The grand centerpiece in the reconstruction of what will be a totally new Revere Beach – the sleek, Zakim-style Wonderland Pedestrian Bridge – finally has a namesake, and it’s none other than (drum roll please)…Congressman Ed Markey’s parents.
If that leaves you a bit confused, you wouldn’t be alone.
Seemingly coming out of the deepest corner of left field this week, state transportation officials confirmed to the Journal that a bill had been passed in the State Legislature last spring, and signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick last May, designating the new bridge as the Christina Markey and John Markey Memorial Pedestrian Bridge – both of whom were life-long Malden residents with few real ties to Revere.
State Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein sponsored the bill, but it seems just a few locally had any idea of its existence, including some councillors and Beach officials. There were no press releases about the passage of the bill, nor any official communications to local officials upon its passage.
Reinstein said that the matter was not her idea, but rather was brought to her by former Mayor Tom Ambrosino.
“I think the idea was to have it named after Congressman Markey, but I think there was a conversation between the two and it came back as being named for his parents,” she said. “Why wasn’t it named after someone from Revere? I guess you’d have to ask Tom Ambrosino that. I contemplate that same question, but it’s just like when the Council sends us things to have named and we file it. It’s like that. The Congressman did play a major part in that project.”
Markey was certainly a key figure in securing the federal funding for the public project – as well as the accompanying garage project – and frequently reminisces about how his parents took him to Revere Beach when he was a kid. He has noted that it was a very special time for him and for thousands of other working-class families who ventured to the nation’s first public beach to recreate.
That seems to be the crux behind the naming.
“The pedestrian bridge…shall be designated and known as the Christina and John Markey Memorial Pedestrian Bridge, in honor of a couple who represent the millions of families who have flocked to Revere Beach, seeking respite and relaxation at this urban oasis along the Atlantic Ocean,” read the text of the bill.
While no one is exactly offended by or thoroughly opposed to naming the bridge after Markey’s parents, and no one wants to disparage their name, a number of local officials had hoped that the centerpiece to such a big development would carry the name of someone a little more homegrown.
A number of elected officials and Beach activists spoke to the Journal, but few wanted to go on record about the naming.
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers did have his two cents to share, though.
At the center of some of the confusion was the fact that many had hoped the bridge would be named in honor of noted Revere Beach historian (and Revere resident) Peter McCauley. In fact, in 2009, Powers had put in a motion to the City Council to name something within the new development after McCauley. His hope, and that of others, was that it would be the bridge.
This week, upon learning about the legislation, he said he was a little let down.
“I think Peter McCauley was part of Revere,” said Powers, after learning for the first time that the bridge would carry the Markey name. “He put so much time and effort giving to that Beach, telling people time and again about its history and getting it named a National Historic place with George Colella. Personally, I have nothing against Ed Markey’s parents – and I know he pushed through a lot of funding for that project – but I think it would have been nice to name it after someone in Revere – particularly someone who had such a connection to Revere Beach.”
Markey’s Office deferred comment on the matter, saying that the Congressman was honored to have the bridge named after his parents.
Councillor Tony Zambuto – who is a frequent critic of Markey – said he hadn’t gotten any official notification of the naming, but said he really had no problem with it.
“He got a lot of money and federal funds for that project down there,” he said. “I had heard that was going to happen, and I would have no problem with it. Put me down as supporting that one, though I rarely support something involving the Congressman.”
Reinstein said that McCauley had been a close friend, and in 2011 she filed a bill to make sure that something on the Beach was named after McCauley. That bill has not yet been passed by the Legislature, but it does call for a pavilion near Revere Street to be named after McCauley.
“I looked at it like we should definitely make sure something was named after Norman Gautreau and Peter McCauley and that it should be on the Beach,” she said. “That’s why I filed the bill for naming those two pavilions near Revere Street.”
Incidentally, in the same bill as the Markey bill, Reinstein calls for the new Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) maintenance facility on Ocean Avenue to be named after her grandfather, Arthur ‘Icy’ Reinstein. Her grandfather had been a captain in the old MDC Police force on the Beach and was a life-long Revere resident.
That designation came without any disappointment.