By Jordan Zimmermann and Philip Giffee
East Boston’s Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) continued its climate change initiative to tackle the impacts of issues of coastal flooding in a community workshop on May 18-19, 2018. The bilingual workshop kicked off with site tours of flood-prone areas of East Boston, led by youth. Teams for the workshop included community members, architects, landscape architects and civil engineers. ULI members and other design specialists, in collaboration with the community, assisted in developing solutions for an area of Boston prone to flooding.
Teams were assigned three areas of the neighborhood: Jeffries Point, Eagle Hill, and Orient Heights. The goal of the workshop was to come up with creative ideas for protecting vulnerable areas while considering the desires of community members.
The Orient Heights team identified areas of land that could accept water. This would allow areas to be prioritized and protected while other areas would be designed to flood. It was discussed that commercial areas are more accessible to relocate than residential, identifying some vulnerable commercial areas to be relocated to make room for flooding. Allowing water to enter specific areas would provide relief and protect residential areas.
The Eagle Hill team focused on the Shore Plaza Area, a subsidized housing development on the northwest corner of Eagle Hill facing Charlestown.
Proposal solutions included phased berms and walls along the waterfront, greenspace, and trees on Condor Street, and Water Transit. The phased berms would not eliminate access to the water but would provide an elevated green space for residents. Walls built from large rocks outside of the shoreline would minimize storm surge impact and long-term erosion.
The Jeffries Point team proposed redeveloping the Liberty Plaza site, protecting the neighborhood’s only grocery store and nearby Umana school as part of the project. Also, a phased proposal, the development would require private investment and community involvement in the implementation. The buildings would be pulled away from the shore, leaving space for a phased berm and community green space, while densifying the development for affordable housing, shopping, and other amenities accessible directly from Central Square. The team also proposed a floodable skate park on the waterfront of the school.
The work NOAH is doing to spread awareness and facilitate creative solutions for improved climate change resiliency is an example for other neighborhoods in Boston. ULI is pleased to continue supporting NOAH through their members.