By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) crews have wrapped up construction activities for the winter at Winthrop Beach, but more work is scheduled to be completed in 2016.
“As a result a result of DCR’s efforts, last winter was the first winter in decades that the seawall was not overtopped,” said Kevin O’Shea, spokesman for the DCR. “While the sand and cobble mixture performed as expected to provide flood protection, storms and wave action have separated sand from the cobble mixture in areas and created mounds of cobble.”
The shift of the sand and cobbles prompted many Winthrop residents to complain about the look of the beach. DCR officials have walked the beach with elected officials and appeared before Town Counsel meetings to address the issue.
“The DCR is currently evaluating options to deal with the cobble mounds,” O’Shea said, adding that the cost of the Phase 3 portion of the project is approximately $25 million. “DCR engineers are evaluating the role of sand in the flood control function and of coastal processes on its retention.”
O’Shea added that the intent of the design that was constructed was for storms to continually mix and redistribute sand and cobbles while providing storm protection. “As part of the current evaluation of the cobbles, DCR is looking into the possibility of using mechanical methods to redistribute the cobbles,” O’Shea said. “This winter will give storm and wave action another opportunity to mix and redistribute the sand and the cobbles which will be part of the evaluation performed.”
On a good note, Rumney Marsh in Saugus, where the sand and the cobble came from, will have continuing salt marsh restoration work when the weather is better in the spring.
O’Shea said in the last year there have been sea wall repairs, upgrades to the Pearl Avenue beach entrance, landscaping and light at the Crest Avenue parking lot and the resurfacing of Revere Street.
Design drawings and specifications for Phase 4 of the Winthrop Beach Improvements are being prepared so the work can go out to bid. This phase of the work is expected to begin in 2016.
The DCR said improvements planned for this year include new and wider sidewalks, a repaved roadway, a new stormwater system, new stairs near Locust Street, and the repair of concrete stairs and railings by the Highlands. There will also be amenities installed at the entrances of Coral Avenue, Cutler Avenue, Sturgis Street and Charles Street. These amenities will include showers, drinking fountains, benches and bicycle racks