BLD is collaborating with the City of Quincy and the MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority) to facilitate a conversation in the community around improvements to the dike, a.k.a. the MWRA berm, which houses a critical piece of infrastructure that services approximately 1.5 million people. Locally, the berm connects the coastal communities of Houghs Neck, Post Island and Adams Shore via an unimproved trail, which is utilized for recreation purposes. Most critically, the berm functioned as a means of emergency egress from the Houghs Neck community during Super Storm Riley, allowing residents to obtain necessary resources from the mainland. However, surface conditions and the narrow width of the path not only made it very difficult to walk, but more importantly, prevented emergency vehicles from utilizing the corridor.
The berm, designed in 1903 by Olmstead and Eliot, serves as functional ecology and is a critical component of the habitat between the marsh and the urban forest. Historically designed as part of a network of open spaces, BLD wishes to uphold and preserve that vision of supporting community access while not just restoring the berm, but enhancing the current ecological conditions. As BLD works with the community to understand their desires and goals, we will also look at reforestation of the berm through replacing existing invasive trees, which currently account for about half of the length of the berm, with noninvasive species. We are confident that both the development of a healthier berm ecology and providing emergency vehicle and pedestrian access during rare storm events are compatible and achievable goals for the berm.
Additionally, due to the proximity of the berm to both Adams Shore Library and Atherton Hough Elementary School, it is an ideal location for educational programming. The unique landscape that exists along the berm provides an opportunity to reinforce local recognition and understanding of how the marsh and berm are components of ecological services that help prevent impact from climate change.