Borough plans rain garden at library

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com
This sketch shows the preliminary design of a rain garden featuring native plants and walkways the Borough of Greencastle plans to install at the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library.

A rain garden the Borough of Greencastle plans to install at the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library will clean up water runoff while serving as an educational tool and tranquil space just off busy Baltimore Street.

Borough Manager Lorraine Hohl hopes work will begin in spring or early summer on the land off Linden Avenue southeast of the library building.

With the help of state Sen. Judy Ward, the borough received a $50,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development toward the estimated $94,649 project cost.

"I advised Greencastle to seek a grant through the local municipal relief program at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development," explained Ward, a Republican whose district includes Greencastle and Antrim Township. "This program exists to help communities with stormwater and floodplain management. This funding would support the installation of a rain garden at the library to both reduce stormwater runoff and expand environmental education programs at the library."

Plants in the 4,591-square-foot swale will act as natural filters for water that runs off nearby streets, homes and the library, removing an estimated 2,439 pounds of sediment a year, according to Hohl.

The rain garden is included in the borough's storm water management pollution reduction plan and the clean water will percolate into the ground or be shot into a nearby outfall.

Native vegetation will include small trees like flowering dogwood and river birch, shrubs such as silky dogwood, spicebush and highbush blueberry, mixed perennials and mixed grasses.

The bioretention area should help alleviate some of the flooding in the immediate area, but will not solve the larger problem of flooding in the nearby Orchard development, Hohl explained.

There will be public access both from Linden Avenue and the new courtyard area behind the library by a path or paths, along with signs containing information about the rain garden and its plants.

The library is developing an environmental curriculum and Hohl said school district environmental classes can use the rain garden as a physical example of what they are studying. She also hopes to see groups like scouts involved with the rain garden.

"It's a nice walking detour off Baltimore Street," she added. "It's an enhancement for our community and environmental education."