Almost 100 people came to the high school Thursday night to hear MWRA head Fred Laskey outline plans for a fishing pier and parking lot on Deer Island. Needless to say the residents of Point Shirley let it be known they oppose the pier if there is not increased security there.
At one point a shouting match broke out between a resident and a fisherman, which wasn’t such a surprise since the two and a half hour meeting was charged with frustration. The community meetings are held twice a year to keep the community up to speed.
Residents also complained about the speed of traffic coming to and from the island, the numerous truck trips and even a recent accident when a car hit a house. There was also an issue with abutters being noticed.
“I’m still upset with the trucks and my credibility with you people is zero,” said resident Mary Mahoney.
Deer Island is a national park, located in Boston. A legal ad regarding the project only ran in the Boston Globe and not the Winthrop Transcript.
“We are the geographical abutters,” said resident Dawn Quirk.
Funds from saltwater fishing licenses through the State Department of Fisheries and Wildlife will fund this entire project.
At the end of the night many still felt the frustration, but Laskey said plans to build the 250-foot long fishing pier and a 20 car, 7,000 square foot parking area remain in place.
In protest the residents gathered 300 opposition signatures on a petition and posted protest signs outside of their homes.
The project, under the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, on Boston land, could be started in three or four months from now and be completed in a year. The idea for the pier came out in 2014 at a MWRA community meeting.
Laskey reminded the crowd of the services that the MWRA does for the town, including 170 hours of snow removal in the Point Shirley area, $807,131 in mitigation monies, hosting community events like Sail Boston and recreation.
In 2017, there were 477 saltwater fishing licenses issued to Winthrop residents.
“In total, $50 million has been given to the town,” Laskey said.
But money wasn’t the issue for the residents; it was security or whom they should even call if they need the police.
“People are calling Winthrop police, Boston and the State Police,” said Quirk.
Indeed, the police jurisdiction is fuzzy.
The State Police are in charge of the coastline, from Nahant to Lynn, Revere and Winthop Shore Drive. The State Police jurisdiction also covers Deer Island. The Winthrop Police do not patrol the island, their jurisdiction stops at the causeway to the island. Calling Boston has been fruitless too.
Police Chief Terry Delehanty said when calls come in to Winthrop they will respond and hold the scene for the State Police.
Laskey said the MWRA has invested over $245,000 in security because of the pier.
The MWRA also has a private security firm that does a loop of the island twice a day. The Massachusetts Environmental police also have jurisdiction on the island.
“A memorandum of understanding between the three agencies is the most important thing for you to talk about and you don’t,” said resident Kathleen Capuccio. “Who responds to the speeding cars? The people don’t have confidence. You said,’ if you don’t want it, it won’t come.”
She said there needs to be a new memorandum of understanding that clearly defines who’s a responsible for what.
“In this MOU (in her hand) no one is responsible for anyone,” she said.
Delehanty urged people to call the police department anytime they see something out of the norm.
Resident Dawn Manning, who was quite vocal, disagreed with the island being open 24 hours a day, especially when the sign at the entrance says, “dusk to dawn.
One resident suggested building a police annex, with active patrolling. Or even a visitor center with real bathrooms and not Port-a-Potties.
“The island needs active policing,” said resident John Stasio.
“I’d rather see a proactive rather than reactive approach,” said resident Keith Manning.