When President Biden signed the FY2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law on December 29, 2022, the $1.7 trillion spending bill included nine grants for Resilient Mystic Collaborative (RMC) cities and towns totaling almost $13 million. These earmarks bring the total grant funding for RMC community projects to $30.4 million since its founding in 2018. For each of the last two federal budgets, Congresswomen Clark and Pressley and Congressman Moulton were able to secure multiple Community Project Funding for projects with demonstrated local support that fit within specific existing federal grant programs. These grants included four for RMC communities in FY2022, and nine in FY2023. “We couldn’t be more grateful to Congresswomen Katherine Clark and Ayanna Pressley and Congressman Seth Moulton and their staff for securing such robust funding for our communities,” said Patrick Herron, executive director of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), which staffs the RMC. “These investments will make our cities and towns safer, more equitable, and more beautiful.”
“Since its beginnings the Resilient Mystic Collaborative has been focused on projects that make a difference for the people most affected by climate change," said John Walkey, Director of Waterfront & Climate Justice Initiatives at local non-profit GreenRoots. “It’s why GreenRoots is so excited to support and partner with the RMC and its members to help secure almost $14 million in federal grants to fund these projects.”
Each of the municipalities that championed these climate resilient projects is a founding member of the Resilient Mystic Collaborative, a watershed-wide voluntary partnership focused on regional climate resilience. Convened by MyRWA in September 2018 and led by senior staff from 20 cities and towns and non-governmental partners, the RMC focuses on managing flooding and extreme heat on a regional scale and increasing the resilience of our most vulnerable residents and workers to extreme weather. These projects are the result of years of analysis and design by both individual communities and multiple municipalities working collectively.
The list of FY2023 Community Project grants secured by Resilient Mystic Collaborative communities is summarized below, followed descriptions and related quotes for each, in order of appearance in the table.
Mystic River Path Project
Malden River Works Project
Carr Park Resilient Community Solar Project
Riverside Climate Resiliency Project
Hurld Park Construction Project
Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure for Cambridge Residents
Gateway Park Urban Forest/Wetland Restoration
Cooling Urban Heat Islands through Enhancing Urban Forests
Maillet, Sommes, Morgan Stormwater System
Congresswoman Clark secured funding for climate resilient projects in Arlington, Malden, Medford, Revere, and Woburn.
Arlington: Mystic River Path Project ($1,000,000)This funding will be used to design the Mystic River Path to the Minuteman Bikeway trail, a 1.7-mile shared-use path along the Mystic River and Lower Mystic Lake in Arlington, MA. It will link the northern end of the Alewife Brook Greenway to the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington Center and improve safety and access for people walking and biking by adding a 12-foot-wide path along the waterways and redesigning the rotaries at major intersections. “This grant will help us link the Minuteman Bikeway to the Mystic River Greenway by completing the design for a 1.7 mile shared-use path connecting the two,” said Arlington Town Manager Sandy Pooler. “This is a key link in a larger network that will allow pedestrians and cyclists to safety travel from Woburn and Bedford all the way into Boston without having to interact with cars.”
"We are delighted to see funding to connect these two major bikeways," said Phil Goff, founder and co-chair of Everywhere Arlington Livable Streets Coalition. "This will allow more people to commute to work safely, and improve access from Medford Square and the parks along the Mystic River to the Minuteman Bikeway and Arlington Center."
Malden: Malden River Works Project ($1,334,610)This funding will be used to transform Malden’s Department of Public Works yard on the Malden River to incorporate a public, climate-resilient riverfront park. It will reduce the City’s climate vulnerability by building green stormwater infrastructure to reduce surface flood risk, increasing the tree canopy by planting over 100 new trees to mitigate urban heat island effects, restoring the natural riverfront landscape, and building an elevated greenway path to serve as a flood barrier in the event of sea-level rise.
