MVP Roundtable Discussion in Leominster
On Tuesday, May 7, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and newly appointed Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen (Katie) Theoharides were welcomed by Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella to an Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Roundtable discussion in City Hall. Both Mayor Mazarella and the Lt. Governor emphasized the seriousness of climate change and the need for such a program.
After brief comments from the Mayor and Karyn Polito, Secretary Theoharides was pleased to announce that over fifty percent of Massachusetts communities, or 183, are working with the MVP program. She noted that a most recent third round of funding for assessments included the City of Leominster. She also noted that there would be up to $2 million for action grants and that the administration is seeking to create a trust funded with up to $137 million annually to address MVP priorities. Polito noted that action funding could work similarly to the MassWorks grant program where public money would be targeted to public, and in some case private, projects that have a corresponding private component, such as economic development or housing.
Communities represented at the meeting included Leominster, Harvard, Rutland, and Worcester. Much of the discussion centered on public infrastructure such as culverts, catch basins, outfalls, and dams. Both Leominster and Rutland DPW directors highlighted issues in their communities directly resultant from climate change impacts. Polito also noted that every municipal department has some vulnerability related to climate change. Theoharides suggested that communities considering further planning efforts related to MVP and climate change vulnerability consider merging these plans with existing Hazard Mitigation Plans given the clear complementarity.
Harvard was represented by Community and Economic Development Director Christopher Ryan and Agriculture Advisory Commission Chair and MVP Subcommittee member Kerri Green. Both Polito and Theoharides recognized and applauded Harvard for the agricultural component that was unique to Harvard's MVP efforts and were looking forward to the findings.
Other topics discussed included the value of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for tracking assets such as stormwater infrastructure. This seemed to suggest that communities that are interested in further developing their GIS capacity to include such data layers might be eligible for funding from the MVP program. Polito mentioned that the issue of declining property values for lands impacted by climate change was important, which could be a strong incentive for a robust MVP effort.
Harvard has completed its four scheduled workshops related to the MVP program and has scheduled a Listening Session to reveal draft priorities and the plan's findings on Thursday, May 30, 2019 from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm in Town Hall. All citizens and stakeholders interested in the MVP program specifically and the impacts of climate change generally are encouraged to attend. Please contact Christopher Ryan at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Christopher J. Ryan, AICP
Director of Community and Economic Development
Town of Harvard, MA
13 Ayer Road
Harvard, MA 01451
Phone: 978.456.4100 x.323