Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Metropolitan Beaches Commission to Hold Public Hearing in Dorchester March 30

The Metropolitan Beaches Commission (MBC) will hold nine public hearings in the winter and spring of 2019 in waterfront communities from Nahant to Nantasket to receive public input about the state of the beaches. The hearing for Dorchester will be held on Saturday, March 30 at the Savin Hill Yacht Club from 10am-12pm. 

“The region’s public beaches are important recreational, economic, and educational assets,” said State Senator Brendan Crighton, Senate Co-Chair of the MBC. “Working together we have made our beaches cleaner, safer and more accessible, and I am looking forward to continuing our work together this year.”

The Metropolitan Beaches Commission was created in 2006 by the Massachusetts Legislature to make findings and recommendations on ways to strengthen the Boston metropolitan region's 15 public beaches in Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, and Hull which are managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The Commission is comprised of elected officials and community, civic, nonprofit, and business leaders from Boston and the metropolitan region's waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities.

In 2013, the Commission reconvened to examine the impacts of the reforms and recommendations made in its first report and issue additional findings and recommendations to better leverage these resources for residents in the future. The MBC was made permanent in 2015. Each year the Commission holds public hearings at the State House and in waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities from Nahant to Nantasket, and issues an annual report of its findings and recommendations to the Legislature and to DCR.

“As the Commissioner from Revere Beach, the nation’s first public beach, I know how important these resources are,” said State Representative RoseLee Vincent, House Co-Chair of the MBC. “Beaches like Revere Beach are premier destinations for millions of visitors from across the Commonwealth and the country, and enhance the lives of the community members who live along their shores.”

The Commission will release its third report on the state of the metropolitan beaches in late spring after the hearings are completed. During the last round of hearings more than a thousand people participated, helping the Commission understand what’s working and what could use improvement.

“One of the most important lessons we have learned is that the region’s residents really love their beaches, and have great ideas about how to make them better,” said Bruce Berman, Director of Strategy and Communications at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, which has helped to lead and manage the Commission since its inception. “We look forward to hearing from the residents of Hull and all those who love Nantasket Beach.”

Each hearing will give community members and beach goers the chance to share their thoughts on the state of their beach, and share their ideas and recommendations to make them even better. The Commission will hold a hearing in late May to review its draft findings with the public before releasing their final report in June. The Commission will hold hearings in Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, and Hull between February and May 2019. The MBC held a hearing in Quincy in August of 2018, and the feedback received will also be included in the Commission’s report.

The 2019 Metropolitan Beaches Commission hearings schedule is:

  • Tuesday March 5th – Hull
  • Tuesday March 19th – Lynn and Nahant
  • Saturday March 30th – Dorchester
  • Tuesday April 9th – East Boston
  • Tuesday April 30th – Revere
  • Saturday May 4th – South Boston
  • Tuesday May 14th – Winthrop
  • Saturday May 18th – Regional Review
  • Tuesday June 4th – Report Release at State House

If you love your beach, but can't attend the MBC Hearing, you can share your thoughts by taking part in the MBC online survey at tinyurl.com/BeachesSurveyEncuesta de las playas públicas disponible en Español. 公共海滩调查问卷;中文版可用

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

MBC Hears from Beach Lovers Regarding the State of Lynn and Nahant’s Public Beaches

Nearly 50 people gathered at the North Shore Community College on Tuesday night to discuss the current state of the public beaches in Lynn and Nahant and to express their likes, dislikes and visions for these beaches. It was the second in a series of nine public hearings being hosted by the Metropolitan Beaches Commission (MBC) in the region’s beachfront communities as part of the process to write a report with findings and recommendations for the Commonwealth.

Commission Co-Chairs Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn and Representative RoseLee Vincent of Revere opened the hearing by welcoming folks and encouraging them to engage deeply. Co-Chair Crighton noted that he has been involved with the Commission since he began working as a staffer for then Senator and Chair of the Commission Tom McGee, who also attended the hearing. Crighton said that “since then all of your recommendations have been put into these reports and not just ended up on some shelf collecting dust but have influenced how we approach our budget, along with our legislative priorities including the environmental bond bill.” He noted how “great it is to see these beaches crowded each summer”, but acknowledged that there are still improvements that can be made. He closed by encouraging people to share their thoughts in the breakout sessions stating that “the most valuable part of this hearing tonight is the breakouts where we can hear from you and you can go into things in more detail.”

Co-Chair Representative Vincent told everyone that while she is very proud to represent Revere, she was “really here tonight to listen to all of you and find out what is important to the people in the City of Lynn and Town of Nahant.”

