Bridgeport mayor discusses environmental issues at Sacred Heart

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Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch talks about environmental issues. (Tracy Deer-Mirek photo)

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch visited Sacred Heart University recently to speak about environmental concerns in Fairfield County.

“We want to be the greenest city in New England, but we must stop putting our environment in jeopardy,” Finch said.

The university’s environmental club, The Green SHUs, hosted the event that focused on Bridgeport’s sustainable environmental plan, BGreen 2020. With Bridgeport known as the Park City, it is Finch’s hope for all Bridgeport residents to be within a 15-minute walk from a park.

Finch covered a variety of topics, including home environmental improvements and Bridgeport’s green plans and projects for the future. Some highlights were an energy improvement district in Bridgeport that will implement renewable electricity and a focus on citywide public transportation that will, in turn, lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Finch also believes that a zoning and geographical information system will encourage green redevelopment of the city’s vacant and contaminated land. Finally, he emphasized residential and commercial recycling.

Finch noted that Bridgeport has an immense carbon footprint because of its large population (145,000) on a small area of land (16 square miles). To help combat environmental issues in Fairfield County, he has established a Conservation Committee that is involved with a variety of environmental projects around Fairfield County. They implement new green park plans, maintain community gardens and oversee storm-water management.

Alongside the Conservation Committee, Finch has also organized a youth Conservation Corps. The group will go door-to-door providing information to residents and businesses about environmental money-saving strategies. Their goal is to improve the environmental quality of life in Fairfield County, Finch said.

Finch has also taken a technological approach to environmental awareness. He has introduced a cell phone app called “BConnected” that allows users to take pictures on their smart phones of areas in Bridgeport where trees should be planted. The app finds the location where the picture was taken and sends a report to the Conservation Committee. From there, the Conservation Committee can make plans to clear the area and plant trees.

“There are definitely ways SHU students can help protect the environment,” said Matt Cole, a sophomore from Cheshire.

As co-president of The Green SHUs, Cole wants to raise awareness about environmental issues on campus. The Green SHUs is open to all students and meets Mondays at 9 p.m.

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