Residents packed the meeting room in Town Hall Tuesday night. A couple people had nice things to say about the Department of Conservation and Recreation but for the most part people were upset with the condition of Winthrop Beach.
To top off the frustrations, the DCR sent two representatives to speak about a project they knew little about. For over an hour and a half people vented and walked away with a “we’ll have to wait and see” answer.
The Town Council plans to have the DCR come back in August or September to give an update.
“I think we were sold a bill of goods,” said Councilor Russ Sanborn. “With DCR we are always last on the list.”
Officials and residents made it clear that they are sick of DCR doing a good job on Revere Beach and Nahant Beach and leaving Winthrop Beach to fend for itself.
One fault with the work is the large tidal pool at the north end of the beach. Sand and stone have cut off a twice a day flush of the tide pool. As a result, the marine life is dying, said resident Stephanie Costin, who frequents the tidal pools. She wondered if the engineers considered this.
“It’s their responsibility,” she said, adding that she was confused by the “wait and see” attitude of the DCR. “It’s going to turn into a sandbar at Yirrell Beach as the sand goes south toward the beach. The residents are looking for some accountability.”
David Ouellette, assistant project manager has been on board for a year. Mike Galvin, also from the DCR, used to work on the Winthrop Beach project but doesn’t anymore.
“I’m disappointed DCR didn’t send someone who knows what’s going on,” said Councilor Linda Calla.
The original project for Winthrop Beach was planned and discussed for over 12 years, said Cheryl Toby, a member of the original Citizen’s Task Force. The project was slated to be a shore protection project and a beautification project. The project included a new breakwater, tons of sand and tons of rocks. Much of the sand has washed away to Yirrell Beach and the rocks are strewn across what used to be beach. There has also been seawall work, new sidewalks and paving planned. The $25 million project also includes work at Rumney Marsh in Saugus.
Galvin said the work done did protect the shore and this past winter no flooding was reported. But the test of the work may be yet to come. Fire Chief Paul Flanagan explained that Winthrop did not have a winter of n’oreasters and the tides were in the town’s favor.
Resident Sean Foley said five generations of his family grew up on the beach. He had no complaints and said his family enjoys the beach and has always dealt with the changes Mother Nature brings to the beach.
“I would like a nice Bermuda Beach but this is not Bermuda,” said Norman Hyatt, a member of the Conservation Commission. He added that he was surprised that the Winthrop Conservation Commission was not notified by the DCR as they progress through the project.
Many also questioned access to the beach due to difficulty navigating the stones and getting on to the beach from the sidewalk. There is also no handicap access. Robert Driscoll questioned what would happen when the contractors finish. He wondered if another contract would be needed to fix the situation.
“It’s a crime what has been done to the beach. Winthrop could be making money off the beach. It’s a sin,” said Jane Howell.