Local environmentalist wants city to hold onto assistant planner

To the Editor:

One wonders whether the members of the Board of Finance weren't aware of what the last two major storms have cost our city and of how much more such storms will cost Milford if there is not a professional around who will plan ahead to prevent what it is possible to prevent, to protect against what we can't prevent, and to help us bounce back once the unpreventable happens.

As of this week, the city has an expert in coastal and flooding issues on board and her name is Emmeline Harrigan. She is currently Milford's assistant city planner and an expert on Connecticut's Coastal Area Management Program (CAM) and FEMA regulations, and one of a small number of federally certified flood plain experts in our state. She has also been working to improve the city's rating for the Coastal Resiliency Program by pushing the city to purchase, protect and restore our title wetlands in order to secure up to $400K worth of funding from the feds.

Harrigan, along with a group of researchers from Yale and from Guilford, is studying how our coastal towns can be more resilient in face of the coastal destruction that is predicted to come with climate change.

So it would seem to make sense (lots of cents) to retain an expert on an issue that has effected and will effect our town. Climate Change is not a “might-happen” in Milford. We've seen it, felt it and lived through it for the last two years and again this winter. Shouldn't we maintain a position and hold onto a person already in place, who has the knowledge and connections to help our city the most, who is already familiar with Milford's neighborhoods and coastal communities, already an experienced consultant for the P&Z Board, a go-to person for questions on zoning, someone super-aware of the threats down the road?

It is difficult to understand why the position of assistant city planner and Harrigan, both so crucial to the sustainable infrastructure of Milford, are on the chopping block. Especially while politicians and city officials, some complaining about other people being stuck in the past, seem to be totally disregarding the future. Fortunately, the Board of Alderman, who almost unanimously voted to retain Harrigan and her position when it was threatened by KRIT in the past, still have a chance to stick to their smart guns. Please, Board of Aldermen stop this backward thinking before our precious shoreline is washed further away.

Barbara Milton