Coming less than a week after winter storm Juno slammed the Massachusetts coast, depositing close to two feet of snow in some areas and causing severe coastal flooding, EPA’s Massachusetts picks, two of twenty-two communities chosen across the nation, brought a welcome response from the agency’s regional office.
In a release on Tuesday, Curt Spalding, EPA’s New England office regional administrator said,
“We are thrilled that Newburyport and Scituate will benefit from this program. Many towns and cities are looking for help to reach their development goals, improve quality of life, and become more economically and environmentally sustainable and this program responds to those needs.”
Local leaders look forward to proactive planning
“Our community is regularly and significantly impacted by the effects of coastal storms which tax our infrastructure, residences and resources,” said Patricia Vinchesi, Scituate Town Administrator.
“The Town is committed to actively pursuing sustainable opportunities that assist with coastal flooding, sea level rise and climate change. This technical assistance will expand our efforts in proactive planning that will benefit our residents and businesses and prepare us for what the future may bring.”
Major seawall breach from high tide on Bay Ave. Caused structural damage to home. http://t.co/7yxF16HGOK
— Marshfield Police (@Marshfield_PD) January 27, 2015
“Located at the mouth of the Merrimack River, we are a coastal community that increasingly experiences severe flooding and coastal erosion during storm events,” said Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday. “We have a vibrant riverfront economy, densely developed barrier beach and significant investment in waterfront infrastructure. ”
“Because of this, we are highly concerned about the effect of sea level rise and associated storm surges on both public and private structures and resources. As mayor, it is my goal and responsibility to protect these resources for the future of our community — this technical assistance will provide much needed support for our efforts to do this.”
Communities choose initiative
The program, Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities, was developed to provide technical assistance on tools that help cities and towns with flood resilience planning, environmentally friendly bike share programs, development and sustainability.
Chosen from a slate of 121 nationwide community applications, the Commonwealth’s two coastal communities will receive assistance in identifying approaches they can take to become more resilient to flooding.
“Many communities are seeking EPA’s assistance to think through how and where they will grow – while protecting the environment and helping members of the community most in need,” said Joel Beauvais, EPA associate administrator for policy. ”Our Building Blocks program brings the technical know-how to help communities overcome the barriers to sustainable growth so they can plan for a healthier, more vibrant future.”
According to the release, each technical assistance project in a community involves a team of EPA-led experts and includes public participation in scheduled one to two-day workshops. Each project also involves direct consultation with relevant decision-makers and is followed by a memo outlining options the community can pursue to address ideas generated at the workshop.
EPA conducts the workshops in coordination with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
Since 2011, the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 41 states. As a result of this assistance, community groups, local governments, and tribal governments across the nation have increased their capacity to successfully implement smart growth and sustainable approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, prepare for the effects of climate change, and improve overall quality of life.
EPA facts obtained from an EPA news release dated February 3, 2015.
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