Resiliency measures to address stormwater and rising sea level issues are a major part of the planned upgrades to Gibson Park in the Riverside neighborhood. On Tuesday, April 7, city officials and consultants gave an update on the Gibson Park Resiliency Study and the plans to address those issues.
Elle Baker, the city’s open space and environmental planner, said the study is the outgrowth of several years of work, including the Riverfront Master Plan and a coastal resiliency study. “Here in the Gibson Park resiliency project, we are able to tie resiliency into recreation as well,” said Baker. “This will be a great benefit to the neighborhood as well as the community as a whole.”
Through grant funding, Baker said, the city should soon be able to move into the final design and permitting for the project.
The highlights of the resiliency efforts include stormwater storage under the planned multipurpose athletic field, new salt marsh and a living shoreline along the edge of the park, and a walkway out over the new saltmarsh area so residents can enjoy the area. A raised seating area at the edge of the multipurpose field will also act as a physical barrier between the edge of the field and the start of the shoreline, according to John McAllister of McAllister Marine Engineering.
“A big issue for everyone on the East Coast is rising sea levels, so we’re going to put in some space for the marsh to creep up,” said McAllister. “That way, it will continue to maintain protection as sea levels rise.”
McAllister said the stormwater storage under the new field will help alleviate some of the stormwater flooding issues in the Riverside neighborhood. In addition, the project calls for additional stormwater mitigation measures through the use of rain gardens and bioswales. The plans also call for a temporary natural berm protection against floodwaters on Mills Avenue.
The Geocube sand dune design system would also encourage natural vegetation and provide about a decade of protection against rising sea levels as the city works on plans for a longer-term seawall solution along Mills Avenue. “Structurally, if it is vegetated and maintained, it could probably last 30 years, but in terms of sea level rise, we are looking at a 10- to 15-year solution,” said McAllister.
Baker said the city has applied for funding for the design of a seawall, but she said the city knows it will take time to design, implement and fund the construction.
McAllister said one more public forum on the Gibson Park project is planned for May.
Baker said the city will be applying for another round of grants to fund the permitting of the resiliency project and bring it to construction.