Coastal Resources Management Council

'Streets full of water'

Grand Canal, in Venice.

Grand Canal, in Venice.

Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

As the late great writer and comic actor Robert Benchley telegrammed after arriving in Venice: "Streets full of water. Advise.''

Barrington is one of the richest towns in Rhode Island. So it is particularly interesting to see how much of the town structures are under the threat of being flooded. With no more sea-level rise, 42.9 percent of residential and commercial buildings would be exposed to a  “100-year’’ storm surge in the town, the Providence Business News reports, citing Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council data. A three-foot sea-level rise by 2050 would expose 56 percent of the structures in a 100-year storm. The PBN’s Feb. 16-22 article, headlined “Rising Waters: ‘We’re Pretty Vulnerable,’’ is well worth reading.

When you drive through Barrington, you’re struck by how very, very low it is.  Almost Venetian. Of course, its marshy beauty, with ever-changing colors, is much of its appeal. But how far along is the planning to address the coming disaster there, including for the insurance industry?

Frank Carini: Rhode Island tries to deal with a rising sea

Here at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, in Middletown, R.I., the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are working to restore and strengthen salt-marsh habitat as the rising sea level poses an intensifying challenge.

Here at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, in Middletown, R.I., the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are working to restore and strengthen salt-marsh habitat as the rising sea level poses an intensifying challenge.

Via ecoRI News (

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — Rhode Island is losing and has lost thousands of acres of salt marsh, much of it to development. These unique ecosystems are a priceless resource with irreplaceable benefits, including their ability to protect the human-built world from sea-level rise.

“We’re going to hit a point when marshes can’t keep up with sea-level rise,” University of Rhode Island researcher Simon Engelhart said. “We need to let them migrate inland, or we will lose them. We need to allow marshes to do what marshes do.”

He said humans should already be retreating from the coastline. He also noted that the clearing of trees and the destabilization of soil impacts the ability of salt marshes to migrate inland.

Engelhart, an assistant professor in URI’s Department of GeoSciences, is investigating how the state’s coastline has responded to past sea level-rise changes and studying the influence of land subsidence from the last ice age to better understand future implications as sea level-rise projections continue to climb.

So far, his research has found that sea-level rise is happening faster than at any point in Rhode Island’s past 3,000 years, in part because the Ocean State is sinking. Low-lying areas such as Island Park, in Portsmouth, and Oakland Beach, in Warwick, are among the most vulnerable areas.

Engelhart noted that sea-level rise is a complicated issue with many variables, such as gravity, density changes of water, water temperatures, the strength of the Gulf Stream and other ocean currents, the draining of aquifers, groundwater withdrawals, and the rate of ice-sheet melting in Greenland, the West Antarctic, the East Antarctic and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

“It doesn’t go up uniformly everywhere. The ground moves, shakes and is active,”  Engelhart said during a Feb. 14 talk at the Coastal Institute Auditorium on URI’s Bay Campus as part of Rhode Island Sea Grant’s annual Coastal State Discussion Series. “Sea-level rise is about what the ocean is doing and what the land is doing.”

Although Rhode Island is losing only 1 millimeter of ground annually, according to Engelhart, it plays a meaningful role in present-day flooding along a coastal state that is mostly at sea level or 10-30 feet above.

He said land subsidence — the gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth’s surface owing to subsurface movement of earth materials — “is going to be important in the short-term even though it’s small because it’s still a component of what we’re seeing,” referring to nuisance flooding where high tides can now cause road closures and overwhelm storm drains. These events are expected to increase with continuing sea-level rise, he added.

“This may seem minimal compared to projected sea levels, but is still a significant contributor to sea-level rise at present,” Engelhart said.

Since 1930 the Newport tide gauge has measured about 2.7 millimeters annually of relative sea-level rise. The Providence tide gauge has measured 2.2 millimeters. Those measurements, however, don’t tell the full story.

“Eighty to ninety years of data is not enough to put anything into context,” Engelhart said. “Those are just linear rates ... they’re not accounting for the acceleration of the current rate. There’s clear acceleration in the records of the past 25 years. We need to address greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Last year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration increased its sea-level rise projectionsto up to 8 feet by 2100. The Northeast is projected to experience an additional 1-3 feet on top of NOAA modeling.

