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Governments Plan for Development of Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea Level: Greater Bridgeport, Connecticut


The Greater Bridgeport Planning Region is dominated by the city of Bridgeport, the most populous city in the state. The region consists of six municipalities: Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford, and Trumbull. With nearly 300,000 residents, the region is also one of the most populated in the state. Highly developed for commercial and industrial land uses along the coast, at least 52 percent of GBRPA lands are used for residential purposes, primarilysingle-family homes.

The region's three largest communities, Stratford, Bridgeport, and Fairfield, are coastal, and are cut by I-95, the Merritt Parkway, and Route 1, the main thoroughfares through the region. Bridgeport sits at the mouth of the Paquonnock River, and the large downtown is developed primarily for commercial and industrial uses. The Port of Bridgeport serves Connecticut and Massachusetts markets with petroleum, lumber, metal, and tropical fruit trades. Bridgeport maintains its role as the industrial and commercial center of the region, though many industries have declined in recent years. After reaching a peak population of 160,000 in 1950, Bridgeport's population fell to 139,529 in 2000. Bridgeport's barrier spit, Pleasure Beach, is accessed by boat or through Stratford and discussions are ongoing about whether to allow rebuilding of the cottage homes in that area.

Stratford serves as a regional subcenter and is home to the region's largest employer, Sikorsky, a military helicopter manufacturer. The city is highly developed along the ocean coast, Housatonic River, and inland. Stratford's Short Beach and Long Beach are popular summer attractions. Fairfield is slightly larger than Stratford in population (53,890 in 2000), but is more dominated by dense residential development and small commercial centers. Coastal areas in Fairfield are in demand for high-end residential use, and coastal land uses include many small marinas as well as the Fairfield County Club.

Likelihood of Shore Protection

Shore protection is almost certain for almost the entirety of the Greater Bridgeport Planning Region. The main exceptions are Sherwood Island State Park and

The general approach of the study originally identified several areas of undeveloped or intermediate lands where we might normally expect shore protection to be less likely. After reviewing the draft maps, however, the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency concluded that most of those areas were likely or certain to be protected as well. The Agency suggested the following changes to our draft maps:

1. Change private undeveloped shoreline properties in Fairfield to "protection almost certain (brown) brown". Fairfield planning staff commented that the Country Club of Fairfield, as well as other private ocean-fronting properties will almost certainly be protected by the city or property owners. Based on this comment, the following properties should be changed from blue to brown: Country Club of Fairfield; Par 3 Golf Course; and Fairfield Beach Club.

2. Change public shoreline properties in Fairfield to "protection likely" (red). The planner for the City of Fairfield noted that these areas are likely to be protected in the future. Ocean-fronting properties affected by this map change include: Jennings Beach, Penfield Beach, and Capozzi Park.

3. Change all inland areas of Fairfield to "protection almost certain (brown) brown" Based on the city's commitment to shoreline protection, undeveloped inland areas of Fairfield not bordering wetlands or waterways should be depicted as almost certain to be protected..

4. Change the municipal park in Bridgeport to "protection almost certain (brown) brown"brown. The city is committed to protecting Seaside Park as a public recreation area.

5. Change the southern tip of Seaside Park from "no protection" to "protection unlikely". The city is unlikely to armor near the lighthouse at the southern tip of Seaside Park; however, such protection can not be ruled out. Given some uncertainty, the planners suggested showing this area as protection unlikely rather than as no protection.

6. Change the entire Bridgeport barrier spit (including the portion in Stratford) to "protection likely" (red). The state and city of Bridgeport seek to provide public access to this land, though construction of a bridge is not certain.

7. Change beaches in Stratford to "protection almost certain (brown) brown". Lordship Beach Park and Short Beach are adjacent to a densely populated residential area and are considered to be valuable recreational assets that would almost certainly be protected.

8. Change portion of Short Beach to "protection likely" (red). Local planners noted that the portion of Short Beach Park on the seaward side of wetlands is less than certain to be protected

9. Change golf club lands in Stratford from blue to "protection almost certain (brown) brown". The planner indicated that Mill River Country Club, which is adjacent to the Housatonic River, is almost certain to be protected by its members from future inundation.

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Governments Plan for Development of Most Land Vulnerable to Rising Sea (PDF, 7 pp., 1.3 MB) was originally published in Environmental Research Letters , Issue 3, Volume 4 (2009).

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