Bridgeport is Connecticut’s most populated city. The city has a long legacy of parks and open space, but its system has been challenged by tight budgets that led to years of disinvestment, overuse and the need for a new vision for the future. In 2012, the city set out to create a new parks and recreation plan for its community based on neighborhood needs, recreation, historic park identity, connectivity, maintenance, public engagement, and environmental and fiscal resilience. The plan was led by Gina Ford and managed by Brie Hensold while at Sasaki.
The resulting “Park City” master plan repositions Bridgeport’s 45 parks as a connected and vibrant network of green spaces that better leverage the city’s ample waterfronts, create resilient spaces for sea level rise, foster economic development and promote health and wellness. Importantly, the plan is founded on deep community input and engagement. Outreach strategies went beyond traditional meetings to include youth engagement through summer camp programs and rigorous statistically valid surveys. Key master plan ideas ranged from catalytic projects like restoration of inland industrial ways of the Pequonnock River, and Yellow Mill Creek to neighborhood-focused solutions like centrally located “hyper-parks” that amplify amenities where park need is highest. With a focus on implementation, the plan included a realistic action plan that tied capital projects to revenue generation and operations and maintenance efficiencies.Project Images