There are times in the heat of the summer that the surface temperatures in Chelsea can reach 140 degrees – and routinely the concrete and asphalt surfaces in the City register 75 percent higher temperatures than the air.
It is known as the “heat island” effect and Chelsea is one of the most susceptible to the problem, said Planner Alex Train. To combat that, Train announced it had received a $262,996 Municipal Vulnerability Program grant to mitigate urban heat islands.
Train said the end result will be to create five projects in the most affected areas of the City that can act as refuges or combat the islanding effect.
“We’ve been grappling with urban heat for quite some time,” he said. “In 2017, we worked with the Trust for Public Lands. In their work, they found that surface temperatures in Chelsea were at 140 degrees. In all areas of the city, surface temperatures were 75 percent higher than air temperatures.”
Some of the major problems include the fact that there is a lot of asphalt, concrete is everywhere, many of the buildings are older and made of masonry and play areas are often hardscape. All of it builds up to create the heat island.
Meanwhile, Train said GreenRoots and the Boston University School of Public Health have teamed up in separate work to collect more data to help map the island effect as well.
“A lot of what we’ve found is this disproportionately affects communities of color,” said Train. “The hottest parts of Chelsea are also the most socio-economically challenged parts of the city.”
Using data gathered, they will prioritize those parts of the city that have registered much hotter temperatures. Then they will begin looking at some of the projects with the community. The projects could include streetscape changes, white roofs on municipal buildings and others, and maybe pocket parks.
The grant will require two years of planning, with projects in place by June 2022.
•MILL CREEK IMPROVEMENTS
In other environmental news, the City has received a Coastal Zone Management Coastal Resilience Grant of $74,000 with GreenRoots and Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA). That grant will help fund the Mill Creek Restoration Plan.
“One of the sections behind Beth Israel has been in the works for quite a while,” he said.
That area, which is just up from the new Holiday Inn hotel, is subject to flooding and erosion issues that clog up the Creek with sediment.
“There is a lot of erosion that occurs there now and it contributes to flooding,” he said. “We see this as a way to end the flooding and also put up a park residents can enjoy.”
The major issues in that area are run off from Rt. 1 and Rt. 16 that goes directly into the Creek, and also sediment that gets trapped in the Creek and blocks saltwater from getting in, and fresh water from getting out.