Ambitious Project to Replace Blight with Beautiful, Useful Green Space
The Hoag St. garden includes flowering shrubs, native flowers, and benches.
The TMACOG stormwater staff and a host of partners are joining the Lucas County Land Bank and neighborhood redevelopment advocates in an intensive effort to install rain gardens in a central Toledo neighborhood.
The Land Bank has a long-running program to remove blighted buildings and return property to the tax rolls. They plan to remove 2,500 blighted structures throughout the county by 2020. TMACOG and its partners are piggy backing on this work to help the Junction Avenue team implement their established neighborhood revitalization plan. In earlier efforts, rain gardens have already been installed in the neighborhood at Hoag Street near Pickett Elementary School, and at the intersection of Belmont and Forest streets.
Partnering with TMACOG and the Lucas County Land Bank are AmeriCorps, the Lucas County Sustainability Commission, and the City of Toledo. The private partners are landscape firms A & J Landscaping and Floralandscape.
The process is underway now to identify homeowners in the area whose homes share a common boundary with a blighted property that is slated for demolition. Homeowners who are interested in taking possession of the vacant property can purchase it from the Land Bank for $100. They can have a professionally designed rain garden installed by a contracted landscaper at no extra charge. The property owner would participate in programs to learn how rain gardens work and how to maintain the property going forward. The goal is for 10 rain gardens to be constructed on lots that are currently dilapidated structures, all in the spring and summer of 2017.
“It’s a big project and we are on a tight timeline,” said TMACOG Stormwater Planner Kari Gerwin, “but we have partners who are committed to seeing the project through. The neighbors are invested in their neighborhood and we feel that this is going to be a successful model for other neighborhoods in the TMACOG region affected by blight and property abandonment.”
Part of the program will be a series of workshops for homeowners presented by the private landscape firms. Interested property owners will be invited to learn more about the Side Lot Rain Garden program and to get the practical details of building and maintaining a rain garden. The first program (May 6, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. at the biocells at Belmont and Forest Ave.) will explain what a rain garden is and how it functions to improve water quality. During storms, rain water is directed to the garden by swales or gutters. The soil in a garden is specially formulated to allow slow percolation. Plants in the garden are selected for their deep roots and for their tolerance of both flood and drought conditions. The workshops are open to the public; rain gardens will be installed in other neighborhoods as well.