Climate leaders in Chelsea suggest less development, more green solutions for coastal flooding


As severe weather is made increasingly likely by climate change, flooding poses a serious risk to the residents of Chelsea. Many parts of the small city, situated between East Boston and Everett, were constructed on filled-in land over swamps and sea marshes. The housing built in these low areas is home to many foreign-born and low-income residents.

GreenRoots, Inc. is a community-oriented nonprofit based in Chelsea. The organization has led initiatives to reclaim parts of the Chelsea waterfront for public use and benefit of Chelsea residents. John Walkey, the director of Waterfront and Climate Justice Initiatives, said new approaches to waterfront use could provide practical flood protection for Chelsea.

“I think changing business as usual is going to be the key part,” Walkey said. “We have those two options; one is a benefit for all over the long term, and the other option, business as usual, is sort of a short-term benefit for just a few people.”

Rather than continue development on land at high risk of flooding, Walkey supports marshland restoration as an ecological solution to flooding. He believes new parks and green spaces along the waterfront would protect residents while offering a public amenity not commonly found in communities like Chelsea.


This video is a part of a climate justice series produced in Jody Santos’ course “Video News Reporting and Producing” at Northeastern University. Over the course of the semester, students will be producing news packages addressing climate and transit justice within Greater Boston.

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