Salt marshes are highly productive ecosystems that filter out pollution, provide habitat for wildlife and protect homes from flooding. They’re also sensitive to development. 

For the long-term context of Rhode Island sea-level rise, Engelhart and his research team turned to Narragansett Bay salt marshes. He explained that salt marshes grow at different elevations to the ocean and that life in them tells a specific story. To read these marsh stories, Engelhart’s team has taken core samples from four salt marshes — Fox Hill, Touisset, Nag Creek and Osamequin — and closely examined their finds with radiocarbon dating.

The team has plans to expand the number of salt marshes where core samples are taken.

Salt marshes are shoreline wetlands that are flooded and drained by salt water brought in by the tides. These intertidal ecosystems — foraging habitat for fish, shellfish, birds and mammals, and home to nursery areas and spawning grounds — are essential for healthy coastlines, communities and fisheries. They are an integral part of Rhode Island’s economy and culture.

They also have and continue to take a pounding. For instance, more than 50 percent of Narragansett Bay’s salt marshes have been destroyed during the past three centuries. Much of the remaining marshes have been diminished by coastal development and failed mosquito ditching. Mosquito ditches are narrow channels that were dug to drain the upper reaches of salt marshes. It was believed that such efforts would control mosquito breeding, but all that work did was drain salt marshes and kill off mummichogs, a mosquito-eating fish that are important prey for herons, egrets and larger predatory fish.

Healthy salt marshes help communities, buildings, infrastructure and the environment better withstand the impacts of sea-level rise and coastal storm surge. Salt marshes protect shorelines from erosion by buffering wave action and trapping sediment. These vital ecosystems reduce flooding by absorbing rainwater, and protect water quality by filtering runoff and metabolizing excess nutrients, such as nitrogen.

Salt marshes, however, are highly sensitive to development. Polluted stormwater runoff from inland development can damage salt-marsh health. Engelhart also noted that the marshes of Narragansett Bay face another problem: a lack of sediment supply.

James Boyd of the state’s Coastal Resources Management Council partook in an informal conversation, which included about a dozen questions from the audience, after Engelhart’s recent presentation.

Boyd noted that if sea level in Rhode Island rose a foot, 13 percent of the state’s remaining salt marshes would be lost; 3 feet, 62 percent; 5 feet, 83 percent.

“Our salt marshes are in trouble,” said the coastal policy analyst. “The ability of salt marshes to migrate inland is the most important element. We need to preserve that upland. That’s what will save our salt marshes: room to move.”

The impact of losing healthy salt marsh can be seen across southern New England. The coastal portion of the Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Management Area, in Tiverton, has experienced more than 90 feet of shoreline erosion in the past 75 years, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are working to restore and strengthen salt-marsh habitat at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, in Middletown, to better withstand the impacts of sea-level rise, coastal storm surge and coastal erosion.

Salt marshes of the picturesque Narrow River are threatened by a combination of rising water and human activity. In recent years, motorboat wakes and extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy have destroyed 15 percent of the watershed’s marshland, according to state officials.

Salt-marsh islands in the West Branch of the Westport River have declined by nearly half during the past 80 years, according to a 2017 report.

By studying aerial imagery of six salt-marsh islands in the river’s West Branch, scientists found that the total area of salt marshes has consistently declined during the past eight decades, with losses dramatically increasing in the past 15 years. Altogether, the six islands lost a total of 12 acres of salt marsh since 1938. If marsh losses continue at the accelerated rate observed during the past 15 years, the Westport River’s marsh islands could disappear within 15 to 58 years, according to the researchers.

“Plan for the worst-case scenario is the best way to handle sea-level rise,” Engelhart said. “Take the longer-term view. There’s benefits regardless if we cut greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Engelhart’s research aims to provide a better understanding of future coastal hazards, to help coastal planners make more informed decisions.

Frank Carini is editor of ecoRI News.


