Bridgeport—also known as the Park City—is Connecticut's largest city. To accommodate and bolster further anticipated growth, Bridgeport recognized the need to develop a parks master plan that sets forth a vision for its parks system with consideration of neighborhood needs, recreation, historic and cultural identity, circulation, design of open space, maintenance, public engagement, and sustainability. The city engaged Sasaki to create the master plan that addresses these issues. More than just the sum of Bridgeport's 45 parks, Sasaki's plan provides a comprehensive outline of the importance of green, healthy open spaces to the community and to city-wide revitalization. The plan provides a new legacy for Bridgeport: an interconnected network of historic and community parks that respects and sustains the Park City tradition while endowing future generations with healthier ecological, social, and economic environments.
The master plan is based on the philosophy that the park system belongs to the Bridgeport community, and that it requires ongoing commitment and investment from residents and private partners in order to endure. The plan creates a vehicle for engaging citizens and new partners in the parks, revitalizing the city and the region, and reconnecting to the city's vast, but often hidden, waterfront. This expansive waterfront includes the popular Long Island Sound, the centrally-located Pequonnock River, and Yellow Mill Creek, which is slated for restoration. The plan celebrates unique places ranging from beachfront gathering spaces to host festivals and events to walkable playgrounds for the daily enjoyment of the parks by families on the East Side.
The plan seeks to ensure all citizens and visitors have easy access to the parks. Sasaki's solutions include a system of centrally located "hyper-parks" and reinvestment in the streets and pedestrian environment that connect people to parks. A high-quality parks system will help to increase residents' quality of life, attract and retain the next-generation workforce, and encourage residential and business reinvestment as Bridgeport builds toward a future with a revitalized downtown and thriving neighborhoods.
Public engagement and a realistic action plan were critical to the planning process. The engagement strategy was integrated with the development of an inspiring brand for the parks master plan that harkens to historic legacies while looking toward a brighter future. This optimistic message was integral to the plan's success at gathering momentum and broad understanding, and has led to enthusiastic support from local and regional partners who will be engaged in its long-term implementation. The branding is woven into all master plan pieces, including public relations, print and digital collateral, analysis maps, data presentation, and outreach material.
The city's park system will play a critical role in the future health of the local ecosystem, economy, and community.