Cutting floodplain manager is a bad idea

To the Editor:

The City of Milford Board of Finance recently voted to eliminate the floodplain manager position from its Planning & Zoning Department. Not having a dedicated floodplain manager puts the city on the wrong path for the future and sets a bad precedent for Connecticut’s other at-risk communities.

With 4,000 properties in its floodplain, Milford is one of the most vulnerable towns in Connecticut, in part because its beautiful coastline lies on a barrier beach, a rarity in our state. When allowed to function naturally, these oversized sandbars grow and erode, constantly shifting with strong storms and currents.

Building on such a dynamic coastal environment is far from ideal, but people have historically been drawn to the sea. And so development in Milford, like thousands of other oceanfront towns across this country, stretches to the water’s edge, the area most threatened by coastal flooding and sea level rise.

Floodplain managers are essential to properly manage these properties while they are still standing and to protect the people that live there.

Reports from February’s finance board meeting indicate that the floodplain manager position was cut [from next year’s budget] to fund a new building inspector, who could help service all building permits generated post-Sandy. In an era of climbing deficits, offsetting budget additions with cuts to other areas is a common-sense approach. However, it does not make sense to rebuild in storm-damaged areas, especially without the expertise of a floodplain manager to help make better decisions for the future. The Board of Finance cut in the wrong place.

For Milford, coastal flooding will always be an issue. And like rowers pushing off the docks with neither oars nor a coxswain, the city will be lost without the leadership and tools to manage it.

Eliminating the position charged with protecting Milford’s most vulnerable citizens is bad policy and Save the Sound urges the Board of Alderman to reinstate the position

Tyler Archer