For Immediate Release - April 18, 2007


Commend Mayor Bonfanti, Sen. Berry, Reps Speliotis and Spiliotis for leadership on long-term plan to prevent further flooding

PEABODY - Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - Governor Deval Patrick today announced the release of $2 million in funding to help the City of Peabody address the chronic flooding that has plagued its downtown.

"The downtown area of Peabody has faced flooding five times in the past 11 years. While we are grateful that there is no flooding today, we know that hope alone is not going to prevent a flood here in the future. It is time for action," Governor Patrick said.

Governor Patrick praised Peabody Mayor Michael J. Bonfanti, Senate Majority Leader Frederick E. Berry and Representatives Joyce Spiliotis and Theodore Speliotis for their leadership on the project to mitigate flooding that has cost the North Shore city millions of dollars. Widespread flooding led to federal disaster declarations in Peabody in October 1996, April 2004 and May 2006.

"It is very satisfying that we are beginning to tackle the flooding problem in my home city. Although it is only part of a long-term solution, I do think that this money spent wisely will provide enormous relief," Senate Majority Leader Frederick E. Berry said.

Four of the last five floods have kept parts of downtown underwater for five days. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the 2006 flood cost Peabody $1 million in damage to city property, $1.6 million in residential property and about $4.2 million in loss of function costs associated with road closures, delays and detours.

"The release of this funding represents a historic day for the residents and business people of downtown Peabody. As someone who was raised in that neighborhood I know first hand that generations of families and businesses have been impacted by the effects of flooding for far too long," Representative Theodore Speliotis said.

Earlier this month, the delegation, Mayor Bonfanti and his staff met with Secretary of Administration and Finance Leslie Kirwan to discuss how the state can partner with the city to complete the project.

"We're pleased Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray have come through and made good on this commitment. When they visited Peabody during the campaign, they said it would get done and it got done at a critical time," Representative Joyce Spiliotis said. "We also want to commend Leslie Kirwan who came to a conclusion so soon. Without her understanding how all the pieces go together, this would not have happened."

Using computer modeling, Peabody has devised a three-phase plan to mitigate future flooding of Peabody Square by replacing one 19 th century culvert with two modern high-capacity culverts, widening a channel upstream of the North River and, lastly, widening the channel downstream. The estimated cost of the project is $18 million, to be paid for through a local-state-federal partnership.

"As a former mayor, I fully appreciate the tremendous need for state cooperation in addressing chronic problems, such as Peabody's recurring floods. In this instance, the city has done its share to come up with a plan to address the problem and it is fitting that the state also play a role," Lieutenant Governor Murray said.

Phase One of the project already is underway, funded jointly through $3 million in local funds and a $500,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development from the 2006 supplemental budget. The $2 million capital bond funds released today by Governor Patrick will allow Peabody to begin Phase Two widening the upstream channel. The city is also seeking federal funds.

"I, along with many others in our community, want to thank Governor Patrick for keeping his commitment to do more than just talk about problems facing cities and towns but to actually help cities and towns," Mayor Bonfanti said. "Today, in stark contrast to the past, we begin a stronger state-municipal partnership. One that not only will significantly mitigate Peabody's flooding events but also will encourage millions of dollars in business and economic opportunities in the City of Peabody and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."