By Reginald Johnson
BRIDGEPORT --- It sits on the edge of the state’s most densely-populated city --- 422 acres of unspoiled woods and a beautiful 23-acre lake.
It’s home to nesting eagles, deer, wild turkey and 70 species of birds.
How many people have heard of Remington Woods?
Not too many.
“It’s Bridgeport’s best-kept secret,” says Lela Florel, a member of the group Preserve Remington Woods.
The Remington Woods tract, with 347 acres in Bridgeport and another 75 acres in Stratford, is owned by the DuPont Corporation. DuPont years ago bought up Remington Arms, which once had a manufacturing plant on the East Side, and tested its firearms at the Remington Woods site, located on the northeastern end of the city.
The testing stopped long ago and the site has sat virtually untouched, except for pollution remediation carried out by DuPont, a chemical products company.
Now, Florel and others in the group are sounding the alarm that Remington Woods may be destroyed, if a subsidiary firm of DuPont is allowed to go ahead with development plans.
“Dow/DuPont with its spin off Corteva are planning to destroy the living forest community. They plan to build a road splitting it in two, a large industrial complex by the lake, cutting off wildlife access to the lake, and another building complex on the edge of the forest, which they call a research facility,” said Florel.
There will be construction of infrastructure --- including roads, water piping, and sewer and electrical lines. Florel estimates that thousands of trees --- many of them decades old --- will be removed in the process.
“The forest is not an object, it is a living organism. Destroying part will destroy the whole,” she says.
Recently, Florel and others in the group spoke at a City Council meeting, alerting officials to the environmental threat and asking for their help.
They are asking the city to change the zoning of Remington Woods from industrial to one which preserves the entire woods. They are also asking that the city not issue any permits that would allow development to proceed.
Dr. J.D. Smith spoke of the many environmental and health benefits that the Remington Woods provides --- including holding carbon and controlling global warming; cooling air; mitigating drought; aiding in the physical and mental health of local residents; and giving off oxygen.
He also noted that the forest helps to fight air pollution, which has been a significant problem in Bridgeport and Fairfield County.
“Air pollution is a serious threat to our health and safety,” he said. “Bridgeport deserves clean air. Forest cleans the air.”
Smith also commented, “Destroying nature has a terrible cost, but it never makes it to the ledger books.”
Erik Kuranko talked about environmental racism in Bridgeport, and how in more affluent, whiter communities, nature is valued and people have access to it.
The group also noted that Bridgeport’s 10-year Master Plan emphasizes the need to “Value Nature,” and that preserving Remington Woods will honor that goal.
Florel says that a "win-win solution" is possible --- preserving Remington Woods in its entirety and using "the many vacant existing commercial buildings" in Bridgeport for commerce instead.