SPOTLIGHTED PUBLIC ACCESS: Steelpointe Harborwalk, Bridgeport
Regular readers of Sound Outlook know that public access to the shores of Long Island Sound is one of the cornerstones of the State’s Coastal Management Program. Public access is defined as a water-dependent use in the Connecticut Coastal Management Act, and highest priority and preference must be given to locating water-dependent uses in shorefront areas. Most often, the provision of coastal public access areas is achieved through the municipal coastal site plan review process.
In May of 2010, back when DEEP was DEP, the then-Office of Long Island Sound Programs (now the Land and Water Resources Division) reviewed a municipal coastal site plan application for the redevelopment of Steel Point in Bridgeport. The project represented a unique opportunity to showcase Bridgeport’s vision to reestablish its connection to Bridgeport Harbor, promote more sustainable development practices, and maximize water-dependent use of suitable waterfront property. The General Development Plan proposed for the property included development of a marina, a general public access walkway, public fishing, and a mix of non-water-dependent uses such as retail and restaurants that would invite the public to the water’s edge.
Throughout the subsequent redevelopment of Steel Point, the Office of Long Island Sound Programs/Land and Water Resources Division continued to work closely with the applicant and the City of Bridgeport to ensure that the DEEP-related components of the project moved forward in an efficient manner, and that consistency with coastal management policies was appropriately achieved. To that end, we are happy to report that the Steelpointe Harborwalk public access walkway is one of the newest additions to the Connecticut Coastal Access Guide.
The Steelpointe Harborwalk runs along Bridgeport Harbor from The Bass Pro Shops, and loops in front of Boca Oyster Bar. Bicycles and skateboards are not allowed, but leashed dogs are welcome. This site is open daily from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
When you take a stroll along the Harborwalk, or any of the over 350 public access sites on the Connecticut Coastal Access Guide, you can take comfort in knowing that Connecticut's Coastal Management Program is working continuously to bring additional public opportunities to enjoy Long Island Sound.