Most of the projects completed at Tattnall Square Park during the last few years have had a dual purpose: They not only fix or improve the parks infrastructure, but they also add to the aesthetic value.
The parks latest addition might be the best example.
The Friends of Tattnall Square Park organization is putting the final touches on a rain garden and stone bridge in the corner of the park near the intersection of Adams and Oglethorpe streets that will both alleviate rainwater runoff issues as well as add a new picturesque component.
Andrew Silver, who leads the organization, said the work being done in the park hasnt gone unnoticed. The national City Parks Alliance picks 12 front-line parks across the U.S. to highlight each year, and Tattnall Square Park was selected for this month.
Its something for Macon to be proud about, he said.
Silver, a Mercer University professor, said the idea for a rain garden came from an engineering student named Alex Oliver who was taking one of Silvers classes earlier this year. Oliver is interested in storm-water runoff management, and the park was having issues in that corner because of a nearby parking lot.
Rain would collect in the parking lot and move toward that particular corner of the park, causing erosion and carrying pollutants into the citys sewer system -- and ultimately into the Ocmulgee River.
So Oliver, along with fellow engineering students Davis Lacey and Brandon Booker, made creating the rain garden into their senior project.
Oliver said hes always been interested in storm-water runoff in places such as golf courses, so his interest was piqued when Silver mentioned the problems at Tattnall.
He was talking one day about how the park was having bad flood problems, Oliver said. Its (a park) I use regularly, and I had noticed the problems. I said, Hey, what about a rain garden? It was a nice opportunity to get that background for my career, since golf courses use rain gardens.
The Friends of Tattnall Square Park was awarded a $20,000 Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant to work on the project.
The project would likely have been finished in the spring, but the heavy rains Macon had earlier this year made the work go more slowly.
But Silver said the lions share of the work has been completed, and hes expecting to have a dedication for the rain garden soon.
Its the first public rain garden in Macon, he said. Its going to help handle a number of different issues. The sediment builds in the sewer system. There are toxins present on the roads that get washed into the Ocmulgee. Its basically poisoning our waterways with our own storm water.
How it works
The bridge bisects two gardens that volunteers have installed about 100 yards from the nearby parking lot. The garden that is closer to the parking lot is slightly higher in elevation and contains plants that will help collect the water for about 48 hours.
Ron Lemon, a neighborhood resident and member of the park group, is a gardening enthusiast who helped come up with the plants and flowers to use.
The upper pond contains rushes, irises and astors that dress it up a lot, Lemon said, while the lower elevated garden on the other side of the bridge has day lilies, irises and spirea, because it will be a little drier than the other garden. It will take less than a day to drain.
The plants will help filter out pollutants in the water and make the storm water more manageable, Lemon said.
The longer they can contain the water -- thats what its all about.
Lemon said he helped install a garden at Alexander II Magnet School across the street from the park when his children attended school there. He thinks the rain garden will be a fun learning experience for those students -- as well as other Macon residents -- because they will be able to learn the ecology of the plants and the insects in the rain gardens.
Silver and Lemon said that ultimately, they hope Macon residents who are having storm-water issues on their properties will copy the idea and install rain gardens for their own homes.
Silver said the rain garden will end up being one of the signature pieces created as part of the parks master plan that was designed in 2011. Much of the master plan has already been completed.
Without the Knight Neighborhood Challenge grants, this would have taken us a decade, he said.
Besides the grant money, the park group has raised about $350,000. Other projects that have been completed include a brick gate on Adams Street, new trash receptacles that have quotations on them, and more than 200 trees planted.
The work is significant, Silver said, because the last time the park had significant infrastructure put in place was 1914-1915. It also complements the work the city did with improvements to Tattnalls tennis center.
Next on the project list is to create a walking path from the corner of the park crossing the bridge into the middle of the park. Silver also wants to put a large fountain in the middle of the park, similar to the one that used to be Tattnalls centerpiece before it was removed. He hopes these projects will be done by next year.
Were trying to complete it in time for the centennial, he said.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.