By Adam Swift
The North Suffolk Office of Resilience and Sustainability published its annual report in January, sharing with its constituents in Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop information on projects that were completed in 2022, updates on the upcoming phases of ongoing projects, and details on new initiatives that will launch in 2023.
The NSORS was created by the communities of Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop to address climate change issues using a regional approach. Since its creation, NSORS staff have worked on both regional and individual municipal projects to address issues such as heat mitigation, the reduction of greenhouse gas contributions and more.
“Like the rest of the Boston area, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop were impacted by heat waves and drought this summer, and by extreme high tides periodically throughout the year,” stated the introductory letter to the report, signed off on by former Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino, Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, and Winthrop Town Manager Tony Marino. “And as energy prices rose this summer and fall, the need for energy efficiency took on new urgency. As we start to feel the impacts of climate change in real time, regional efforts like NSORS have become increasingly more important as tools to protect our communities and reduce our greenhouse gas contributions.”
The office manages over $3 million in grant funds from projects specific to the three regional communities as well as projects that have an impact on the entire North-Suffolk region.
In Chelsea, the NSORS is managing ongoing projects to address the flood mitigation and restoration of Mill Creek, implement Phase I of the Microgrid Initiative, and instill neighborhood-scale resiliency measures. The neighborhood projects include a study of Eastern Avenue to combat frequent flooding caused by the Chelsea Creek, designing a new park at the foot of the Chelsea Street Bridge, developing a permanent park at 212 Congress Street, a white roof pilot project at the Jordan Boys and Girls Club, and the Bellingham Square Plaza redesign.
In Revere, the city is moving forward with a tree inventory and management plan under the NSORS. Obtaining an accurate inventory of Revere’s public trees, as well as a plan for maintaining and growing the urban canopy, will provide heat mitigation and flood control benefits to Revere, according to the report. In collaboration with Davey Resource Group, which has conducted similar projects in nearby communities and nationwide, Revere will begin its inventory this winter.
In Winthrop, the NSORS is taking the lead on updating the town’s hazard mitigation plan, which has expired and must be updated in order for the town to be eligible for FEMA funding. Winthrop has applied for funding to support a plan update, and expects to hear the status of this request this month, according to the report. If funded, the update would begin in early 2023, bringing together stakeholders in Winthrop to identify hazards and critical infrastructure, and to highlight priority mitigation measures.
The NSORS is also taking part in regional efforts with impact beyond its core communities. The Zero Carbon Action Plan (ZCAP) project kicked off in early 2022, with a core team composed of staff from NSORS, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Chelsea/Revere/Winthrop municipal staff, and GreenRoots staff. The office conducted stakeholder interviews to gauge their understanding of, and interest for, climate mitigation. The MAPC team developed a GHG emissions inventory for each of the communities as well as a regional inventory.
The core team held workshops throughout the communities, with a mix of in-person and virtual gatherings to educate on the scope of the project and its overall goals.
In early 2023, the core team will be holding regular meetings with a steering committee composed of municipal staff and GreenRoots which will provide more concrete ideas for strategies and actions that are to be included in the ZCAP plan.