The City Council discussed the traffic congestion that residents encountered during the International Sand Sculpting Festival that attracted between 700,000-800,000 people to Revere Beach.
The councilors took on the issue after Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo made a motion that “Mayor Brian Arrigo, Fire Chief Christopher Bright, and Police Chief James Guido meet in executive session to speak about the security profile at the very successful Sand Castle event.”
Rotondo said the crowds have grown significantly in recent years and he would like to meet with public safety officials to plan for next year’s festival.
Guido said he was aware of the heavy traffic throughout the city as people tried to get to Revere Beach by car, especially on the Saturday (July 21) of the festival “I’m well aware what went on Saturday Ð I sat in the traffic myself,” said Guido.
The chief said the event has grown to rival the Fourth of the July celebration on the Esplanade in terms of the tremendous crowds attending the event. He said the sandsculpting festival will require a larger police presence in the city to help with traffic and safety.
“We’re probably going to have to do something that’s never been done before Ð we’re going to have to order in all off-duty personnel to come to work for this event,” said Guido. “We’ll cover every intersection and traffic location. It won’t be perfect, but it will at least be better than what happened on Saturday.”
Guido said while the fireworks spectacular on the Esplanade has more than 600 police officers present, “We’ve run the sand castle event for the past 15 years with maybe 30-40 police officers. I think we’ve done a really good job but it’s come to the point where we need to a better job. I look forward working on the solutions.”
Rotondo said he fully agreed with Guido’s comments, adding that he hoped the city could gain “national event” status that might result in federal or state money to help with funding for security for the festival. He suggested that the city set up satellite parking lots at such locations as the schools, Suffolk Downs, Wonderland, and NECCO, where shuttle buses would be available to transport people to the festival.
“Because this event has become bigger than what it was, we need to plan accordingly,” said Rotondo.
Councillor Patrick Keefe conceded while there were some traffic jams, the sandsculpting festival was “an unbelievable success and a phenomenal event.”
“I want to commend all the people who put this event together,” said Keefe. “I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.”
Councillor Arthur Guinasso said it was a very successful event. “But the most primary concern of all should be public safety,” said Guinasso. “God forbid that fire apparatus, police personnel, or an ambulance has to get to a location. You couldn’t get anywhere. This event has gone to great proportions. I’m so happy to hear the the police chief say we do need additional personnel. We have a few months to work on this.”
Councillor Ira Novoselsky also spoke about the gridlock on the Saturday of the festival. “But I just don’t want it to take anything away from the event and everything that goes with it. It was an outstanding day and it’s an international event. You have people coming in from all over the world to see Revere, Massachusetts. We can handle it and I have faith in our police department and our state police.”
Councillor President Jessica Giannino said the matter will referred to the public safety subcommittee for further review.