Town Hopes To Relocate DPW Staff Over Next 5 Years Due To Flooding Concerns

WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Board of Selectmen recently adopted a new Town Hazard Mitigation Plan, created by a committee of town officials led by Valerie Gingrich, Director of Planning and Conservation.

Gingrich summarized the committee’s work and the town’s new plan in a 15-minute presentation to the Selectmen at their December 13 meeting.

Gingrich explained that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) requires communities to update its Hazard Mitigation Plan every five years.

FEMA defines “mitigation” as efforts to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impacts of disasters. Mitigation involves “taking actions now — before the next disaster — to reduce human and financial consequences later.”

Gingrich explained that the town recently successfully applied for a $31,000 state grant to work on updating and creating the town’s first Municipal Vulnerability Plan. While the Hazard Mitigation Plan focuses on CURRENT hazards, the Municipal Vulnerability Plan (MVP) worries about FUTURE hazards. With the grant funding, the town was able to hire consultants.

As part of the planning process, the committee held two 2-day workshops and two public listening sessions. The committee consisted of Gingrich, Town Manager Jeff Hull, Town Engineer Paul Alunni, Fire Chief Bill Cavanaugh, Police Chief Joe Desmond, Conservation Agent Cameron Lynch, Public Buildings Superintendent George Hooper, GIS Manager Tony LaVerde, Health Director Shelly Newhouse, DPW Utility Manager Joseph Lobao, DPW Operations Manager Jamie Migaldi and resident John Keeley.

The plan’s final draft outlined four goals:

  • Prevent and reduce the loss of life, property and infrastructure from natural hazards.
  • Prioritize green solutions and environmental protection when implementing mitigation actions.
  • Build resilience to natural hazards through the integration of hazard mitigation and climate adaptation principles into town plans and regulations, and through collaboration with private, regional, state and federal organizations.
  • Increase public awareness of natural hazard risks and mitigation activities through education and research.

The plan recognized the top natural hazards confronting Wilmington as (1) flooding; (2) high winds, hurricanes and tropical storms, and (3) severe winter events and Nor’easters.

Gingrich highlighted several of the town’s mitigation successes under the prior plan, including drainage improvement on Mass Ave, the start of a tree inventory with risk assessment ; and the acquisition of multiple of heavy duty dump trucks with plows and sanders.

Gingrich then previewed four of the goals from the latest hazard mitigation plan, including replacing the Route 62 culvert at Martin’s Brook; conducting mitigation and education programs on invasive species; undertaking public outreach to homeowners about the value of wetlands and dangers of drought; and the relocation of the DPW administration building out of a floodplain.

In response to a question from Selectwoman Judy O’Connell, Gingrich noted that the hazard mitigation plan does not go into detail as to where the DPW Administration would be relocated.

“The idea is the folks would be relocated,” said Gingrich. “We don’t have a specific location to where they’d be going. The Town’s Facility Master Plan that was worked on a couple of years ago talked about this as well.”

The Master Facility Plan reads: “This building is in generally good condition. It is within the 100-year flood plain of Martin’s Brook. This has resulted in occasional flooding of the building and site. As reported by DPW, flooding has disrupted operations in the building 3 times in the last 20 years, with disruptions lasting approximately 2 weeks. It is not practical to floodproof the building for the extended periods of time that would be required. Development of a replacement building on this site is impractical because of its location in a Zone 1 Aquifer Protection district. As a result, this facility should be replaced and relocated, most likely as part of improvements and enhancements at the nearby DPW garage.”

Gingrich noted that the town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan, as well as the town’s Municipal Vulnerability Plan, can be read in full on the town’s website HERE.

FEMA has already reviewed the plan and will formally approve it follow the Board’s adoption. The approved plan makes the town eligible for FEMA hazard mitigation grants.

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