Gov. Baker Re-files Bill to Protect: Communities From Dangerous Individuals

Gov. Baker Re-files Bill to Protect: Communities From Dangerous Individuals

Chelsea Chief Brian Kyes introduced Gov. Charlie Baker to a room of police chiefs from around the state during Tuesday’s meeting of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association. The meeting took place in Everett, and Gov. Baker made a major public safety policy announcement at the gathering in regard to criminal background checks. See Page 5 for more photos.

Standing alongside Chief Brian Kyes, Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday re-filed legislation to provide law enforcement and the courts with additional tools to ensure dangerous criminals are held in custody pending trial.

First filed on September 6, 2018, the proposal would expand the list of offenses that can provide grounds for a dangerousness hearing and close certain loopholes at the start and end of the criminal process that currently limit or prevent effective action to address legitimate safety concerns. Governor Baker made the announcement in Everett at the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association Meeting, an Association Chief Kyes is the leader of.

“Public safety is a fundamental responsibility of government and in order to fulfill that duty, we must allow local police and district attorneys to effectively deal with people who repeatedly break the law,” said Governor Baker. “Last session we enacted several provisions to ensure that a small lapse in judgment doesn’t ruin a life, and we must now give law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts the tools they need to keep our communities safe. We look forward to working with the Legislature to pass this important bill.”

The proposal will strengthen the ability of judges to enforce the conditions of pre-trial release by empowering police to detain people who they observe violating court-ordered release conditions; current law does not allow this, and instead requires a court to first issue a warrant.

“Loopholes in the current system limit or prevent effective action to address legitimate safety concerns,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This bill will empower law enforcement with the flexibility and tools they need to protect their communities from dangerous defendants.”

Under this proposal, judges will be empowered to revoke a person’s release when the offender has violated a court-ordered condition, such as an order to stay away from a victim, or from a public playground. Current law requires an additional finding of dangerousness before release may be revoked.

“A defendant’s past criminal history should absolutely be considered as a factor at any such dangerousness hearing rather than just the alleged crime that is currently before the court,” said Kyes, Chelsea Police Chief and President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs. “It is essential that in conducting a proper risk analysis in order to determine whether the defendant is to be considered a potential danger to any victim, witness or to the public in general, that their past criminal history – especially as it pertains to previous convictions for violent crimes – is considered and weighed based on its relevancy pertaining to a demonstrated propensity to commit violence. This bill will rectify the existing gap that currently occurs during a dangerousness hearing.”

The legislation also expands the list of offenses which can provide grounds for a dangerousness hearing including crimes of sexual abuse and crimes of threatened or potential violence. It also follows the long-standing federal model in including a defendant’s history of serious criminal convictions as grounds that may warrant a dangerousness hearing. Current law requires courts to focus only on the crime charged and ignore a defendant’s criminal history when determining whether the defendant may be the subject of this sort of hearing.

Additional provisions of this legislation:

•Improves the system for notifying victims of crimes of abuse and other dangerous crimes when a defendant is going to be released by creating clear lines of responsibility among police, prosecutors and corrections personnel to notify victims about an offender’s imminent release from custody, and create a six-hour window for authorities to inform a victim before an offender is allowed to be released.

•Creates a new felony offense for cutting off a court-ordered GPS device.

•Requires that the courts develop a text message service to remind defendants of upcoming court dates, reducing the chance they will forget and have a warrant issued for their arrest.

•Allows dangerousness hearings at any point during a criminal proceeding, rather than requiring a prosecutor to either seek a hearing immediately or forfeit that ability entirely, even if circumstances later arise indicating that the defendant poses a serious risk to the community.

•Requires that the probation department, bail commissioners and bail magistrates notify authorities who can take remedial action when a person who is on pre-trial release commits a new offense anywhere in the Commonwealth or elsewhere.

•Creates a level playing field for appeals of district court release decisions to the superior court by allowing appeals by prosecutors, in addition to defendants, and giving more deference to determinations made in the first instance by our district court judges.

•Creates a task force to recommend adding information to criminal records so that prosecutors and judges can make more informed recommendations and decisions about conditions of release and possible detention on grounds of dangerousness.

The legislation also closes loopholes at the start and end of the criminal process that currently limit or prevent effective action to address legitimate safety concerns. It extends the requirement that police take the fingerprints of people arrested for felonies to all people arrested, regardless of the charge, to ensure that decisions about release can be made with knowledge of a person’s true identity and full criminal history. It also allows, for the first time, bail commissioners and bail magistrates to consider dangerousness in deciding whether to release an arrestee from a police station when court is out of session.

