City Receives Grant to Tackle Climate Hazards, Prepare for Climate Change Consequences

Building on its commitment to creating a more climate change resilient Commonwealth, the Baker-Polito Administration last week announced $21 million in grants to cities and towns including two grants for Chelsea through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program.  The grants were earmarked for Battery Storage System and Solar at Chelsea City Hall, and a shared grant with Everett for Island End River Flood Resilience Project. Commenting on the grants, Alex Tain,AICP, Director of Housing and Community Development in Chelsea said, “Indisputably, climate change is intensifying, posing countless risks to our community, particularly our most vulnerable residents,” said Alex Train, AICP, Director of Housing & Community Development. “With these unparalleled investments by the MVP Program, we’re able to advance these important flood protection and energy resilience projects, in partnership with the Mystic River Watershed Association and GreenRoots.” 

A summary of the local projects that were submitted to the state for the grants are as follows:

Island End River 

Coastal storm surge and flooding is projected to increase in severity and frequency over the coming decade. Presently, the City is overseeing the design, engineering, and permitting activities for a flood protection system along the Island End River Project. Consisting of the restoration of a degraded salt marsh, installation of a flood barrier, and expansion of the riverwalk, the project seeks to safeguard local neighborhoods and critical industry. 

In total, the Cities of Chelsea and Everett have secured $714,500 to advance final design activities in Everett. Previously, the City utilized a MVP grant to support design efforts on the Chelsea side of the project area, which has been completed. By the end of the fiscal year, the Cities aim to complete design efforts in Everett and begin the permitting process for the regional system.

Community MicroGrid

Extreme storms, heat, and flooding also pose a severe risk to residents, businesses, and government operations, due to the vulnerabilities of our electric grid. The City and community based organizations have obtained $624,000 further the energy resilience of City Hall and local affordable housing. This funding will allow the City to advance the planning, design, and installation of solar panels and energy storage systems at City Hall and the Police Station. 

Envisioned by RUN-GJC, a local environmental justice coalition, GreenRoots, and the City, the project would represent the first part of a larger community-owned microgrid network. When the electric grid experiences power outages, a microgrid network would function as an island, providing access to power. The project would enable the City to continue limited operations during power outages, promote the adoption of clean energy, and reduce carbon emissions.  

Fidel Maltez, Commissioner of Public Works  said about the necessity of these grants, “As extreme storms become more frequent and severe, Chelsea will bear the brunt of climate impacts,” acknowledged . Climate change will increase flooding, interrupt power service, and affect a range of vital services, such as healthcare and emergency response. These projects represent a major step toward community-led energy resilience, in conjunction with GreenRoots and RUN-GJC. ” 

To date, this brings total awards through the MVP program to over $65 million. The grant program, which was created in 2017 as part of Governor Charlie Baker’s Executive Order 569, provides communities with funding and technical support to identify climate hazards, develop strategies to improve resilience, and implement priority actions to adapt to climate change. The grants are in addition to the Administration’s proposal to invest $900 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into key energy and environmental initiatives, including $300 million to support climate resilient infrastructure.

“With the ongoing success of the MVP program, we are pleased to double the program’s funding this year to support local climate change resilience projects throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Massachusetts communities are implementing important, nation-leading efforts to adapt to climate change. Our Administration is committed to working with municipalities across the Commonwealth to tackle these urgent challenges, which is why we have proposed a significant increase in funding for climate adaptation projects through our federal ARPA spending plan.”

“The MVP program is a vital tool in our efforts to prepare and strengthen our coastal and inland communities to address the impacts of climate change,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are thrilled to welcome 16 new towns to the program as they take important steps in planning for the future, and to award funding to 66 priority implementation projects that range from upgrading or removing high-risk dams and culverts to investing in Environmental Justice communities.”

Through this latest round of funding, 93% of Massachusetts cities and towns, or 328 municipalities, are now enrolled in the MVP program. The program pairs local leadership and knowledge with a significant investment of resources and funding from the Commonwealth to address ongoing climate change impacts, such as inland flooding, storms, sea level rise, and extreme temperatures. Of these funds, $20.6 million was awarded to 66 cities, towns, or regional partnerships to implement projects that build local resilience to climate change in the Commonwealth’s fifth round of MVP Action Grant funding. Additionally, $400,000 was awarded to 16 towns to pursue a community led planning process to identify vulnerabilities to climate change and priority actions. When complete, these municipalities will be eligible for the next round of implementation funding.

“The MVP program has been recognized as a national model for building climate resiliency through strong state and local partnerships, and we are proud to have enrolled 93% of the municipalities in Massachusetts in this critical effort,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Every region in Massachusetts experienced extreme weather throughout the summer, including excessive heat, record precipitation, and flooding, and the MVP program offers vital technical and financial assistance to help municipalities address vulnerabilities and create stronger, more liveable climate resilient communities.”

The $21 million announced will go towards MVP Planning Grants and Action Grants. Planning Grants support communities in working with a state-certified technical assistance provider to lead a community-wide planning workshop to identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, develop adaptation actions, and prioritize next steps. Results of the workshops and planning efforts inform existing local plans, grant applications, and policies. Communities are then eligible for competitive MVP Action Grant funding to implement priority on-the-ground projects. Projects are focused on proactive strategies to address climate change impacts and may include retrofitting and adapting infrastructure, actions to invest in and protect environmental justice communities and improve public health, detailed vulnerability assessments or design and engineering studies, stormwater upgrades, dam retrofits and removals, culvert upgrades, drought mitigation, energy resilience, and projects that focus on implementing nature-based solutions such as wetland restoration and floodplain protection.

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