Monday, May 05, 2008

The Post-Apocalyptic Beach at Stratford and Bridgeport

I'm not sure if I wasn't paying close enough attention to the debate or whether it hasn't been made clear, but one of the real issues concerning the possible sale of West Beach in Stratford and Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport to the federal government for a national wildlife refuge is the 40 abandoned and derelict cottages that remain on Stratford's side of the border. Forty cottages is a lot == a neighborhood, a hamlet, almost a village-sized development. People in the two communities have protested the sale because they fear it will cut off public access. Proponents have said that's silly: improving public access is one of the goals of the deal.

The area is off limits now becaue of the cottages but Christopher Finney, a master's student in environmental management at Yale, went out there the other day and wrote about it. He made it sound not so pleasant, describing:

... a post-apocalyptic neighborhood of boarded-up houses. ... The startling noises that sometimes turn out to be rabbits and sometimes turn out to be teenagers or squatters have me thinking how far I am from help. No doubt about it, fear keeps people off of Long Beach. Twelve years after Stratford brought this land back into the public domain, you still can't visit without looking over your shoulder.

The feds say they will take down the cottages and open up the beach. It won't be Hammonasset but it won't be off limits either. Bridgeport's mayor says he doesn't have the money to do anything with the beach and he needs the feds' money for other projects; Stratford's mayor wants to sell too but it's not clear whether his city has the money or the will to clear the cottages. Some earlier posts of mine about this issue are here, and Finney's piece, from the Connecticut Post, is here.


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