"The Malden River Works Steering Committee is inclusive of the diverse Malden population and under-represented communities of color." said Marcia Manong, Steering Committee chairperson. "Our project will help reduce the City’s climate vulnerability by building green stormwater infrastructure to reduce surface flood risk, increasing the tree canopy by planting over 200 new trees and bushes to mitigate urban heat island effects, restoring the natural riverfront landscape, and building an elevated greenway path to serve as a flood barrier in the event of sea-level rise. We wish to thank all for the effort put forward to ensure that this community-driven project was included in the Community Project earmarks."
“Addressing the legacy of environmental racism is an important part of our response to climate change,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, “and that is what we are doing with the Malden River Works project. It represents a new planning approach for Malden that focuses on elevating the voices of marginalized community members to build a climate-resilient park on the Malden River. The funding secured by our federal delegation will play an important role in the eventual success of Malden River Works.”
Medford: Carr Park Resilient Community Solar Project ($1,5000,000)The funding will be used for the implementation of an innovative resilient community solar park at Medford’s Carr Park, including a solar PV array over the basketball court and potentially the seating pavilion which will power the EV charging stations, new LED lighting and phone and laptop charging stations in the pavilion and the water features in the playground. Any additional renewable electricity will power a nearby fire station. “The Carr Park project is an example of creative community resilience at its best,” said Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. “Our community asked for a covered basketball court so they could play year-round. By making this an elevated solar project, we are meeting their needs while greening our municipal electricity.”
“With limited funds and seemingly unlimited needs, we need to make every dollar count twice,” said resident Georgiana Chevry. “These solar panels will benefit residents in many ways, by making the grid more resilient, and by providing physical shade so people can continue to exercise outdoors during increasingly hot summers, in the rain and even the snow. Increased exercise will help improve the mental health of our community as well.”
Revere: Riverside Climate Resiliency Project ($1,977,220)The funding will alleviate current conditions and prepare the community for the impact of worsening risks of climate change and sea-level rise. It expands mitigation and adaptation efforts in the RiverFront Area in Revere. “As a community located outside the shelter of Boston Harbor we get the brunt of increasingly intense winter storms,” said Revere Mayor Brian M. Arrigo. “This funding will help us manage coastal flooding in our Riverfront neighborhood.”
“The frequent flooding of the Riverside neighborhood due to sea level rise has reached a critical juncture,” said resident Loretta LaCentra. “Our worst-case scenario has become a common event as we dread reports of upcoming flooding and King Tides. We need immediate attention and remediation to address the multiple flooding events we experience annually. We cannot wait any longer.”
Woburn: Hurld Park Construction Project ($2,916,370)This project will redevelop an 11.5 acre former school site, including eight acres of natural stream and wetlands and 3.5 acres of upland area including a former school building, parking area, and grassed areas. The project will reestablish the Cummings Brook floodplain; restore existing brook and wetlands, including invasive plant removal; construct a new wetland for water quality; install accessible boardwalks and walking trails; remove the former school building and parking area; and install an active play area, a community garden and landscaping. “We are frankly overwhelmed by the support we’ve had from both the federal and state government to make the Hurld Park project a reality.” said Mayor Scott Galvin and Alderman Jeff Dillon. “This funding will make a meaningful difference in managing both local and downstream flooding during extreme rainstorms.”
"I love this project," said neighbor Jimmy Olson. "This is like being told to eat your spinach and it turns out to be delicious. We had to do something about this chronic flooding, but we're also getting a great park out of it."
Congresswoman Pressley secured climate resilient funding in Cambridge, Everett, and for the Mystic River Watershed Association.
Cambridge: Neighborhood EV Charging Infrastructure for Cambridge Residents ($1,000,000)A barrier to electric vehicle adoption in Cambridge is the lack of reliable, convenient, and affordable EV charging. This funding will expand the network of EV charging available in the public right of way to ensure equitable access to the benefits of EVs, including lower costs for individual vehicle owners, and improved local air quality for the community.
“Cambridge is working hard to transition away from fossil fuels,” said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. “Expanding the city’s network of publicly available EV charging stations will lower costs for individual vehicle owners and improve air quality for everyone.”
