Friday, June 29, 2007

Green Parking at Gulley Park

In a city increasingly marked by the concrete jungles of huge parking lots like those at UA athletic facilities, parking decks like that being constructed by Central United Methodist Church, and the proliferation of strip mall parking along every arterial street, there was some good news yesterday. Mayor Dan Coody and UA landscape Architecture professor Mark Boyer were breaking ground on a new “green” parking space at Gulley Park. In one way this is an educational demonstration project, but it could be an important part of the city’s future efforts to encourage sustainable development.

Traditional parking expanses reflect the car culture that continues to dominate most Arkansas transportation planning and results in non-point source pollution from increased stormwater runoff resulting from non-porous concrete and asphalt surfaces. This presents problems for local water quality and for aquatic life in area streams. Fayetteville’s new green parking space will include increased planting of shade trees and other vegetation on the site, as well as four bioswales designed to filter pollutants, slow water runoff, and improve overall water quality.

The project is a joint effort of the Arkansas Forestry Commission, the UA Landscape Architecture Department, and the City of Fayetteville, with supplemental funding from the U. S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Assistance program. Thanks to everyone involved in this innovative approach to an old problem. Other local governments and private commercial developers could learn much from this effort, and it should be hoped that they will consider such designs in future construction.

The Gulley Park area will soon be even more accessible by the new bike lanes to be built along Crossover Road, further reducing the amount of public park space devoted to traditional parking lots. Mayor Coody said, “We’re greening our city as quickly as we can, not only because it’s a beautiful thing to do but also because it’s the right thing to do. This is just another part of Fayetteville’s sustainability movement. We can’t do it all at once, but each day we’re getting a little closer to becoming the perfect, world-class community we want to be.”

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