Residents concerned about how budget cuts will affect condition of Belle Isle Marsh and Constitution Beach

May 8, 2010
By

East Boston based Environmental groups like the Friends of the Belle Isle Marsh are concerned that this week’s state budget cuts to the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) could negatively impact the cleanliness and overall maintenance of the Belle Isle Marsh and Constitution Beach — two of the neighborhood’s largest DCR run public open spaces.

Boston Park Advocates (BostonParks.org) sent out an alert to Friends of the Belle Isle Marsh and other groups Monday warning them of the House cuts and urging them to contact their elected officials and oppose any decrease in funding. In fact, the groups are urging residents to support an amendment by the Environmental League of Massachusetts, who is offering a sample letter of support on their website (www.environmentalleague.org), to raise funding for the state and urban park system by $5.93 million.

The House has proposed in its FY11 to cut funding for DCR and state parks eight percent more than the governor’s budget. The DCR was already slashed by 23 percent last year and.

The proposed House cuts are now in the Senate for consideration.

“For too many years, Belle Isle, Constitution Beach and all the other DCR parks and reservations suffered drastic cuts,” said Friends of the Belle Isle Marsh member Gail Miller. “Thankfully, under Governor Patrick in the last few years, we have been able to get somewhat back on track with tending to the needs of these resources. We are still very much under funded, but to think of returning to previous years when parks suffered from a lack of equipment, staffing and the like would be unthinkable.”

Miller added that many of the employees are extremely hard working and committed individuals who do and have done extraordinary work with limited resources, especially the Site Supervisor at Belle Isle Marsh, Geoff Wood.

“We cannot accept allowing these recreational areas, especially in an urban setting to go under funded,” she said. “City residents need an escape to these natural resources that continually need attention and upkeep. We are urging the Senate to restore funding.”

Senator Anthony Petruccelli said the Senate is in the process of looking at what the House did and will digest it over the next few days.

“We’ve been able in these hard fiscal times to cut funding to the DCR but find other avenues to fund special programs, cleanups. community events and other activities at Belle Isle and Constitution Beach,” said Petruccelli. “I think if it comes down to further DCR cuts we can again find creative ways top make these two parks public open space jewels in the neighborhood."

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