Town Manager Gives Update on Flood Mitigation Design and Planning

By Adam Swift

The town is continuing work on several fronts to address coastal flooding issues.

At last week’s Town Council meeting, prior to the latest winter storm on Tuesday, Town Manager Tony Marino updated the council on several town initiatives related to design work and flood mitigation efforts.

Marino said he and public works director Steve Calla recently reached out to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency about procuring some water pumps. Those pumps should be available soon at no cost to the town, he said.

The town is also going to use $50,000 so it can begin a survey of flooding issues in the Tilestone, Girdlestone, and Pico Avenue neighborhoods as part of a phased approach to addressing those issues.

“Thanks to Director Calla for that, for racing out to our engineering and getting that going,” said Marino.

The town is also continuing to work with consultants thanks to an MVP state grant to address flooding issues in the Morton and Banks streets area. A major option being considered there are living levees to help control the flooding.

“I’ve talked before about living levees and other ways to naturally protect from the flooding of the marshes and the ocean,” said Marino. “That’s going to require some cooperation with some of the neighbors near Morton and Banks where these houses back up to the marsh. If we don’t do the living levees, then the other option is to raise the grade of the street.”

Installing the living levees would not require raising the street, and would be the required elevation to protect against 100-year storms, Marino said. He added that there will be outreach and meetings with the neighbors to discuss the plans.

Once the design work is completed, Marino said the town would then look at the construction costs and steps moving forward.

The town has also applied for a $675,000 federal grant to help pay for flood mitigation design efforts. Marino said that funding request is currently in committee.

The town manager also addressed potential funding for larger scale projects once the design work is completed.

“We don’t want to take our reserve funds and drain them down to do (the large projects), it is a drop in the bucket and won’t cover it,” said Marino. “What that does is it impacts our bonding.”

Marino said the first option to pay for the projects would be through grants, but if there are not enough grants available, there may be a need for a debt exclusion.

With the budgetary constraints on the town, Marino said that is why the administration aggressively seeks out grant funding to help cover the costs of the design and potential construction.

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