Green Infrastructure and Neighborhood Pocket Parks Part of Blueprint Columbus Plan
Although it hasn’t inspired the kind of spirited debate that Mayor Coleman’s idea to create a rail link to the airport has, the city’s Blueprint Columbus program – which also got a shout-out in his recent State of the City speech – could potentially have an even bigger impact on the city.
The program, if approved by the Ohio EPA, would take about $2.5 billion of rate-payer money that had previously been earmarked for two large underground sewage tunnels and direct it towards the surface; green infrastructure like rain gardens, trees, and porous concrete that will help treat stormwater on site.
The city hopes that this – along with an effort to seal the lateral pipes that take waste from houses to the city’s sanitary sewers – will put an end to the sanitary sewer overflows that the Ohio EPA has said must be stopped. (A plan to fix the problem of combined sewer overflows, which involved upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment facilities and a five-mile long tunnel, is almost complete.)
What the Blueprint program could mean for many older residential neighborhoods in Columbus is new parks and green infrastructure where there are now vacant lots. Susan AshBrook and Dax Blake of the city’s Department of Public Utilities described how a number of pilot programs – currently in varying stages of planning – are meant to help demonstrate that the Blueprint Columbus approach can work:
- Five vacant lots in the Barthman-Parsons area on the South Side will be converted into green space with stormwater controls. Two of them will be active parks with paths and other features; the largest will be on the former site of the Southside Settlement House at the corner of Innis and Washington Avenues.
- The Linden neighborhood will see similar projects on some of its vacant lots, although engineering and site selection work has not yet begun. A list of potential sites and the types of features to be included will be brought to the public for input sometime in summer or fall of 2015.
- A Clintonville pilot program will span an area of about 1,000 acres and 3,000 houses. It will focus on removing rain water from sanitary sewers so they don’t overflow, coupled with green infrastructure in the right of way to clean stormwater before it is discharged to the river. Preliminary design work will be ready to share with the community in September.
The city plans to officially submit the Blueprint proposal to the Ohio EPA in September of 2015.
More information about Blueprint Columbus is available at www.columbus.gov.
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