Last week East Boston’s Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) joined forces with ULI Boston/New England to present a series of recommendations on climate resiliency strategies for neighborhood.
Last Wednesday at the East Boston Library, as part of NOAH’s ongoing Climate Adaptation Workshops, NOAH and ULI developed a goal to design a community resiliency plan for the neighborhood’s 40,000 residents.
According to NOAH’s Chris Marchi, director of Community Building and Environment, Eastie is particularly vulnerable because of its geography and its transit system and an estimated 250,000 people travel through Eastie every day via Logan Airport; the Ted Williams and Sumner tunnels; and the MBTA’s Silver and Blue lines.
“We understand that climate change isn’t anyone’s first priority. It’s just that a 15 foot storm flood above present sea level would pretty much flood half of the area with sea water and screw this town up.” said Marchi. “This is a trial and error situation. And every step we take in the right direction is good. Residents from the Maverick and Eagle Hill areas who did attend had excellent suggestions and gave us useful ideas about improving evacuation route signage, planning for people on foot, and getting messages to both landlords and renters.”
ULI has assembled a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP), comprised of experts in architecture, public policy, real estate law, landscape architecture, engineering, and planning, to study potential climate change threats to Eastie. The panel presented its findings on Wednesday and solicit feedback from members of the community and the infrastructure agencies that serve the neighborhood. As part of the presentation, the panel had visual depictions of public and private assets which are most at risk from sea level rise and coastal flooding.
“ULI has been a fabulous partner bringing expertise and zeal to ameliorating these increasing threats. We are hopeful that our collective efforts aimed at protecting the physical and human assets of our vulnerable community will find their way into the capital budgets of the City and State agencies,” said Executive Director of NOAH Phil Giffee, which, along with ULI, received a Kresge Foundation grant to improve neighborhood planning for sea level rise and storm-related coastal flooding.
NOAH and ULI developed the community-supported planning process, which brings various stakeholders together to address community needs. The Kresge grant has provided for a series of climate change adaptation workshops held in partnership with the Boston Society of Architects, Maverick Landing Community Services, UMass-Boston and the University of New Hampshire.
“One challenge in East Boston is protecting both residential assets and infrastructure lifelines,” said Dr. Paul Kirshen, a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of New Hampshire and a member of the NOAH team, who has been worki
ng on climate change adaptation in East Boston since 2008. “The TAP was a creative forum to consider how to bring these two needs together. The NOAH/ULI work in East Boston is an excellent example for Boston and the nation.”
A final report on the East Boston study will be issued on June 10, 2015 and will be available on ULI’s website, www.uli.org.