Governor Baker Visits Assawompset Pond -- SRPEDD Leads Floodwater Management Team
On July 17, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, Senator Michael Rodrigues, Representative Norman Orrall, state and local officials, and project partners gathered to tour the Assawompset Pond region and discuss a climate resiliency project led by a state, regional and local partnership, looking to reduce future flooding, increase resilience to climate change, and restore habitat for fish and wildlife.
In December 2019, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) awarded $100,000 to SRPEDD to design a floodwater management program. SRPEDD's Environmental Program staff convened a project technical team, including staff from Manomet, the Nature Conservancy, Mass Audubon, and the Horsley Witten Group, and a committee of municipal and other stakeholders. The team identified six priority projects for managing flooding, including dam, spillway and fish ladder upgrade and repair, culvert upgrades, and wetland restoration.
Led by SRPEDD, the group is now securing additional funding from various sources in order to carry out the priority projects. All of the projects will build community resilience to climate change, improve public safety, restore habitat for fish and wildlife, create jobs, help communities address aging road and water infrastructure, and improve access to the outdoors for recreation.
"The Assawompset Pond region is a critical natural resource for Southeastern Massachusetts, offering valuable habitat, drinking water and outdoor recreational opportunities to residents," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Climate change is expected to worsen flooding issues in this area, and this state and local partnership will ensure the region is prepared for climate change while protecting public safety and wildlife habitat."
Over the years, flooding has been a frequent concern at the Assawompset Ponds Complex (APC) and along the Nemasket River. Past flooding events have caused evacuations, property damage, failures of septic systems, and interruption of critical utility and road infrastructure. The APC also provides the principal drinking water supply for the Cities of Taunton and New Bedford, while the Nemasket River and APC are also part of one of the most significant river herring runs in the Commonwealth.
For more information on the floodwater management program, contact SRPEDD Environmental Program personnel Bill Napolitano at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or Helen Zincavage at email@example.com.
MassTrails Grant Awarded for SRPEDD/SCBA Phase II Feasibility Study
SRPEDD is pleased to announce that it has recently been awarded a 2020 MassTrails Grant in partnership with The South Coast Bikeway Alliance (SCBA). The grant, totaling $40,000, will fund Phase II of a feasibility study examining routing of the South Coast Bikeway between Fall River and New Bedford, through Westport and Dartmouth.
The South Coast Bikeway, once realized, will be a 50-mile continuous system of paths and bike lanes that will connect Rhode Island to Cape Cod. The Feasibility Study will help determine the best route to close a gap that has long existed in the East Coast and MA trail networks between the Gateway Cities of Fall River and New Bedford. It will also examine critical links within Dartmouth and Westport, and provide connectivity to South Coast Rail.
The project will continue to build on the work being completed by SRPEDD under Phase I, which was funded by SCBA and the municipalities of Westport, Dartmouth and New Bedford through Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds. The SCBA has also received a generous donation from Bay Coast Bank in the amount of $10,000 towards the study.
MassTrails grants support the state's vast network of trails with projects dedicated to the construction, maintenance, and improvements for a variety of public trails, including hiking trails, bikeways, and shared-use paths. Funding for MassTrails Grants comes from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) capital budget, and from the motor fuel excise tax on off-road vehicles, which is provided by the USDOT and the Federal Surface Transportation Act, in coordination with MassDOT. All MassTrails Grant applications have been reviewed in consultation with an inter-agency MassTrails Team and the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board (MARTAB).
SRPEDD and the SCBA would also like to congratulate fellow South Coast MassTrails grant recipients including the City of New Bedford and the towns of Mattapoisett and Wareham.
Getting Back to a New Normal -- Repurposing Public Space Webinar
On July 21st SRPEDD hosted a webinar dedicated to exploring the challenges and innovative solutions our region has faced since the onset of the COVID-19 public health pandemic. Titled Getting Back to a New Normal: Repurposing Public Space, the webinar focused on the increasingly popular practice of adapting public spaces for the use of pedestrians, bicyclists, and outdoor dining venues.
SRPEDD partnered with colleagues from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) to discuss statewide examples, and the Planning Directors of New Bedford and Wareham, Tabitha Harkin and Kenneth Buckland respectively, to discuss local implementation of these practices. Katherine Fichter, Assistant Secretary for Policy Coordination at MassDOT, provided a brief description of the Shared Streets and Public Spaces grant program, which emphasizes the reuse of public spaces to benefit pedestrians and bicyclists, while inciting small business growth with outdoor dining.
