Mystic Boat Tour Highlights Possibilities for the Waterfront

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) held a boat tour of the Mystic River waterfront recently to highlight the vulnerability of many of the properties, but also to get a view of what kinds of opportunities exist for the forgotten shorelines in Everett, Charlestown and Chelsea.

The boat tour took off from the Charlestown Navy Yard late last month with several residents, business leaders and even Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) representatives.

The idea was to get a view from the water of sites that are typically inaccessible – looking at how they are vulnerable to sea level rise.

“The reason we held this boat tour was because we wanted to highlight the vulnerability to sea level rise – the impact it would have on commerce and also vulnerable populations,” said MyRWA Director Pat Herron. “At the same time, we wanted to highlight the great opportunities that are already there like the Mary O’Malley Park in Chelsea. We’d really like to see more development along the River in capacity, and green space activation. The River also presents a great opportunity for transit as well, which we also wanted to highlight.”

The MyRWA has been active in Everett and Chelsea for some time, but last summer launched a momentum-grabbing campaign in Charlestown to highlight opportunities for the Mystic River waterfront.

For all three, Amber Christoffersen said there is a great opportunity on the Mystic to combine coastal resiliency with open space and public access. That idea is something MyRWA and Greenovate Boston have been tag-teaming on, and something that was just part of an award from the Bloomberg Foundation.

“These are really ideas that reinforce one another with shared goals, creating a greenway that also serves to help with climate resiliency,” she said. “At Mary O’Malley in Chelsea, it serves to protect assets further up the hill.”

She said there are great examples all across the Lower Mystic, but they are in spurts and likely something that should be repeated elsewhere.

“In Charlestown, there is the Schrafft’s Center within the DPA and strong move to expand and push the DPA out,” she said. “There are three parcels that are ready for development that could incorporate berms, paths and docks. The casino is a good example of elevating its shoreline and utilizing a living shoreline and creating a six acre park in front of its building. The Draw 7 Park in Somerville is another example of this.”

Another area they highlighted was the Island End River in Everett and Chelsea.

“It already has a tremendous vulnerability to coastal storm surges and future conditions,” said Herron. “It has a really important role in the distribution of food with the Produce Market and I think it falls on us to figure out how to do Island End River right. In a perfect world, I think it should be a combination of green and grey solutions that make everyone proud.”

Christofferson and Herron said they are planning on a next stop of addressing issues at the Amelia Earhart Dam, which affects Everett, Charlestown and Chelsea. Herron said they hope to convince the DCR to use Environmental Bond Bill money to install a new, fourth pump at the Dam.

For Charlestown, Christoffersen said they planned to have their next public meeting for their effort there on Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the Harvard-Kent Elementary School.

She said they will follow up on their open house from last summer and focus on issues like the Little Mystic Channel, the space under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge, MassPort Development and having a linear corridor park near Medford Street.

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