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State awards pair of climate change grants to Peabody

 By Christopher Roberson

The city recently received two state grants totaling $467,616 to help fund the North River Canal Resilient Wall, Riverwalk and Park as well as flood mitigation and water quality improvements to the Lawrence Brook Watershed.

During her presentation on June 1, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said $224,216 is for the North River Canal and the remaining $243,400 is for the Lawrence Brook Watershed.

The purpose of the North River Canal project would be to prevent flooding in Peabody Square, which has historically been a problem. Specifically, the project would entail “a resiliency evaluation to determine how best to accommodate flood waters along the banks of the canal, a preliminary redesign of the wall on the south bank, portions of which are crumbling into the canal; a preliminary design of a Riverwalk along the south bank; and development of a permitting strategy.”

Polito lauded the efforts of Mayor Edward Bettencourt and other city officials for developing such innovative projects.

“These are great ideas emulating from this city’s leadership,” she said.

State Rep. Thomas Walsh said climate change is detrimental to businesses as well.

“It’s also an economic development issue,” he said.

State Rep. Theodore Speliotis said he was impressed with the city’s ability to obtain the grants.

“To think how far we’ve come and how far we’re going to go, it really is amazing,” he said.

Polito said that two years ago, she and Gov. Charlie Baker created a climate change grant program known as Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP).

She said 20 percent of the state’s 351 municipalities received grants during MVP’s first year. Currently, she said 43 percent of cities and towns have been awarded MVP funds, adding that 34 communities will get a combined $7.2 million over the next two years. In addition, Polito said $165 million has been earmarked for repairing dams and seawalls.

She said that in March, Baker filed a $1.4 billion environmental bond bill to solidify Executive Order 569 regarding climate change.

In addition, Polito said that since she and Baker took office on Jan. 8, 2015, there have been a series of rare, if not unprecedented, events related to climate change.

The first one was the winter of 2015 in which Greater Boston was buried under nine feet of snow, most of which fell between Jan. 26 and March 15. In 2016, the state was stuck in an “extreme” drought for the first time. More recently, Polito said Massachusetts has contended with four Nor’easters and the Polar Vortex.

“Every year, there was some major climate event,” she said.

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