WINTHROP – Looking for a pet rock? Look no further than Winthrop Beach.
Since last spring the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has been undergoing a $25 million renourishment of Winthrop Beach. The goal is to stop ocean water from going over the wall and into Winthrop Shore Drive, as well as all the side streets that abut the beach.
Part of the project involved trucking in 91,643 tons of small to medium, round rocks called “tailings” by DCR. Another part involved 538,141 tons of sand trucked in from the Rumney Marsh in Saugus.
“When they got done with the sand it looked like Miami Beach,” said Steve Colometo, the resident DCR engineer on the project. That was in January before the blizzard and the record-breaking winter.
But since the snow melted people have been asking what happened to all the sand on Winthrop Beach and why there are so many rocks?
Was Colometo surprised by the mounds of rocks on the northerly side of the beach?
He said he expected some erosion, but nothing like what happened. He too expected to see a regular beach.
“The rocks did what they are supposed to do,” he said, adding that they also trucked in massive boulders to build a new groin (the part that almost looks like a jetty) and shore up the other five. “We will do some grading to make the rocks disappear. Dress it up a little bit.”
Colometo explained that the smaller, rounder rocks work with the sand to slow and stop the force of the water. Unfortunately, some of the sand got washed away. Some of it landed on Yirrell Beach. He explained that there is a natural swirl running north to south.
“Before the contract the rocks ended up down the side streets during the winter of 2013,” Colometo said from his work trailer next to the bathhouse.
He added that work continues with plans to patch and repair the seawall. Benches will also be added. Colometo said more work has to be done on the Crest Avenue portion of the project with a new fence, lighting, replanting and more grading. There is also drainage and sewer work being done at Pearl Avenue. The next phase of the project will include sidewalks, handicap ramps, lighting, drainage and a flood gate.
“I do have to give credit to everyone who contributed to the project,” Colometo said. Over 100 men have worked on the project so far.