During Tuesday’s Bridgeport City Council hearing on a plan to install solar panels atop a closed landfill in the South End by Seaside Park, members of the Sierra Club defended the proposal as great for the city and the environment.
And one in particular – Onte Johnson – struck a nerve with critics in the audience.
Johnson and other environmentalists have been unsuccessfully fighting to shutter Bridgeport’s coal-fired power plant, also located in the poorer South End section of town.
Some of the most vocal critics of the solar project live on the other side of the landfill in Bridgeport’s Black Rock section, which enjoys a higher standard of living and the high taxes that accompany it. Some residents there are worried about the impact the solar panels will have on the landscape and their property values, and say the landfill is technically open space at Seaside Park.
Turning to the solar opponents Tuesday, Johnson said, “I would love for you guys to join us in that fight” against the coal plant.
The comment drew some angry moans and groans from a few in the crowd.
Later during the meeting Councilwoman Denise Taylor-Moye, D-131, who represents the South End and supports the solar panels, wondered aloud, “All the park lovers we have here, no one has ever banded together to get rid of that landfill.”
Again, a nerve was struck, with some in the crowd shouting at Taylor-Moye and the councilwoman firing back.
“Order please,” said Mayor Bill Finch, who presides over Council meetings. “Let’s keep our heads about us.”