Over 150 volunteers from local civic, business and student groups joined Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and city Parks and Recreation employees at Pleasure Beach on Saturday, May 17th to clean up the shoreline in preparation for the reopening of the park later this year. Participating organizations included the Park City Magnet School, Wheelabrator Bridgeport, the Bridgeport Harbormaster, Bridgeport Police Explorers, the Regional Aquaculture Science & Technology Education Center, Home of the Brave, Terry’s Contracting and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.
Volunteers met at the Central Avenue Fishing Pier and were shuttled by water taxis to Pleasure Beach, the former site of a locally beloved amusement park. Public access to the peninsula was curtailed in the 1990s after a fire damaged much of the wooden bridge connecting the park to the City of Bridgeport. Today, Pleasure Beach has largely returned to its natural state and is a wildlife refuge for shorebirds, rare plants and other protected species.
Under the supervision of Parks and Recreation staff and members of The Nature Conservancy, volunteers removed refuse from the beach and planted shrubs and other native vegetation. Over the course of the day, the volunteers collected approximately 350 bags of trash as well as larger debris – enough to fill three 30-yard dumpsters.
The refuse was taken to the Wheelabrator Bridgeport waste-to-energy plant, where it will be used to generate renewable power.
“Pleasure Beach is one of the longest stretches of natural coastline on Long Island Sound,” said Holly Drinkuth, director of outreach and watershed programs for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “The beach and dunes provide nesting areas for least tern, piping plover and several rare plants, while helping protect Stratford Great Meadows tidal marsh. The barrier beach also provides important natural infrastructure, buffering the City of Bridgeport and nearby communities from wind and waves during storm events.”
“This is a fantastic project and a unique opportunity,” Drinkuth said. “The Nature Conservancy is honored to be part of it.”
The Pleasure Beach cleanup project originated with middle school students from the Park City Magnet School’s “Green Squad”, as part of a community service initiative for the Wheelabrator Symposium for the Environment and Education, an annual program to encourage youngsters to become environmental leaders in their communities.
“We are proud to support the work of the Park City Magnet School students and help restore Pleasure Beach as a unique environmental and educational asset for the region,” said Glenn Lockhart, plant manager of Wheelabrator Bridgeport. “This park will be a special place for generations to come.”