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Chief Kyes Named First-Ever Chief of the Year

Chief Kyes Named First-Ever Chief of the Year

The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association has named Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes as its Chief of the Year

Police Chief Brian Kyes has been selected as the first-ever Chief of the Year by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
The announcement came this week, and added to two other recent accolades for Kyes

the first-ever such award handed out by the organization.

This week, the executive board of the organization announced that Kyes was the recipient of the award, particularly for his advocacy in getting the municipal police training fund passed last summer.

“The Executive Board of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association is pleased to announce that the first recipient of the ‘Chief of the Year’ Award is Chief Brian A. Kyes of the Chelsea Police Department,” read the announcement. “Chief Kyes serves as the Chair of the Mass. Chief’s Legislative Committee, as well as being the President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association, a member of the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and a member of the Municipal Police Training Committee. Chief Kyes was instrumental in advancing our legislative efforts towards a dedicated funding source for the training of municipal police officers in Massachusetts, which culminated with Governor Charlie Baker signing into law House Bill 4516…”

The award carries a $500 donation from the association to the charity of the recipient’s choice. In this case, Kyes has chosen The Jimmy Fund as the charity.

“I was notified last week that I also have received the first annual Police Chief of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association,” said Kyes. “I am incredibly humbled by this recognition and am honored to recently have received three awards, which all mean a great to deal to me and my family. The last month or so has been pretty good for me and the Chelsea Police Department in terms of some nice totally unexpected recognitions.”

On Oct. 29, Kyes received the Gregory A. Madera Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys at the Law Offices on Mintz & Associates. On Nov. 30, Kyes also received the Law Enforcement Person of the Year Award from the North East Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council Foundation (NEMLEC) at the Four Oaks Country in Dracut.

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State Athletics Organization Honors Chelsea High Senior Yarid Deras

State Athletics Organization Honors Chelsea High Senior Yarid Deras

Cross Country standout Yarid Deras may not talk much about her achievements, but the senior Chelsea High scholar-athlete has plenty of others to tout her accomplishments.

Aside from her coaches and Athletic Director Amanda Alpert, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has also honored her.

On Nov. 14, at the MIAA Recognition Breakfast, Deras was named the Commonwealth Athletic Conference’s Female award recipient. It’s an honor she will add to being the upper division league MVP this year in Cross Country.

“It’s very surprising to me how fast four years have gone,” she said. “I didn’t start running until my freshman year. It was the first thing I really did my freshman year. I didn’t really think I would enjoy it. I enjoyed the team and not so much the running. The summer after my freshman year, something happened and I really learned to love the sport for what it is. I will definitely continue running after high school, maybe for a club team in college.”

Deras’s coach, Don Fay, had nothing but good things to say for his senior leader and league MVP.

“I have coached Yarid for the last four years,” he said. “She is one of the most impressive young ladies I have ever met.  Extremely smart, hard-working and competitive. She never misses practice, and never complains. Yarid is a truly nice, genuine person.”

Alpert said Deras is soft-spoken and very humble, always the last person to talk about any of her achievements.

Deras said the team is small, with about eight girls, but they are very competitive. She said over the years she has learned to be a leader, but that may not always come vocally.

“I think I don’t really lead vocally,” she said. “I don’t say much, but I think I lead by example. I don’t do much with words, but I set the example for the younger runners on my team. That’s how they have come to respect me as a leader.”

Even though she was this year’s league MVP, Deras said the highlight of her Cross Country career was last year when the team won the league meet and went undefeated for the entire season. Her sophomore year, she also won the league MVP and turned in an excellent 21.04 time in the 5K.

As a senior, she still has outdoor track to look forward to, and the Chelsea girls are also very strong in that sport as well. She said she will run the one-mile and two-mile races for the team.

She is currently looking at several colleges, including Smith College and Providence College.

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Study the Three Ballot Questions

Study the Three Ballot Questions

There are three questions on the ballot for the upcoming state election on Tuesday, November 6. The three are about as unrelated and disparate as one could imagine.

The first question asks voters to adopt a proposed new law that would require minimum staffing by nurses in every hospital in the state. We have to admit that when we started reading the full text of the very lengthy proposed new law, our eyes began to glaze over because of the use of terminology that may be common to doctors and nurses, but which means little to the rest of us.

