POCD 2019: Section 6

 6.  Address Community Issues

6.0  Address Community Issues

 

While the City is doing a good job in most policy areas related to the physical conservation and development of the community, there are some areas where it intendeds to devote more time and attention in the future:

  • Prepare For Climate Change And Sea Level Rise
  • Address Community Facility Issues
  • Promote Sustainability / Resiliency

6.1  Prepare for Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

 

A key issue for the City to address going forward is how to prepare for sea level rise and how to address local impacts.  As indicated in the sidebar, it is recommended that Connecticut municipalities plan for sea level rise of 20 inches (0.5 meters) between 2017 and 2050.

Sea Level Rise

In October 2017, the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) released a recommendation that Connecticut municipalities plan for sea level rise of 20 inches (0.5 meters) between 2017 and 2050.  This is not a prediction but it is a scenario that Groton should prepare for.

In 2017, Moody’s Investor Service advised communities that they will begin incorporating climate risk and potential exposure into their community evaluation and bond rating system.

In 2010, a series of workshops were conducted in the Town of Groton to talk about how to prepare for climate change and sea level rise.  These workshops were coordinated by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Since the workshops used the Town of Groton as a case study, the results of the workshops are available for reference and use.

Some of the potential actions identified to help address climate change included:

Types of Actions  
Protection

Protect the land from the sea so that existing land uses can continue.

1.       Install flood/tide gates

2.       Relocate/elevate roads and infrastructure

3.       Flood-proof existing buildings

4.       Beach nourishment

5.       Purchase land to act as a buffer

Accommodation

Continue to use the land at risk but do not attempt to prevent the land from being flooded.

6.       Prevent new building in vulnerable locations

7.       Strengthen building / engineering standards

8.       Make cost-effective road / infrastructure improvements

9.       Bolster emergency response capability

Retreat

Abandon the coastal zone over time

10.    Allow land to convert to wetlands

11.    Create incentives to retreat

Other – 12.    Educate residents about vulnerability

13.    Identify funding sources

14.    Integrate climate preparedness into local plans, regulations, and processes

The key recommendations from the report included:

1.  Conduct a thorough vulnerability assessment, using stakeholder input and engagement techniques.

2.  Establish a working climate preparedness committee, including municipal department heads and other key technical personnel, to evaluate community vulnerabilities, establish preparedness targets, and prioritize actions.

3.  Create a community-wide action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change impacts with strategies that are robust, adjustable, align with existing community priorities, and provide co-benefits.

Other Recommendations

1.        Identify a person and/or agency to lead adaptation coordination.

2.        Continue to develop the capacity to analyze sea level rise and storm surge impacts.

3.        Pursue funding sources to increase municipal capacity.

4.        Work with others to alter criteria for funding of infrastructure grants to incorporate adaptation criteria.

5.        Integrate climate change considerations into all Town-wide planning.

6.        Prepare and refine an outreach strategy regarding climate preparedness.

7.        Continue researching what others are doing and share information regionally.

Strategies To Prepare For Climate Change And Sea Level Rise

 

  Priority Leader Partners
1.       Address issues associated with climate change and sea level rise. 6.11 Council CWC
Staff
2.       Establish a working committee to evaluate community vulnerabilities associated with climate change and sea level rise. 1.67 Council CWC
Staff
3.       Conduct a thorough assessment of vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise including:

a.       a database of “’repetitive loss” properties
b.       detailed maps showing areas subject to potential inundation in the future

2.22 CVWG Staff
4.       Create an action plan to prioritize actions relative to climate change and sea level rise including a conceptual capital improvement program to balance fiscal capacity with coastal issues / needs 2.78 CVWG Council
Staff
5.       Continue to work with regional, state, and federal agencies and other organizations to address issues related to coastal vulnerability. 4.44 CVWG TOG
DEEP
SECCOG
Staff
6.       Consider increasing regulatory standards relative to construction in vulnerable areas:

a.       Limiting construction of habitable structures
b.       Increasing “freeboard” requirements
c.        Applying coastal “V” zone flood standards to areas which may be subject to such flooding in the future
d.       Update regulations to encourage or allow for increased structural integrity to the extent consistent with FEMA standards.

3.89 PZC Staff
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Relevant Resources

Resources related to climate change and sea level rise that are relevant to the City of Groton include:

      • Preparing for Climate Change in Groton, Connecticut (Town)
      • Critical Facilities Assessment (SECCOG)
      • SECCOG Regional Resilience Guidebook
      • SECCOG Regional Resilience Vision & Summary of Findings
      • Municipal Issues & Needs for Addressing Climate Adaptation in Connecticut (UConn –CLEAR)
      • Adapt CT (UConn –CLEAR)
      • Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (UConn – Avery Point)
      • Coastal Resilience for Long Island Sound (The Nature Conservancy)

6.2  Address Community Facility Issues

 

Community facilities and services contribute significantly to Groton’s quality of life and character.  Groton is different from many communities because City residents receive public services from:

  • the City (fire, police, public works, building, zoning, planning, solid waste),
  • the Town (education, social services, assessment, vital records, tax collection), or
  • both (parks and recreation).

 

The Plan reviews these facilities to ensure they are appropriately located and sized to meet community needs during the planning period and beyond.

