On August 9, 2017, Depave Puget Sound volunteers helped remove pavement from the back lot of the Holy Rosary Church to make room for trees that will be planted before the end of the year.
There is over 15,000 square feet of pavement that stretch from the side of a parking lot at the Holy Rosary Church on S. 30th St. to a back wall that is the only divider from I-5’s bustle. A set of caged play equipment stands out, the only indication this space is also meant for children.
As a concerned parent with kids at Holy Rosary, Carrie Hernandez wanted to make that space friendlier for community use. As the coordinator of the PWI’s Industrial Stormwater Community of Interest (ISCOI), she knew just what to do. Carrie nominated Holy Rosary as a project site for Depave Puget Sound, a program of Pierce Conservation District (PCD).
Depave’s mission is to form local partnerships that allow the community to rethink their city spaces to bring nature and natural functions closer to home. Carrie’s vision perfectly matched Depave’s: “Removing the rocks and asphalt will create a vibrant, healthy space where the kids can safely play,” she said. “The space will also be educational, demonstrating how natural processes can clean and filter water. We're excited to see the finished project for the kids!”
PCD, a member of the ISCOI, is leading the depave effort in Pierce County that includes funding and support from The Nature Conservancy, Boeing, the Rose Community Foundation, and the cities of Tacoma and Puyallup. Since 2014, PCD has removed almost 23,000 square feet of pavement from five different locations. Holy Rosary becomes the 6th site.
The project at Holy Rosary will be completed in two phases. In 2017 project staff and volunteers removed 5,000 square feet of pavement to make way for trees along the back wall while preparing for the even more ambitious phase. In 2018 teams will remove the remaining 10,080 square feet of pavement to create space for a grass field where students can play team sports. The play equipment, too, will become more inviting to play on; it will be moved on top of soft mulch.
This important work is vital to the ISCOI’s hopes for the future of Tacoma. PCD’s Water Quality Improvement Director Melissa Buckingham explained that urban trees are now understood to be a central part of a “Green City” and they provide a range of benefits by beautifying neighborhoods and reducing noise, air, and water pollution. Every 1,000 square feet of depaved pavement eliminates over 24,000 gallons of polluted runoff annually. The PWI and the ISCOI are very excited to come back later in 2017 to see the new trees growing where the unnecessary pavement used to be.
Check out these photos of our volunteers hard at work!