The Light Board speaks on mitigating floods

The Municipal Light Board on Tuesday discussed mitigating flood risks. Specifically, it focused on areas including Parker’s Boatyard, the Municipal Light Board’s building, Hammond Park, and Marblehead Yacht Club. The board’s main objective is to mitigate long-term risks of sea level rise by raising the town’s seawalls.

Collins Engineers, an architectural and engineering firm that provides structural and civil assessments for underwater, above-water, waterfront, and offshore structures, is working alongside the board to prevent floods at Marblehead Harbor.

In 2019, some resiliency options were identified for the seawalls to help the town mitigate flood risks. The board looked at how to protect the structures in the long term to minimize future flooding.

This year they are working through the Coastal Zone Management grant, a Coastal Resilience Grant Program with a $692,000 budget. While $523,000 is grant money, the remainder is cash and in-kind.

The fiscal year 2023 scope includes the implementation of public access improvements on Commercial Street to Hammond Park and the start of the environmental permit process (MEPA) by June 30.

Ryan McCoy, senior project manager for Collins Engineers, spoke about the anticipated benefits of long-term efforts such as the waves design objective, which will help mitigate risks resulting from sea level rise and storm surge.

Raising seawalls to the recommended levels set by the state of Massachusetts, installing wave attenuating floats, and relocating and raising buildings and equipment to mitigate residual wave overtopping risks are among the company’s objectives.

McCoy also plans on providing flood-proofed renewable energy equipment, raised boatyards, new lifting equipment, new maintenance and storage buildings, a new conveyor system, expanded dockage, and improved commercial vehicle access for continued, improved, and resilient water-dependent industrial uses.

Also among the goals of Collins Engineers is to enhance the waterfront public access and recreation to include a continuous, safe, and accessible waterfront pathway connecting Parker’s Boatyard to Cliff Street Boatyard, a raised waterfront park, better amenities, space and a lift for community boating uses, and expanded dockage.

To minimize long-term flooding at Hammond Park, McCoy would like to achieve an elevation of 11 to 13 feet for the seawall to stop the overtopping that happens regularly.

In addition to raising the wall, McCoy is also looking to address the sinkholes with a concrete layer to provide the stability for the wall.

The reconstruction of the Hammond Park wall will cost $2,970,000, the boardwalk that connects Hammond Park and Parker’s Boatyard will cost $540,000, and the wave attenuators to stop the wave surge in the harbor will cost $845,000.

To pay for these projects, the Municipal Light Board and McCoy spoke about a number of options including applying for federal funding and grants.