Since 2017, the City of Boston has been creating neighborhood solutions to coastal flooding from sea level rise and storms in East Boston. This Climate Ready East Boston initiative focuses on locations that face risks from coastal flooding and sea level rise and have identified short- and long-term solutions to protect the neighborhood.
In the latest study, the city worked in partnership with local residents, businesses, and regional partners to find coastal resilience solutions for Jeffries Point, Maverick, Central Square, and Lower Eagle Hill.
Now, the city’s Climate Ready East Boston is switching focus to other areas in the neighborhood that are threatened by climate change and are looking for residents interested in joining the Community Advisory Board.
According to the city’s Climate Resilience Program Coordinator Peyton Siler Jones residents interested can fill out the online application at https://tinyurl.com/ClimateReadyEastieApplication through Dec. 7.
Jones said this planning process will expand the city’s analysis to additional areas not covered in the prior phase.
“Basically, this is a really similar process to the process covered back in 2017,” said Jones. “We’re basically just looking at a different part of the neighborhood’s geography, but it’s really similar in that we’re looking at the location of flooding and going through a community engagement process to identify design solutions for mitigating the impacts of sea level rise and climate change.”
Jones said the new geographic area that the city is looking at now is the Chelsea Creek, the Belle Isle Marsh, Constitution Beach and Wood Island.
“These are the parts of East Boston that kind of wrap around the neighborhood,” said Jones. “So we want to work with the community, and Massport, along this area of the neighborhood that kind of wraps around back to where the Jeffries Point study happened in the first phase.”
Jones said the climate team wants to create the advisory board to include more opportunity for neighborhood input and feedback.
“We heard feedback after the first study that residents wanted to see even more opportunity for community engagement and a more community driven process,” said Jones. “And we took that to heart and adapted our scope of work. So now we have this Community Advisory Board, which will be part of the project team to really help us identify the best engagement solution with a particular focus on racial equity in the context of COVID-19.”
Jones said any member of the community can apply to be an advisory board member.
“We encourage anyone and everyone who’s interested to apply,” she said. “We are estimating about 10 folks would be picked, although there’s some flexibility there. We may have up to 12 or 13 members.”
Jones said the role of the advisory board will be to help city planners drive the agenda and engage the community on coastal resiliency.
“The advisory board will be an important voice in the conversation,” said Jones. “We really want to have the members be the leaders on how we think about community engagement around design scenarios and design alternatives when it comes to sea level rise and coastal flooding in this geographic area. Should we have a landscape berm? Should we create a seawall? The board will be working through those different alternatives with the underlying objective of really increasing transparency in city planning and how residents can be involved.”
However, once the board is in place the process may look a lot different than it did in 2017 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So after the advisory board is in place it’s will look a lot different than the initial meetings in 2017-2018 where there was a real hands on approach of walking the Greenway with groups of activists and environmentalists in the neighborhood,” said Jones. “I think one thing we’re exploring is how we create as many educational opportunities that were so valuable to the community a few years back when we started the process.”
Jones said this may include uploaded video walking tours of the areas in focus, photos, history of the areas and other tools that can be interactive while remaining virtual.