Mill Creek is Chelsea’s largest salt marsh habitat, and for years, it has also been the most polluted water body in the Mystic River Watershed.
But the tide looks to be turning for Mill Creek, thanks to the city’s partnerships with several local nonprofits and a recent influx of federal funds.
The city, through its department of housing and community development and in partnership with GreenRoots, the Mystic River Watershed Association, the North Suffolk Office of Resilience and Sustainability, and the Nature Conservancy are accelerating a comprehensive resilience
program around Mill Creek, in the face of the staggering effects of climate change. Along Mill Creek, the partnership is honing in on the segment of Mill Creek between Broadway and Chelsea Creek, grounded by racial and environmental equity.
Notably, the City, in concert with GreenRoots, MyRWA, and TNC has obtained a federal earmark, totaling $792,000, under the leadership of the city’s federal delegation.
“The City is grateful to Senators Markey and Warren, our state delegation, and Chelsea City Council for working together with us to marshal these critical resources,” said City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “These funds will allow us to accelerate efforts that would normally take a number of years, underscoring the urgency of addressing climate change.”
The federal earmark funding will enable the planning, design, and engineering of salt marsh restoration, water quality improvements, berm removal, and green infrastructure projects to reduce coastal flooding.
“Across the community, the intensifying impacts of climate change will acutely affect our most vulnerable residents, damage our environment, and gravely impact public health,” said Alex Train, Director of Housing and Community Development. “In spite of this daunting reality, the City is committed to diligently working to reduce coastal flooding, enhance water quality, and unlock waterfront access for residents, in partnership with GreenRoots and our partners.”
Throughout the design process, the partnership will work closely with residents and abutters to solicit input, receive guidance, and collaborate on public education. The design phase will produce fully engineered plans, cost estimates, and schedules, better positioning Chelsea to
obtain future state and federal grant funding for construction.
“Having worked closely with Chelsea residents, local businesses, and city officials for nearly 30 years, GreenRoots has transformed what once was a forgotten, contaminated environmental liability into what is Mill Creek today – a vibrant, ecologically rich, community asset that provides
much-needed green space, walking trails, and active parks for the environmental justice community of Chelsea,” said John Walkey, Director of Waterfront and Climate Justice Initiatives at GreenRoots. “Our restoration efforts have increased access to a cleaner Mill Creek from Locke Street to Broadway, and we look forward to continuing our focus to include the stretch from Broadway to Chelsea Creek.”
There was also more good news for Chelsea residents eager to see Mill Creek as a thriving environmental resiliency and recreation area.
Building on efforts to expand waterfront open space, the city, once again through its Department of Housing and Community Development and in partnership with GreenRoots, the North Suffolk Office of Resilience and Sustainability, and the Mystic River Watershed Association, successfully completed the acquisition of 88 Clinton St. and initiated the creation of a new public waterfront park.
Earlier this month, the City Council appropriated $875,000 for the new park. Of this, $321,426 will be reimbursed through a grant secured through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The partnership also obtained $182,021 through the MassTrails Program to design a boardwalk, connecting the park to Broadway.
“We’re pleased to begin the design of this new waterfront park that will be an asset for residents, while combatting the effects of climate change,” said Ambrosino. “We’re grateful to the City Council, CPC, and our state and federal partners, particularly the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Division of Conservation Services, for swiftly deploying the resources necessary to realize this unprecedented opportunity.”
Overlooking Mill Creek, the vacant property will be repurposed as an intergenerational passive park that provides a reprieve from the scoring summertime heat for residents.
“We are thrilled to partner once again with the City of Chelsea to not only create a new park space, but a new point of access to the Mill Creek area, along Clinton Street,” said Roseann Bongiovanni, Executive Director of GreenRoots.