Many Rhode Islanders should seek higher ground



for ecoRI News (

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) is expected to update the governor and General Assembly on its progress in May. Some of the information they will be presenting is both encouraging and worrisome.

ecoRI News reported this month that the state revised its sea level-rise estimates to 7 feet by 2100. The estimate also includes a projected increase of 2 feet by 2050.

James Boyd, coastal policy analyst for the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), presented a vivid image of what the revisions mean during the EC4’s Feb. 10 meeting. A photo taken during a moon tide Feb. 9 showed what a 2-foot increase looks like.

“This is monumental change on the Rhode Island landscape,” he said.

For now, higher “nuisance” tides are all already on the rise, Boyd said, occurring three to five times annually, rather than once or twice.

The new 7-foot estimate can be seen online through CRMC’s STORMTOOLS program. New features in the program show the effects of storm surges and flooding on individual properties across Rhode Island. Municipalities and developers can also look at the coastal climate impacts on commercial areas, and bridges and roads.

Jared Rhodes, chief of the Statewide Planning Program, said coastal communities in southern Rhode Island are largely embracing efforts to adapt to climate-change impacts. But the measures aren’t gaining traction with some cities and towns in upper Narragansett Bay, he said.

“From my perspective, many of the communities don’t see this as something that’s an urgent issue right now,” Rhodes said. “And I think that’s something we need to still keep pushing and find ways to help the municipalities apply the tools that have already been developed so that we can help them see that this is a real issue.”

Boyd said the increased frequency of powerful storms and nuisance flooding will likely draw attention to the need for communities to adapt. He noted that Warwick was chosen, along with Charlestown, for a pilot program that assigns numerical risk factors for climate impacts to all homes and businesses.

The program will be run by CRMC and funded with a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Another HUD grant will fund new flood mapping of the Pawtuxet River watershed. If successful, other watersheds will be mapped.

Leah Bamberger, the city’s director of sustainability, said STORMTOOLS may be useful for homeowners on Providence’s East Side, but likely won’t draw attention from renters, residents living in multi-family homes and those without the means to interact online.

The city’s sustainability plan focuses on transforming community centers into emergency shelters and cooling centers, and places for residents to interact. Rather than a small number of large shelters across the city, Bamberger said, “It’s better to have small spaces where (residents) know people and are comfortable there.”

Providence’s sustainability plan also aims to address the long-term resiliency of the Port of Providence and surrounding neighborhoods, including the Rhode Island Hospital area. The new flood maps show the port and Allens Avenue, through downtown, flooded by storm surge from a major hurricane.

The city’s commitment to the Compact of Mayors means Providence will set its own greenhouse gas-reduction targets and adopt a climate adaptation plan. By joining the compact, cities with similar risks share ideas for solving climate vulnerabilities.

Last year, Providence divested its pension investments from the 15 most polluting coal companies. A draft of land use and development plan is expected in April. It is expected to include progress reports on stormwater management, building codes and standards, and neighborhood risk assessments.

The state Department of Health (DOH) has made the most progress with climate adaptation efforts. Julia Gold, DOH’s climate-change program manager, has overseen several initiatives to identify and address public health impacts, such as heat and at-risk populations. Resolving climate risks related to senior citizens are ongoing, such as shelter-in-place planning and technical assistance for 30 elderly housing sites across the state.

Gold plans to make an educational film containing individual stories about climate risks such as flooding and the heat-island effect, and solutions. Gold said the film isn’t meant to scare people about the risks but “that we are presenting solutions. That positive change is occurring and there is hope.”
New aerial shoreline maps reveal that erosion is advancing quickly along the southern coast, from Westerly to North Kingstown. Matunuck Beach in South Kingstown is seeing the worst erosion, with an average of 5 feet of erosion annually between 2010 and 2014.

Boyd explained that erosion isn’t caused by sea-level rise but is the result of potent storms such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The $100,000 in Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposed fiscal 2017 budget for a new coastal resiliency center at the University of Rhode Island would offer technical guidance to municipalities in understanding the impacts of climate change. Risks to infrastructure, hospitals, drinking water and wastewater systems would be addressed.

Some of that guidance could recommend that coastal roads such as Matunuck Beach Road and Atlantic Avenue in Westerly be abandoned or shortened.

