State funds target resiliency planning for Newburyport, Amesbury, Newbury

Courtesy photoAmesbury Mayor Kassandra Gove speaks at a ceremony releasing the state’s MVP Action Grant awards in New Bedford this week. Seated, from left, Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and MVP Manager Kara Runsten.

Amesbury, Newburyport and Newbury will receive more than $300,000 in state money to help the communities prepare for the effects of rising sea levels and climate change.

The Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program provides support for municipalities to begin the process of planning for climate change resiliency and starting priority projects.

The Baker administration announced Wednesday that Amesbury will receive a $37,500 MVP grant, Newburyport will get $71,160 and Newbury will receive $126,324.

Newburyport and Newbury also will receive $217,451 to evaluate management options for Plum Island. 

In a press release, Amesbury Mayor Kassandra Gove said her city’s $37,500 grant will be used to update its open space and recreation plan.

“It’s exciting that Amesbury will receive funding to research and update our open space and recreation plan,” Gove said. “I was involved in the MVP certification process when I was executive director of the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce, and I know how important our open spaces are to Amesbury’s residents. It’s imperative that we put in the work now to ensure that future generations will get to use and enjoy these spaces as we have.”

Tom Barrasso, Amesbury’s director of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said in the release, “I’ll be working closely with a variety of city agencies as well as our partner, BSC Group (an engineering firm), to inject climate resiliency into our open space and recreation plan. We’ll be looking at how open space plays a role in absorption of water, how water plays a role in our community, among other things.”

Newburyport’s grant will be spent on ways the wastewater treatment plant, underground electric lines and Clipper City Rail Trail can handle future sea level rise and storm surge in the South End, where the treatment plant and portion of the rail trail are located.

Newbury was awarded $126,324 for upgrading the culvert at Orchard Street to benefit public safety, flood resilience and the ecology of the area. The project includes surveying and data collection, engineering, hydraulic analysis and geotechnical investigation.

Both Newburyport and Newbury were also granted $217,451 in state funds to perform a public costs and benefits analysis in order to evaluate management options for the future of Plum Island.

The analysis is designed to identify any future conditions when costs are expected to outweigh benefits and allow the two municipalities to form a basis for making key public service and infrastructure decisions.

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