By Mayor Carlo DeMaria
This week, as we celebrate Earth Day, it is important that we raise awareness of both our environmental assets and the natural beauty that surrounds us, so that we all have a greater appreciation of the impacts that climate can have on us here locally. My goal is for our community to sustainably provide the amenities and services that residents expect- while working to protect our city from the dramatic effects of climate change.
As we are all increasingly aware, we are a community surrounded by water. The Mystic River, the Malden River, the Amelia Earhart Dam, Island End River, North and South Creek and Town Line Brook are all in and around Everett.
Each of these water bodies is subject to the impacts of climate change. At any time, they can cause enormous infrastructure damage as we face severe storms. In addition, these storms can overwhelm our storm water infrastructure and release large amounts of pollutants into our water bodies, causing toxic algae blooms and limiting recreational activities for days at a time.
This past year, we have already seen an increase in sea level rise and storm surge. Storms caused flooding and undermined the parking lot of the New England Produce Center and came within 18 inches to over-topping the Amelia Earhart Dam. This could have had catastrophic consequences including flooding a major National Grid substation along the Malden River. Many of our industrial facilities are located in areas vulnerable to flooding, including District Gas, the LNG Marine Terminal, the Exxon Mobil Marine Terminal, the New England Produce Center, Aggregate Industries, Amazon and Craft Brewers, just to name a few.
That is why we are working to identify all our vulnerabilities, paired with actionable steps to sustainably move our economy forward and assure that we can be resilient when major flooding occurs. And we are working to build resiliency into any future projects.
We are repairing all existing tide gates and installing new ones to reduce flooding during abnormally high tides.
We are partnering with the City of Chelsea to build green infrastructure, much like the Living Shore Line at the Encore resort, to mitigate flooding along the northern tip of the Island End Stream. This project will remove the deteriorating and ineffective hard barriers with a natural berm, add a walking path, and dramatically reduce the risk to vulnerable populations, infrastructure and businesses.
We are working with public and private partners to daylight as much of the Island End stream as possible. For the past 100 years, Island End stream has been channelized and buried underground. By daylighting this stream, we will bring this buried waterway back to life by physically uncovering and restoring it. This will reduce polluted runoff, address flash flooding concerns, and improve the livability of this area of the city that has long been forgotten.
We can and will improve our environment and the quality of our lives at the same time.
Our modern car culture is responsible for nearly one-third of harmful emissions in the United States.
I want cars off our roads, with traffic congestion a thing of the past, and active, healthy transportation like biking and walking prioritized.
The Broadway dedicated bus-lane is successful and has gained international acclaim. It has reduced bus travel time by 20 percent and it has become a model for local innovation to improve transit. We have installed new raised boarding platforms to make it even easier for riders and a new state of the art traffic signal technology to prioritize buses at intersections to further reduce travel time.
We are partnering with Encore and will soon have a local shuttle service that will circle you around Everett to the MBTA. We are also on the leading edge of bike sharing. Last year we introduced Lime Bike. This year we are bringing Blue Bikes to Everett. We are the first community to have both services. That means if you want to bike to Boston, Cambridge or Somerville you can take a Blue Bike. If you want to take a bike to Malden, Medford, Revere, and a host of other North Shore Communities, you can take a Lime Bike. By introducing these programs in Everett, we are building sustainable, low cost and convenient local transportation options to residents and visitors of all incomes, ages and abilities, increasing the quality of experience and providing greater access to jobs, amenities, and local services.
We are in the midst of a cultural shift when it comes to car ownership, driven in large part by the values and preferences of our young people. And I am proud to be working with the Boston University MetroBridge program, where a class of public policy students from around the world are currently studying our city and generating recommendations to take people out of cars. I look forward to their analysis.
However, we will not build a sustainable economy and fight climate change by changing our car-centric culture alone. Our increasing reliance on electricity releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; in fact, 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from electricity production. This is why I recently announced that the City of Everett has entered into a long-term power purchase agreement with a clean energy provider, Syncarpha Solar, LLC.
We will be purchasing energy credits generated by the company’s eleven “Community Shared Solar” projects, all located in Massachusetts. These projects are expected to generate 76 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable solar energy annually. Under the 20-year agreement, we will not only save money, but will do our part to build a sustainable economy for generations to come.
But larger corporations and businesses also need to do their part. For too long, the National Grids of the world have been profiting on the backs of the cities and towns of Massachusetts and not contributing as a local partner. Where other wealthier communities have had the resources to block industrial uses, poorer communities have been forced to accept it. Today, we will no longer allow large corporations and multinational utilities to block off access to our waterfront and pollute our land and our water.
Over the past two years, we have worked closely with the legal experts of the Conservation Law Foundation and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protect to open our waterfront to our residents and our surrounding communities. After all, we are the most diverse city in the Commonwealth and we deserve no less than what the richest communities have. That is also why I have invested in our parks, open spaces and waterfront. Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Weston, and others all enjoy beautiful walking paths along the Charles. It is time Everett residents of all races, ages and incomes to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of visiting urban parks and open spaces. By investing our resources, we are putting Everett on par with our richer neighbors and moving closer to social equity.
Please join me on Saturday, May 11th to celebrate the beauty of the environment around us by working together as we hold our Annual Spring Clean Up. There will be various spots designated throughout the City for cleaning. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Everett DPW (19 Norman Street) at 8:00AM. To pre-register or for more information, please visit http://www.cityofeverett.com/FormCenter/Special-Events-7/2018-Spring-Clean-Up-PreRegistration-51. Don’t miss out on a great time for a great cause.
City of Everett
Office of the Mayor
Carlo DeMaria, Jr.
EVERETT, MASSACHUSETTS 02149
PHONE 617-394-2270 Fax 617-381-1150