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Wharf District Council Discusses Coastal Resilience

The Wharf District Council met to discuss the coastal resilience study as it applies to Downtown Boston and the North End.

Wharf District Council in session

Two years ago, the Boston Environment Department created a broad report on how to handle the climate changing decades from now and what to do with Boston’s waterfront areas. One of the recommendations of the report was to create smaller guides for each of Boston’s neighborhoods.

Resilient Boston Harbor builds off of Imagine Boston 2030 and uses the City’s Climate Ready Boston 2070 flood maps and coastal resilience neighborhood studies to focus on Boston’s most vulnerable flood pathways. The strategies laid out in the plan include elevated landscapes, enhanced waterfront parks, flood resilient buildings, and revitalized and increased connections and access to the waterfront. The strategies will require collaboration and funding between federal, state, private, philanthropic and nonprofit partners.

“This way we can create specific and concrete proposals on what to do,” said Carl Spector, Boston’s environmental commissioner..

The first communities studied were East Boston and Charlestown and that study was released over a year ago. Following that, the city studied South Boston and that report will be released this week.

Slides from the meeting about the projected impacts to Boston due to climate change

According to Spector, there is an RFP (Request For Proposal) out for a firm to conduct the study in Downtown and the North End. The deadline for that is Nov. 2. Spector said most of these individual studies take 9 to 12 months to complete.

For the North End, the study will focus on Christopher Columbus Park and Langone Park and Puopolo Playground to include elevation to protect against flooding. The study will also look into turning Sargent’s Wharf’s parking lot into open space and small development. They also want to enhance the Long Wharf so it can be used as a way to connect to water transportation. [See Elevating Sargent’s Wharf, Columbus, Langone Parks and Long Wharf]

Attendees of the meeting worried that since each community is getting a different report done by different companies and firms, that the ideas proposed would not work together cohesively as whole. Some worried that some solutions would just be pushing water to different parts of the city.

Spector assured the council he is making sure all of the individual studies work together and are cohesive with each other.

“We want to make sure we are not creating one solution but making a problem somewhere else,” he said.

Spector suggested that all businesses and residents create their own resiliency plan.

“You want to think to yourself what you can do to protect your building,” he said. “If you have a boiler system or electrical in your basement that is something you might want to think about.”

Marc Margulies of Wharf District Council asked where companies should work together and share their plans or not.

“I’m a big believer in sharing information,” said Spector. “Obviously, each building will have their own specifics but learning from each other is key.