Clarks Summit Borough is just about to complete a major project that likely affects every resident’s wallet.
In addition to being an effort to provide a facelift to the aesthetically tired Carnation Park, the new rain garden actually diverts much more than 15,000 gallons of water – think 1.5 tanker trucks – out of the borough’s stormwater system each rain event. Through careful engineering, this water is guaranteed to enter the ground and not end up running down Northern Boulevard and ponding by the A-Plus Sunoco.
With continued development upstream, and without projects like this, eventually the Routes 6 and 11 corridor would have to be disrupted so that contractors could build a Susquehanna River-like basin for Leggett’s Creek. (Ok, maybe only half as big as the Susquehanna River).
The “paint” had not even dried on the project yet, and skeptics were already talking down what may be Northeast Pennsylvania’s biggest rain garden. The deer are coming in droves. The mosquitoes will come. So will the snakes. And the “weeds.” Where is the fence?
Depending on your perspective, these are perhaps real concerns. But there are real answers.
First, let’s think about the deer. As a homeowner in this area, I don’t need to be informed about the presence of deer, or woodchucks, or squirrels, or bear, or any other herbivorous mammal. From all appearances, they are here to stay. As for research on what deer eat, to a degree it’s a moving target.
Speaking of moving targets, this is exactly what is envisioned for the plants in the rain garden. Remember that the first goal of any rain garden is water diversion. So the landscape is always just the icing on the cake. So the rain garden has been planted with beautiful, interesting plants that might become permanent fixtures. And it would be nice if these plants could naturalize – read “become weeds” – here, but since this is never going to be a “cultivated” garden, nature itself will tell us what will ultimately make its home here. Nature’s beauty, of course, unlike its commercialized store-shelf cousin, is far more subtle, and, in today’s Plasticville world, is an acquired taste.
As for nature in the park, what about mosquitoes and snakes? First, unlike a pond, the engineers designed the garden floor to drain water. If – as designed – the water persists less than three days, mosquitoes should not be a problem. But let’s think about the land that borders the park. In this wooded hillside, wild creatures of all kinds serve as food for one another in a harmonious, habitat balance. Likewise, the rain garden will have its own diverse, harmonious habitat.
Finally, as for fences. The borough has plenty of unfenced “hazards” on private and public property. And as we all know, its solitary fenced park only restricts the movement of responsible adults.
Joshua Arp is an ISA-certified municipal specialist, Clarks Summit’s municipal arborist and an operator of an organic lawn and landscape maintenance business. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.