No rain no gain is the motto for German Paristown’s new public rain garden, located at Swan and Ellison near Oak Street. According to Steve Magre, Volunteer Administrator of GPNA, the area was in constant danger of flooding during heavy rain, backing up street traffic and oftentimes flooding yards and basements in the area. The neighborhood association, with the help of Metropolitan Sewer District, has developed a rain garden that sinks into the ground to collect rainwater, and then uses the root system to “drink” the water which, in turn, supports the garden’s growing plants. The garden is capable of soaking up about 350,000 gallons of water a year.
Although the garden is visually pleasing, its purpose to relieve traffic congestion was the main goal.
“It really helps with the traffic flow,” said Steve, who added that the garden is also a new landmark for the neighborhood.
The hazard-turned-haven now hosts about 25 different plant types, which were carefully selected by their likelihood of surviving in the natural condition of the area. The root system of these specific plants allows them to survive.
“It was touch and go during the drought because the immature plants were in extreme conditions,” said Steve, who said the neighborhood association has partnered with Metro Council President Jim King and Operation Brightside to keep the garden maintained during this early stage. “As plants mature it won’t be an issue.”
Steve credits Wes Snydor at MSD and Tandee Ogburn of GPNA among a list of those responsible for the success of this eco-friendly project.
“It’s a responsibility that we took on,” said Steve. “The goal is to create 2 to 3 teams of 6 that will help maintain the property.”
As younger people and families are moving into the neighborhood, Steve has seen the area turn into a walking community. The rain garden, he says, is a place to stop and take a look.
German Paristown’s public rain garden won the 2012 American Public Works Association's Kentucky Chapter Project of the Year in the Environmental Category.
Photo: Courtesy of Steve Magre, GPNA