However, what is clear is that those who proposed this question have a good idea of what they’re doing.

We doubt there is anyone who would dispute that nursing care in hospitals is critical for patients. It also is beyond dispute that avoidable mistakes in hospital care are a leading cause of death of patients in even the best hospitals.

In our view, this ballot question comes down to a cost/benefit analysis: Is the added cost of minimum staffing for nurses (and by the way, no one really knows what that dollar figure might be) worth the undisputed benefits for patient care?

Question 2 seeks to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit the spending by corporate entities. The amendment is designed to overturn the Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared unconstitutional the limits imposed by Congress on campaign spending by corporations.

In deciding this question, voters would do well to recall the words of Louis Brandeis, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

The only way to change Citizens United is to amend the Constitution — a drastic measure, no doubt .

Question 3 seeks approval of an already-existing state law, that was approved by the legislature in 2016, that bans discrimination against transgender persons. The law has been working well and is endorsed by many groups and organizations, including the Mass. Police Chiefs Association. A “Yes” vote keeps in place the current law.

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Hundreds Join Roca for Its 30th Anniversary Celebration Party

An outpouring of community love, relentlessness and transformation echoed around Park Street Wednesday as the region’s leaders joined hundreds of young people, the adults that love them and community partners in celebrating Roca’s deep impact the last three decades.

Roca’s participants, staff, alumni and partners came together for a night of live music and food to celebrate Roca’s 30th anniversary. Roca leaders thanked the community, its partners and allies in making such a difference in young people’s lives.

“I am in awe of all of you and all the young people we have met, had the honor of working with the last 30 years and all of the Roca team, our partners and this community who made all this relentlessness possible,” said Roca Founder and CEO Molly Baldwin.

At the event, Roca honored its Roca30 Unsung Hero Awardees, including state Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan, Youth Services Commissioner Peter Forbes, Boston Police Captain Haseeb Hosein, Chelsea Police Captain David Batchelor, Hampden County First Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Fitzgerald and Kim Hanton, director of diversionary addiction services at North Suffolk Mental Health Association.

“These seven individuals work on issues and for people who are well out of the headlines and far from the limelight because it’s the right thing and because it makes a difference,” said Baldwin. “They are truly unsung heroes.”

Featured speakers at the event were Jay Ash, secretary of housing and economic development under Gov. Charlie Baker, Harry Spence, the former Receiver of Chelsea and Massachusetts Court Administration and Eric Rodriguez, a founding Roca youth member and lead pastor of The Way Church.

The most special part of the evening came when Roca also honored seven youth participants as unsung heroes as well – seven young people whose lives have been upended by Roca’s relentless outreach, its transformative programs and its many partnerships.

Those young people are:

  • Joseph Acosta
  • Caralis Rosario Hernandez
  • Dakwam Johnson
  • Ana Mejia
  • Amauris Melendez
  • Gage Morrow
  • Dennis Rodriguez

Each of the speakers paused to honor Roca and its team, in particular the driving force of the last 30 years – Molly Baldwin. Ash, the former Chelsea City Manager, presented Baldwin with a award honoring her service and summed up the accollades of many by noting her personal relentlessness as an indisputable driver of Roca’s success.

“If not for Molly Baldwin, there are so many people who wouldn’t be where they are or even alive today,” said Ash. “Molly’s life of service and her relentlessness is an inspiration to us all.”

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License Commission Agrees to Continue Voluntary Ban on Small Liquor Bottles

License Commission Agrees to Continue Voluntary Ban on Small Liquor Bottles

One can raise a six-pack to the end of summer if they’re a legal-aged hardworking resident, but one will no longer be able to raise up a 250ml nip bottle due to a continuing voluntary ban by Chelsea liquor stores courtesy of the Chelsea License Commission.

The Chelsea Licensing commission met again on the topic of 250 mL alcohol bottles on Aug. 28 in the Chelsea Public Library to packed room of invested residents, owners, commissioners, and police. They were all there to address the contentious topic of permanently banning 100ml to 250ml bottles and single can/malt bottle beverages.

Following from the initial commission decision to employ a voluntary ban on the June 26, the rare Aug. 28 meeting was an update to see about further action.

Over the summer downtown stores stopped selling nips and voluntarily stopped selling other small bottles as well as two very low-cost liquor brands identified as problematic.

