Tenean Beach needs major fixes, agency findings make clear

By 
Jordan Frias, Special to the Reporter
Feb. 6, 2014

Dorchester’s Savin Hill and Malibu beaches have seen maintenance improvements, but Tenean Beach is still in need of major upgrades, according to the preliminary findings in a report on the 14 beaches along Boston Harbor that was shared at a meeting at UMass Boston on Saturday by the Commission of Metropolitan Beaches.

Paul Polito, 61, who lives on Parkman Street in Fields Corner, remembers swimming in the water at Savin Hill and Malibu Beach when he was a kid and the water quality was “horrible.”

Now a member of the Dorchester Yacht Club, Polito said that while the MBC has helped clean up the two beaches over the past five years, he still sees issues that need to be addressed, such as restricted water flow into Savin Hill Cove. “We’re having problems with the water quality. That’s what causes the beach closures, the bacteria,” he said.

Eileen Boyle, a member of the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association and a resident of Auckland Street, was also present at the regional meeting. She said she is very happy with what has happened under the MBC’s watch. “I’m impressed with the work that has been done through community efforts,” she said.

Still, she has concerns about the long-term goals of the MBC and how the planned improvements to Morrissey Boulevard, which frequently closes due to overflows at high tides, will affect the waterfront. She is also concerned with environmental issues surrounding the beaches, citing the yacht club as a source of pollution. “I don’t think they look at the beaches from our point of view. They just look at it for recreational use,” she said, referring to members of the club who live outside of the Dorchester area.

Paul Nutting, the Savin Hill Shores commissioner for the MBC, said he has attended all of the meetings concerning the harbor beaches and still sees Tenean as an area in need of major care, primarily from opinions delivered by Port Norfolk, Clam Point, and Pope’s Hill residents. “Brian Leahy was the primary advocate for that beach and since he died no one has stepped in his shoes to fill that role,” said Nutting. Leahy was a member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and was active in the Dorchester community.

Nutting said the community’s interest in the Shaffer Paper site in Port Norfolk under the MBTA bridge that crosses the Neponset River is good, but has taken attention away from the problems surrounding Tenean Beach. The paper company site will become a park under plans being worked on by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns the land.

Adams Street resident Elle Spring, a member of the Neponset Greenway Council, said she would like to see some attention shifted from the Shaffer Paper site to the upkeep of Tenean as well. “It’s a forgotten beach,” she said, citing sand erosion, a flooded parking lot, and a lack of accessibility as reasons why the beach has been ignored by communities in Dorchester. Spring said she usually travels to the other beaches in Dorchester or to South Boston’s Castle Island during the summer instead of staying at Tenean. “It would be my neighborhood beach, but it can’t be,” she said.

The MBC is planning to release its full report on the harbor beaches this spring. The preliminary paper can be read at savetheharbor.org/MBC2013/.