“Now you start looking at real damage costs so you can start making some intelligent choices whether you want to rebuild (after storms) in that location or relocate,” Boyd said.

Brown University researcher and lecturer Caroline Karp supports comprehensive planning to address the concept of no-build zones in areas frequently damaged by flooding and storms, as well as areas that are predicted to suffer from climate-change impacts. No-build, she said, involves denying building permits, and suspending town services and maintenance to roads and infrastructure in those areas.

Kendra Beaver, staff attorney for Save The Bay, said CRMC and the state Department of Environmental Management don’t appear to be considering climate impacts when issuing permits related to construction. Potential property owners, she said, are therefore not likely to know the risk of damage to homes and other structures.

“There has to be some obligation on the part of the permitting agencies to right now consider what you know about the impacts of climate change before you issue any permits at all,” Beaver said.

Karp said she also wants the EC4 to address climate impacts on vulnerable wildlife rather than just vulnerable infrastructure.

University of Rhode Island Prof. Peter August, chair of the EC4 Science and Technical Advisory Board, said his committee is concerned about this issue and is looking at monitoring changes in fauna and flora of ecosystems, as well as the impact of stormwater runoff on wildlife.

Frank Carini: Rising waters threaten region's cultural treasures

Rising sea levels and increased flooding are problems for communities and historic districts along the southern New England coast, which has some thinking of turning Boston into a city of canals, much like Amsterdam and Venice. (Urban Land Institute)
Welcome to Boston

(FRANK CARINI is editor of ecoRI News )

Sea-level rise, more frequent and intense storms, and the subsequent flooding being caused by these climate-change impacts are putting U.S. historic sites at risk. The Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) lists Boston’s historic districts among the country’s most endangered.

History-rich and waterlogged southern New England needs to develop a plan on how to adequately protect the region’s many cultural resources and historic buildings from a rising tide of sea and flood waters.

The May 2014 UCS report that lists Boston among the 30 most at-risk historic areas across the country notes that the city is one of several along the East Coast experiencing more frequent and severe coastal flooding and more intense storm surges.

“You can almost trace the history of the United States through these sites,” said Adam Markham, director of climate impacts at UCS and the report’s co-author. “The imminent risks to these sites and the artifacts they contain threaten to pull apart the quilt that tells the story of the nation’s heritage and history.”

The 84-page report claims rising waters are a threat to Boston’s historic Long Wharf and to Blackstone Block — a compact district of narrow, winding streets and alleys dating to the 17th century.

Ten of the 20 highest tides in Boston during the past hundred years have occurred in the past decade, according to the report. Since 1921, when such record keeping began, the city has experienced waves 3.5 feet taller than normal 20 times, and half of those instances have occurred in the past 10 years.

In fact, high tides along the East Coast are getting, well, higher, largely because sea levels are increasing. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists have said these increases are the result of shifts in climate — the seas, on average, are 8 inches higher than a century ago. The result is the growing occurrence of flooding in coastal communities.

Had Sandy, the October 2012 superstorm that wreaked havoc on New York and New Jersey and damaged historic buildings and landscapes up and down the Mid-Atlantic coast, hit Boston about five hours earlier, at high tide, the damage to some of the city’s historic sites would have been severe.

The Blackstone Block of Colonial streets, for one, would have flooded, according to the Boston Harbor Association. An association report claims that nearly 7 percent of the city would have been flooded, with floodwaters reaching City Hall, had Sandy arrived earlier.

The additional destruction under this scenario would have significantly damaged Boston’s economy. Some 12 million tourists visit the city annually, generating about $8 billion for the local economy. Many visit to walk the Freedom Trail, browse Faneuil Hall, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and dine in some of the country’s oldest restaurants.

In fact, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks Boston the eighth-highest metropolitan area worldwide in expected economic losses, estimated at $237 million annually, on average, between now and 2050, because of coastal flooding.

Boston, however, is hardly the only seaside southern New England community with a fine collection of historic attractions. Rising tides also threaten historical properties in Fall River, New Bedford, Providence, Wickford Village in North Kingstown, R.I., and Groton, Conn., among other places.

