Sandwich Receives State Grant for Municipal vulnerability Preparedness Program

SANDWICH – A $46,000 state grant to educate the public about areas that would be most vulnerable to increasingly ferocious storms has been granted to the town of Sandwich.

The grant, the third such to Sandwich from the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, was discussed at the selectmen’s meeting last month.

“The primary objectives of this project are to identify potential flooding impacts on municipality owned infrastructure,” said Consultant Joe Famely.

Sandwich has already completed phases one and two of this project and are now using this grant to focus on phases three and four.

“The next phase of the project is to begin to develop some adaptation strategies for the high priority assets that we identify in the vulnerability assessment,” Famely continued.

The Woods Hole Group, which acts as the town’s beach consultant, will help the natural resources department develop interactive online maps depicting how flooding would affect vulnerable sections of town over time, including the beach, boardwalk, and downtown areas.

The maps could be online by next spring, the town’s deadline for meeting grant specifications, said Sandwich’s Natural Resource Director, David DeConto.

The grant information followed an update from the Woods Hole Group on work completed so far to identify the town’s most vulnerable municipal structures.

The education grant will also allow Sandwich High School to develop and incorporate coastal vulnerability studies into its curriculum.

The town received an $117,000 grant last year for the study.

Famely said the study is still underway, but the data has shown that the fire station on Route 6A is extremely vulnerable and measures should be taken almost immediately to protect it and the outbuildings and propane tank on the property.

According to Famely, other places on the endangered list after big storms are the former police station on Route 6A, the town hall, the grist mill ticket booth, the Sand Hill Community Center, and the East Sandwich Fire Station.

Remedies, such as adding protective vegetation and structures, instituting a bigger beach buffer zone, relocating services, and prohibiting new development on the beach, will be covered in Phase four of the vulnerability program, Famely said.  

Other Massachusetts towns that received grants had to follow several steps to qualify for the program.

In 2017, Sandwich successfully applied for a training assistance to learn more about the MVP grant program administered by the state department of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

The state sent a consultant to Sandwich to train town staff in how to complete the vulnerability assessment and resiliency plan.

Once the training had been completed, the town became a certified Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program community, and thereby increased chances for the future state grants for endangered coastal communities.

“We got the first MVP grant to become certified as an MVP community and I think were the first on the Cape,” said Town Manager Bud Dunham.  

“Then we got the second grant and then we got a third grant for next year and that will focus in more on some of the key locations and properties and if we can ever get a fourth grant we are probably going to pick the most vulnerable areas and try to find a way to make those areas more protected.”

Because of its proximity to the Cape Cod Canal, the town is even more at risk, the study has found.  

The beach, the harbor, and the historic village, all of which felt the wrath of last year’s winter storms, are particularly vulnerable.

Sandwich was one of the first towns on the Cape to enlist in the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program.  

About Luke Leitner

Luke Leitner grew up in Watertown Massachusetts and now lives in West Yarmouth on the Cape. He has been a part of the news team in the News Center since the spring of 2019. He studied business communications at Western New England University.
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