The meeting ended with the resulting community agreeing to maintain a voluntary ban of 100ml and 250ml bottles and new, agreed-upon stipulations for community liquor store owners. The agreement comes on the heels of escalating community tensions with what Chelsea Police have described as “50 or so” individuals who constantly perpetrate public intoxication and littering problems for Chelsea community residents and visitors.

“I can tell you [increasing nip littering] has definitely decreased,” said Chelsea Police Capt. Keith Houghton.

The Chelsea Police Department seemed confident in the immediate results they have witnessed in the following weeks of the proposed ban. However when questioned by License Chair Michael Rossi if the results could be quantified, the police shifted focus and explained they now require a three-hour alcohol safety course.

“I find it really hard to believe there have been no incidents of drunkenness [since the voluntary ban],” stated commission member Roseann Bongiovanni with open skepticism.

Bongiovanni wasn’t the only person in attendance that openly questioned the Police Department’s results and the lasting impression of the ban thus far. Robert Mellion, executive director of the Massachusetts Package Store Association, also made his case in the two minutes allotted for public hearings.

“Less restrictive means have completed your goals,” Mellion stated, continuing “There’s no wall around Chelsea.”

Multiple residents and store owners echoed Mellion’s sentiment, agreeing that a legal ban instead of a voluntary ban infringed upon the rights of residents to legally purchase alcohol and would not begin to fully cover the larger issue at hand, alcoholism. The general sentiment being that there was nothing to stop these individuals from getting the same banned 250 ml bottles from liquor stores in neighboring cities and towns.

Mellion addressed those in attendance by listing the critical steps the License Commission, store owners, and police department should collaborate on together. Accomplishing cooperation by employing a voluntary ban of 100ml bottles, establishing a alcohol beverage training course and certification for liquor store owners, maintaining a do not sell list for specific individuals, along with impeding sales to intoxicated buyers.

It was agreed by the Commission to maintain a voluntary ban instead of a permanent one, keying in on public sentiment to not overextend their legal rights over Chelsea residents’ ability to purchase alcohol and promote community agreement and turnout to these meetings.

The training course has already been attended by all 12 local liquor stores, of which 25 individuals from these stores achieved the needed passing score of 75 or better. The Police Department also stated that seven individuals scored a 100.

The voluntary ban itself has not been enough to assuage some residents’ concerns, though. Edon Coimbra, owner of Ciao! Pizza and Pasta, was not content with the decision to tackle part of what he sees as the bigger problem.

“What are you going to do protect us?” Coimbra questioned, adding, “I cannot be dealing with the same individuals every day.”

The Comission had no response for a full blown initiative in tackling persistent alcoholism in Chelsea, and the voluntary ban will have to be measured through quantitative metrics that Rossi and Bongiovanni both identified a need for.

Alcoholism remains the bigger problem to many local residents like Coimbra who must deal with intoxicated individuals loitering near his restaurant on a daily basis, leaving his restaurant and other areas reliant on police assistance for these incidents.

The Commission will take up the issue again in three months.

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Advocacy Group Produces Study Showing Roadmap to Fix Chelsea School Funding

Advocacy Group Produces Study Showing Roadmap to Fix Chelsea School Funding

A state budget advocacy organization – Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center – has released a report this week detailing a five-year roadmap to fix the state’s education funding crisis – a plan that would require $888 million over five years and mean $21 million more in state funding per year for Chelsea Schools.

Colin Jones of Mass Budget told the Record that the report – titled ‘Building an Education System that Works for Everyone: Funding Reforms to Help All Our Children Thrive’ – details a plan that would allow the state to increase school aid – specifically to communities like Chelsea Revere, and Everett – by around $200 million per year over a five-year period. That phased approach would lead to restoring what the 1993 education reform law promised, he said.

“The big picture is our school funding and the system isn’t really providing the resources that are needed for kids across these Gateway Cities like Chelsea,” he said. “The formula for funding hasn’t been updated in 25 years and the school district with the least wealth are facing the worst of it. We looked at the budgets and found that many of these districts are spending 25 percent below what they are supposed to spend on teachers. To make up for it, they have to shift money from other areas or get additional revenues or make cuts to other areas. That’s leading to these big budget gaps.”

Supt. Mary Bourque said the research confirms what the Chelsea Schools have been saying for quite some time.

