Hudson, Framingham and Ashland to seek climate grant

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drone photo of Hudson trestle bridge on the Assabet Rail Trail
The Assabet River snakes under the Assabet River Rail Trail and toward Houghton Street in Hudson. A new grant application is seeking funding to protect the larger Sudbury-Assabet-Concord Watershed. (Photo/Tami White)

HUDSON – Hudson will soon seek money to help identify ways to protect communities and ecosystems that are vulnerable to climate change.

This is part of a project proposal presented to the Select Board last week. The Select Board voted to approve Hudson’s participation in what is a collaborative grant application. 

This grant would allocate roughly $250,000 between Hudson, Framingham and Ashland. It would specifically fund consulting services focused on addressing local climate hazards in the larger Sudbury-Assabet-Concord Watershed, according to a memo by Assistant Director of Planning and Community Development Pam Helinek and a project description. 

Hudson previously conducted climate hazard study

The grant is offered by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for towns and cities that have been designated as Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) communities.

In order for a municipality to be designated as a MVP community, a municipality must first apply for a planning grant, which outlines key community resilience findings and identifies climate-vulnerable populations. 

Hudson, in collaboration with the consulting firm BSC Group, completed its initial planning grant study in 2019.

The study found that top hazards within Hudson include flooding, drought, extreme temperatures and extreme snow and ice. 

This grant would contain a 25% matching contribution requirement. But that would be covered, Helinek wrote, by hours put in by the OARS non-profit organization. 

OARS was founded in 1986 and works to protect the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers. 

They are helping organize this project alongside the BSC Group.

“If we receive this grant, there will be no cost to the town, only benefit,” Helinek wrote in her memo.

MVP program funds projects in neighboring communities

The MVP program has existed since 2017. Since then, a number of area communities have applied for and won grants. 

“The MVP program is incredibly important for municipalities, because it is kind of the one leading aspect that gives the incentive for municipalities and towns and cities throughout Massachusetts to look at the impacts of climate change, and more importantly have a funding source to update some of that infrastructure,” Southborough Conservation Agent and MVP Coordinator Melissa Danza told the Community Advocate last year.

Southborough won just under $23,000 in one grant in 2021 through this program. 

Marlborough separately received $56,000 to fund a review of zoning bylaws with an eye toward the environment and sustainability. 

“This grant will enable us to hire a contractor to review our current zoning ordinances and identify some simple changes that could potentially be implemented moving forward promoting climate resiliency,” said Mayor Arthur Vigeant in a statement at the time.

Back in Hudson, Helinek said she is excited to hopefully receive this money for the town.

“I am excited at the possibility of getting some MVP money for Hudson after all the work we did to become certified as an MVP community,” she wrote.

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