Shawn Nelson

headshot of Shawn Nelson, Boston City Councilor At-Large candidate

Q. Boston’s beaches, harbors, rivers, and islands provide tremendous public resources to residents and visitors alike, but too often, many of these spaces remain inaccessible and exclusive. How would you expand access to the recreation, economic, and wellness opportunities provided by the city’s waterfronts and ensure all communities feel welcome?

A. Equity inclusive, every day, 1. Community Engagement and Outreach: Collaborate with local community groups, non-profits, and civic organizations to understand the needs and preferences of diverse communities. Conduct outreach and engagement activities in multiple languages to reach a broader audience.

Q. How would you work with local and state agencies as well as residents to implement coastal resilience projects that can reduce risks to neighborhoods and communities from the threats of climate change including sea level rise?

A. Establishing partnerships and collaboration: The first step is to establish partnerships with local and state agencies responsible for coastal management, such as environmental protection agencies, planning departments, and emergency management agencies. These partnerships can be formalized through memorandums of understanding or interagency agreements. By working together, agencies can pool resources, share expertise, and coordinate efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change. Conducting a thorough assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities faced by coastal communities, including identifying areas prone to flooding, erosion, and storm surge. This information helps prioritize project interventions.

Q. Investments in transportation infrastructure and services are needed to connect more residents to the waterfront — from parks and beaches to jobs and opportunities. This includes, but is not limited to, public transit, pedestrian access, bike routes, and ferry services. How would you work to improve affordable access to the waterfront around Boston and beyond?

A. One of the key components in improving affordable access to the waterfront is to enhance public transit options. This can be achieved by expanding existing transit networks, increasing frequency and reliability of services, and extending routes to connect with waterfront areas. Additionally, efforts should be made to improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities, ensuring that all residents have equal opportunities to enjoy the waterfront. Balancing and supporting the existing needs of Massachusetts' working ports with the evolving needs of waterfront communities, climate resilience planning, and expanding public access to the waterfront is a complex task that requires careful consideration and collaboration between various stakeholders. It is crucial to strike a balance between economic development, environmental sustainability, and community well-being in order to ensure the long-term success and resilience of both the ports and the surrounding areas.

Q. Massachusetts working ports and maritime industries have a rich history and have served as a critical economic driver for Boston since its founding. How would you balance and support the existing needs of the City’s working ports with the evolving needs of waterfront communities, climate resilience planning, and the importance of expanding public access to the waterfront?

A. One approach to achieving this balance is through comprehensive planning and zoning regulations that take into account the needs and concerns of all parties involved. This includes engaging with waterfront communities, port operators, environmental organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to understand their perspectives and incorporate their input into decision-making processes. By involving these groups in the planning process, it becomes possible to identify common goals and find mutually beneficial solutions. Climate resilience planning is another key aspect that must be integrated into the management of working ports. As sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more frequent and severe, it is essential to develop strategies that protect both the infrastructure of the ports and the surrounding communities from potential damage. This can involve measures such as constructing flood barriers, elevating critical infrastructure, implementing green infrastructure solutions, and incorporating climate change projections into long-term planning.