by Lisa Tome
The parking lot behind the North East town hall has a whole new look.
It also has a new purpose.
Without eliminating any parking spaces, students from the Cecil County Watershed Steward Academy have converted an area of the parking lot to a rain garden. The work consisted of removing an island in the parking lot. That island was then replaced with soil, pea gravel, bio soil, and native plants which will help with drainage. That also means that runoff will now be treated before it goes into the storm drain.
The project was the capstone project for Watershed Steward Academy class members Jim Wolford and Mark Dobbins. Dobbins explained that the first ever Watershed Steward Academy Class identified the site. The grade was lowered so the storm water will be captured and filtered before going into the drain cleaner than when it entered the site.
"This was a larger scale project than we anticipated," said Dobbins. "This project has involved a number of partners without which it would not have been possible."
The Cecil County Watershed Steward Academy provided financial support, project review, and guidance. Marshall McSorley and other staffers from the Cecil County Department of Public Works provided advice and on site labor.
The Town of North East assisted by providing planning from town staffers Betsy Vennell and Melissa Cook-MacKenzie. The town maintenance crew performed prep work, excavation, and on site labor.
Dobbins and Wolford are both board members for the Elk and North East Rivers Watershed Association (ENERWA). ENERWA provided volunteers and assisted with administering grant funds from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. That grant was for $5,000.
Masters Gardeners from Cecil County served as planting volunteers. Landscape architect Patti Lemmerman designed the planting plan. Dan Speakman of McCrone Engineering provided project design and guidance.