The New London Day 12/27/2023
By Kimberly Drelich
Day Staff Writer
Groton ― After more than a year of studying the vulnerability of downtown Mystic to climate change and ways to make it more resilient, project leaders will present potential strategies to the public next week.
The draft recommendations are intended to help protect the area from the effects of flooding, sea level rise, storm surge and heat.
The final in a series of workshops for the Town of Groton’s Downtown Mystic Resiliency & Sustainability Plan will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 4 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at 15 Pearl St.
Jon Reiner, the town’s director of planning and development services, said next week’s presentation will include a discussion of the public feedback received so far, the analysis of the downtown Mystic area, draft recommended actions and next steps.
People can provide comments, and the final report is expected to be completed in early to mid-February, he said.
Once completed, the report will provide the framework to begin implementing draft recommendations and start moving forward with strategies to try to make downtown Mystic a more resilient and sustainable place, Reiner said. He said the idea is to try to start with some of the smaller, easier to implement projects.
The town’s Office of Planning and Development Services has been working on the study with consultant GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. and a steering committee.
At a Dec. 12 Town Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Megan Granato, the town’s sustainability and resilience manager, told the Town Council that the study included a vulnerability assessment of downtown Mystic to understand the extent of the problem.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation recommends that municipalities prepare for 20 inches of sea level rise by 2050. Currently, during a 10-year storm, 41 structures and a half mile of road in the study area are vulnerable to flooding, she said. Applying the 20-inch of sea level rise projection, that increases to 96 structures and nearly a mile of road that are vulnerable.
Rainstorms also are getting more severe and more frequent, she said. According to the projections from the presentation, “annual precipitation is anticipated to increase by about 4 inches by 2050.”
Granato said that historically, New London County typically had about 4 days above 90 degrees each year, but by the middle of this century, the region is projected to experience an average of about 15 to 21 days above 90 degrees each year.
She said Mystic has a lot of festivals, as well as people walking outside between stores, so it’s important to think about heat exposure and solutions to help protect people from the heat.
Granato said that after finalizing the report, the next phase will be implementation. She said the town is taking a look at possible capital improvement projects and also eyeing grants to help fund the work.
Reiner said that in the future, there can be discussions with the Town Council about how to prioritize the recommendations.
Reiner said the area is facing rising heat, more extreme and frequent rainstorms and coastal flooding, sea level rise and climate change.
“We have to address these,” he said.
Reiner added that the town soon will look at a town-wide climate resilience plan.
According to the event flyer, the doors will open at 5 p.m., and the presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m. There will then be a question-and-answer session.
Draft recommendations also will be posted on https://www.greatergroton.com/downtown-mystic-resiliency-sustainability-plan.