Saugus Selectmen send urgent request to state and federal legislative delegation to fund feasibility study for floodgates project
By Mark E. Vogler
Selectmen have begun lobbying members of their state and federal delegation to fund “as soon as possible” a feasibility study of a floodgates project that was authorized by President Biden in late 2022 – but never funded. “It is imperative that funding immediately occur so that this study can happen which would allow for a robust public participation process and ultimately a proposal to construct floodgates at the mouth of the Saugus River,” states a letter approved at Tuesday (Feb. 6) night’s meeting by selectmen to be sent to their delegation.
“The Saugus River Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study process would develop, evaluate, and update alternatives and impacts.
“Public involvement is required in order to evaluate alternatives and environmental concerns as well as to renew support from the Commonwealth and affected communities.”
The letter, which was crafted by Board of Selectmen Chair Debra Panetta and Precinct 10 Town Meeting Member Peter Manoogian, is addressed to the six federal and state elected leaders who represent Saugus: U.S. Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton, State Senator Brendan P. Crighton, State Representative Donald Wong and State Representative Jessica Giannino. In the letter, selectmen noted that Saugus, Revere, Lynn and surrounding communities on Jan. 13 “experienced some of the worst coastal flooding to-date.”
“In fact, in 2024 the 4th and 6th highest flood waters on record have occurred. The devastation experienced by our residents and property owners was both extreme and sobering,” the letter said.
“Saugus officials, homeowners, property owners, and businesses clearly recognize that future flooding events will in fact become more frequent and more destructive,” it continued.
“…action needs to be taken by the cities of Lynn, Malden, and Everett and Revere”
At Tuesday’s meeting, selectmen agreed that the letter was an important step by the town to demonstrate a commitment to the feasibility study. But they noted that similar action needs to be taken by the cities of Lynn, Malden, Everett and Revere. In addition, the six state and federal elected officials need to aggressively support the project.
“I cannot think of a situation in the past 40 years where the town has reached out to our entire state and federal representatives asking for their collective help,” Manoogian told The Saugus Advocate Wednesday.
“Saugus is willing to do its part and pay its fair share to fund the updated study so that the floodgate project can proceed. The matter is now in the hands of Representative Wong, Representative Giannino, State Senator Crighton, Congressman Moulton, Senator Warren and Senator Markey,” Manoogian said. “Specifically, they will need to seek an appropriation from the state legislature and the US Congress as well as communicate the urgency of this with their peers in Malden, Everett, Lynn, and Revere. This will not happen unless those that represent Saugus make this a priority.”
During Tuesday night’s meeting, Manoogian told selectmen that Saugus would need to commit from $150,000 to $200,000 for its share of the feasibility study. “The other four communities also need to put their money on the table,” Manoogian said.
“Saugus can’t do it alone. Perhaps they can start the process,” he said.
Manoogian was one of four Precinct 10 Town Meeting members attending the meeting to show their support. Joining him were Peter Delios, Martin Costello and Darren Ring.
Town Meeting Member Carla A. Scuzzarella was unable to attend the meeting, but emailed a letter urging selectmen to send a letter to state and federal officials concerning an updated study of the floodgate project. “The homeowners are facing more and more water damage. If residents start leaving this area of town, our community also loses,” Scuzzarella said. “East Saugus needs help, and the Board’s action tonight can definitely state Saugus’ commitment to improving the situation,” she said.
Selectman Jeffrey Cicolini suggested that the town invite members of the state and federal delegation to meet with them. “This is something that needs the eyes and ears of our federal and state delegations on the fast track,” Cicolini said. “We need federal and state representation together,” he said.
The letter selectmen approved
Here is the text of the letter approved by selectmen.
“On February 6th, the Saugus Board of Selectmen, at their regularly scheduled meeting, unanimously voted to approve and send this letter to our state and federal delegation requesting that funding for the Saugus River Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study be allocated as soon as possible.
“In 2022, Senator Edward Markey sponsored legislation for a regional investigation for coastal flood protection and environmental enhancement, which he and Representative Katherine Clark did in the Water Resources Development Act of 2022.
“This legislation was a result of five communities, Saugus, Revere, Lynn, Malden, and Everett, all jointly advocating for this study to take place. President Biden signed this legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act on December 23, 2022.
“However, there was no funding allocated for this feasibility study.
“We want to remind you that on January 13th, 2024, Saugus, Revere, Lynn and other surrounding communities experienced some of the worst coastal flooding to-date.
“In fact, in 2024 the 4th and 6th highest flood waters on record have occurred. The devastation experienced by our residents and property owners was both extreme and sobering. Saugus officials, homeowners, property owners, and businesses clearly recognize that future flooding events will in fact become more frequent and more destructive.
“Therefore, it is imperative that funding immediately occur so that this study can happen which would allow for a robust public participation process and ultimately a proposal to construct floodgates at the mouth of the Saugus River. The Saugus River Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study process would develop, evaluate, and update alternatives and impacts.”
“Public involvement is required in order to evaluate alternatives and environmental concerns as well as to renew support from the Commonwealth and affected communities.
“This support and an approved Feasibility Report and EIS/EIR are required before the design process can resume.
“It is our understanding that the cost of this study would be between one and three million dollars. This cost would be shared between the federal and state government and the five local communities that are impacted.
“Saugus is prepared to raise and appropriate its share of the cost for this study.
“We now need your advocacy at the state level and with your respective city councils for a funding commitment. We need to immediately demonstrate to the Federal Government our commitment to cost sharing so that the study can commence.
“We look forward to working with each of you to begin this process. Please call or e-mail our office should you have any questions. Thank you for your consideration on this matter of critical importance.
“Respectfully Submitted, Debra Panetta, Chairman; Jeffrey Cicolini, Vice Chairman; Michael Serino, Corinne Riley and Anthony Cogliano. The letter was also copied to Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree, Precinct 10 Town Meeting members, the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission.”