Many coastal communities on the Eastern Seaboard are coming to terms with the reality of sea level rise, and taking steps to address this issue. I believe Newport can learn from other cities’ experience but we must forge our own solution. We have the largest concentration of colonial era homes in the U.S. that are used and lived in. That is a priceless asset. And these homes represent not only homes for many, but also a livelihood for the craftsmen who restore and preserve them.
Newport has the opportunity to be a national leader on this issue, and grant money is offered to those who are in the forefront of this effort, so it behooves us to get out ahead of the curve. The NRF orchestrated a conference six months ago that attracted outstanding talent from around the world, and just recently announced its future collaboration with US/ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), so Newport is in a position to lead.
I believe we should consider a designated Chief Resilience Officer, pursuing grant money which is made available for such a position. Newport needs to find solutions that address our unique threats, assets, and resources. We need our institutions, our universities, and most of all our citizens to understand the challenges and contribute to solutions. This will require a broadening of trust among our citizen groups, which demands a new approach to community outreach. It is clear that a cost-benefit analysis will ultimately have to be employed and for that to work we need to come together as a community. Widespread community buy-in is essential, as sea level rise affects the entire community fabric.