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Let it Rain

March 16, 2015

As regular cyclists, joggers and walkers in Prospect Park know, heavy storms can cause flooding along the Park Drive and pathways as runoff makes its way through the Park’s drainage system, which is nearly 150 years old. Stormwater management has become one of the biggest priorities for the Alliance’s Design and Construction team. Flooding not only hinders use of the Park, but also can have harmful consequences on the Park’s landscapes and ecosystems.

Nearly all new construction projects in Prospect Park, including the LeFrak Center at Lakeside  and the major renovation of the Long Meadow Ballfields, include sustainable stormwater systems. In addition, the Alliance’s Design and Construction team is exploring other ecologically minded improvements that can be implemented around the Park. New rain gardens that were recently installed along the Park Drive near Park Circle are examples of sustainable stormwater management. This project was made possible by residents of the 39th New York City Council District who voted in participatory budgeting in 2012, which was organized through the office of New York City Council Member Brad Lander.

Rain gardens are landscaped areas intended to collect stormwater runoff and allow it to slowly infiltrate the soil. A small trench is dug into the landscape and surrounded by native water-tolerant plants, such as New York Aster, Inkberry Holly, Bearberry and several native grasses. The gardens are not only beautiful additions to the Park, they also serve several important functions.

“In addition to absorbing stormwater so it doesn’t overwhelm the Park’s aging drainage system, rain gardens create an environmentally friendly method for filtering water and reducing erosion, which can have a devastating impact on the grass, shrubs and trees,” said Justine Heilner, the Alliance’s Senior Landscape Architect. “The rain gardens were planted this fall, and we already have seen a significant reduction in flooding. We are excited to see how they evolve this spring, and hope to install more throughout the Park.”