Bernardston’s vulnerability preparedness process wrapping up with Thursday meeting

BERNARDSTON — To finalize the eligibility requirements necessary to be certified as a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) community, Bernardston is holding a community listening session Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Planning Board member John Lepore said the purpose of the hour-long, virtual meeting will be twofold.

“We need community member input on additional climate change challenges, and to further refine the results from the list created at the MVP workshop in October,” he said.

The October workshop identified Bernardston’s vulnerabilities in three areas, Lepore explained. The first area is “infrastructure,” which includes limited emergency access routes, prolonged power outages and failing culverts. The second area is “society,” which Lepore said includes concerns regarding homes in the floodplain, seniors on fixed incomes, flooding and drought on local farms. The third area, “environment,” relates to frequent flooding in the Center Village district, remote high-risk forest fire areas and invasive species.

Thursday’s “listening session” is also the last step needed for Bernardston to receive its MVP certification from the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Once finalized, the certification will make Bernardston eligible to apply for specific grants to address the identified town priorities and additional challenges brought on by climate change.

The MVP certification process began last February, but was delayed by the pandemic, with Planning Board members working off of the town’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. Lepore said the Planning Board “gleaned information” to bring to the workshop in October, and discussed the MVP process and town priorities with Bernardston town officials. Thursday’s meeting could further define, redefine or expand upon the list of priorities and concerns created in October.

“That’s why it’s so important we have attendance,” Lepore said. “We want to hear from the townspeople about their concerns.”

Registration for the community listening session, at tinyurl.com/ycltvhcu, is required to participate.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

Author: Going Green

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