Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — The Children’s Art Center in Benton will blaze a trail in green technology for storm water runoff.
Maggie Morgan, Four Rivers basin coordinator for the Jackson Purchase Foundation, said the parking area and building would incorporate several innovative concepts to prevent runoff.
According to a press release from the Marshall County Arts Commission, the new building and lot will include pervious concrete, bioswales, a rain garden and rain barrels to detain water and allow rain to soak into the ground. Most paved parking lot designs force water into streets, drainage gutters, ditches or storm sewers. A bioswale is a shallow channel that carries water slowing it and allowing it to soak into the ground. Bioswales and rain gardens have native plants with longer roots removing excess nutrients and pollutants.
“The pervious concrete has extra porosity that allows rainwater to drain through instead of pooling and draining,” Morgan said. “This will prevent flooding at other sites and allows rain to recharge groundwater. It will also filter pollutants like oil, grease, other petroleum products and salt.”
Morgan said the pervious concrete has a lifespan of 30 to 50 years with ordinary maintenance. It is also less penetrable to weeds or to damage from freezing and thawing with a gravel substrate of 12 inches.
“This will be an opportunity for training for contractors and developers of future commercial and residential development for these techniques,” Morgan said. “The biggest part of the project will be education and outreach to show rainwater is not something that immediately needs to be removed from a property. We will show developers they have other options.”
The entire project is being funded through a $275,000 grant awarded by the Kentucky Division of Water to the city of Benton. George Milam of the Marshall County Arts Commission said the parking area at the center would be dense grade. Parking lot paving was initially delayed before the grant was awarded to build the center with the allotted budget.
The grant was matched at 40 percent of the allotment. Sixty percent of the match came in the form of in-kind contributions.
“Federal Materials is offering the concrete at a discount,” Morgan said. “The city of Benton is administering the grant at no cost. City workers will be installing the fixtures. The county is providing labor for site preparation work. Marshall County’s master gardeners will be providing the plants for the rain garden.”
Milam said the newest concept for the building’s footprint prepared by the civil engineering firm Bacon, Farmer and Workman of Paducah also includes a retention pond and permeable pavers lining the walkway.
“This is going to be a complete site, not just a building and a pile of dirt,” Milam said. “We’re hopeful to provide an outdoor instruction area.”
Morgan said she was hopeful the paving could be in place by fall, with landscaping to follow next spring. Rain captured by gutters will be stored in rain barrels and used for irrigation.
“We’re going to work to make the Children’s Art Center better every year,” Benton Mayor Steve Cary said.