Coastal Resilience Planning Meeting Spurs Heated Debate about Town's Future

"What Guilford looked like during Sandy is a good precursor for what 2080 will look like twice a day during high tide on a daily basis." What do you need to know about Guilford in the next 100 years?


Last night the town hosted a Coastal Resilience Plan Meeting intended to develop options and strategies to address critical needs of the town as we look to the future of Guilford. The work will culminate in the production of a coastal resilience plan document, in which there will be a set of concrete recommendations for town options, and set priorities and schedules as well as identifying who is responsible for actions and regulations.

Town Planner George Kral kicked off the meeting by explaining that we are currently in the second part of this three-phase project. “Right now we are assessing risks and vulnerabilities,” said Kral. “We want to discuss strategies and goals for mitigating the adverse impacts of events like Super Storm Sandy. We need to speak with residents to address risks and vulnerabilities.”

“We need to figure out what makes the most sense for Guilford,” continued Kral. “We have to address sea level rise and storm frequency.”

David Murphy, of Milone and MacBroom broke down the options that are available to Guilford, which included several categories of approaches that he reviewed at length. According to his presentation, basic options include:

1.)  Management of Coastal Real Estate and Structures: This would include possible options of Building codes, acquisition of damaged properties, zoning overlays, zoning amendments, coastal realignments through any of the aforementioned

2.)  Shoreline protection and management of coastal and near shore lands: Options would include hard shoreline protection, living shorelines, buffers for flood protections, land acquisition for tidal marsh migration, and land conservation for tidal marsh migration

3.)  Roadway Alterations: Including elevation of roadways, abandonment of roads, re-evaluation of emergency routes, and alternate egress

4.)  Protection of replacement of water supply wells and septic systems: To protect the water supply and septic maintenance, options include on-site retrofits of septic systems, community wastewater systems, extension of sewer system, individual water treatment systems, community water systems, extension of water mains or vacate properties.

Murphy made it clear that these options were not mutually exclusive, and that other shoreline towns in states like Massachusetts and Maryland were using a combination of approaches to address their needs.

The presentation that followed, lead by Nathan Frohlin of The Nature Conservancy and Alex Felson of Yale School of Forestly, drove home that regardless of what options were pursued, action needed to be taken.

They provided a series of maps that detailed the sea level rise in Guilford in 2020, 2050 and 2080. The bottom line according to there findings: What Guilford looked like during Sandy is a good precursor for what 2080 will look like twice a day during high tide on a daily basis.

After countless residents listened attentively to this plethora of information, it was time for them to speak back. Here’s what Guilford said:

"We need to take a comprehensive look at 146 with neighboring towns and on a state level. It's not only a vital roadway but it's also a scenic road and a bike way. This would be a good project this plan might suggest."

"We need to examine what infrastructure changes need to be made to the neighborhoods of Mulberry Point and Seaside Avenue."

"What is the railroad doing to address these issues? Have they thought about floodgates?"

"Has the town identified certain critical infrastructure already?"

"In 20 to 30 years, 10-15% of our population, about 25% of our taxes, will be lost as the waterfront properties are lost. We can’t fix anything without that tax base. We need to discover what we need to do is first physically to protect that tax base. The real issue here is economic, if we don’t get money we’re going to be in big trouble."

"We need to safeguard our utility systems."

"I lost a lot last year, and I made improvements, but I need a to know how to really make my house storm proof."

"I feel as though the majority of people in Guilford don't know about these issues. There needs to be a way to communicate this issue and education residents who aren't here."

"When we lost power everyone bought their own private generator, which I think is really inefficient. We need to come together within our neighborhoods to come together to approach a storm."

"There should be a permanent town body to address these issues."

"What about repairing the tide gate at the end of Trolley road? That would protect a section of 146?"

"Is the DEEP going to cooperate? Are they willing to work with property owners?"

"The Town has tried to do a lot of good things on good faith, but we need a more holistic approach. What we really need to do is to assemble data on parcels and taxes that we will lose in the future. We cannot count on state and federal support in this matter. We need as clear a picture as possible on the  economic implications of future tax loses."

"I applaud the town of Guilford for being proactive about this, even if it is a little late."

"This is about our future and our children's future, they will be the ones making these decision in the future. We need to get this information into the schools."

"We need to organize a task force around this issue."

"If we continue to only pursue short term goals, like we're doing, we will not get anywhere."

"We need a systemic, holistic approach."

"We need to hold CL&P accountable for their responsibility in flooding of Branford Substation and how they plan to approach future storms. What is being down for the substation on Meadow? What are public institutions doing to address this?"


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