an awesome day.