North Shore cities are taking a strength-in-numbers approach to the climate crisis, launching partnerships to build up area coastlines and get ahead of future challenges wrought by more frequent extreme weather.
Initiatives uniting Salem with Beverly and Peabody moved forward this week. A North River project shared by Peabody and Salem was the focus of a community meeting to advance design work on a riverwalk and tackling erosion and flooding conditions in the corridor linking the two cities, while the Resilient Together project in Beverly and Salem added up a notable partner in National Grid.
“Communities are working together to address climate change in a regional way,” said Tom Devine, a senior planner in Salem, at a community meeting Tuesday night. “The goals of (Resilient Together) are to become carbon-neutral by mid-century and take actions to have both communities become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”
Peabody and Salem leaders have been partnering for a decade on a North River Corridor resiliency project. An initial study in 2012 launched this effort, which seeks to create walking trails and paths along Harmony Grove Road, which hugs the North River at the city line. It also seeks to address erosion along the corridor and boost infrastructure for flood mitigation. The scope of work spans from Howley Street in Peabody (next to Stop & Shop) to Grove Street in Salem.
The project ties in to the long-anticipated Peabody Riverwalk project, which currently spans from Wallis to Howley Street and with construction expected to begin in the 2023-24 fiscal year, according to Brendan Callahan, assistant director of planning in Peabody. With flood mitigation measures and connections between Salem and downtown Peabody, the Riverwalk “will fill a significant trail gap in the region’s greenway network.”
In the coming year, the North River Corridor project will include site surveys and the start of conceptual design, with more public meetings expected in the coming months, according to Joanna Nadeau, a planner with Weston & Sampson, an environmental engineering and design company working on the project.
At the same time, The Resilient Together project shared by Beverly and Salem picked up support from National Grid, the company announced this week.
“National Grid is part of Mass Save,” a utility-run program powered by surcharges on utility bills, said Jenna Ide, capital projects manager in Salem. “What they’ll be doing is really working to help promote Mass Save and to help more directly with residents and businesses to get them signed up and know the program.”
As that plays out, the partnership will also boost access to and prioritize energy efficiency improvements in Beverly and Salem schools, municipal buildings and more, according to an announcement.
“By leveraging one another’s capabilities plus our nation-leading energy efficiency programs, we can together help customers save on energy, enhance economic growth in the community and reduce carbon emissions,” said Stephen Woerner, president of National Grid New England.
According to National Grid, the city of Salem has seen energy savings totaling more than 160,000 kilowatt hours and almost 6,000 gas therms, resulting in a savings of $80,000. The city of Beverly has accomplished energy savings totaling over 200,000 kWh resulting in an award of $70,000. Along with this, the annual utility bill savings for Beverly and Salem are estimated to be about $33,000 and $27,000, respectively.
Resilient Together also puts pressure on officials to seek more energy efficient transportation methods, according to Devine.
The data shows that transportation is responsible for something like nearly half of our carbon emissions, so we’re taking steps to promote sustainable low carbon transportation,” Devine said. “That comes in the form of services like the blue bikes bikeshare that’s in Salem, and Salem Skipper, the on-demand micro-transit shuttle service, as well as infrastructure.”
As far as the North River project is concerned, another public meeting is expected in the late spring to go over progress. The multi-use path and riverwalk connection is expected to hit a design milestone by June 30, according to the presentation.
For more on the Resilient North River project in Peabody and Salem, visit publicinput.com/resilientnorthriver. For more on Resilient Together, the Beverly and Salem project, visit resilient-together.org.
Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.