Underserved community gets a little environmental help from its friends
You might have heard of the Night Market, a monthly first-Friday staple of food, entertainment and shopping at the corner of North Limestone and Loudon Avenue in Lexington. You might be less familiar with the nonprofit community development corporation behind the market.
The North Limestone Community Development Corporation, or NoLi CDC, is a nonprofit organization providing a range of economic development services to this underserved community. Its projects range from programmatic elements, such as the Night Market, to infrastructural and cultural elements, such as the redevelopment of a series of row houses.
One of the more recent initiatives of NoLi CDC involves environmental remediation issues. The CDC partnered with neighborhood and community organizations such as Bluegrass Greensource, Town Branch Tree Experts and EcoGro to develop a comprehensive stormwater management and education program, which was awarded a Stormwater Incentive Grant.
“The breadth and scope of this grant is made possible by the community partnerships involved,” says Richard Young, director of the CDC. “The five different environmental strategies this grant uses – rain gardens, rain barrels, street trees, community gardens and litter cleanups – highlight the diverse specialties of our neighbors.”
All the components of this grant from Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government are intended to address issues of stormwater quantity and quality in the neighborhood. Much of the neighborhood lacks a storm sewer system because it was originally developed outside city limits. This has led to problems of flooding and poor water quality, as swift flows pick up litter and debris and carry it to Cane Run, a federally listed impaired stream that originates in North Lexington and eventually provides much of the drinking water for Georgetown.
Bluegrass Greensource has been an integral part of both the rain barrel workshops and the litter cleanups. The first series of workshops distributed over 25 rain barrels to neighborhood residents. The first litter cleanup removed over 300 pounds of trash and recyclables from the ground in the neighborhood, helping to improve the quality of water in both the Town Branch and Cane Run streams.
Town Branch Tree Experts provided the equipment and expertise needed to install over 100 street trees in June. These trees were available free of charge to residents of North Limestone and the Castlewood and Martin Luther King neighborhoods. These street trees will help absorb and filter stormwater and will add to the aesthetic appeal of the neighborhood overall.
Ecological restoration experts EcoGro will design and install the rain gardens in Castlewood Park, and construction is scheduled to begin later in the fall. These rain gardens will help reduce flooding in the area by storing stormwater and letting it percolate into the soil slowly following rain events. Native plants in the garden will provide supportive habitat for monarch butterflies, bees, and other species of concern.
Registration for the next rain barrel workshop will be available on the NoLi CDC. Pre-registration is required, and slots will fill fast. Any resident of the North Limestone, Castlewood or Martin Luther King neighborhoods is eligible.
Schuyler Warren is an outreach specialist for Bluegrass Greensource, focusing on participation in the LiveGreenLexington initiative by businesses in the city core. A native of the Bluegrass Region, he received a master’s in community and regional planning and in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon. He is a board member for Town Branch Trail and Castlewood Neighborhood Association.