The Town of Groton is creating a new job to address the effects of climate change in the coastal community. For the first time, the town is hiring a Sustainability and Resilience Manager.
"It's really going to take a town-wide effort in order to combat the effects because there are many homeowners and business owners who will be affected by the sea-level rise," said Mayor of Groton, Juan Melendez. "We have to think of how to address that problem starting right now."
The person who is hired will be tasked with creating a sustainability action plan.
According to the Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA), the sea level is expected to rise by up to 20 inches by the year 2050 and to continue increasing after that.
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CIRCA explains that coastal residents could expect a higher cost of living, greater property damage risk, more highway and road closures, and inaccessibility to and higher maintenance costs for critical infrastructure.
"We can wait for that or we can try to figure out what to do to reduce the flood risk," said Professor James O'Donnell, the executive director of CIRCA.
CIRCA works with municipalities across the state, helping them with resiliency planning.
"Every town along the shoreline has a plan and they are different in many ways. They are not very standardized, but they have thought about it," said O'Donnell. "Then some towns have gone to the extent of spending money. Groton now has hired someone on their own tax revenue."
In addition to the new job position, the town of Groton also received a grant to develop a coastal resiliency plan for Downtown Mystic.
The grant comes from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund and will help the town produce a strategy to address sea-level rise and climate change in the coastal community. According to the town's director of planning, Jonathan Reiner, the town is in the process of hiring a consultant, and the work should begin within the next month.
Groton also received a $725,000 federal grant to strengthen coastal resiliency at Esker Point Beach and Palmer Grove. The funding was secured through the 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, according to Senator Richard Blumenthal's office.
The infrastructure project aims to reduce the risk of flooding, prevent pollution of Long Island Sound, and spur economic development along Connecticut’s coast.
"This can't be put on the back burner. This has got to be a number one priority," said Mayor Melendez.