Local Commissioners Representative Donald Wong, Nahant Town Administrator Antonio Barletta, and Robert Tucker of the Friends of Lynn and Nahant Beach also attended and participated in group discussions during the breakout sessions.

Beach lovers from Lynn, Nahant, Swampscott, and Marblehead attended the hearing where Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, which leads and manages the Commission for the Commonwealth, presented information on the current state of the public beaches. Save the Harbor’s Director of Strategy and Communications Bruce Berman provided an update on the progress that has been made to improve water quality conditions at Kings Beach which faces persistent challenges.

Attendees then split into smaller discussion groups for a chance to voice their opinions. People were encouraged to make notes on ‘what’s working well,’ ‘what needs improvement’ and ‘what’s missing.’

Participants mostly agreed that what is working well includes timely trash pickup, the concerts and summer activities, and the landscaping along the beaches. Some groups discussed the improvement in rare birds in the area and the steps that have been taken to protect their habitats. Attendees also praised the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s dedicated work to remove pilayella algae at Kings Beach, while expressing a desire to find a more permanent solution.

The small discussion groups seemed to come up with similar notes in the ‘what needs improvement’ category including summer traffic and parking as well as the need to have toilets available all year-round. Many also raised concerns over the water quality challenges related to the Stacey’s Brook outfall and expressed a need for increased signage regarding when to avoid swimming near that spot in the short term. Better protection of dunes was also mentioned, along with the need to invest in improvements to stairwells and handrails.

The ‘what’s missing’ category brought about the widest array of discussion topics. Some highlighted pedestrian safety and suggested adding more crosswalks and repainting the existing ones, as well as the need to better enforce the speed limits. Groups discussed the need for more educational signage and programs for people of all ages, the desire for more concessions and vendors along the beach, and a range of creative ideas for new programming and events on the beaches.

After the breakout sessions each group reported to the crowd the highlights of their discussion. The Commission closed by thanking everyone for their input and inviting them to a regional review hearing on May 18th from 10am-12pm at UMass Boston where the MBC will present their findings and recommendations for Lynn and Nahant’s public beaches and ask attendees to give feedback before the report is finalized.

If you have questions, or would like to provide your input but were unable to attend the hearing, the Commission accepts comment via email at mbc@savetheharbor.org or through the online survey found at tinyurl.com/BeachesSurvey. The survey is also available in Spanish and Chinese.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Splashing in the Snow to Support Public Beaches

On March 10, 2019, nearly 200 beach lovers braved not only the chilly winter waters but also snowy weather and plunged into Boston Harbor at the BCYF Curley Community Center in South Boston as part of the 9th annual Harpoon Shamrock Splash to benefit Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Better Beaches Program.

  On Sunday, nearly 200 costumed splashers plunged into the cold waters of Boston Harbor. Photo by Matt Phillips.

This year, the “pledge and plunge” fundraiser raised more than $50,000 for the Better Beaches Program, which provides grants to community organizations that host free events and programs on the region's public beaches. Each year the program supports free concerts and beach festivals, sand-sculpting competitions, and youth programs on public beaches in Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull. You can find the exact tally on the event website at www.shamrocksplash.org.

“Thirty years ago nobody wanted to go swimming at the region's beaches and today, they are some of the cleanest urban beaches in the country,” said Save the Harbor President Tani Marinovich. “It’s amazing to see the community that supports this event and supports our beaches from Nahant to Nantasket.”

Splashers line up on the beach ready to take the plunge at the 2018 Harpoon Shamrock Splash. Photo by Katy Rogers.

Before the sprint into the ocean, Boston 25 Meteorologist Vicki Graf was on hand to deliver a real-time weather report -- although the air temperature was 34 degrees, the water itself was a balmy 40 degrees!

Even though everyone was already wet from the snow and rain before splashing into the Harbor, 2019’s Harpoon Shamrock Splash was the best one yet, with splashers enjoying delicious brunch burritos from Baja Taco Truck and fresh, hot chowder from Daily Catch while Mix 104.1 played hit music on the beach. Harpoon beers invigorated participants after their plunge.

"I love when it snows on Splash day," said Bruce Berman, Director of Strategy and Communications for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, who has splashed every year since the event began. "We're hearty here in New England and the only thing we love more than snow is the beach."

(Left to right) Kennedy Elsey of Mix 104.1, Donnie Todd of JetBlue, Joe Skahan (dressed as Beaker), Elaine Howley (dressed as a Banana Minion), Nick Russo (dresses as Aladdin), Jane Kepros (dresses as a goldfish), and Charlie Storey of Harpoon. Skahan and Howley took first place at the Harpoon Shamrock Splash’s costume contest. Both contestants won a round trip JetBlue flight. Russo and Kepros won second place and received items from the Harvey Traveler Collection. Photo by Matt Phillips. 

