University of Bridgeport (UB) is excited to announce the completion of Phase 1 of the Seaside Gateway Trail project. To mark this milestone, the school hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 17, 2023, an event that included project leads, City of Bridgeport leadership, donors, and other community stakeholders.
The Seaside Gateway Trail project is an initiative that will connect the greater Bridgeport community to the picturesque Seaside Park in the South End of Bridgeport. The trail now connects the Perry Memorial Arch on Waldemere Avenue with two new entrances located at Marina Park Circle and Howe Avenue near the Concession Pavilion.
The Seaside Gateway Trail project represents a collaborative effort aimed at providing equitable access to nature, adding resilient landscape elements to the park and the nearby South End neighborhood, and expanding educational programming and literacy. This “park within a park” features an accessible walking trail, new native trees, and an underground irrigation system along the area of Seaside Park adjacent to UB’s campus.
This project has been six years in the making, with UB students, faculty, and staff actively involved in the design and fundraising efforts since 2020. The ribbon cutting included opening remarks given by UB’s Director of Civic Engagement, Melanie Strout, who has led UB’s involvement in this project. The project’s originator and co-lead, Barbara Geddis, FAIA, will speak about the project’s design goals, and Mayor Joe Ganim will discuss the trail’s impact on the Bridgeport community.
The Seaside Gateway Trail has been made possible through the generosity of local and regional community and business partners who support the Seaside Gateway Trail mission. Notable contributions include grants from The Fairfield Garden Club, Women’s Seamen’s Friend Society of CT, The Stephen J. & Madelyn M. Santa Environmental Fund, O&G Industries, Bank of America, and the Community Environmental Benefit Fund (CEBF). The CEBF grant has funded most of the Phase I “green infrastructure.”
The Seaside Gateway Trail team leaders Barbara Geddis, FAIA, and Beth Santa, ASID, have led the planning and implementation of this outdoor space.
The project continues Frederick Law Olmsted’s landscape design philosophy that embraced the healing power of nature created by plants, shade, vista, and fresh air. Geddis states, “Olmsted’s vision in 1867 was to give back the water’s edge as a peoples’ park to the newly created adjacent city of Bridgeport. Its small population was about to quadruple in the next 50 years. The ‘seaside’ and its shady and breezy walking paths and sea air were an oasis of physical and mental restoration for all. This elliptical pathway and new tree clusters directly tie back to that vision of a gateway to the sea.”
“This project has provided engagement opportunities for students, faculty, and staff, who have used their talents to improve the South End community. UB is looking forward to the continued opportunity to provide support and participate in exciting future phases of the project,” says UB’s Melanie Strout.
Phase II will see the final finishing elements of the Seaside Gateway Trail, including the installation of bollards and benches for safety and comfort and the installation of native trees and grasses to create an architectural perimeter funded by the City of Bridgeport ARPA Funds and South End NRZ. University of Bridgeport is grateful for all the project’s originators, partners, and supporters who have contributed over the course of six years to improve the environment and quality of living within the community:
- Aspetuck Land Trust
- The Becker Companies, LLC
- City of Bridgeport Parks Commission
- City of Bridgeport Parks Department
- City of Bridgeport Sustainability Effort
- The Fairfield Garden Club
- Land Canvas Landscape Architecture
- The Nature Conservancy
- Olmstead Network
- Women’s Seamen’s Friend Society of CT
- Yale New Haven Health
Learn more about how University of Bridgeport creates opportunities for hands-on experiential learning in the community and beyond.