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Springfield to show stormwater design techniques with grant

Rain gardens, green roof will be built at City Hall.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $100,000 grant to the City of Springfield’s stormwater utility department to help its educational programs.

As part of the project, the city will construct a green roof on one of the balconies at City Hall and develop two rain gardens on the City Hall Plaza — a 10,000-square-foot garden near the old ice rink along Main Street and another at the tree island near the utility bill drop box on South Fountain Avenue.

The project fits into the city’s broader strategy it’s been developing over the last few years to encourage developers to create green infrastructure. The city is currently in the process of rewriting certain codes to help the process, said Sky Schelle, the city’s stormwater coordinator.

The grant will allow the city to show stormwater design techniques to prospective businesses and homeowners in order to reduce stormwater runoff.

“We meet with developers here and we want to be able to tell them we’re removing barriers in our codes for things like green roofs and rain gardens, and ‘Oh by the way, we have some here you can look at,’ ” Schelle said. “We’ll have first-hand experience on maintaining these things.

“This project fits into that larger vision of encouraging and incentivizing green infrastructure in Springfield.”

The grant is for three years and will require an approximately $86,000 match, including in-kind contributions, according to public documents. About $10,000 of the match will come from the stormwater utility budget.

“We couldn’t have demonstrated these without the grant,” Schelle said. “We just don’t have the budget for it. It’s a big deal because a picture is worth a thousand words.”

City commissioners approved the legislation at Tuesday’s meeting. Schelle is hoping to bid the project next week and begin the design phase for the rain gardens as soon as possible. They’re expected to be constructed in the spring of 2017.

About 60 percent of the former ice rink on the City Hall Plaza will be torn up in order to create the 10,000-square-foot rain garden.

The green roof will consist of trays of plants that soak up stormwater. They’re still determining which one of the four balconies it will be located at City Hall. It will be constructed in 2016.

“They will act as an insulation for that part of the building and provide a benefit to the existing roof structure below it,” Schelle said. “The protection can extend the life of the roof.”

Last year, the city waived the $50 fee for its stormwater utility credit program, which allows homeowners, business owners, condominium associations and condo owners to lower their fees by using items such as rain barrels and gardens to reduce stormwater runoff. The program has approximately 100 property owners signed up for the program.

The recent rain barrel sale held by the stormwater department has also doubled in popularity, Schelle said.

“I really think these sorts of practices on the residential scale are starting to catch on,” Schelle said.

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