Federal funds will support the protection of Moakley Park and surrounding areas from coastal flooding due to climate change

BOSTON – Tuesday, June 28, 2022- Today, Mayor Michelle Wu joined Congressman Stephen Lynch, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, Boston City Council President, Councilor Ed Flynn, Sarah White, Director of Resilience, MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and Fred Lasky, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) to announce a $2.2 million federal pre-disaster mitigation (PDM) earmark grant to protect critical infrastructure and residents in South Boston and Dorchester from the impacts of climate change. This earmark will be used to complete all planning, design, and permitting for key climate resilience projects on City- and State-owned lands located on either side of Moakley Park, building upon the City’s on-going work within Moakley Park focused on climate resilience. This funding was secured in the House of Representatives by Congressman Lynch and by Senator Warren and Senator Markey in the Senate.

This $2.2 million climate resilience project received through support from Boston’s Congressional delegation helps deliver on Mayor Wu’s vision of a Green New Deal. It also represents a unique and critical partnership between all levels of government to move forward on climate resilience infrastructure investments in an environmental justice community. The project builds on years of community engagement with residents around related efforts led by the City and will help prepare additional areas of Boston for the effects of climate change.

“For decades, Moakley Park has connected Dorchester and South Boston, bringing together residents from across our city and state,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m grateful to Congressman Lynch, Senator Warren and Senate Markey for this incredible victory and important step forward at Moakley Park for our city, our climate and communities.”

“By proactively addressing the damaging potential of sea level rise at Moakley Park, South Boston is setting a shining example for coastal communities throughout our Nation and building on the legacy of my predecessor, Congressman Joe Moakley, who grew up in the nearby Mary Ellen McCormack Apartments and worked tirelessly to preserve Boston’s coastline,” Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said. “I am proud to have secured a $1.65 million earmark for Moakley Park in the House version of the 2022 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which will be used to strengthen climate resilience and protect the 1,700 low-income families who live in the Mary Ellen McCormack Apartments and the Anne M. Lynch Homes at Old Colony. Along with Senator Warren, Senator Markey, and Mayor Wu, I am grateful for the support of the Mary Ellen McCormack Tenant Task Force and our local partners in state and local government—State Senator Nick Collins, State Representative David Biele, City Council President Ed Flynn, and City Councilors Michael Flaherty and Frank Baker—whose strong advocacy for the Moakley Park project was essential to securing this funding.”

“Moakley Park floods too regularly – and climate change is making flooding more frequent and severe. I’m glad to join Senator Markey, Congressman Lynch and Mayor Wu in celebrating the federal funds secured for this critical project. I’ll keep fighting for federal funds to invest in climate resilience efforts in Massachusetts,” said Senator Warren.

“The families of South Boston deserve public parks and lands that are made more resilient to extreme weather and a changing climate so that public workers and visitors alike can continue to enjoy these spaces for years to come,” said Senator Ed Markey. “I am proud to have worked alongside my colleagues to secure federal funding that will pave the way for these climate resilience projects and bring this great city one step closer to realizing its Climate Ready Boston agenda.”

As a coastal city, Boston continues to prepare for the impacts of climate change, including rising seas and more intense storms through our Climate Ready Boston initiative. Boston prepares for major coastal storms under future conditions of around forty inches of sea level rise, which is expected by the 2070’s, given current greenhouse gas emissions. The area of Boston at and adjacent to Moakley Park is a flood entry point, which is an area of the city that would become the front line of water entering deep into Boston all the way to Roxbury, if flood protection is not built.

This year, the City of Boston submitted a $34 million proposal to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to design and construct flood protection within Moakley Park. This submission builds on work led by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to outline and deliver on a $250 million vision for a complete redesign of the park. Additionally, the City submitted a $2.2 million proposal to MEMA and FEMA for the earmark being celebrated today to plan and design additional flood protection adjacent and connected to flood protection within Moakley Park to extend the area of protection across more of the neighborhood in the long term.

This earmark focuses on protection of the broader community of residents in South Boston and Dorchester, as well as critical regional infrastructure, including the Columbus Park Headworks owned by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. Columbus Park Headworks handles a large portion of the City’s wastewater, as well as the Massachusetts State Police Station South Boston located on land managed by the Massachusetts Department of Recreation and Conservation.

“MWRA is proud to be a part of this great initiative. Everybody talks about climate change, but it’s great to be a part of a team that is actively working on solutions,” said Fred Laskey, MWRA’s Executive Director. “The beaches in South Boston are regarded as the cleanest urban beaches in the country. The Columbus Park Headworks project will protect the facilities that keep these beaches clean for all to enjoy.”

“The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) created the Office of Climate Resilience to address climate change, but we cannot tackle these issues alone which is why we are so pleased to be part of the mitigation efforts at Moakley Park,” said DCR Commissioner Doug Rice. “We applaud Mayor Wu and the City of Boston for taking the lead on this, and are proud to partner with all the agencies involved to preserve this popular beach and the community that surrounds it.”

Building on a City action within Moakley Park, this earmark will extend the area protected, while delivering partnership between the City, State, and federal government to protect residents, safeguard critical infrastructure, and improve safety and quality of life in Boston. The City of Boston is committed to preparing for the impacts of climate change such as flooding, sea level rise and extreme heat. Climate Ready Boston and the Boston Parks Department have developed coastal resilience solutions for Moakley ParkSouth Boston, and Dorchester, the areas most impacted by this funding, as well as Downtown and the North EndEast Boston, and Charlestown. Mayor Wu also announced the City of Boston’s first ever Heat Plan to better prepare Boston for hotter summers and more intense heat events.

Recently, Mayor Wu shared her administration’s first proposed budget which includes groundbreaking investments in climate action to create a more resilient and just city. These investments include $2.5 million for a new Climate Ready Streets program within Climate Ready Boston to deliver on heat resilience, stormwater management, and air quality on key transportation corridors, $20 million for a nation-leading pilot for energy retrofits in triple deckers and other multi-family homes while maintaining affordability, $2.5 million of ARPA funds to grow and preserve our urban tree canopy, and $137 million in capital funding, plus operating investments, to create and protect parks, the tree canopy, and open spaces in the city.

Image via Stoss

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