by Tom Damm
Local residents couldn’t help but wonder why some 40 people were gathered under a tent at the site of a neighborhood eyesore in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
One resident came by on foot, another drove up in his car to check out what was happening on this large asphalt parking lot flanked by dilapidated and shuttered buildings.
What they heard was good news.
The gathering was to announce the award of 17 Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) Partnership grants, including one for design work to help the Salvation Army Harrisburg Capital Region relocate its operations to this abandoned site at the corner of 29th Street and Rudy Road.
According to the Salvation Army, the site is ideally situated near those most in need of its services, is accessible via a central bus route, and is in close proximity to several local schools. And – the reason for the gathering – the site will include green features to reduce stormwater runoff and improve the livability and vitality of the community.
This G3 grant will be used to design a stormwater management system that will include 20,000 feet of rain gardens, 100 trees, 1,100 native plants, a walking trail, cisterns and other means to capture an estimated 6 million gallons of rainwater each year. That rainwater would otherwise stream from the property with pollutants in tow, impacting local waters like Spring Creek in Harrisburg that eventually flow to the Chesapeake Bay.
This is the sixth year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, have awarded G3 grants. The more than 90 grants given to date are resulting in nearly $18 million in green projects, including more than eight collective miles of green streets.
As EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin told the crowd of awardees who came to Harrisburg from states throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, “This is an amazing partnership. We’re improving water quality, but we’re also improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods and communities.”
About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.