Cultural resources — i.e., libraries, archives, historical societies, museums, city/town halls and historic farms— are an important part of southern New England’s unique heritage. Their significance also includes the literary works, rare collections, manuscripts, historical archives, municipal records and artifacts they hold.

The Massachusetts seaside towns of Duxbury, Marshfield and Scituate are rich in New England history, and they’re also prone to flooding because of rising tides and heavier storm surges. In fact, the three South Shore communities in the past 35 years are collectively responsible for nearly $80 million in FEMA Flood Insurance claims — nearly a quarter of the state’s total, according to a recent study.

From 1978 to 2013, the three towns received a total of $78.3 million in flood-related claims, as compared to the total of $337.8 million for all of Massachusetts.

These communities are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise because of their extensive floodplains and estuaries that reach into inland areas. In addition, their densely populated shorelines are fronted by narrow and fragile coastal and barrier beaches that are exposed to high-energy surf from Massachusetts and Cape Cod bays.

They have all experienced extensive damage over the years from storm-related flooding, which is predicted to worsen in the years ahead.

The Brown Street Bridge and much of historic Wickford Village in North Kingstown, R.I., was inundated during Superstorm Sandy’s visit in 2012. (Coastal Resources Center at URI)

The Brown Street Bridge and much of historic Wickford Village in North Kingstown, R.I., was inundated during Superstorm Sandy’s visit in 2012. (Photo from Coastal Resources Center at University of Rhode Island.)

The threat of rising seas, worsening storm surges and more frequent downpours arguably concerns Wickford more than any other historic district in southern New England.This small village on the west side of Narragansett Bay features one of the largest collections of 18th-century dwellings in the Northeast. Most of the village's historic homes and buildings — the majority privately owned — remain largely intact upon their original foundations.But rising waters are beginning to routinely lap against many of these old structures. A mid-August tidal surge, for instance, flooded a parking lot across the way from Gardner’s Wharf Seafood, turning the popular local business into a harbor island.

Grover Fugate, executive director of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), has warned that some projections show sea levels rising as much as 6 feet in the next 100 years. If that happens, he says much of Wickford Village would be lost.

A 6-foot rise would flood about 150 parcels of land in Wickford, as much as 5 percent of the town, according to a Rhode Island Sea Grant analysis. The value of the land that would be lost is some $80 million.

Wickford’s municipal parking lot already floods regularly at moon tides. During Sandy, the iconic village lost power, basements were flooded and septic systems overwhelmed. Street flooding turned some properties nearest Wickford Harbor into small islands.

With this historic village — regarded by many as the town’s heart and soul — so vulnerable to flooding, Rhode Island selected North Kingstown for a pilot project in a statewide effort to develop climate-change adaptation measures. One of the project’s first tasks was to map areas of North Kingstown vulnerable to sea-level rise and flooding and then identify priority at-risk infrastructure, buildings and assets in those areas.

It likely would take a massive engineering project to properly protect this harborside village. This prospect begs the same question municipal officials, historical societies and homeowners across southern New England are grappling with: “How do we protect our properties and these districts from climate change without sacrificing their cultural integrity?”

“How do we balance preserving the historical integrity of these homes and also get them out of the way?” Teresa Crean, a community planner and coastal management extension specialist with the Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant, said during a “resiliency walk” she led along Wickford Harbor in October. “There’s little guidance currently that addresses how to deal with historic districts when it comes to climate change.”

Complex problem The complexities of coastal adaptation combined with little guidance from the federal government makes the problem of protecting historic districts from climate change all the more difficult.

To slow the rate of change and give archaeologists, historic preservationists and land managers more time to protect historic sites, carbon emissions must be reduced, according to last year’s UCS report. But even if we manage to reduce our carbon emissions, much of the change is already locked in, according to accepted science.

In Boston, where many properties are close to sea level and many areas were originally wetlands filled for development, the Harbor Association has suggested, among other things, that the city consider making room for the encroaching waters with canals and/or lagoons.

A 117-page study released in July 2013 entitled “Building Resilience in Boston: Best Practices for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience for Existing Buildings” offers experts’ recommendations for property owners in preparing for emergencies related to climate change.

