Dear CIA Member or Friend,

Do you walk down to Beach Bluff Park/Preston Beach on any particular day? Misty or sunny - do you take the opportunity to cherish the space that is open for you and your guests to enjoy? I'll bet you do!

I have taken classes there to learn about what power we can have working together for the common good. They check out the new floodwall revetment and steps and tromped over the rocks.  I tell them that 20 years ago this spot was an overgrown, inaccessible lot secured by a chain link fence. The transformation into a beloved park has come to be through the effort of so many volunteers who share the vision. The youngsters were inspired by the story.

Our monthly board meetings are open to all. Perhaps you would like to attend and get involved? There are many ways in which the CIA can impact our neighborhood and beyond.  Access to the beach for those on or with wheels?  Political actions nationally and globally to protect the sea and sand? Lots of opportunities for volunteerism.

We would like to continue raising funds for improvements. And, we want a cushion that will sustain us through storm (and drang).
Please help us maximize the way people can enjoy our shared space through your contribution of time or money.  And thank you for reading this -                Lynn Nadeau, President

Vision and Reality: The Story of the Clifton Improvement Association and Beach Bluff Park:

(as told by Lynn Nadeau)

The CIA was founded in 1934 by a group of summer residents with a vision that included making Preston Beach available to all who lived in the immediate neighborhood. In 1945, five families donated five buildable lots to this neighborhood association. That land has been used for parking for Preston Beach ever since.

During the war years, there were lifeguards on the beach who instructed the youngsters from 10am until noon. Summer people and neighborhood people mingled and befriended each other on the beach. There were regular meetings of the CIA which resulted in the building of the Eveleth School.

 During the 70's and 80's, the CIA became moribund but was revived in the 90's with meetings and projects including the building of the little shed on the lot.
Allie Blodgett remembers the day  when I telephoned her husband, Donald, whose family had owned the land abutting the sea and Preston Beach, introduced myself and suggested that the vacant beach lot would make a nice park. Donald’s immediate response was, “I’ve been waiting 25 years for this call.”

After that phone call in 1991, lawyers Doug Nadeau, Paul Levenson and Steve Small worked with Donald to create Beach Bluff Park which sits on the Swampscott border. The process was lengthy; it involved the Swampscott Conservation Commission, the state, and the federal government. But it worked; the CIA received nonprofit status and the land was transferred. These two generous gifts of land demonstrate the community spirit, volunteer involvement and dedication that have characterized the CIA.

Since then, Beach Bluff Park has become a quiet oasis, used and loved by neighbors, commuters, and passers-by. Admirers of sea and sky enter the Swampscott park on a walkway of planks and wander the paths or settle comfortably on one of the benches. The parking lot across the street, in Marblehead, has a useful shed and water source. Lauren Lautner, landscape designer, has volutnarily organized the plantings of trees and bushes, grasses and flowers in both areas.

These properties have symbolized the CIA’s community spirit, volunteer involvement, and dedication.

Then in April, 2007, a wild northeaster’ wrecked the wall that had protected the park from the sea. Benches and walkways were swept across Atlantic Avenue. The native bushes and plants were flooded by sea water. It was a disaster!

Immediately, another benefactor with a vision stepped in. Alexander and Nora Falk, who had bought the house next door two weeks earlier, contacted me. “We see the CIA wall and our wall as one project.” Alexander announced. “If you like, as we plan our wall, we will ask our architects and engineers to also plan yours.” Since then the Falks have generously donated their time, their resources, and their financial support to see the walls protecting both properties completed. The two seawalls were completed in late spring of 2009.

Following that, the CIA will rehab Beach Bluff Park and the Falks will begin construction on their new house.

The Sun Circle, a stunning basalt sculpture created by architect and sculptor Bruce Greenwald, serves as a gathering place for small ceremonies. The Sun Circle marks the rising and setting sun on the horizon throughout the year for the edification of visitors.

Through private donations, the CIA is raising monies for all park operations including the new floodwall and the Sun Circle. The community has contributed generously to further the visions of those who have donated the land and those who donated their energies and resources to create an area for everyone to use and enjoy.