Facility Findings
Municipal Complex

Space needs study recommended

  • The site and buildings are intensively used for City Hall, Police Station, Public Works, Thames Valley Communications, and other activities.
  • The current improvements do not adequately address all the needs of the functions located there.
  • A space needs study should be done to determine the best way to address the space needs (office space, meeting rooms, parking, equipment bays, interior storage, exterior storage) and protect sensitive uses from flooding.
  • Adequate land appears available on site to meet the needs.
Recreation

Improvements desired

  • The City has several key park and recreation facilities:
    • George Washington Park
    • Eastern Point Beach
    • Birch Plain Creek
    • boat launches
  • Some recreation space is also located at existing and former school sites
  • Recreational desires identified by the City Parks and Recreation Department include:
    • A community center
    • Additional recreation fields / facilities
    • Enhancement of the City Beach.
    • Multi-purpose trails, greenbelts, etc..
    • Additional public access to the Thames River.
  • The Department is responsible for maintenance of the grounds at City facilities.
Fire Stations

Space needs study recommended

  • The City Fire Department provides fire / emergency medical response in the City of Groton and the West Pleasant Valley District to the north from two stations:
    • Main station on Broad Street
    • Eastern Point Station on Shennecossett Road
  • The Department is staffed “around the clock” with paid staff supplemented by volunteers.
  • The Department collaborates with fire departments operated by both Electric Boat and Pfizer.
  • Fire hydrants are available throughout the City.
  • The Department reports that more storage space is needed to meet current and future needs.

School Facilities

School facilities are operated by the Town of Groton.  Over the past 10 years or so, enrollments have been declining and the Town has closed some school facilities (including two elementary schools within the City limits) and converted another school to a magnet school.  A number of school buildings have deferred maintenance.

While the City had been looking at leasing Colonel Ledyard School for some City functions, budget constraints forced and timing caused the City to halt plans for renovations and return the property to the Town.

 

Bill Library

The Bill Memorial Library is an independent library located in the City.  The library is part of the overall library system in the Town of Groton (the other libraries are the Groton Public Library on Route 117 and the Mystic and Noank Library in Mystic).

While privately funded, the City does assist the library in a number of ways.  The City should continue to support this library to help meet community needs.

 

Waste Disposal

The City collects municipal solid waste, recyclable materials, and bulky waste within the City.  Additional space for these activities is desired.

The City has a long term disposal agreement with a resource recovery facility which should meet City needs for the foreseeable future.

Strategies To Address Community Facility Issues

  Priority Leader Partner
Municipal Complex      
1.       Undertake a comprehensive space needs study to determine the best way to address the space needs at the Municipal Complex. 4.44 Council PW
Police
Staff
Recreation      
2.       Over the longer term, seek to address identified park and recreation desires:

a.  A community center.
b.  Additional recreation fields
c.  Expansion and enhancement of the City Beach.
d.  A small playground in the south-central area of the City.
e.  Multi-purpose trails, greenbelts, etc.).
f.  Additional public access to the Thames River.

6.11 BPC Council
Staff
Fire Stations      
3.       Look at ways to address the space needs (storage) of the fire department. 1.11 Fire Council
Staff
Other Facilities And Services      
4.       Continue to support the Bill Memorial Library. 5.00 Council TOG
Staff
5.       Continue to provide adequate collection and disposition of solid waste, recyclable materials, and bulky waste. 5.56 PW Council
Staff
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6.3  Promote Sustainability / Resiliency

 

Promote Sustainability

For the purposes of the POCD, “sustainability” refers to the philosophy of encouraging activities that allow present generations to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Sustainability relates to being efficient and economical in use of resources using approaches that are economically viable, of social benefit, and environmentally responsible.

Rather than an adversarial situation between economic and environmental interests, sustainability is meant to be a more cooperative approach.

Sustainability is about finding a balance between what we as a society want and demand from natural resources, our need to use natural resources to provide jobs and income for our families and communities, and the natural resources that are available to provide what we need.

 

Some of the items to be considered as part of a municipality’s overall approach to sustainability could include:

 

Energy-Related
  • Reducing energy use / becoming more energy efficient
  • Reducing reliance on fossil fuels
  • Encouraging use of renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.)
  • Promoting “greener” buildings / vehicles
  • Providing for alternative energy approaches (fuel cell, micro-grids, etc.)
  • Providing for electric car charging stations
  • Encourage multi-modal transportation options
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Water-Related
  • Reducing water use
  • Reducing water waste / recycling water
Waste-Related
  • Reducing waste (including food waste)
  • Reducing use of plastic bags
  • Increasing recycling

 

Promote Resiliency

The term “resiliency” refers to the community’s ability to withstand, respond to, and readily recover from sudden changes or adversity.  For the POCD, resiliency relates to being able to absorb and/or recover from impactful events (such as hurricanes, flooding and winter storms) in an efficient and timely way.  The elements of being a resilient community can include:

Avoidance-Related
  • Identification / avoidance / risk reduction
Mitigation-Related
  • Evaluating probability / risk scenarios
  • Evaluating approaches (protection / adaptation)
  • Balancing of cost / benefit
Response-Related
  • Pre-event education / training
  • Pre-event response plans

 

The 2012 SECCOG Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan is a key resource for the City to consider as it evaluates approaches to identify / reduce / eliminate risk to human life and property (resilience).  Recent hurricanes and major storm events have highlighted the value of such approaches.

 

Strategies To Promote Sustainability / Resiliency

 

  Priorities Leader Partner
Promote Sustainability      
1.       Continue to educate residents about sustainability concepts. 5.00 CWC UC
PW
LLHD
DEEP
Staff
2.       Consider participating in the “SustainableCT” program and similar programs. 0.56 Council Staff
Promote Resiliency      
3.       Continue efforts to identify, avoid, reduce, mitigate, and recover from impactful events. 5.56 Council PW
Police
Fire
Staff
4.       Continue to participate in updating the regional Hazard Mitigation Plan in order to address risks and obtain funding. 0.56 Staff PW
Police
Fire
5.       Implement the Hazard Mitigation Plan, as amended. 1.67 Staff PW
Police
Fire
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