Former Run Down Industrial Site is now a Waterfront Park in Bridgeport’s East Side
“We've renovated and created over 100 acres of parkland, and we're just getting started. Knowlton Park has already made a significant impact on this neighborhood, serving as a catalyst for a nicer community, thriving businesses, higher quality of life in the neighborhood, and giving hardworking Bridgeporters long overdue access to the waterfront. This park is an investment in our future and in our children as we continue to make Bridgeport a place where families choose to raise their kids and grandkids.” – Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch
Bridgeport, Conn. (June 10, 2015) – What was once a blighted former factory site is now a new waterfront park that hundreds of Bridgeport kids and families are enjoying in Bridgeport’s East Side. On Saturday, Mayor Bill Finch hosted the grand opening celebration of Knowlton Park, located at 405 Knowlton Street on the former site of the Acme Sheer Company.
The grand opening was the culmination of several years of work by the Finch Administration to recapture the waterfront property located along the Pequonnock River.
In 2010, a Connecticut Post editorial stated: “If the mayor can open up some public access to the river, particularly in one of the city's underserved neighborhoods, it would be a lasting achievement.”
The steps to bring a waterfront park to the East Side began in 2009 when the Acme United Corporation announced that it would donate its waterfront property at 459 Knowlton Street to the City of Bridgeport. The 2.4 acre site was previously a parking lot located across the street from Acme's former scissor factory. The site had been vacant since 1993.
A year later, the city through federally funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program bought a vacant blighted industrial building that sat on .8 acres at 405 Knowlton Street. That building was demolished in the summer of 2011.
Construction on phase one of the new park, the intersection of Knowlton Street and Arctic Street was completed in the summer of 2012. Phase one includes pre-cast benches and stainless steel chairs with tables that double as chess boards was completed in 2012.
Demolition of the run down industrial property at 337 Knowlton St., began in January 2014 to make way for Phase Three of the park. The one acre property was donated to the City by MP Development.
With the grand opening on Saturday, June 6, the mayor’s vision for a new waterfront park in the East Side became a reality.
“This is much more than just a park. It’s a symbol for a city that is coming back, going for greatness,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at Saturday’s grand opening ceremony.
The new park includes a basketball court, playground, river walkway, pavilion and a pergola.
“We've renovated and created over 100 acres of parkland, and we're just getting started. Knowlton Park has already made a significant impact on this neighborhood, serving as a catalyst for a nicer community, thriving businesses, higher quality of life in the neighborhood, and giving hardworking Bridgeporters long overdue access to the waterfront,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “This park is an investment in our future and in our children as we continue to make Bridgeport a place where families choose to raise their kids and grandkids.”
Bridgeport is called the Park City, and it wants to make sure it’s living up to its name while improving the quality of life for its residents. Bridgeport is creating new parks and revitalizing old ones to give kids cleaner air to breathe and to revitalize neighborhoods.
Living up to its name as the Park City isn’t just so Bridgeport kids have cleaner air to breathe, it also makes sound economic sense. A recent study found that Bridgeport parks serve as a catalyst for neighborhoods, attracting investments and economic development. That’s a tangible win/win for families, businesses and the city.
Mitchell Clyne, of Fairfield, who owns property across the street from Knowlton Park, said he's thrilled with the change in the neighborhood, long characterized by industrial buildings and warehouses. "When we first bought here six years ago, that entire park was overgrown with weeds, garbage and a beat-up fence," he said. "It was kind of scary." Today, he said, the park has given the street a different feel. "You can see people when they get home from work, they take the dogs and go right to the park," he said.
# # #