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Resilient Mystic Collaborative communities secure $5.7M in MVP grants for climate resilience

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Grants will help communities manage heat and flooding


  Governor Maura Healey’s announcement of $31.5 million in FY2024 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grants included nearly $5.7 million in funding for community-designed projects to prevent harm to residents, workers and resources in Resilient Mystic Collaborative (RMC) cities and towns. Convened by 10 Mystic River watershed communities and the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) in September 2018 and now led by senior staff from 20 cities and towns and nongovernmental partners, the RMC focuses on managing flooding and extreme heat on a regional scale and increasing the resilience of our most vulnerable residents and workers to extreme weather. These MVP grants bring the total resources secured for climate resilient projects to $61.4 million in state, federal and foundation grants since the voluntary partnership began, with the goal of at least doubling that amount by 2026, when new federal grant programs begin to sunset.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to position Massachusetts as a global leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the MVP program is an important piece of our strategy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “The Healey-Driscoll Administration is glad to support our local communities with funding for innovative climate resilience projects that center environmental justice and nature-based solutions.”

By far the largest grant – nearly $3 million – went to the Malden River Works (MRW) project, a planned riverfront park designed by the MRW Project Team under the supervision of the MRW Steering Committee, which, according to the MRW website, “is made up of a majority of resident leaders of color, along with city government representatives, and a resident environmental advocate.” “These funds will alleviate stormwater flooding while filtering pollutants and toxins before they reach the Malden River,” said MRW Steering Committee Chairperson Marcia Manong. “Using both green and gray infrastructure, we will mitigate the dual impacts of climate change-fueled heat and flooding. I consider this a win not just for nearby environmental justice communities but for all of Malden.”

“It’s really extraordinary what communities can accomplish when they pool their time, expertise, and aspirations,” said MyRWA Executive Director Patrick Herron. “We are so grateful that the MVP program is enabling these great local leaders to put ideas into action to protect their most vulnerable people and resources from extreme weather.”

“This grant helps the City significantly upgrade its Department of Public Works yard to prevent stormwater runoff and other contaminants from finding their way into the Malden River,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson. “These improvements are essential to the completion of the Malden River Works Park, which will provide the only significant public access to Malden’s riverfront.”

“Boston and Revere received $330,500 from MVP to partner on the design of coastal resilience infrastructure, recreational open space, and ecological restoration along Bennington Street in East Boston and Frederick’s Park in Revere,” said Boston’s Environment Department Climate Resilience Project Manager, Catherine McCandless. “This funding will help us take the next step to protect our neighborhoods from coastal flooding while enhancing valuable open space for people and wildlife.”

In addition, Revere received $154,000 for continued support of a regional climate resilience partnership among Revere, Lynn, Malden, Everett and Malden called the Saugus Pines River Advocates for Regional Resiliency (SPRARR). “Working together as a region to implement solutions in partnership with state agencies increases our capacity and ultimately yields a better long term solution for addressing climate change and the immediate threat of sea-level rise for communities in the Saugus/Pines River Watershed,” said Revere’s Open Space and Environmental Planner, Elle Baker.

Everett received two grants totaling nearly $490,000 to cool down urban heat islands in residential neighborhoods and continue to improve a much-needed waterfront park. “The work that we are doing at the state, regional, and local level to find new solutions to address our ever changing climate is critical,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “Increasing the capacity of our community to offer residents recreational green spaces where they can gather as families and with neighbors to cool off during summers is an important part of this ongoing effort.”

Several other RMC communities also received grants:

“Winthrop is excited to announce that it received a $291,076 grant to design and permit a nature-based project to manage coastal flooding coming in from Belle Isle Marsh,” said Director of Planning and Development Rachel Kelly.

“Burlington received $90,000 from MVP to identify and assist flood-prone facilities that serve priority populations in the Upper Mystic Watershed,” said Burlington Assistant Conservation Administrator Eileen Coleman.

“Medford received $106,400 from MVP for our Tree Warden Aggie Tuden to do an Urban Forest Vulnerability Assessment,” said Director of Planning, Development & Sustainability Alicia Hunt.

Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin said, “Being part of this group has enabled us to secure resources and funding for important community climate change projects, including design work for the 11.3-acre climate-resilient Hurld Park. This MVP funding award of $180,500 will help us reach 90% construction drawings for the heat-resilient portion of the park.”

Chelsea received two grants, totaling nearly $655,000, to better manage heat along walking routes to the city’s elementary schools and make the highly industrial Eastern Avenue safer, cooler, more welcoming and less prone to coastal flooding.


Mystic River watershed at a glance

The 76-square-mile Mystic River Watershed stretches from Reading through the northern shoreline of Boston Harbor to Revere. An anglicized version of the Pequot word missi-tuk (“large river with wind- and tide-driven waves”), it is now one of New England’s most densely populated, urbanized watersheds.

The seven-mile Mystic River and its tributaries represented an early economic engine for colonial Boston. Ten shipyards built more than 500 clipper ships in the 1800s before roads and railways replaced schooners and steamships. Tide-driven mills, brickyards and tanneries along both banks of the river brought both wealth and pollution.

In the 1960s, the Amelia Earhart Dam transformed much of the river into a freshwater impoundment, and construction of Interstate 93 filled in wetlands and dramatically changed the river’s course. Since then, many former industrial sites have been cleaned up and redeveloped into new commercial areas and residential communities.

The Mystic is facing growing climate-related challenges: coastal and stormwater flooding, extreme storms, heat, drought and unpredictable seasonal weather. The watershed is relatively low-lying and extensively developed, making it prone to both freshwater and coastal flooding. Its 21 municipalities are home to 600,000 residents, including many who are disproportionately vulnerable to extreme weather: environmental justice communities, new Americans, residents of color, elders, low-income residents and employees, people living with disabilities, and English-language learners.

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