By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Northborough Board of Selectmen Chair Jason Perreault noted at the Nov. 4 meeting that he had recently taken part in an all-day stakeholder workshop at the Northborough Free Library for Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) planning.
“This is a workshop where we were split into three groups and had information presented about long-term climate trends, and from this we were working to identify certain vulnerabilities specific to the town of Northborough and trying to come up with some specific actionable items to address and to prioritize,” Perreault explained.
Town Administrator John Coderre added that there will be a public process moving forward.
After the Board meeting, DPW Director Scott Charpentier explained that the state program is relatively new.
“It’s geared toward assisting communities to become resilient to climate change and it includes different segments of resiliency,” he added.
These segments include environmental and social infrastructure, which includes at-risk community groups such as low income residents, the elderly and non-English speaking communities.
For instance, in emergencies, how do town officials disseminate information to those who don’t speak English?
Charpentier further explained the environmental impact on vegetation and trees due to increased water tables and how climate change is affecting infrastructure and the stability of roadways, culverts and dams because of greater water volumes and intensity. Because of these vulnerabilities, the town could receive some assistance.
A provision of the grant stipulates that the town match that with in-kind services, such as labor.
“The whole idea of the planning grant is to identify needs in the community that can provide resiliency to those three targets,” he noted.
A unique component to the process was the stakeholder workshop which was structured to include one member from each of the town’s departments, boards and committees to gather and brainstorm on issues and solutions related to the three areas of vulnerability.
State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Middlesex and Worcester) was also in attendance as well as representatives from the Central Mass. Regional Planning Commission.
“You get 30 people looking at the same thing through 30 different windows,” Charpentier noted.
Weston and Sampson Engineers, Inc. is the consulting firm carrying out the planning stage. They will prepare a report and then a public input session will be scheduled for the community to review the findings of the stakeholders and weigh-in.
A final report will then go to the state and, upon acceptance, the town will receive an MVP Community designation which will qualify the town to apply for action grants to address the needs identified during the planning process.
Charpentier expects the final planning report to be submitted to the state in the spring.