Climate Ready Boston Brings Show, Project to Charlestown

July 28, 2017
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By Seth Daniel

Julie Wood registers her opinion for long-term flood protection for Charlestown while holding her young son, Brayden Wood, during the Climate Ready Boston open house at the Schrafft’s Center Thursday night.

As the study wraps up for looking at sea-level rise in Charlestown, city officials and consultants working on Climate Ready Boston took an interesting show and open house to the Schrafft’s Center last Thursday night.

The loose format allowed residents to circulate through the room to various stations – learning about the short-term project that will raise a part of Bunker Hill and Main Street to prevent storm inundation, playing a game about how to protect a coastline, watching an impressive simulation of how and where water would go during certain storms, and voicing their opinions on what they would like to see as part of a long-term flood prevention strategy for the back banks of the Mystic River.

“I thought this was a good format because people can come out and get information and give input in a relaxed format,” said Julie Wood, who was holding little Brayden Wood as she registered her choices for long-term solutions. “I probably preferred the living shoreline as the best long-term solution. I’m an environmental scientist, so I like natural solutions first and foremost. It brings back what the original conditions would have been…and it has the potential to protect us in extreme weather events.”

Other choices for the long-term solutions included rock walls, large stairs leading to the water, artificial beaches, a water taxi and walking paths.

Mia Mansfield, who has run the study for the City of Boston Environmental Department, said they began some time ago and will wrap it up on July 30. The Charlestown and East Boston Open Houses last week were the final pieces of the study – which came from a grant by the State Office of Coastal Zone Management.

Partnering with Boston was Kleinfelder Consultants and Stoss Landscape Urbanism.

The short-term project has pretty much been settled, and it will include raising Main Street and Bunker Hill Street near the Gardens and Fire Station several feet. That, she said, would prevent coastal flood inundation and sea level rise for projections over the next 30 years.

Mansfield said the Schrafft’s Building and Ryan Playground and the Bunker Hill/Main Street nexus were identified as part of the larger Climate Ready Boston study last year as one of nine “hot spots” around the city. Those nine “hot spots” were identified as needing immediate short-term projects and long-term interventions as well.

Fortunately, the short-term project has been put into the budget for the Sullivan Square/Rutherford Avenue redesign and construction. So, a funding source has been identified already for that piece of relief.

The long-term solution – which could prevent flooding events that could inundate Sullivan Square, Bunker Hill Community College, City Square and compromise the locks for the Charles River that protect Back Bay – are still in the planning stages.

For many, they left the Schrafft’s with a better understanding of just what could happen in a flood and some of the surprising places that water could end up if a major event were to occur.