The city of Bridgeport’s Planning Department has released a draft of its master plan of conservation and development, which presents a 10-year strategy to address a wide variety of local socioeconomic concerns, with the goal of growing the city over the coming decade.
In presenting the draft of the master plan, the city insisted that it enjoyed a “robust economy,” but acknowledged a surplus number of “equity issues” that impact Bridgeport residents, including a median household income of $43,137 that is less than half of the Fairfield County average of $90,123, along with a 22.1 percent poverty rate that is significantly higher than the overall county’s 8.6 percent.
“Based on an analysis of incomes and housing costs, 54 percent of Bridgeport residents are cost burdened by housing expenses, meaning that their housing costs are more than 30 percent of their incomes,” the plan stated. “Additionally, a Connecticut Food Bank analysis found that approximately 23 percent of Bridgeport residents were food insecure, or regularly unable to meet their own or their family’s need for food due to a lack of funds.”
Among the strategies outlined in the draft of the plan were: the development of a marketing and branding campaign to attract business and real estate development in the city; encourage the return of commercial air service to Sikorsky Memorial Airport while putting a greater emphasis on developing local aviation-focused businesses; build a train station in East Bridgeport dubbed “Barnum Station” and encourage new transit-oriented housing developments around this station; and address the negative impact that state payment in lieu of tax programs on tax-exempt properties have on city finances.
The draft of the plan also places a strong emphasis on using the arts for commercial leverage. Among the strategies detailed is the establishment of an arts and culture commission and a “percent for art” program to finance public exhibits. The draft also calls on a partnership with the local arts community to “identify and facilitate development in arts districts to encourage the growth of existing centers for arts and culture in Bridgeport.”
The city has published the 171-page draft online and the Planning and Zoning Commission will hold public hearings on March 25 and April 22 at Bridgeport City Hall to encourage public input on the draft.