Volunteers plant parkway rain garden in Elgin
By Denise Moran For The Courier-News September 15, 2012 3:56PM
Erin Curtin of Elgin and her son Theo, 4, volunteered to help plant the rain garden on Saturday.
Updated: October 17, 2012 6:33AM
ELGIN — Instead of sending flowers, one of the requests by the family of Elgin resident Stacey Reynolds, who died on July 9, 2012, was for family and friends to plant something or donate to the Elgin Community Garden Network, Living Lands and Water, or Million Tree Project.
Reynolds would have appreciated that her home at 342 Perry Street was planted with a parkway rain garden on Saturday morning.
“It’s a privilege to be here today to honor Stacey and see her dreams come true,” said Elgin resident Wende Lindmark.
“It’s a wonderful way to remember someone who loved nature,” said April Anderson, naturalist at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center in Elgin.
Reynolds’s husband, Tom Lesiewicz, and their children live at the bungalow-style home that was recognized by the Elgin Heritage Commission as the site of the 1893 Everett Baptist Mission.
“The building was partially damaged by a tornado during the 1920s and converted into a house in 1925,” Lesiewicz said. “Our family has lived here since 2003. Stacey ran a drive to have historic homes plaqued. There are lots of Sears homes in the SWAN (Southwest Area) Neighborhood.”
A total of 32 rain gardens will be planted in Elgin’s SWAN Neighborhood as part of the Lord Street Combined Sewer Overflow Green Infrastructure Project.
“Homeowners will maintain the rain gardens,” said Aaron Cosentino, sustainability coordinator with the City of Elgin. “We conducted 40 site locations from March through June. To qualify, the parkway must be a certain width with no mature trees or utilities. Since it is late in the planting season, the home at 342 Perry Street was bid as a separate project.”
According to Rob Linke with the engineering firm of Trotter & Associates in St. Charles, the total cost of the citywide project is $751,000. It is being funded by a grant of $634,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency and $117,000 from the City of Elgin.
The EPA is funding 84 percent of the project, while the city is funding 16 percent.
Linke said more rain gardens will be planted starting in the spring. The anticipated project completion date is fall, 2014.
The rain garden installed on Saturday is not the first one in Elgin. Anderson said there is a rain garden along Spartan Drive on the Elgin Community College campus.
“Rain gardens capture stormwater and sewer runoff and keep pollutants on site and out of the Fox River,” Cosentino said. “Native plants with deep roots can filter rainwater. Turf grass has shallow roots.”
The engineered soil mix of a rain garden can have one and a half feet of plain mulch and three feet of sandy soil atop one and a half feet of gravel. Curb cuts are made so that rainwater on the streets can be directed over stone inflows and into the rain garden.
A total of 435 native plants were planted in the rain garden on Saturday with one plant per square foot.
Native plants include: nodding wild onion, New England aster, marsh milkweed, butterfly weed, coneflower, prairie blazing star, wild bergamot, switch grass, mountain mint, black-eyed Susan, bluestem, goldenrod, spiderwort, and vervain.
Jeff Goodlove of Elgin said he put in his own rain garden with mostly native plants about 10 years ago. His daughter, Jillian Goodlove, was contracted to do a portion of the design work of the rain garden at 342 Perry Street.
“Native plants have a deep root system,” Jillian said. “They are tolerant of both drought and heavy moisture. Native plant roots are good for rain gardens because they provide channels to underlying soils.”
Retired Elgin city planner Tom Armstrong, who volunteered to help plant the rain garden on Saturday, said that “the roots of some native plants can go down 15 feet.”