Everett: Gateway Park Urban Forest/Wetland Restoration ($750,000)This funding will help support the restoration of a degraded 14-acre waterfront parcel of land and create a rare public open space for low-income BIPOC residents in the environmental justice community of Everett. This project will remove invasive plants and other debris, reconstruct a forested coastal wetland area as a habitat and for stormwater management, reforest with native trees and other perennials, install environmental education signage in a broad range of languages, and construct a pedestrian boardwalk throughout the site. “For as long as I can remember, the wetlands portion of Gateway Park has been neglected and overgrown,” said Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “This grant will help us restore wildlife habitat and bring residents in an environmental justice community closer to nature along the Malden River and Boston Harbor waterfront.”
“Everett is in desperate need of healthy open space,” said Josee Genty from Everett Community Growers. “The two largest green areas in the city are the cemetery and Rt 16’s median strip. We can’t wait to see Gateway Park finished.”
Mystic River Watershed Association: Cooling Urban Heat Islands through Enhancing Urban Forests in Greater Boston’s Mystic River Watershed ($400,000)This funding will help mitigate the dangers of climate-driven extreme heat in vulnerable environmental justice communities including Everett, Chelsea and East Boston. The program will support the implementation of local urban forestry plans (including the planting of 750 trees), while training youth, reentry citizens and others to perform the horticulture activities needed to establish and maintain urban trees."This funding allows us to partner with communities to cool off some of the hottest neighborhoods in our watershed that currently have very few parks, trees, or other cooling amenities," said David Queeley, deputy director for projects at the Mystic River Watershed Association. "These same neighborhoods are where many low-income BIPOC residents live due to past redlining practices and crushingly high housing prices elsewhere. Helping vulnerable residents stay safe lowers hospitalization rates and medical costs. If we can help cool off the hottest streets, or even whole neighborhoods, why wouldn't we?"
Finally, Congressman Moulton secured a $2 million grant for Reading.
Reading: Maillet, Sommes, Morgan Stormwater System ($2,000,000)This project will restore wetlands on town conservation land, provide significant new stormwater storage capacity, protect habitat for native species, and create walking trails. “With this funding, the Town will complete wetland restoration and build green infrastructure that will reduce flooding in our community as well as communities downstream.” said Town Manager Fidel Maltez. The Maillet, Sommes, Morgan resource area will provide passive recreation opportunities to our residents, including an abutting environmental justice neighborhood. Thank you to our federal dedication, our dedicated staff, and our partners at the Resilient Mystic Collaborative who are making this project a reality.”
"As a climate professional, I know how critical nature based solutions are for flood and heat resilience, said Katie Kemen, director of climate resilience services at BSC Group. "As a Reading resident, I visit this park often and love using it to teach my young children about the environment. I can't wait to see its improvements."
Mystic River Watershed at a GlanceThe 76-square-mile Mystic River Watershed stretches from Reading through the northern shoreline of Boston Harbor to Revere. An Anglicized version of the Pequot word missi-tuk (“large river with wind- and tide-driven waves”), it is now one of New England’s most densely populated, urbanized watersheds. The seven-mile Mystic River and its tributaries represented an early economic engine for colonial Boston. Ten shipyards built more than 500 clipper ships in the 1800s before roads and railways replaced schooners and steamships. Tide-driven mills, brickyards and tanneries along both banks of the river brought both wealth and pollution.
In the 1960s, the Amelia Earhart Dam transformed much of the river into a freshwater impoundment, while construction of Interstate 93 filled in wetlands and dramatically changed the river’s course. Since then, many former industrial sites have been cleaned up and redeveloped into new commercial areas and residential communities. The Mystic is facing growing climate-related challenges: coastal and stormwater flooding, extreme storms, heat, drought and unpredictable seasonal weather. The watershed is relatively low-lying and extensively developed, making it prone to both freshwater and coastal flooding. Its 21 municipalities are home to 600,000 residents, including many who are disproportionately vulnerable to extreme weather: environmental justice communities, new Americans, residents of color, elders, low-income residents and employees, people living with disabilities and English-language learners.
Released by Resilient Mystic Collaborative