State agrees to fund $3.9 million project to rebuild tide gates in Cove River, just downstream from WHHS
You may not even know that there are tide gates at the mouth of the Cove River between Sea Bluff Beach and Bradley Point Park, but if you live anywhere upstream of there, they protect your home from potential catastrophic flooding.
They also protect the soon-to-be-new $134 million West Haven High School, which is now under construction — and they’re going to do a better job of it as result of $3.9 million in state funding that the State Bond Commission approved Friday, city and state officials said.
The funding will be used to build new tide gates, as well as a new pedestrian bridge connecting Bradley Point’s Veterans Walk of Honor to Sea Bluff to replace the one that was closed about 20 years ago.
That will allow the city for the first time to connect the shorefront walkway that runs all the way from Sandy Point to Bradley Point to the beaches along Ocean Avenue on the West Shore, said state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven.
She drew applause from the others who attended when she announced the funding in the unpaved parking lot adjacent to the Sandy Ground Project’s “Where Angels Play” Charlotte Bacon Park at the edge of Sea Bluff Beach.
Borer and state Reps. Michael DiMassa, D-West Haven, and Charlie Ferraro, R-West Haven, joined Mayor Nancy Rossi, Assistant Public Works Commissioner Mark E. Paine Jr. and other officials Friday afternoon to celebrate the funding, which officials have worked for years to land.
The project is a component of the city’s Coastal Resiliency Plan.
“The concern and the reason why this project is so critical is because we have old flood gates that were built in the ... 1930s, and after they became dysfunctional, they were moved over toward Ocean Avenue,” and now those newer floodgates also are not working so well, Borer said.
“They function OK but not at the capacity where we want, and there is concern about how they will function in the future,” she said.
“This area, with its rich history, should be preserved and I am grateful the state prioritized our funding request to get this critical project off the ground,” Borer said in an accompanying news release.
“Our shoreline is our greatest asset, pride and joy,” she said. “Proactively improving the functionality through self-regulated tide gates and replacing the pedestrian bridge which has been closed for more than 20 years will generate countless safety, environmental and quality of life benefits.
“I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to secure these funds,” Borer said.
Rossi thanked Borer, Ferraro and DiMassa, as well as Paine, “who has fought for this for many years,” for all they did to land the funding.
“Without their pushing for this, it never would have happened,” she said.
“The tide gate upgrade will increase coastal resiliency, mitigate storm water flooding and provide multiple environmental and recreational benefits that will last for generations,” Rossi said in the news release. “Residents and visitors will also benefit from the safety of a new footbridge.”
DiMassa said it was “an honor to be stand here with my colleagues” and that “as far as safety and certainly the environmental impact it’s going to have, it’s a great, great achievement.”
Recent storms “highlight the need for a reliable system to protect West Haven neighborhoods from property damage and the potential loss of life,” DiMassa said in the release. “I applaud the commission for approving this grant and I’m glad to be part of our legislative delegation’s efforts.”
Ferraro, who grew up not far away at Savin Rock — and said he used to fish in the Cove River with a bamboo pole as a kid — said it was “a very important project for a very many people.”
He said in the release that he was “extremely pleased to see that the West Haven House delegation’s efforts to procure $3.9 million in state funding for the reconstruction of the tidal-flood gates and pedestrian bridge at the Cove River were successful.”
Paine, who was one of the city’s strongest advocates for the project, said it was “a huge, huge project for West Haven ... It’s 100 acres of marsh surrounding our high school, homes, gas station, a bowling alley, restaurants” and other property.
“I really feel proud...” he said. “A lot of people have worked a long time on this.”
City Council Chairman Ron Quagliani, D-at-large, said that getting the funding “is something that we can all stand here and be proud of.”
Others who attended included City Councilman Richard DePalma, R-at-large, Director of Parks & Recreation William Slater, Commissioner of Economic Development Fred A. Messore, West Haven High School AP Biology and Environmental Science teacher Kevin Dickson and City Treasurer Mike Last.
The soon to be installed self-regulating tidal gate adjustable floating system will allow for sufficient tidal flushing to maintain a healthy salt marsh wetland ecosystem while preventing tidal flooding, officials said.
Long term benefits to the planned upgrades include:
Mitigation against high-tide and storm-surge flooding, and extending the functionality of the gate into the future as sea levels rise.
Providing important ecological benefits to the Cove River tidal wetland, and,
Allowing access through the new pedestrian bridge connecting the beach/parking area by Sea Bluff Beach to the area of Bradley Point. Built in early 1900s the former pedestrian bridge has been closed since the early 80s.