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Devereux Beach Marblehead

Rec & Park Perspectives: Better Beach Management?

With the advent of the summer season, Marblehead residents and visitors are once again returning to our community’s beautiful public beaches. Yet beach maintenance – including trash removal and collection of parking fees – have been long-standing challenges. 


With the goal of gaining insight into past problems and potential future solutions, Marblehead Beacon reached out to the six candidates running for five open spots on the Recreation and Parks Commission. 


Longtime commissioner Derek Norcross chose not to run for reelection this year, leaving four incumbent candidates: Linda Rice Collins, Karin Ernst, Rossana Ferrante, and Matthew Martin. Two additional candidates – Shelly Bedrossian and Larry Simpson – are also running for one of the five available one-year terms. 


Marblehead Beacon asked all six candidates to respond to the following: 


Historically, Marblehead has only charged for beach parking during specific time periods and has charged less than other nearby communities. At the same time, there have been issues with keeping up with trash removal and beach clean-up. Do you believe there are any changes that can or should be made to how Marblehead manages its beaches in terms of balancing the needs of residents with facilities stickers and visitors who currently park for free many weeks of the year and off hours?


We received responses from Bedrossian, Collins, and Simpson, as provided below in alphabetical order. The remaining three candidates – Ernst, Ferrante, and Martin – replied indicating that they did not wish to participate. 


Shelly Bedrossian

First off, I think we need to quantify the issue. I have read every meeting minute published by LoWV since 2019 and a trash issue at Devereaux isn’t mentioned once. I am personally not aware of trash issues at Devereux as my family goes to Gas House, and uses The Stramski and Village docks, however there are trash issues there so I will assume it is consistent throughout.


Currently, Marblehead charges $15 for weekday parking with weekend rates at $20. Other area towns charge the following for daily non-resident beach parking.

• Gloucester Beaches $30 or $35

• Nahant operated by State Park Regs is $10 for Mass Residents and $40 for non MA residents

• Hampton Beach is $15

• Salisbury Beach $16

• Winter Island in Salem $15


Per Marblehead bylaw 63-9 Section C, $15 of out of town parking fees charged on weekends shall be used for capital improvements and to support operations at Devereux Beach and to support operations of the Recreation & Parks Department. I think the first step is to verify that P&R is receiving these funds.


Solution #1 Change Collection Strategy

Per The Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report (page 131) and the department webpage it is the responsibility of the department to maintain cleanliness at all public beaches and the website specifically states that trash is maintained throughout the day when staff is on duty. We need to verify that the temporary workers are actually maintaining the trash. If there is not enough time based on money collection workload then I would suggest moving to the automatic collection procedure that Mass DCR uses called Yodel Pass. This software would allow non-residents to purchase their beach pass in advance or when arriving which reduces the amount of time employees would have to spend on collecting fees and focus on beach and bathroom cleanliness. The total cost for this by my estimation would be $2176 annually which includes 4000 passes. Raising the non-resident fees to $20 for weekday and $25 for weekend passes would cover the cost of this with no additional tax-burden. Bylaw 63-9 Section C would need to have the allotment given to P&R of $15 per beach pass raised $20 per beach pass.


Solution #2 Adjust Summertime Staffing

I believe Yodel Pass will rectify issues at Devereaux however that does not address the weekend cleanliness issues at the other parks and facilities that are the responsibility of the department. The M-F standard 8:00-4:00 work week does not fit the needs of the town in the summer and it should be altered. I am not suggesting over time pay and I understand that labor laws need to be adhered to for Sunday pay, but increasing the non-resident beach passes can cover any potential cost for Sunday time and 1/2 requirements.


I suggest splitting the staff into a Sunday-Thursday and a Tuesday-Saturday schedule from June 15th- September 15th. This will allow for trash pick-up at all parks and beaches during high-usage months. Private sector job descriptions change all the time based on evolving needs. As long as it is fair, consistent, and within labor laws a change may be in order.


Linda Rice Collins

The Recreation and Park Department does not receive any money from the sale of the combined Transfer Station and Beach parking sticker. One hundred percent of the money collected for parking Monday-Thursday goes into the Town General Fund. The Recreation and Park Department receives $15.00 from the $20.00 collected Friday-Sunday. All money collected from the float storage also goes into the Town General Fund. As a Board we felt that before we could raise the parking fee we needed to improve operations at the beach. Prior to the opening of Devereux and Ushers Beach in 2022 I worked with Peter James and Jaime Bloch to create a new restructuring of the Summer operations plan. We designated a Beach Supervisor in charge of the parking attendants at Riverhead and Usher Beach and a Beach Maintenance Head with a crew of 3 all reporting to Peter James. Jaime Bloch works with the Independent SUP contractor and the head Lifeguard and if we can a fully staffed crew of 8 lifeguards. We are finding it difficult to hire a full crew of lifeguards due to availability. The staff in all areas is seasonal hires that are available when school is out for the summer. We have attempted to fully staff the beach earlier in the season and run later in the season but have found it is not cost effective and very difficult to staff. We have been trying for months to staff the Community Center nights often to no avail.


Karin Ernst

Responded to Marblehead Beacon’s request but declined to participate.


Rossana Ferrante

Responded to Marblehead Beacon’s request but declined to participate.


Matthew Martin

Responded to Marblehead Beacon’s request but declined to participate.


Larry Simpson

It isn’t fair for Marblehead to pay for trash removal and beach clean-up for out-of-town users who come in after hours and pay nothing. Looking at new streams of revenue is a good idea, and the beach does have the potential to bring in more income. Wingaersheek Beach, Good Harbor Beach and Singing Beach are all examples where parking is 30% higher so raising our prices might make sense Obviously, the town must pay for extra staff for collecting fees during the slower times so balancing that cost - benefit is important. I think a study to understand how neighboring towns deal with the situation of collecting beach money during off peak times would be helpful.