By Reese Burns, Assistant Editor

In response to the increasing flooding crisis on Nantucket, the Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee has eagerly provided information on how to better protect the coastlines and how this can be achieved as a community. Following their open house earlier this year on January 28th, the Coastal Resilience Committee has made immense progress in their plan to protect the Nantucket coastlines.

To summarize their goals, the Coastal Resilience Committee has a mission statement that reads, “The Coastal Resilience Plan draws on the cherished built and natural heritage of Nantucket to create a community-supported roadmap to implementation for a series of layered flood control and adaptation approaches that lessen the loss from storm surges and help the community adapt to rising seas and eroding coastlines. In coordination with other ongoing adaptation and sustainability initiatives, the plan addresses the whole island and county while respecting the unique characteristics of each neighborhood. Driven by the inclusive and equitable engagement of all, the plan aspires to create social, environmental, and economic benefits and value to everyone who will share in Nantucket’s future.”

On April 13th, the Coastal Resilience project team presented their mid-project report where they discussed and brought attention to the coastal hazards today and those foreseen in the future. The team gave an overview of the entire process of the coastal resilience project that is expected to be carried out over the next 10 years. The final plan presentation is hoped to be delivered in September of 2021 which should then lead to more intensive action within the project. They also went over their short-term and long-term goals, how they plan on achieving them, and how to get the community involved. An overview of all the plans assisting with coastal resiliency includes the Hazard Mitigation Plan, Harbor Plan, Parks Master Plan, Open Space & Recreation Plan, Coastal Management Plan, and Stormwater Management Plan.

For a more detailed description of the Coastal Resilience project, there is a recording of the meeting on the town’s YouTube channel. 

A three-day event known as the Resilient Nantucket forum is scheduled to begin on April 22nd and is open for registration on their website. Day One of the forum will feature a discussion on Earth Day and what resiliency looks like in action. Day Two will focus more on climate change’s impacts on cultural heritage and its effects on coastal communities and their economies. Day Three will present the climate crisis response, plans to adapt, an update on the Coastal Resilience Plan, and a panel discussion on crafting the Coastal Resilience Policy. All three days of events will feature the input of multiple keynote speakers.

On April 27th, the next Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee meeting is expected to take place, focusing on the coastal stability of Coatue and the upper harbor. Nantucket residents of those specific areas will be invited to speak on what they have noticed and what they think should be done to address the threatening sea-level rise and worsening erosion.

Vince Murphy, the town’s Coastal Resilience Coordinator, shared that “between now and the end of September, there is going to be a step-up in looking at resilience measures and what might work. Could be infrastructure in the Easy Street and Washington Street areas to policies on managed retreat (or managed realignment) on the south shore. We are looking at every coastal vulnerability and what might be done about it.”

For more information on any of the coastal resilience plans or events, head over to their page on the town website, nantucket-ma.gov.

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