The flooding of Market Street is becoming a common problem. Bob Rulli / Town of Warren

RI - Warren's Rising Waters Compel Officials to Plan Retreat

Experimental economic redevelopment to address town’s flooding woes

As flood water continues to inundate the Metacom Avenue and Market Street neighborhoods of Warren, R.I., municipal officials are taking progressive action to protect at-risk homes and businesses.

The town’s new adaptation and improvement plan for the Market to Metacom commercial corridor would holistically address climate-change challenges while promoting economic development. It proposes to buy vulnerable, flood-prone properties and relocate the displaced to a redeveloped corridor, where a setting of retail, restaurants, and mixed-income housing would offer safety out of the floodplain.

Town manager Kate Michaud said this new central business district would create a permanent home for those who are displaced.

“Our attention goes to the loss of community, not the loss of property value. What we really don’t want to see happen, is that we start losing teeth in our smile,” she said. ‘The area is a very tight community, with folks that have lived there for generations. Once you start losing residents, you start to lose the fabric of that community. So, we want to create greater opportunity inland. We are concerned about property tax values, but that’s almost secondary, because the desirability of the town has more to do with a sense of place than the value of any certain property.”

Relocating the buildings closer to the street would decrease the unwelcoming expanses of concrete that allow rain to run in torrents downhill, picking up pollution and detritus as this stormwater drains to Narragansett Bay, according to town officials.

They said supplemental public transportation would reduce traffic and provide better mobility for those without a car. A greater proximity of services would allow increased pedestrianism and bicycling, all of which are proven environmental saviors.

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