GOVERNOR PATRICK OUTLINES PLANS FOR BEACH MAINTENANCE, D.C.R. REFORM
Year-round beach managers, posted clean-up schedules, new equipment and top-to-bottom review of DCR announced
REVERE - Wednesday, August 1 - On a walking tour of historic Revere Beach with Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr., Governor Deval Patrick today announced steps toward improving maintenance at state beaches in the metropolitan Boston area as well as a top-to-bottom review of DCR as part of a plan to refocus the department on its core mission of parks, forests, and beaches.
"The beaches of Greater Boston are among the most cherished, and most used, recreational facilities in the Commonwealth," said Governor Patrick. "We need to make them the jewels that we know they can be."
Meeting with members of the Metropolitan Beaches Commission and area legislators at the William G. Reinstein Bandstand, Governor Patrick announced that DCR will hire several year-round beach managers, each with a maintenance and ranger staff, who will be responsible for the 19 Boston-area coastal beaches, augmenting DCR's regular maintenance efforts.
"Our metropolitan beaches are vital state assets that provide enjoyment to millions of beachgoers, and they deserve year-round attention," said Governor Patrick. "We will also strengthen our efforts across the state at beaches like Salisbury, Scusset, and Horseneck."
The new beach managers come on top of new DCR efforts to ramp up park and beach maintenance this spring and summer. To better respond to the recreational demand in the Greater Boston area, about 60 seasonal staff members were hired several weeks earlier than in past years, and an ambitious maintenance schedule for the spring was followed on July 1 by an even more aggressive upkeep plan for summer. For the first time, maintenance schedules for each park and beach in Greater Boston have been posted on the DCR Web site, www.mass.gov/dcr, for all to see - and to hold the agency accountable.
In addition, Governor Patrick and Secretary Bowles have directed Commissioner Sullivan to conduct a top-to-bottom review, evaluating personnel and organizational structures in terms of how well they serve the department's primary focus of improving operations and programming at the state's parks, beaches, and other recreational facilities. This review is to be completed by October 1.
Governor Patrick also asked the Beaches Commission to give DCR an end-of-season report card, rating the metropolitan beaches when the summer's over.
"We're working hard, but results are what matter," said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "Let us know how we're doing."
DCR is also using new technology to keep the beaches clean, putting solar-powered "Big Belly" trash compactors in place in many locations, including two on Revere Beach and another on Castle Island in South Boston, and cleaning sidewalks with "Billy Goat" push vacuums that suck in everything in their path. DCR also purchased two motorized surf rakes, and is planning to buy more, to augment the beach-cleaning efforts. Additional waterfront safety training was initiated this year for lifeguards, and new waterfront safety equipment, such as binoculars and kayaks, was purchased. Also, the agency has begun to distribute free litter bags to beach patrons, urging beachgoers to adopt the traditional "carry in, carry out" motto of campers and hikers.
In addition, Governor Patrick has directed Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles and other Cabinet secretaries to begin relieving DCR of duties outside its core responsibilities and let the agency concentrate on its core mission of conservation and recreation. In the administration's five-year capital plan, which will be announced soon, the rebuilding of certain deteriorated DCR bridges will be taken over by MassHighway, and plans are in the works to transfer curb-to-curb roadway maintenance of DCR parkways to the state highway department, with DCR retaining responsibility for maintaining the historic character of its parkways.
"Under Commissioner Rick Sullivan, DCR is poised to take our parks and beaches to new heights," said Secretary Bowles. "But the department will succeed only if it can concentrate on its core mission of making our parks and beaches places we can all be proud of."