“The Mass. Budget research validates what we have been saying as superintendents for years,” she said. “In 2013, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents did their own research which placed the underfunding of school districts at over $2 billion. In 2015, the Foundation Budget Reform Commission – of which I was a member – placed school districts also at over $2 billion underfunded. Now in 2018, we have MassBudget research attesting to the same. It is time to address the flaws that are well documented by multiple groups. It is time to fund our schools and place our students first.”

Jones said the formula fix needs to address the disparities between wealthy and poorer districts. Right now, he said Weston spends around $17,000 per student, while Chelsea Revere, and Everett are around $11,000 per student.

He said it should be the other way around.

He said the current formula requires districts to spend a set amount on teacher salaries, and in order to do that in the current funding climate, districts like Chelsea have to cut the extras, ask for City money or seek out grants. If that doesn’t happen, then it leads to cuts, bigger classes and no extras. Another byproduct is not being able to maintain school facilities properly.

“There are big gaps in these districts and it’s where you’ll see bigger class sizes, less money for the arts and less for enrichment programs,” he said. “You see them have to cut ties with long-time successful partners. They can apply for grants, but they shouldn’t be in that position. Education reform was about the districts doing their job at educating the kids and the state giving them what they needed to do it…We’re now starting to see a backsliding to what it used to be like before education reform.”

In Chelsea, the Foundation budget now is at $113 million, and state Chapter 70 education aid is $90 million. Under the new plan by Mass. Budget, by 2023, the school foundation budget would be $134 million and the state Chapter 70 aid would be $110 million.

It’s a gain of some $21 million per year in aid that the Chelsea Schools have been calling for over the past several years.

Jones said they consider their report a blueprint for fixing the statewide problem – a problem that is especially apparent in cities like Chelsea Everett, and Revere. He said he is hoping that it garners attention on Beacon Hill and becomes a point of discussion.

“We can fix this,” he said. “We have a blueprint now. These things will cost money to implement. There is a price, but we’re in a good economy and we’ve had good revenue collections at the state level. We’re looking at a phased approach of $200 million each year for five years.”

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How to Address the Coming Shortfall of Primary Care Doctors

How to Address the Coming Shortfall of Primary Care Doctors

About 20,000 students recently graduated from U.S. medical schools. Now, they’re beginning the next chapter of their training, as residents.

Yet less than 7,000 will be pursuing careers in primary care. America will be short up to 43,100 primary care physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Medical schools have a responsibility to help fix this shortfall. They can do so by making primary care more alluring to students.

Primary care physicians are our healthcare system’s first line of defense. They diagnose illnesses, help manage chronic conditions, and refer patients to specialists. Without them, patients would get lost in today’s byzantine health system.

The shortage of primary care doctors is partially due to concerns over money and status. Specialists are better paid and often involved in prestigious new research.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins conducted nearly 3,300 searches for its clients. The average offered to recruit an orthopedic surgeon was $579,000. The average to recruit a family practitioner was less than half that.

The shortage also occurs because U.S. medical school’s faculty are mainly specialists. Surgery departments in U.S. medical schools boast over 15,000 faculty members. Family practice departments have just 5,700 members.

Professors serve as role models to students, many of whom seek to follow in the footsteps of these mentors. Overwhelmingly, that means pursuing a career as a specialist.

Aspiring doctors also train in settings that push them toward specialties, not primary care. Medical students generally train in large teaching hospitals that serve patients who have been referred from primary and secondary care providers. Few students train in small clinics and local doctor’s offices.

But most health care — and almost all primary care — is delivered outside of the hospital. Americans make 923 million trips to physician offices every year — and only 130 million to emergency departments. More than half of office visits are to primary care physicians.

So medical students rarely gain enough experience in primary care settings to decide if it’s the right career path for them.

These barriers are significant but not insurmountable.

To start, schools could promote primary care as a career. In 2015, the medical school at the University of California, Riverside, partnered with the Desert Regional Medical Center and Desert Healthcare District to launch a new primary care residency program in Palm Springs. UC Riverside also partners with Loma Linda University to offer the Pediatric Primary Care Residency Training Program, which prepares residents for careers in pediatrics and family medicine.

Second, schools could ensure students gain hands-on primary care experience by encouraging them to serve at community clinics. At the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, for example, nearly nine in 10 students volunteer in clinics in underserved communities. As a result, half of UC Davis students picked a primary care residency in 2015.

Third, schools could subsidize tuition for students who commit to primary care careers. At St. George’s University, on the Caribbean island of Grenada, our CityDoctors Scholarship program provides grants to students from New York City who agree to return to practice in the city’s public hospital system after they graduate. This year, eight students received CityDoctors scholarships worth a total of $1.1 million.

