By Cheryl Fiandaca

REVERE (CBS) – Meter kiosks now the join rusted poles and the dozens of street signs, along the pedestrian walkway at Revere Beach. Residents in the blue collar community say they had no idea the state was planning to charge for parking.

“This is just flat out despicable,” said Revere City Councilor George Rotondo. “A lack of equity and it is troubling.”

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Olga Tacure is the executive director for Women Encouraging Empowerment, an advocate group for immigrants and the underserved population. “I think it is totally not fair,” Tacure said. “America’s first public beach should be free. Shouldn’t have to pay to enjoy it.”

The Department of Conservation and Recreation made the decision in the middle of a public health crisis. Community leaders and activists say they got no notification and had no input.

“When you look at our population, well over 40 percent of the people of my community have English as a second language,” Rotondo said. “Whether it’s Spanish or Portuguese or Arabic. There was no outreach in this community and it’s a huge inequity.”

Juan Jaramillo, a former democratic candidate for state representative, lives on Revere Beach and says he knew nothing about the meters until they were put in. “It’s a working class neighborhood that often gets left out of the decision making process,” Jaramillo said.

Revere was hit especially hard with COVID-19. The city had some of the highest infection rates in the state. More than 150 people died, including many seniors at the Jack Satter House on Revere Beach, where now, folks that live there and their caregivers will have to pay for parking.

“That makes it harder for the people at the Satter House to get the care that they need,” Rotondo said. “And they have suffered so much through COVID.”

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Even though a number of Revere residents don’t have access to the internet, DCR held two virtual meetings last year during the fall surge. Community activists say they never saw a public notice. Both meetings were in English with no translation, and had technical issues.

“I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not surprised,” Jaramillo said.

Tacure is angry that DCR ignored the voices of the people she works with telling the I-Team it should have been a valid public process that included the community.

Revere is the only state beach with metered parking and now dumpsters, instead of trash pails. DCR says it’s safer for the workers but is not using them at any other beach.

“They are an eyesore,” Rotondo said. “There are no dumpsters in Swampscott,” where Gov. Charlie Baker lives, Rotondo said. “Shame on the governor.”

WBZ asked the DCR commissioner for an on camera interview and questioned why and how Revere was the only community chosen for metered parking and if they had an equity office or consultant involved in the process, but they did not respond.

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Metered parking is s scheduled to take effect May 1 and it will cost $1.25 an hour. No provisions have been made for resident parking and DCR is collecting all of the revenue from the meters.

Cheryl Fiandaca