Students complete planting at 911 Center

Courtesy photo Members of the Altoona Area High School Earthkeepers Club who participated in the parking lot improvement project at the Blair County 911 Center include (from left): Christina Evans, Megan Hattler, Kaitlyn Clouser, Michael Steininger, Emma Bender, Denise Condo (adviser), Katia Brant and Robin DeShong (adviser). Also participating was Kimberly Nguyen.

From Mirror staff reports

Students from Altoona Area High School recently added the finishing touches on a parking lot improvement project next to the Blair County 911 Center at Sixth Avenue and Fourth Street.

Blair County, through an effort involving the Blair County Conservation District, secured a Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Town Grant through the Chesapeake Bay Trust, an organization that supports educational and environmental efforts to improve the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The grant was available because the parking lot project incorporated several “green infrastructure” components.

Because of the grant, the county was able to include landscaping within the newly paved parking area that will reduce stormwater runoff and allow the project to meet Altoona’s land development requirements.

Creating vegetated strips and islands along the edges and corners of the parking lot will result in shading and a reduction in stormwater runoff, Conservation District Director Donna Fisher said.

To handle the planting, Scott Crofcheck of C&L Lawn Care met Nov. 3 at the parking lot with the Altoona Area High School Earthkeepers Club, represented by advisers Denise Condo, Robin DeShong and Michael Steininger, along with students Megan Hattler, Katia Brant, Kaitlyn Clouser, Christina Evans, Emma Bender and Kimberly Nguyen.

Teddie Kreitz from Keller Engineers was also on site that day and described the stormwater process and the benefits of green infrastructure.

In addition to the conservation district, additional assistance came from Blair County Commissioner Ted Beam Jr. and County Administrator Helen Schmitt.

Kreitz also provided those involved with a description of the project’s biofiltration system along Seventh Avenue. Stormwater detention and rate control is provided through that system’s interconnected modular boxed tanks that are located underground. On the surface, a high-performing soil is placed and planted with native plants to help stormwater infiltration.

This type of system is effective in urban areas and in situations where space for traditional rain gardens may be limited, Kreitz said.

Fisher offered a report on the project to Blair County commissioners at the Nov. 15 weekly meeting.

“This will be a place where we can take people to show off this kind of effort,” Fisher said.

Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb offered his thanks to those involved and called it “a win-win” project.

Beam offered his thanks to the students for their assistance and his praise for the cooperative effort.

“I think the project is really nice,” Beam said.