“All of us at Harpoon look forward to taking a quick dip into the icy water after our Harpoon St. Patrick’s festival to support a great cause and warm up with a refreshing Harpoon, brunch burrito, and clam chowder on the beach with our friends from Save the Harbor/Save the Bay,” said Harpoon Brewery President Charlie Storey. “Sure it was cold in the water, but the warm feeling you get from giving back to your community stays with you for a long time.”

(Left to Right): Vicki Graf of Boston 25, Chris Mancini of Save the Harbor, Tani Marinovich of Save the Harbor, Donnie Todd of JetBlue, Bruce Berman of Save the Harbor, Michelle Palermino of Harpoon, Jessie Cox of Harpoon, and Charlie Storey of Harpoon. Photo by Katy Rogers.

Participants won JetBlue flights and great Harpoon swag for reaching fundraising goals. Mary Cole from East Boston, who raised $1,530 and had the most donations to her splash -- who followed through on her promise to her donors to dye her hair green if she met her goal! -- and Trevor Etheridge from Jamaica Plain, who raised $1,655 were the top two fundraisers. They each won round trip JetBlue flights for their efforts.

Left to right: Kennedy Elsey of Mix 104.1, Donnie Todd of JetBlue, Joe Skahan of Lynn dressed as Beaker from the Muppets, Elaine Howley of Waltham dressed as the Banana Minion, Nick Russo of South Boston dressed as Aladdin, Jane Kepros of East Boston dressed as a goldfish, and Charlie Storey of Harpoon.

The two costume contest winners, Elaine Howley of Waltham, dressed as the Banana Minion, and Joe Skahan from Lynn, dressed as Beaker from the Mupets, won JetBlue flights as well for their creativity and enthusiasm. Second place costumed splashers were Jane Kepros of East Boston, as a Goldfish and Nick Russo of South Boston, as Aladdin. They won swag from The Harvey Traveler Collection. Special thanks to Kennedy Elsey of Mix 104.1 for once again serving as contest judge! Every splasher and contributor also had the opportunity to win prizes in two post-splash JetBlue flight raffles.

Martha Laposata of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Trevor Etheridge of Save the Harbor, and Carlos Fuentes of the East Boston YMCA strike a pose before splashing. Etheridge raised $1,655 and was one of the top two fundraisers at the 2019 Harpoon Shamrock Splash. Photo by Matt Phillips.

Photo by Katy Rogers. 

"At JetBlue, we are committed to our community and fun is one of our core values,” said Donnie Todd, Corporate Responsibility Liaison for JetBlue, who led a team of 30 participants. "More than 3,500 JetBlue crewmembers call Boston home, we cherish our harbor and proudly support Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the work they do on the region's public beaches."

Members of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s leadership team were also key fundraisers, but were ineligible to win JetBlue flights. Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Chair of the Board, Joe Newman from Arlington, raised $3,401. Bruce Berman, Director of Strategy and Communications from Brighton, raised $3,115. Save the Harbor’s Vice President of Programs and Operations, Chris Mancini from Somerville, raised $2,577.

The top five teams also raised significant funds at this year’s Harpoon Shamrock Splash. Save the Harbor/Save the Bay topped the list with $13,373, followed by JetBlue with $10,990 and the Piers Park Sub-Aqua Warriors with $4,950. Team YES raised $3,162 and Team Harpoon! raised $2,720.

Bridget Ryan of South Boston and Kristen Barry of Cambridge return with their Harpoon beers after splashing. Photo by Katy Rogers.

Participants could direct their fundraising to their favorite local beach. South Boston led with $6,547 followed by Constitution with $5,845 and Winthrop was third with $4,985. Participants raised $4,561 for Lynn & Nahant, $1,815 for Revere Beach, $1,540 for Wollaston. In addition, Dorchester beaches received $1,290 and Nantasket Beach received $1,060.

“Save the Harbor would like to thank event sponsors at Harpoon Brewery, JetBlue, Mix 104.1, Baja Taco, The Daily Catch, The Harvey Traveler Collection, Unreal Candy, Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods, and the Blue Sky Collaborative,” said Marinovich. “as well as our Better Beaches Program Funding Partners at The Boston Foundation, Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation, P&G Gillette, National Grid, Comcast, Beacon Capital Partners, and New England Picture.”

We would also like to thank the Massachusetts Legislature, the Baker-Polito Administration and the Metropolitan Beaches Commission for their support for our beaches, and our program partners at the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Boston Centers for Youth and Families and the Greater Boston YMCA for their support.

