Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch issued a year-end statement that outlined the 2013 accomplishments of the city he was most proud of.
“From the opening of the City’s first new high school in 50 years to the millions of dollars in private and public investment hard at work on Steelpointe Harbor to create jobs and more economic growth, there is much to be excited about in Bridgeport as we look ahead to 2014,” Finch said.
“In 2013, we secured $30 million in funding from the State to enable the construction of a Bass Pro Shops – the first retail anchor tenant at Steelpointe – secured $2.5 million for the demolition of the former RemGrit site (the potential home to a second train station for the City), broke ground on the largest fuel cell project in North America and grew our Grand List (tax income).”
Bridgeport’s 2012 Grand List – its current and recent tax collections – grew by $62,948,426 or a 0.9 percent increase to a total Net Grand List of $7,052,118,795.
Finch specifically cited the benefits of an $11 million federal grant, the largest grant in the city’s history, at Steelpointe Harbor, where construction has begun.
The city also worked with developers in Downtown North to garner $15 million in grants to assist in the redevelopment of the neighborhood’s historic buildings. The result should mean hundreds of units of housing and more than 50,000 square feet of commercial space.
A feasibility study funded by the White House’s Sustainable Communities Initiative for a second train station was completed in the spring. The study lays out positive prospects for the city’s second train station, which is planned for the East Bridgeport Development Corridor. Underway is the demolition of a blighted industrial building on Barnum Avenue abutting the railroad tracks, funded by $2.5 million awarded to Bridgeport by the state.
Additionally in the area of education, the city’s first new high school in 50 years opened with the Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus. The new campus houses three science, technology engineering and math academies. The Bridgeport Military Academy also opened in the fall of 2013 and is focused on first responders’ vocations.
The construction of a new Roosevelt School is currently underway, along with the construction of an addition to Black Rock School. James J. Curiale Elementary School, the city’s first Commissioner’s Network School, has seen significant improvements.
Other items touted by Finch included:
• Through the BGreen2020 sustainability efforts, city greenhouse gas emissions are down 5 percent.
• Through a partnership with United Illuminating, a former municipal landfill site will be transformed into a Green Energy Park producing renewable energy from a solar array and fuel cells.
• The largest fuel cell project in North America broke ground in the Eco-Technology Park and will soon be operating. The Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell will eventually produce 14.9 megawatts of clean energy – enough to power approximately 15,000 homes.
• Recycling rates are up 67 percent thanks to our conversion to single-stream recycling, the introduction of 64-gallon recycling bins and the success of the Mayor’s Conservation Corps, all leading to $400,000 in savings.
• A market opened in the East End, giving residents access to fresh fruits and vegetables. With the addition of the East End Farmers Market, the city now offers a total of four farmers markets open in the summer and fall. Additionally, more than 20 gardens have been built on school grounds, teaching students how to grow their own food. This year also marked the opening of a 1.5 acre urban farm on Reservoir Avenue.
• Solar arrays were installed on Cesar Batalla School and Blackham School.
• The city’s Water Pollution Control Authority announced a 20-year public/private partnership that will enable the city to generate electricity from organic waste including sludge and food scraps using advanced anaerobic digestion technology. The anaerobic digestion facility will generate enough power for 1,000 homes.
The city also claims a 20 percent decrease in crime.