Mayor Marty Walsh announced a broad plan to shore up several waterfront parcels from flooding, including in the North End and Downtown, as part his “Resilient Boston Harbor” vision. The City Hall strategy is a step forward in protecting the city from rising sea levels, especially during major storms and flooding events.

In the North End and Downtown Boston, plans include transforming the parking lot at Sargent’s Wharf into a combination of open space and “resilient small-scale development.” A general rendering from the presentation includes a small building (see below) along with a park at the end of Sargent’s Wharf.

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A redesigned shoreline configuration at Christopher Columbus Park and Langone Park and Puopolo Playground reflect higher elevations to protect against flooding. Sections of the Harborwalk will be raised along with improving open space and connections to the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Lastly, plans call for Long Wharf to be reinforced and made into a ferry gateway for water transportation.

“Resilient Boston Harbor” rendering showing shoreline reconfigurations for Christopher Columbus Park, Langone Park and Puopolo Fields along with open space and a small development at Sargent’s Wharf. (click image to enlarge)

The Mayor’s plans were revealed this week at a meeting with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce where he encouraged businesses to invest in preventive infrastructure now to avoid the inevitable damage coming from rising sea levels.

“We’re not just planning for the next storm we’ll face, we’re planning for the storms the next generation will face,” said Mayor Walsh. “A resilient, climate-ready Boston Harbor presents an opportunity to protect Boston, connect Boston, and enhance Boston, now and for the future. As we enter a new era in our Harbor’s history, Boston can show the world that resilience is not only the ability to survive adversity, but to emerge even stronger than before. That’s the promise of a Resilient Boston.”

In East Boston and Charlestown, a deployable floodwall system has been installed across the East Boston Greenway, and a section of Main Street in Charlestown is being elevated. Additional measures identified include redesigning Constitution Beach to combine flood protection with expanded access and recreation. Wood Island and Belle Isle will be enhanced to prevent the loss of the last remaining tidal salt marsh in Boston, while buffering the shoreline from increased waves and surges. Main Street will be elevated as part of the re-design of Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square, to block the primary flood pathway through Charlestown. $4.8 million in capital funding has already been committed to the overall project. In addition, Ryan Playground will be elevated and the Schrafft Center waterfront will be redeveloped with elevated parks and mixed-use buildings.

Flooding at Sargent’s Wharf parking lot in March 2018. (NEWF image)

The strategies will require collaboration and funding between federal, state, private, philanthropic and nonprofit partners. “Building a resilient city is a serious challenge in response to a sobering threat, but it also brings enormous opportunity to re-think our relationship to the Harbor and create a world-class waterfront,” said Kathy Abbott, President and CEO of Boston Harbor Now. “We commend Mayor Walsh for seizing this moment to design a waterfront that is more accessible, beautiful, and inclusive than ever before. The urgency of climate change requires all of us to step up and work together like never before.”

Major plans are also identified for South Boston, Fort Point and Dorchester. Notably, an $11 million project funded by the sale of Winthrop Square Garage will complete the Emerald Necklace from Franklin Park to Moakley Park along Columbia Road to increase access to the waterfront. The City is also applying for a $10 million FEMA mitigation grant to begin resilience work along the Fort Point Channel.

“Resilient Boston Harbor will not only strengthen the City against the impacts of climate change, it will create a fantastic urban waterfront, opening up many new opportunities to improve public access to the Harbor,” said Bud Ris, Senior Advisor to the Boston Green Ribbon Commission. “Based on all of the analyses that have been done through Climate Ready Boston so far, this is exactly the kind of approach Boston should be taking. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City to make Resilient Boston Harbor a reality.”

Importantly, the announced plans do not include funding for most of the outlined projects. Walsh said that the City will commit 10 percent of all new capital funding, approximately $16 million, to resilience projects. However, he is counting on state and federal government partners, as well as the private sector and non-profit and philanthropic stakeholders to make the bulk of the necessary investments.

More information on the Mayor’s plan can be found at the Resilient Boston Harbor website.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. I would like to know what the City proposes doing with regards to the loss of parking spaces at Sargent’s Wharf. Will any plans for a project on that site address parking? There is such limited parking in the North End to begin with, and with the loss of a good part of the Government Center Garage, the proposal for the Aquarium garage site, and now this, parking in the North End will be a nightmare regardless if you are just visiting or live here. The City wants to encourage people to visit and spend money, but are cutting back on the available parking that would allow them to do so. Not everyone who wants to visit lives in an area where they have easy access to Public Transportation to get them into the City.

  2. I agree with Belle. In the face of global climate disaster, we need to remember that North End residents and visitors need EASY, CHEAP (if not free!), and RELIABLE access to parking for private vehicles.

    One suggestion is turning the higher (more elevated) portions of Christopher Columbus park into resident parking. You could easily fit 30 or mare private resident cars beneath the trellis and around the statue. The fact that we’re not using that prime parking area already is joke.

    Resident parking comes first. Period.

    • That is hilarious! Are you suggesting our open public green space be turned into a parking lot?! That is one of the most heavily travelled pedestrian spaces in all of downtown……

      • That’s exactly what I’m suggesting. If people want public green space, that can move to Colorado or whatever.

        This is a city and we need places for the life long NorthEnders to park cars. The long time residence of this neighborhood have put up with enough with the big dig and all the new students and trash.

        As I said to Nate, we successfully did this before with the Foster street playground and now we have one less playground but at least a few more parking spaces.

  3. Yay lets turn Christopher Columbus Park into a parking lot. Dock Square garage is empty every night but don’t pay attention to 700 spaces being squandered and wasted for greed. Let’s park in the park. Lol

    • Nate, we did it with the park that used to be on Foster Street. People said that was crazy at the time – turn a playground into a parking lot – but we did it and now we have 12 or more extra parking spaces. We should do it with every inch of available space we have.

      • No we should fill the empty parking garages with resident cars. I guarantee that every night there are over 1000 empty parking spaces going to waste in parking garages in the the North End because of greed. Owning a parking garage is the most profitable passive income property around.
        North End residents should get a steep discount on parking in any garage overnight in the neighborhood.

  4. Imagine…..such an aesthetically pleasing park and true waterfront, and it may be turned into a parking lot.
    That is prime property. It beautifies the North End. I wonder when Boston will wrap up its renovations and construction sites. Leave Columbus Park alone !

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