About Save the Harbor/Save the Bay 
As the region's leading voice for clean water and continued public investment in Boston Harbor, the region's public beaches, and the Boston Harbor Islands, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay's mission is to restore and protect Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Bay and the marine environment and share them with the public for everyone to enjoy.

For more information about Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the work they do, please visit their website at www.savehtheharbor.org, their blog "Sea, Sand & Sky" at blog.savetheharbor.org, or follow savetheharbor on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can download a copy of the most recent Better Beaches program report at http://savetheharbor.org/Content/2018_Beaches_Report.pdf

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Getting the Hull Story: The Metropolitan Beaches Commission Hearing on Nantasket Beach

On Tuesday March 5th Metropolitan Beaches Commission Co-Chairs Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn and Representative RoseLee Vincent of Revere convened a public hearing in Hull on the state of the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Nantasket Beach. More than 30 people gathered at the Nantasket Beach Resort in Hull to participant in this important discussion. This was the first of nine public hearings slated for the spring for the MBC and Save the Harbor/Save the Bay to receive input on the region’s public beaches from those who live near and who use the beaches.

MBC Commissioners and Save the Harbor staff. Left to right: Susan Hamilton, DCR, Doug Gutro, Quincy Resident, Jason McCann, Hull Resident, Tani Marinovich, Save the Harbor President, Co-Chair Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn, Co-Chair Representative RoseLee Vincent of Revere, Senator Patrick O'Connor of Hull, Bruce Berman, Save the Harbor, Carol Haney, Revere Resident, Representative Joan Meschino of Hull, John Reilly, Hull Selectman, Joe Newman, Chairman of the Board at Save the Harbor.

The Hull hearing began with opening remarks from the MBC's Hull Commissioners, State Representative Joan Meschino, State Senator Patrick O'Connor, and local resident Jason McCann, who thanked everyone in the room for attending the hearing.

Representative Meschino emphasized how Nantasket Beach is a "priceless treasure and a gem on the South Shore" not only as a recreational asset but also as an economic driver for the region. She encouraged everyone to engage fully in the discussion because the feedback that this Commission receives has been "invaluable" and it helps the Commissioners to "advocate on Beacon Hill for the assets we need to preserve and protect this resource."

Senator O'Connor noted how important hearings like this are in order to build "support for initiatives at the state level and the local level, right here in Hull that are going to lead to dramatic improvement for our beaches."

Commissioner McCann noted that at 26 acres and 1.3 miles long, Nantasket Beach Reservation is "a large part of our town and it's always been a large part of our history." He noted how many community discussions about the future of the beach are on-going, and encouraged people to think about everything from trash pick up to climate change during the breakout groups.

Next Save the Harbor's Bruce Berman gave an update on the state of Nantasket Beach, highlighting Nantasket Beach’s superb water quality ratings and the variety of free programming that takes place on the beach each year. Several popular events are supported by the Better Beaches Program, a partnership between Save the Harbor and DCR, including Hull Illumination and Endless Summer.

Attendees then broke into discussion groups where everyone was able to voice their opinions and add suggestions for Nantasket. Many points were discussed in the small groups, which were then shared with the entire room, and topics ranged from the desire to see more winter activities at the beach to the number of shaded areas on the board walk. Some of the other themes of the discussion include accessibility, parking, climate change, and how much participants love Nantasket Beach!

Better handicap access to the beach was a discussion point brought up by multiple groups. Suggestions included clearing rocks from the access ramps more often and all year-round, better advertising for beach wheel chairs, and having more wheelchairs available to rent. Folks would also like to see accessibility improvements at the bathhouses.

Many groups also discussed issues surrounding beach parking, including concerns over limited public and inexpensive parking spaces and the price of parking being too high for short term visits. Some participants recommended implementing parking and charging stations for electric vehicles.

Climate change was also a theme in the discussion, as folks reflected on the changes they've seen over the years, particularly due to erosion.

Overall the groups were quite positive about all that is working well at Nantasket including high quality life guards, the great work from DCR staff keeping the beach and the bathhouse clean, and the wide variety of summer activities that take place each year. It's clear that people in Hull love their beach!

Anyone who wishes to provide input, but was unable to attend Tuesday night’s hearing can fill out Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the MBC's beach survey at tinyurl.com/BeachesSurvey. The survey is also available in Spanish at tinyurl.com/BeachesSurveyEspanol and in Chinese at tinyurl.com/BeachesSurveyChinese. Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the entire Metropolitan Beaches Commission is would like to thank the folks who came out to participate in this hearing, to the Nantasket Beach Resort for hosting us, and to everyone submitting feedback in the course of this process.