The City Hall rain garden project is now ready for what Mayor Gregory Costabile hopes will be a steady stream of visitors.
The $231,900 project, paid by a Surface Water Improvement Fund grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, was done as a showcase to encourage businesses to incorporate green concepts into their properties. It will also serve to show students how rainwater can be managed in a more efficient manner.
Costabile said people may be surprised by what they see.
"I think that when people think of rain gardens, they think of a lot of ground cover. This is a lot cleaner. There is ornamental grass, but it's more open with room for some nice plantings. I think people expect all ornamental grass," he said.
The rain garden will collect stormwater from a portion of the city hall's roof that is about half the size of the average Mayfield Heights home roof. Instead of flowing into the sewer system, the water will help irrigate plants and the soil and drains will allow water to gradually pass through.
The project also includes 9,400 square feet – 19 parking spaces – of permeable pavement. The porous pavement made up of asphalt, recycled tires and other materials allow water to seep through and into a gravel bed before entering the sewer system.
It not only reduces rainfall runoff, it also collects dirt, grease and debris that would otherwise flow with the water into sewers, according to engineers from URS, which designed the project. The pavement is also less likely to freeze because it allows water to run and creates air flow.
Katherine Holmok, a landscape architect for URS, said water flow rates will be monitored for a year to determine the project's impact and validate that it lives up to claims. She added that the project is the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio.
"We have seen this installed in other states, but it has not been monitored in Ohio," Holmok said. "Every climate is different."