Plans to make College Park greener are well underway, thanks to more than $270,000 in additional funding for a city sustainability initiative.
College Park projects within the Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns initiative — including the Hollywood Wind and Weather Park, the Branch Avenue Urban Garden and the Rhode Island Avenue Green Street Implementation — received $277,000 in total funding on June 18.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Chesapeake Bay Trust fund the initiative, which has granted more than $3.7 million to nonprofit organizations, towns and universities across the state. It aims to reduce stormwater runoff, increase sustainability and raise environmental awareness.
Terry Schum, city planning director, said these projects are the beginning of larger efforts toward the city’s goals for sustainability and green facilities in the future.
“We’d like to see cities and towns implement projects like this more often in the long run,” said Molly Alton Mullins, director of communications and development at the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
Mullins said the initiative raised more money this year than in any of its previous three.
The Green Street Implementation will require the construction of two 70-foot bioswales — ditch-like features that filter pollutants out of runoff — along the road, Mullins said. In this case, they will remove contaminants such as nitrogen before the water reaches the bay. This is expected to improve water quality and reduce stormwater runoff volume by about 26,930 gallons each year, she said.
Beyond that, the project will post signs around the area to educate citizens on stormwater, sustainability and green street implementation work, said Laura Connelly, grant planner for the state’s department of natural resources.
“We understand that education is part of improving water quality … because it is important in the long run to get people thinking about that,” Connelly said. “We would hope that a lot of the projects that we fund would have an education component.”
The urban garden planned for Branch Avenue will also give local families access to fresh and affordable produce, she said.
While this project is different from others within the initiative, Connelly said, it still accomplishes green infrastructure and stormwater control goals.
The College Park City Council approved the Hollywood Wind and Weather Park on Jan. 21. This project is intended to improve the water quality in the area as well, but it focuses more on the education aspect, said District 1 Councilman Fazlul Kabir. He initially proposed the park for the city, and it received the most funding of the three projects, with a $150,886 grant.
Kabir said he envisions the park as a place where local children can play with windmills and sundials and immerse themselves in interactive lessons on weather and climate. Students should be able to learn about climate and the importance of being conscious of the environment while having fun, he said.
“With all the things about climate change that has been going on, it’s very important to know how things actually work and why the negative things are happening from a very early age,” Kabir said. “They are already learning in some way, but it is a lot easier and a lot more fun for them to come to a real life situation at a park like this, where they can see how things are actually done.”
The city hopes to have these projects completed within a year, Schum said.