Column: Welcome to "Harbinger Park"

By Lynn Nadeau Thu Jun 21, 2007, 05:00 AM EDT Marblehead


Beach Bluff Park, which abuts Preston Beach, is under attack. An enemy has succeeded in destroying the wall that kept the ocean at a distance. It threatens to wreck the memorial benches, cover the walkways with sand and pebbles and wipe out a place where people are always welcome to sit and watch the ocean, talk quietly, have weddings and enjoy natural beauty.

This enemy is sneaky. It disguises itself as powerful winds, frequent storms and higher tides. It
masquerades as natural, random events, perhaps a bit eccentric, yet within the limits of Nature as we
have always known her. But global warming, our small park’s stalker, is a new threat, reaching out for waterfront homes, flooding our cellars, stirring up tornadoes in our harbor, warming our waters, shifting our growing season, increasing the number of bad-air days and encouraging insect infestations. These are only previews of its growing power.

Our precious little park is battered and bruised: Its wall has fallen, its walkways washed into Atlantic
Avenue; our grasses and plants suffered under the onslaught of rocks and shifting sand. Even its big iron anchor was moved by the fury of April’s storm.

Perhaps the park should be renamed “Harbinger Park.”
If you think about it, Beach Bluff Park is our own little canary in the coalmine, warning us of the effects of climate change. It is one small part of the total ecology harmed by our personal narrow interests and our nation’s willfully bad policies. Global warming has its allies, including public resistance to wind power and other forms of sustainable energy, the reluctance of Dominion to reduce carbon dioxide from the Salem Harbor Generating Station, the desire for big gas-guzzling cars, and our thoughtless habits of wonton wastefulness. This is a wake-up call.

The Clifton Improvement Association is raising funds to replace the wall with a sloping, natural
embankment. We are launching this campaign with a party at the park on Atlantic Avenue at 4 pm,
Saturday June 23, and the public is invited, We will celebrate how lucky we are to have this special piece of land and acknowledge our need to be devoted stewards for all the public and open spaces in our
towns.

The local environmental group, HealthLink, has been active in fighting global warming. This volunteer
organization has worked for 10 years to ameliorate the destruction of our sustaining habitat, not only in Marblehead and Swampscott, but on the entire planet. Beach Bluff Park is an indicator of the big picture:

We can act locally and globally as well.

Surf Street resident Lynn Nadeau is a member of both HealthLink and the Clifton Improvement
Association, which this Saturday, June 23, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. will host a “a grand outdoor party” to benefit efforts to restore the seawall at Preston Beach.