Many of the techniques that are available to protect properties and/or districts are costly and/or don’t mesh with historic-district rules. Elevating a home, for example, can cost upwards of $150,000, according to Crean. She noted that in The Point neighborhood of Newport, R.I., which has one of the highest concentrations of Colonial homes in the United States, some homeowners have elevated their property to get out of the flood zone.

“But then there’s the ongoing discussion on consistency and what historic district commissions will allow,” Crean said.

Across southern New England such discussions have already become heated. Like most issues related to climate change, it’s difficult for some to even admit there’s a problem. Add historic district to the equation, and the issue becomes even more complicated.

Two years ago, Newport banned wind turbines from most of the city. Local officials were particularly concerned about property owners erecting small turbines anywhere in the city’s historic neighborhoods.

That same City Council concern, however, didn’t transfer to the power lines that connect the old homes in these neighborhoods to utility poles, or to satellite-TV dishes.

Just like the debate, often heated, that surrounds what is allowed in these historic neighborhoods, the conversation about how to protect them from climate change will likely be even more contentious.

Among the issues that will likely be hotly debated will be septic systems. To see how divisive the issue of cesspool phaseout and connection to municipal sewer can be, look no further than Warwick, R.I.

Much of the public opposition there comes from homeowners who are concerned about cost. Others have said, incorrectly, that if a cesspool — which is nothing more than a perforated steel bucket buried in a shallow pit or a covered pit lined with unmortared brick or stone — is properly maintained it will last forever. Some opponents against having to connect to the city’s sewer system have called the idea a tax; others have called it extortion.

Similar opposition has been heard in other communities in the region, such as Portsmouth, R.I.

In North Kingstown, however, most of the town is scheduled to be sewered by 2017, but Wickford will not be, and property owners there will be required to upgrade failing septic systems, which are typically expensive projects.

“At what point do you allow properties to be occupied when you can’t flush a toilet?” Crean asked. “It’s another tough question we’re struggling with, to honor property rights and investments made and to protect public safety and health.”

There are homes in historic districts in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, such as Wickford, and Connecticut that can’t flush their toilets now after heavy rains, for fear of popping the caps off their inundated cesspools or septic tanks.

In fact, climate-change impacts will likely increase groundwater elevations in southern New England’s coastal areas, which could potentially impact underground infrastructure, such as septic tanks and cesspools, commonly found in historic districts.

Protecting the region’s historic properties from the rising waters of climate change will take planning, funding, compromise and sacrifice. It will be considerably more difficult than simply enacting a plastic shopping bag ban, and we’ve seen how punishing that endeavor has become.

Impacts to historical/cultural resources from climate change range from coastal erosion and storm damage to the effects of increased flooding, melting permafrost and more rapid deterioration because of changing rain and temperature patterns, according to the National Park Service.

To properly protect the country’s inventory of these resources, the federal agency has noted:

Cultural resources can’t be managed in isolation; natural resources and the surrounding landscape must be taken into account.

A national inventory and prioritization of vulnerable sites is needed to assess the uniqueness of these sites.

A time frame for adaptation strategies needs to established.

A resource in poor condition due to deferred maintenance or insufficient funding has a different kind of vulnerability.

There is no natural hierarchy or sequence for the criteria; they should be assessed as more of a matrix that will vary site to site.

To incorporate many of the possible solutions will likely require zoning changes and embracing best technologies. For instance, would municipal zoning and/or historic-district guidelines allow for the use of composting toilets? Would home owners be interested in installing them?

Also, utilities in most historic homes are in the basement and vulnerable to flooding. Where can they be moved to better withstand increased flooding that climate change is expected to cause?

Can solar panels and wind turbines be tastefully incorporated onto historic buildings? Will green roofs be allowed in historic districts?

“Zoning needs to catch up with new technologies and best practices,” Crean said. “But a lot of agencies aren’t even on the same page.”

As Crean noted during the October tour of Wickford Village, one thing is for sure, “The longer we wait to address this problem, the more expensive the solutions become.”

Both financially and culturally.