In 1993, Massachusetts Governor William Weld and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino approved the “Back to the Beaches” project, a seven-year, $30.5 million public project to restore nineteen Boston Harbor beaches. Today, these sites have new, cleaner sand, improved access, and new amenities and facilities now ready to offer additional opportunities for recreation. People are coming back to the Boston Harbor beaches in numbers significantly higher than a decade ago. This study concludes that the implementation and success of the “Back to the Beaches” project can be attributed to several factors — an increased public awareness of the value of open spaces and environmental resources, the Boston Harbor Clean-Up Project, the project’s political support, the Metropolitan District Commission’s receipt of funds over its capital spending ceiling, and the interactive community process and strategy used to bring about these changes. This study presents policymakers with three general areas of consideration for future public works projects. First, this project demonstrates how public projects can benefit from nonprofit organizations in an oversight and management function. Second, this project highlights the necessity of special environmental regulations for man-made urban environments in order to facilitate their management and use and also save government time and resources. Finally, the “Back to the Beaches” project posits the need for performance measures to truly assess public works projects and their use of public dollars.



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