Climate Resiliency Design: Inland Interventions for Coastal Resiliency for the Village of Mystic, CT

A 0.6-acre town-owned lot that was frequently flooding is reimagined as a floodable park with permeable parking lot lined with bioretention gardens and built over storm chambers. This design filters and temporarily holds stormwater, creating habitat and recreational space, while expanding parking in the historic coastal community. The report recommends upland neighborhoods as target sites for residential stormwater intervention programs.

A 0.6-acre town-owned lot that was frequently flooding is reimagined as a floodable park with permeable parking lot lined with bioretention gardens and built over storm chambers. This design filters and temporarily holds stormwater, creating habitat and recreational space, while expanding parking in the historic coastal community. The report recommends upland neighborhoods as target sites for residential stormwater intervention programs.

In winter of 2019, I completed a coastal resiliency project that was funded by the Nature Conservancy in Connecticut as part of a two-person team. This resiliency plan focused on inland interventions for flood-prone areas for the historic seaport village of Mystic, CT.

The work I contributed to the project included data analysis of the watershed, impaired waters, natural habitats, pollution hotspots, slopes, soil, and simulating runoff channels through hotspot areas using flow direction and accumulation using GIS (Geographic Information System software). I also reviewed the town's storm water management plan, Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit requirements, and a coastal resiliency plan the town had previously contracted from an engineering firm. Our project looked at the recommendations of the engineering firm's coastal resiliency plan in order to weigh the feasibility and application of the recommendations to the site characteristics and limitations inherent to the historic coastal community. Our project identified priority intervention areas and gave examples for green infrastructure interventions for streets, communities, and public spaces. My designs were primarily focused on meeting MS4 permit requirements for public education and outreach on stormwater management using parks and public interventions as demonstration sites, as prioritized by their proximity to point-source and non-point source pollution runoff channels, and creating wildlife habitat. My partner and I worked closely on developing recommendations for residential and street designs as well.

Our team developed and facilitated two stakeholder meetings during this project, one was a listening session where we identified target areas and introduced potential intervention precedents. The second was a meeting where we shared our analysis and assessment of the village, and introduced our preliminary design solutions for residential, street, and public spaces in town. We gathered valuable feedback from the community which helped shape our final design suggestions and our final report. Other work that I contributed to the report included research on creating appropriately-sized green infrastructure interventions, identifying priority intervention sites, and funding precedents. It also included a piece on relocation from the coastline, which is a bit of a delicate topic, but one that needs to be discussed with our knowledge of the importance of marshes and value of fragile coastal habitat in mitigating storm surge and flooding with increasing frequency and severity of storms in our future. The town manager and stakeholders found our suggestions particularly useful in moving the existing climate resiliency plan into an actionable road map for projects to address storm water related flooding and coastal resiliency in Mystic. The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut intends to use this report as a toolbox for other similar coastal communities.

Non-residential, site-specific public park designs:

Green infrastructure design details and plant palette for salt-tolerant species with phytoremediation potential: