Upgrades brighten Bridgeport housing complex

January 30, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — Suburban residents can improve nighttime home security with the flip of a switch, turning on their exterior lights to cut through the darkness and scare off trespassers.

Urban apartment dwellers do not have it so easy. They rely on their landlords to provide that illumination.

And Park City Communities officials admitted Wednesday that when it comes to lighting up some of their low-income developments to help prevent crime, they have fallen short.

“We were looking for added lighting because we’ve put up a lot of cameras to improve our security,” said James Slaughter, interim director of Park City — formerly the Bridgeport Housing Authority.

Enter United Illuminating and Southern Connecticut Gas, which, working with the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board, paid for most of the recent, $448,000 worth of lighting at Trumbull Gardens and weatherization upgrades to the 402 apartments there. Contractor CMC Energy Services did the work.

All of the partners gathered at Trumbull Gardens on Wednesday to promote the effort, which replaced 1,280 aged interior and exterior lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy efficient LED bulbs.

CMC is also in the midst of sealing cracks on doors and windows and improving the hot water systems at Trumbull Gardens.

“We made quite an investment on this property,” said Maritza Estremera, who administers the UI program aimed at making customers’ homes more energy efficient.

The upgrades at Trumbull Gardens were funded with fees from utility customers’ monthly bills. Those revenues are managed by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board.

“It’s really cut down on the dark spots,” Slaughter said.

Public safety is not the only benefit. Besides saving Park City Communities money on equipment and installation, the lighting and energy efficiency upgrades to the apartments will reduce Trumbull Gardens’ residents’ utility bills by an estimated average of $250 annually and Park City’s bills by $70,000.

And Jordan Tuttle of CMC, which is headquartered in Pennsylvania with offices in Connecticut, also said utility ratepayers statewide will benefit because of the impact on the environment. Tuttle said, for example, that the Trumbull Gardens project is equivalent to taking 143,591 cars off the road.

Tuttle thanked the people who live at Trumbull Gardens for their patience and cooperation.

“Getting into 402 units is not any easy task,” he said.

One of those tenants, Sandra Collins, was also on hand Wednesday. She said the brighter lights will keep “lurkers” away from the buildings and parking lots. She also praised the upgrades to the apartments.

“People had an issue with air coming in underneath the (front) doors,” she said. “There’s many people who are very pleased with the work that was done.”

Slaughter said Park City Communities is in talks with UI and the rest of the same partners to make similar improvements to its Fireside Apartments, which house the elderly and disabled.

“It’s significant acreage, stretched out,” Slaughter said. “Though we have lighting, it isn’t (the) best it can be.”