Rezone of 422-Acre Forest in Bridgeport for Development Would Worsen Health Outcomes

By Myra Klockenbrink

Remington Woods, a 422-acre forest parcel in the middle of Bridgeport is under threat of development. Sporting Goods Properties, a subsidiary of the Dupont Corporation, owns the property and is seeking to have zoning changed to allow the woodland to be developed into a residential office center. If passed by the Bridgeport Planning Department the rezoning would effectively allow the woodland to be destroyed. Public comment is open until October 13.

Photo: Sierra Club

This unique woodland in the center of one of the most densely populated cities in Connecticut encompasses a 23-acre Lake Success, wetlands, forests and meadows creating an ecosystem for wildlife populations that include 70 species of birds, tens of thousands of established trees, and the many vital ecosystem services the Woods freely provide to the human community.

The property, partially located in Stratford, has been the focus of a years-long cleanup of industrial contamination involving the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the state DEEP, remediation work continues, particularly at Lake Success with the “processing of … sediments in order to separate remaining discarded military munitions,” that is scheduled for completion in March 2023.

Sierra Club Connecticut has created a coalition of citizens, individual activists, and representatives from wide-ranging neighborhood organizations to press for the preservation of Remington Woods and have it conserved in perpetuity as a living forest with walking trails and protected habitat.

The group argues that the proposed zoning is inconsistent with the PlanBridgeport Implementation Plan to work in partnership with the owner of the Remington property “to advance the environmental cleanup and reuse of the site in ways that may advance the preservation of and public access to, the urban forest in this area.”

The removal of Remington Woods does not accord with the CT State DEEP 2020 Forest Plan “to conserve working forest landscapes, protect forests from harm, and enhance public benefits from trees and forests.” Fairfield county is the least forested area in CT.

Bridgeport is a case study in environmental injustice with some of the poorest health outcomes in the state and some of the highest asthma hospitalization rates in the nation, which has contributed to the highest Covid death rates in CT. Bridgeport is experiencing an increasing number and hotter heat days – all of which are mitigated by the forest cover of Remington Woods. Loss of this forest would almost certainly worsen these health incomes.

The destruction of Remington Woods would remove a signature feature of Bridgeport that could be the centerpiece of recreation and natural amenities for the Town residents and the local economy.

Our forests clean and cool polluted and increasingly heated air, sequester carbon, stabilize the local climate, improve residents’ physical and mental health, provide habitat for wildlife and inspire stewardship of our natural landscapes.

Although Remington Woods is some miles off in Bridgeport, the strong conservation gene that Greenwich possesses inclines residents to care about our forests. Removal of this woodland would almost certainly affect regional climate as the heat normally absorbed by the forest would rise into the atmosphere, raising regional temperatures and contributing to air pollution. 

The Sierra Club coalition is asking the Bridgeport government and the P&Z committee to maintain consistency with PlanBridgeport and zone all of Remington Woods as a Park (P-1 Parks and Open Space).

Public comments can be made to [email protected] by October 13.

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