Climate Ready Boston heard from Charlestown about their ideas for building resilience in their neighborhood.

Areas in Charlestown face current and growing risks from coastal flooding and sea level rise. We're working to find ways to stop these flooding pathways, and asked the community for their input and local knowledge to help identify the best solutions. We recently hosted an open house event to educate residents about the coastal flooding risks, and some of the ways to protect and enhance Charlestown.

Overview of flood protection activity - The waterfront protection game asked participants to use a kit of parts to protect a stretch of hypothetical waterfront with a constrained budget. Protection took the form of wall, berm, elevated open space, and development. Protective measures had different abstract costs and development came with incentive credit to purchase non-development protection measures. All components of the kit of parts were considered to equally protect against flood events (including sea level rise) and to be equally adaptive. Otherwise, each component had different evaluation criteria for 5 other categories. Speech bubbles with comments include: “I am all for maximizing open-space options to enhance livability in Charlestown”, “Great game to visualize and walk-through city planning with great game lead”, “cool game!!”

The open house overviewed the current flooding risks in Charlestown, and provided a context for how the project is working alongside the Boston Transportation Department’s Rutherford Ave. and Sullivan Square Design Project. Next, we asked people about their general concerns in the neighborhood. Many people cited connectivity, flooding, development density, and access to healthcare as major areas of concern.

Our team then asked people to participate in a game to understand tradeoffs that often occur for coastal development and protection projects. Although hypothetical, it gives people an idea of how difficult it can be to balance a variety of options and priorities during development.

The open house ended with a station to gauge people’s interests in different kinds of waterfront elements. Many people preferred natural, ecosystem green spaces but are also open to seating and rows of trees.

You can read the full report about the open house here, and stay tuned for the final design solutions for both Charlestown and East Boston to be announced sometime this fall.


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