A heated meeting in June between the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) at Deer Island and its neighbors on Point Shirley left many people frustrated. Tuesday night there was no yelling, but there was a lot of frustration at the MWRA community meeting.
Despite the outcry, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries still plans to go ahead with the construction of a 250-foot long fishing pier and a 20-car parking lot. The project has gone out to bid and proposals are due back by November. Construction could start next spring.
It doesn’t appear that the pier itself is at issue, rather residents are concerned about a second parking lot on the island, speeding, potential increased traffic and overall safety issues.
Complicating the matter is the jurisdictional boundary for police agencies.
“We need consistent enforcement. That’s why the frustration,” said Precinct 3 Councilor Nick LoConte.
The Revere-based State Police are in charge of the coastline, from Nahant to Lynn, Revere and Winthrop 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. Also on scene at times are the Massachusetts Environmental Police, which has three patrols between Quincy and Swampscott.
The MWRA also has their own security firm, Allied International, which runs two patrols every shift and monitors the islands 30 cameras.
“Where were they when three motorcycles went to the top of the hill and stayed for three hours,” said resident John Stasio.
Police Chief Terry Delehanty said when calls come in to Winthrop they will respond and hold the scene for the State Police.
“In the last year we have doubled our patrols over the year prior,” Delehanty said, adding that directed patrol of the area happen every shift.
The other issue concerning neighbors is the hours of access to the island. Right now the parking lot is open from dusk to dawn. The fish pier will be open 24/7 and there is no gate stopping access the property.
State Trooper Sgt. Edward Troy said they are working on dedicated patrol. He noted that they have given out numerous parking tickets and added that a lot of the cars were from Winthrop.
“I fear for my safety,” said resident Eileen Johnson. “I can see the parking lot from my kitchen window. I see what goes on there.”
Troy said Deer Island is a bad place for a drug deals because there is only one way out. Also he mentioned that Homeland Security cameras can get detailed license plate numbers off cars that go by.
“You need 24/7 policing. I don’t think what you’re proposing is good enough,” Stasio said. “Or close the park. This place is not secure,” he added.
Resident Tom Derderian, a frequent jogger in the park, opposes closing the park at dark, especially in the fall and winter hours when it gets dark early.
Laskey said they closed the gate to Nut Island in Quincy and it ended up pushing fishermen to park in the neighborhood. “They have a right to fish 24/7” Laskey said.