Hidden Stormwater Features of Page Vernon Park

When designing Page Vernon Park, it was determined early on that a brick paver hardscape would be a particularly appropriate surface for this tiny, urban park.  Native North Carolinian brick requires negligible maintenance, can accommodate high volumes of foot traffic in the concentrated space (less than a tenth of an acre), and provides a safe surface for patrons with canes, baby strollers, or wheelchairs.  The brick hardscape also blends well with our existing downtown brick sidewalk network.  

One might assume that a brick surface equates to an impermeable park with stormwater flowing directly into the Town’s stormwater system — that assumption would be mistaken. 

In fact, rainwater provides water to the park’s many trees shrubs and flowers via stormwater features hidden underfoot.  About twenty two percent of the brick surface is actually porous brick, with engineered gaps between them that allow rainwater to filter between the bricks into layers of substrate containing aggregate and sandy loam soils which manage stormwater onsite.  Also, almost forty four percent of the park actually remains as either grass, trees or planting beds.  This means that 56% of the park remains porous to rainwater, despite the brick hardscape. 

Innovative stormwater management, however, is nothing new for Pittsboro’s Parks. Mary Hayes Barber Holmes Park contains several parking spaces with permeable pavers, a rain garden, and a living roof gazeebo.  There are rain gardens at the tennis courts and the Community House and we used a compost sock during construction of Rock Ridge Park.  Compost socks use long bags filled with hardwood mulch instead of a silt fence during construction for sedimentation and erosion control purposes.  

Concerns about stormwater runoff are rightly placed because sediment is the number one pollutant for streams, lakes, and rivers in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina.  Features which slow stormwater’s rapid dispersal to streams reduces sediment pollution. Raingardens not only address sediment, but also help to manage concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous (nutrients which are detrimental to our water bodies in excessive quantities). Harmful metals which often collect on parking lots can also be filtered through raingardens. 

Many Pittsboro Park’s stormwater features were funded through the tireless efforts of Dr. Karen Hall, a Pittsboro resident who’s committed to improving the water quality of our community.  She also spearheaded the major efforts at Town Lake Park to improve the water quality of Robeson Creek.  Pittsboro is also lucky to now have a Town Engineer, Fred Royal, who has launched several initiatives to protect our Town’s water Quality. 

So, when you’re eating your donuts from Phoenix Bakery, enjoying your tea from Cafe Diem, and reading your purchase from Circle City Books in the park, know that you’re sitting in a space which has considered environmental sustainability into its design. Social and fiscal sustainability, the other two pillars of sustainability, have also been considered, but that’s a topic for a potential future blog post.  


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