Downhill rain garden nears completion
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 08:10
Behind the construction fences obscuring the path between Hodgdon and Lewis Halls, a sustainable rain garden designed to naturally filter rainwater will soon be revealed.
The garden, which will cleanse storm water of its impurities before it enters the City of Somerville sewer system, should be finished by mid-November, according to Director of Facilities Services Bob Burns.
“The reason we’re doing this is it has a sustainability function,” Burns said. “The vegetation will act as a buffering cleaning device.”
The practical application of the new garden is important to both Burns and to Tufts as a whole, he said. Storm water regulations have increased in recent years, he noted, and the garden will serve to prevent flooding of the Somerville sewer system.
“Sustainability is an important initiative for [University President Anthony Monaco],” Burns said. “Storm water management is one of my job requirements.”
The rain garden also serves an educational purpose. Scott Horsley, lecturer in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, has been collaborating with the Facilities Services Department to show his students sustainable construction and development at work, according to Burns.
“Students can go view that site ... and see one way of trying to improve the environment,” Burns said.
When the rain garden is complete, there will be an informational plaque explaining its purpose, he added.
Beyond the rain garden’s practical and instructional applications, it is meant to be visually appealing as well. Although Burns is unsure which plants will be included in the garden, it will likely not include vegetables, he said. Facilities has been working with landscapers to choose the appropriate vegetation for the space.
“We try to incorporate both the aesthetics and the environment [beyond storm management],” Burns said. “We try to blend all three into a solution that makes sense.”
Facilities plans to create similar rain gardens on other parts of campus after the completion of ongoing site improvements.
“The idea of the rain garden is that it will be used as a model,” Burns said.
The construction, which began at the start of the school year, blocks the walkway between Hodgdon and Lewis through which students often pass. Kaley Leshem, a sophomore who lives in Hodgdon, said she does not mind that the rain garden’s construction gets in the way of her walking route.
“I’m not upset about it because I’m sure they’re making it better,” Leshem said. “I really appreciate that they’re beautifying our campus.”
She is also glad that, as a Hodgdon resident, she will get to see the garden regularly throughout the rest of the year.
“I feel like we’ll get to enjoy it all the time,” she said. “I walk past there every day.”
However, sophomore Lewis resident Jake DeSousa feels that the extended length of time during which Facilities has been occupying the area is excessive.
“The construction is very inconvenient,” DeSousa said. “It’s a garden. How long can it possibly take?”
DeSousa did not share Leshem’s enthusiasm over potential enjoyment of the rain garden, explaining that he would have rather had the resources dedicated to the garden instead delegated to dorm improvements.
“I [wouldn’t] care if it were a garden or if it were a chocolate factory. It’s in the way,” he said. “They should have done it during the summer.”