Select Board talks climate change

Climate change may affect the Massachusetts coastal landscape.

After hearing warnings of rising sea levels and reminders of storm surge levels that flooded parts of Milton in 2018, William Golden, a former state senator, urged the Select Board to join with a regional group to address those two separate issues connected to climate change.

“Sea level rise and storm surge are coming and they are coming fast,” said Golden, a founder of the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure (NICHI).

Golden invited Milton to get in on the ground level of the formation of a municipal regional coalition focused on coming up with a layered defense to the problems caused by global warming.

This would likely include barriers to deal with the anticipated sea level that Golden said is generally anticipated to rise by four feet on the East Coast by the end of the century.

“There are 15 cities and towns that flood through Boston Harbor, and Milton is one of them,” he said. “These storms don’t respect regional boundaries. The flooding doesn’t respect regional boundaries. It is regional in nature. To address this, we need a regional solution.”

Select Board members asked for time to gather more information about NICHI’s approach and determine whether Milton wants to foot an opt-in cost of roughly $10,000 that Golden also requested.

Select Board member Richard Wells, who took part in an earlier meeting on the issue, said that Milton has about 2.2 miles of coastline that extends along the Neponset River, and well remembers how Milton Landing, Granite Avenue, and other areas of town were affected by the storms in March 2018.

“I clearly understand why you’re here,” he told Golden. “You’re taking on something big.”

Select Board Secretary Tony Farrington agreed that anything that could mitigate the storm issues from 2018 is worth exploring.

“I really want to understand this group and its intentions,” he said. At the same meeting, town Environmental Coordinator Hillary Waite announced Milton’s receipt of a $30,000 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) planning grant that will allow the community to hold two listening sessions and a workshop to identify opportunities to take action to reduce risk and build resilience in light of climate change.

The study would take into account public health risks from disease and the need to deal with increased temperatures.

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