A view of O'Sullivan's Island in Derby looking toward the Route 8 bridge.

O’Sullivan’s Island is a peninsula at the confluence of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers under the Route 8 bridge that connects Derby and Shelton. NVCOG has assisted with several projects that make the site an asset for the region. 

Even with vehicles going over the peninsula on Route 8 and trains passing nearby, the site offers a peaceful spot for people to enjoy the riverfront. O’Sullivan’s Island is one of the most interesting and naturally beautiful pieces of land in the lower Naugatuck Valley. It is also one of the most challenging brownfield locations NVCOG has had the opportunity to improve. 

Most recently, NVCOG has helped the City of Derby plan and secure funding for the Handicapped Accessible Fishing & Viewing Pier Project on O’Sullivan’s Island. The platform will be 80 feet across, 16 feet wide and extend out 30 feet into the river. Four benches will be included. Bids for building the platform were accepted recently and work is expected to start during 2023. 

Funding for the fishing pier is coming from state and federal agencies. That includes a $325,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Money for that grant came from the $15 million settlement that the General Electric company paid for polluting the Housatonic River. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has also provided a grant of $204,252, with the funding coming from the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Program. 

NVCOG is managing those grant funds and working with the City of Derby and HRP Associates to see the project to completion. 

Work to make O’Sullivan’s Island got started well before the fishing pier project. NVCOG Executive Director Rick Dunne Environmental Planner Arthur Bogen, and Brownfields Manager Ricardo Rodriguez orchestrated funding and helped the City of Derby with work that transformed the site. That included getting a $200,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development for Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments. Those assessments are complete, and monitoring of the site is ongoing. 

O’Sullivan’s Island Recreation Park reopened to the public in 2009 after being closed for more than twenty years. In 2013, the City of Derby completed its portion of the Naugatuck River Greenway trail that runs across the site’s northern edge.