Recent grants have provided New Bedford and Wareham with funds necessary to carry out their proposed projects.
An Update & Resources From
the Marion Institute
As part of SRPEDD's efforts to provide community resources during the COVID-19 crisis, here is a quick update from our friends and partners at the Marion Institute (featured in our last newsletter):
The Consumer Engagement Survey is LIVE.
Links to the online survey in 3 different languages is below. Please share with your networks
. This survey is for anyone that consumes food. If you are interested in distributing a printed version of these surveys to your networks, please reach out directly to Elizabeth Wiley at firstname.lastname@example.org
to download a one-page resource document about bridge loans to help access the food security infrastructure grant program. This document was shared by the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF).
Learn more about the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program (FSIGP): The goal of the FSIGP is to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to food, with a special focus on food that is produced locally and equitable access to food. The program also seeks to ensure that farmers, fisherman and other local food producers are better connected to a strong, resilient food system to help mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption. For more info on how to apply click here.
For more information on the Marion Institute, click here.
SRPEDD Launches New Website
SRPEDD officially launched its new website in mid-July! We hope you've already had an opportunity to spend some time exploring the new site and updated content at www.srpedd.org.
Now more than ever, this improved online presence will help us stay connected and accessible, share information, receive your valuable input, and better serve the region. In addition to the crisp, user-friendly design and full accessibility, the new site includes a number of features we are proud to highlight:
- Improved Commission and Committee pages (Finance, Personnel, SMMPO, JTPG, RESC, and SRAC). These appear under the "About SRPEDD" menu along with links to our agency bylaws.
- Easy-to-navigate Department pages (Comprehensive Planning, Economic Development, Homeland Security, and Transportation) that present our main work areas, such as Environmental Planning, Regional Transportation Planning or numerous ongoing Community Master Plans, Featured Projects, and staff profiles.
- Updated Community profiles that provide current information and municipal resources for each of our 27 cities and towns. You can find these from the map on the Home page or from the "Communities" menu.
- A new Resource Library and Data Center with expanded search capabilities and functionality.
- Featured Events and News on the Home page.
We all know that like other organizations our web site is a work in progress - fluid, constantly changing representations of our ongoing efforts across Southeast Massachusetts. That's why we're looking to you, our partners, Commissioners, and area residents, to help us improve and build-out the site as we move forward.
Please feel free to share your comments about the new site, what you like about it, how it has proven helpful to you, or even ideas for its further improvement, to email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
The RESC generally meets quarterly to discuss economic development trends and projects, to share insights among professionals, and to hear presentations from numerous regional partners. The RESC is also responsible for working with SRPEDD staff to update the region's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). RESC attendees typically include state and federal officials, chamber of commerce directors, college and university representatives, and professionals from the fields of planning, finance, and real estate, among others. And Committee members are particularly open to new and innovative ideas, as well as proven best management practices which stand to benefit the region's economy.
This month's meeting will provide a tour of SRPEDD's "Expanded and Enhanced" CARES Act Work Program with U.S. EDA. Over the next two years, this award will allow six additional staff to apply their expertise (expanded capacity) to a wider variety of activities. Each of these staff will provide examples of their new roles, including: expanded municipal and business assistance in the form of grant-writing and funding applications; enhanced public-facing content and technological tools, such as market studies, data analysis, and project and site marketing; an enhanced, interactive summary of the CEDS; and expanded project development, including community and workforce development efforts that seek to help businesses and individuals most severely impacted by the ongoing public health and social crises.
Please join us on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 11:30 AM!
Southeast Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (SRAC) Cyber Security Initiatives
The Southeast Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (SRAC) and the MassCyberCenter (https://masscybercenter.org/) are working together to bring two important cybersecurity initiatives to the region. The first of a two-part workshop on building, maintaining, and using a Cyber Incident Response Plan for Municipalities was facilitated on July 16, 2020. Approximately 60 participants took part in this event and the second part is scheduled for September 9th at 10:00 AM. If you missed out on the first event, you are still able to participate in the second portion. The first presentation is available here for review. For the second part, simply register here. By viewing the presentation and related materials from the first event, participation in the second event is feasible.
Also, in conjunction with other regional homeland security councils across the Commonwealth, an experienced firm has been engaged to develop an eLearning course that will roll out during Cybersecurity Month in October. Along with the course, a webinar will be offered with subject matter experts to help municipalities, regional stakeholders, and others to enhance their cybersecurity knowledge and protection.