Greenwich Works on Climate Resiliency Plan

Greenwich's Board of Selectmen recently received an update on work taking place to develop a climate resiliency plan.

Greenwich Works on Climate Resiliency Plan
A look out over the coastline of Greenwich. (Photo by Kelly Prinz)

Last August, the Board of Selectmen approved a resolution that called for a “Sustainability and Climate Resiliency Plan by December 2023.”

In late April, Elizabeth Evans, the town’s director of environmental affairs, gave the Board of Selectmen an update on what the Conservation Commission and town staff have been working on.

“What we have attempted to do is identify the climate-related challenges that face the coastal community of Greenwich and once we identify those challenges, to then suggest adaptive strategies that individuals, institutions, neighborhoods, and the town as a whole can adopt or work toward to combat the threats to public health and our environment,” Evans said.

She said that they’ve looked at “other resiliency plans of coastal towns and the information put out by Connecticut DEEP, as well as Save the Sound,” to start drafting the plan for the town.

Evans said that they’re working on developing a survey that will go out to residents soon to ask them what their climate-related priorities are, as well as points of interest and concern.

“By December 2023, we hope to have identified the priorities, identified what needs to be done, what has been done, and sources of funding for doing those projects, for making those initiatives happen at the community level,” Evans said.

First Selectman Fred Camillo said that this was the right time to hear an update on this plan, as Greenwich officials have been working to address flood concerns in communities across the town.

“The flood issue is not going to go away—from Byram to Old Greenwich and to the backcountry we have issues. People are looking for some type of plan,” he said. “Hopefully we won't have any more bad weather events between now and December, but it’s always a possibility, and the more people that are impacted, the more urgent this is for us to have a plan for how we’re going to do it.”

Selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan said that while many of the climate change related problems were not solely a Greenwich issue, she wanted to see how the town could work to address the local impact.

“The state is facing a waste management crisis and if we could make some progress on composting that would go very very far and we know there are state grants available for that,” she said.

McGuigan also acknowledged that while some fixes might cost money now, they could help save the town money down the road.

“I think we’re going to have to be investing some resources into actions that this town can take,” she said. “And that’s the key word—actions—but there are some that are not that expensive but will ultimately save us a lot of money.”

Evans said that they’ll be back with an update in a few months to let the board know of progress before December. She emphasized the need for community engagement and awareness.

“Education is very important to me,” she said. ‘We’re hoping it’s going to be an educational document to everyone who reads it.”

Learn more about Greenwich’s climate change resolution that started the work on this plan.