The East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) will host a ‘release’ party on Saturday, March 2 at Maverick Landing starting at 10 a.m. where NOAH staff will release the East Boston Flood Prevention Design Workshop Report.
“The goal is for the neighborhood to identify and prioritize key locations for planning and investment,” said NOAH Executive Director Phil Giffee. “We know the City is planning but we think it is in the neighborhood’s interest to state its priorities, which may overlap with the City.”
The report follows two events last year hosted by NOAH. The two Flood Prevention Design Workshop in May and then in September 2018 at the East Boston Social Centers in Central Square unveiled some of the concerns, ideas and solutions to protect the neighborhood from Climate Change.
NOAH’s May workshop aimed to have residents design the best ways to protect the community from sea-level rise and climate change. At the first workshop residents were given tours of areas in the community that have been identified as entry points for flood waters. Then NOAH hosted a public design workshop where residents were asked to offer ideas and input on how to best protect the different parts of the community from flood waters.
At the May workshop residents were put into smaller groups representing the Jeffries Point/Maverick/Central Square areas, Eagle Hill and the Harbor View/Orient Heights neighborhoods.
At the September workshop NOAH’s Climate Program Manager Gabriela Boscio reported that concerns that emerged from the May’s group discussions were both specific to each groups focus areas as well as the entire neighborhood.
“Although the main focus of the workshop was on sea-level rise and flooding that will result, participants recognized other concerns and vulnerabilities that climate change may bring and that current neighborhood realities might make harder to address,” she said. “The expressed concerns cut across scales: Some are focused on individuals and families, others address local issues, still others noted concerns with regional impacts.”
An early version of the report that will be released in its entirety on Saturday, NOAH showed residents have a concern over lack of Flood Emergency Plan; lack of Community Awareness; the Risk of Sea-Level Rise added to Storm Surge; impacts on Infrastructure, People and Buildings; Threats to Transportation Network; as well as Threats to the Local Ecology.
Based on the concerns and input from residents, NOAH’s report suggests the immediate need in Eastie is to develop a Flood Emergency and Awareness Plan. This would create a plan and communicate it widely through many channels to reach the entire community
There should also be an increase Public Awareness of Climate Risks and Solutions by consistently engage stakeholders, partner with existing civic organizations, meet people where they are
Increase engagement with the schools and with youth to get them move involved in thinking about climate change because they may be the most impacted in the future.
Some physical solution ideas to come out of the workshops included developing levees and seawalls that have multiple uses. Create parks and recreational opportunities while protecting the community from sea level rise. These are areas that can be enjoyed year round while protecting the community from storm surges in the event of a huge storm. These levees and seawalls would protect key places in the neighborhood like the Greenway and Liberty Plaza. Add connector bridges over the Greenway so it is still passable in the event of a flood. This plan stems from another idea to redesign the Greenway to be ‘floodable’.
“East Boston is a peninsula; protection, adaptation, and resilience will cost money, which Mayor Walsh acknowledges and recently shared this in a vision for a “Resilient Boston Harbor”, said Melinda Vega, NOAH’s Community Engagement Coordinator. “Our goal is to ensure that the community is involved in the decision-making process especially since this has a direct impact in their lives and being that East Boston is an Environmental Justice Community we gain co-benefits. The outcomes should be green infrastructures accessible to all not just gray walls. In our efforts to move this work forward with East Boston residents and because of all the infrastructure work needed in East Boston, we ask for your support (and advice) in order to get this work done as soon as possible, in collaboration with City/State leaders and elected officials.”