Emergency Parks

The Problem

Cities and towns are characterized by vast expanses of impervious surfaces. This lack of infiltration opportunity results in water pollution as runoff carries pollutants into nearby water bodies. Runoff pollution from the town of South Hadley, MA threatens major water bodies including the Connecticut River. Non-point pollutant sources include automobiles, household chemical uses, pets, lawns, gardens, and business practices. Typically, storm water runoff from driveways and roads is not treated before flowing into the watershed. Nor is there an opportunity for natural treatment by infiltrating directly into soil layers due to the large quantities of impervious surfaces. Increasing infiltration opportunity is critical to reducing water pollution as storm water runoff transports a host of pollutants into water bodies.

Plan of Action

This project will be conducted under the framework that in order to create infiltration opportunities, the asphalt from “No-Parking” spaces can be removed and the area transformed into a micro-park. By removing the asphalt from emergency parking spaces (or other underutilized/non-necessary impervious surfaces) and creating micro-parks that are integrated with the street, infiltration opportunity can be increased, reducing the amount of pollution entering the watershed. These micro engineered green spaces prevent storm water runoff; use foliage to stabilize the soil, and to provide a durable low maintenance surface cover. The park does not prevent a fire truck from utilizing the space in the case of an emergency, but rather provides an infiltration opportunity as well as a green space in an urban environment. As a result, water quality will improve as the pollution burden from impervious surfaces is decreased. Micro-parks transform the meaning of “Emergency Parking” by bringing awareness to the environmental emergency and by providing aid in the form of a park. Though micro-parks require little maintenance they do provide opportunity for community interaction and collaboration making them beneficial to both society and to the environment.

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