The City of Portland announces the beginning of Bayside Adapts, a planning and community engagement exercise to discuss ways to make Bayside a more resilient community in the face of climate change. A community forum on December 14 will be the launch of this effort.
"Rising sea levels have already begun to affect the City. We saw this very dramatically in September, 2015 when heavy rains coincided with a high tide. Many streets in Bayside flooded, causing damage to dozens of vehicles, disrupting travel, and interfering with business activities. This type of event will become more common as we moved toward mid-century and beyond. It is important that City officials and community members work together to plan for this wetter future," noted Troy Moon, the City's Sustainability Coordinator.
Of all the neighborhoods in Portland, Bayside faces the greatest risk from sea level rise and significant rain events. “When you stand on Maine State Pier you are at least 4 feet higher than you would be in many parts of Bayside,” added Bill Needelman, Waterfront Coordinator. “It’s the lowest part of the City. Public Works crews block streets on days with astronomic high tides because sea water flows in from the storm drains.”
The Bayside Adapts Working Group (BAWG) will meet at Mayo Street Arts to begin discussing goals from 1-3 PM on December 14 with a brief introductory presentation by the EPA Region 1 New England Environmental Finance Center staff on adaptation methods around the country. The public is invited.
In an effort to engage the larger community and launch a special event, the City will host a public forum later that evening on December 14 featuring climate scientist Dr. Cameron Wake from the University of New Hampshire. He will discuss the latest projections regarding sea level rise and take questions from the audience. Dr. Wake will be joined by Wayne Feiden, Planning and Sustainability Director for the Town of Northampton, MA. Mr. Feiden specializes in planning for climate resilient communities and has led teams of design professionals who have assisted a number of coastal cities including Bath, ME, Providence, RI, and Provincetown, MA, with climate resiliency plans. The meeting will take place at Mayo Street Arts at 6 PM.
The City has contracted with the EPA Region 1 New England Environmental Finance Center (NE-EFC) housed at the University of Southern Maine to assist with this effort. Dr. Jack Kartez at the EFC will support the BAWG stakeholder group made up of property owners, East Bayside Neighborhood Organization, Bayside Neighborhood Association, business representatives, Portland Housing Authority, the Portland design community, Portland Trails, and others. This group will help develop a preliminary set of goals or principles for adaptation decisions affecting Bayside based on public discussions and initial engineering assessment of what further information is needed about Bayside’s infrastructure, land use, transportation, and the emerging environmental impacts.
During the December 14 community forum, the City will formally announce a Resilient Bayside Design Competition. Designers interested in participating will create drawings of what a resilient Bayside might look like. Submittals will be publicly displayed and community members will have an opportunity to respond to them. A panel of judges will review each submission and select an overall winner that best incorporates resilient design, creative placemaking, and economic opportunity, and a “People’s Choice” winner based on public feedback. Public discussion about the submitted designs and presentation of the awards will occur at a meeting next spring. The submittals and the public comments about them will inform Phase II of Bayside Adapts, which will include engineering, buildable design work, and continued development of the principles for adaptation.
The winners will receive a monetary prize. Funding for the community forum and design competition is from the City’s recent award of a $10,000 grant from the National League of Cities for a community resilience program.
WHEN & WHERE:
Bayside Adapts Working Group
Mayo Street Arts
1 PM - 3 PM
Bayside Adapts Community Forum featuring Dr. Cameron Wake, UNH Professor
Mayo Street Arts
6 PM - 8 PM