Medical schools must make careers in primary care exciting and affordable for a new generation of physicians.

  1. Richard Olds, M.D., is president of St. George’s University. He was founding dean of UC Riverside’s medical school.

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Climate Action Business Association Canvassing Chelsea

Climate Action Business Association Canvassing Chelsea

Our Main Streets, mom and pops and storefronts are in many cases the first line of defense and first resource for when a storm hits.

This summer, advocates from the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) are coming to Chelsea to equip small businesses with the tools necessary to be resilient and protected in the face of extreme weather.

The Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) campaign, is an ongoing project that aims to inform community leaders and small businesses about the urgency of climate change and the need to incorporate climate resilient practices.

The BARS 2016 campaign reached over 500 businesses in Massachusetts, causing the campaign to gain national recognition and our Executive Director Michael Green to receive the White House Champions of Change Award for Climate Equity. This year, we have taken a more tailored approach by creating specific resilience guides for each one of our targeted communities, including city-specific information and resources.

We have worked closely with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and the community-based organization, GreenRoots, based in Chelsea to create useful, informative, and low-cost steps that small businesses can take to improve their preparedness in the face of climate change. During the week of July 16, be sure to keep an eye out for CABA as we conduct our outreach campaign among the small business community in Chelsea or contact us before then to schedule an interview with us and become part of the BARS campaign.

If you would like more information, contact Kristin Kelleher at kristin.kelleher@cabaus.org or call (617) 863 7665.

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MyRWA to Concentrate on Climate Change, Adaptation

MyRWA to Concentrate on Climate Change, Adaptation

On the heels of record-setting flood events in January and March 2018, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) announced today that it is updating its core mission and resources to help municipalities manage the extreme weather associated with climate change.

“Slowing down climate change is all about managing energy,” said Patrick Herron, MyRWA’s executive director.  “Adapting to climate change is all about managing water—both flooding and drought.  Water is something that we have thought about for over four decades.”

The Mystic River watershed spans 21 cities and towns from Woburn through Revere.  This spring, MyRWA staff met with nearly fifty state and local stakeholders to best understand how a regional watershed association could help municipalities become more resilient to flooding, drought and heat.

“We heard over and over from cities and towns that they can’t manage flooding from just within their municipal boundaries,” explained Herron. “Stormwater flooding in Medford for example, has its origins in upstream communities.  Coastal storms below the Amelia Earhart Dam threaten both New England’s largest produce distribution center and Logan Airport’s jet fuel supply.”

“We’re concerned about the neighborhoods and residents living in the shadows of massive petroleum storage tanks and other industries which are projected to be severely impacted by climate change.  When the flood waters and chemicals reach homes, how will our communities be protected?” asked Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots in Chelsea.  “We’ve seen neighborhoods in Louisiana, Puerto Rico and Houston be decimated.  Chelsea and East Boston could be next.”

Based on this feedback, MyRWA requested and received a $115,000 grant from the Barr Foundation that will allow the non-profit to work with municipalities, businesses and community organizations on an action-oriented, regional, climate resilience strategy for the Mystic River Watershed.  This grant will allow MyRWA to hire Julie Wormser to lead this new program.

“The Barr Foundation’s climate resilience grantmaking has historically focused on Boston. Yet, we know climate change is no respecter of city boundaries. If some act in isolation, neighboring communities could actually become more vulnerable,” said Mary Skelton Roberts, co-director of Barr’s Climate Program. “It is our privilege to support MyRWA’s efforts to advance solutions at a more expansive, watershed scale.”

As executive director of The Boston Harbor Association, Wormser was instrumental in in drawing attention to Boston’s need to prepare for coastal flooding from extreme storms and sea level rise.  She coauthored Preparing for the Rising Tide and Designing With Water and co-led the Boston Living with Water international design competition with the City of Boston and Boston Society of Architects.  She will join MyRWA as its deputy director beginning July 1st.

“Three of the US cities most engaged in climate preparedness—Boston, Cambridge and Somerville—are located in the Mystic River Watershed,” said Wormser.  “This grant will allow us collectively to share information and lessons learned since Superstorm Sandy with lower-resourced municipalities.  By working regionally and with the State, we can also create multiple benefit solutions such as riverfront greenways that double as flood protection.  It’s very inspiring.”

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