Winthrop Benefits From State’s New MVP Grants

Last week, Governor Maura Healey’s announcement of $31.5 million in FY2024 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grants included nearly $5.7 million in funding for community-designed projects to prevent harm to residents, workers, and resources in Resilient Mystic Collaborative (RMC) cities and towns, including Winthrop. 

Convened by ten Mystic Watershed communities and the Mystic River Watershed Association in September 2018 and now 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 vulnerable residents and workers to extreme weather.

“Winthrop is excited to announce that it received a $291,076 grant to design and permit a nature-based project to manage coastal flooding coming in from Belle Isle Marsh,’” said Rachel Kelly, the town’s Director of Planning and Development. “This funding is a step toward protecting one of Winthrop’s most flood-prone residential neighborhoods.”

These MVP grants bring the total resources secured for climate resilient projects to $61.4 million in state, federal, and foundation grants since the voluntary partnership began, with the goal of at least doubling that amount by 2026, when new federal grant programs begin to sunset.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to position Massachusetts as a global leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the MVP program is an important piece of our strategy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “The Healey-Driscoll Administration is glad to support our local communities with funding for innovative climate resilience projects that center environmental justice and nature-based solutions.”

The largest MVP grant—nearly $3 million—went to Malden River Works (MRW), a riverfront park led and designed by environmental justice residents in partnership with the City of Malden’s Department of Public Works.

The 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.

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