GREEN: The city has embarked on more than $2 million in projects that continue its attempt to focus on safe walkways in the city center with the added features of sophisticated stormwater control that provides an educational touch.
The improvements also signal that Green is ahead of the curve in a recent study that indicates Americans’ love affair with driving could be a thing of the past.
A planned $1.79 million construction project to rebuild portions of Shriver and Steese roads and add curbs, storm sewers and street lighting for the primary routes to Green’s intermediate and middle schools is in accord with a report released in May by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) that shows the six-decades long driving boom in the United States is over.
The millennial generation (people born between 1983 and 2000), the largest generation group in the history of the United States, will demand better walkways, bicycling paths and nondriving forms of transportation, according to the report that suggests America’s transportation policies “remain stuck in the past.”
“A new generation — the millennials — is demanding a new American Dream less dependent on driving,” the report summarizes.
The walkway and street improvements will connect the intermediate and middle schools to neighborhoods and the Portage Lakes Career Center on Shriver Road to the south and to businesses on Massillon Road to the east.
The addition of sidewalks along heavily traveled Shriver Road will keep students off road berms where traffic, including buses and semi trucks, whizzes by.
“This is the central part of Green where we can do certain things to make it more walkable. I believe it is very thoughtful stewardship of our resources,” said the city’s community development administrator, Sarah Haring.
The Steese/Shriver project will serve 221 households in the Hightower Estates area.
In conjunction with the street improvements, the addition of a park-like wetland in front of Green Middle School will improve drainage for homes in the housing allotment and the quality of stormwater before it drains back into the drinking water supply. As many as 80 percent of Green homeowners get their water from wells.
The $256,000 wetland project started in June should be completed by September except for the plants, which will be added in September, city officials said.
The project is funded through the city’s Surface Water Improvement Fund and with a $100,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. Once built, the property will be maintained by Green schools to enhance education for district students.
The 1.75-acre wetlands, filled with natural plants that do the work of cleaning the water, will become part of the city’s stormwater infrastructure, Haring said.
“Twenty years ago, everyone controlled water with concrete. We’ll be going from gray to green,” she said.
A 25-acre watershed will drain into the wetlands, Deputy Service Director Paul Oberdorfer said. Currently, the water runoff drains into a concrete stormwater vault in front of the school. The vault is slated to be removed and reinstalled closer to Massillon Road after the wetlands are constructed.
“Bioretention is a better water-quality feature. If you have the opportunity, anything natural is much better for cleaning surface water,” Oberdorfer said.
Stages of the construction of the wetland are being videotaped by Chuck Lyons, Green High School’s audio-visual instructor, to remind adults and show youngsters what the property looked like before the wetlands were incorporated into the landscape.
“There will be a time when the younger children won’t remember what it looked like before the wetland was built,” Haring said.
The area will have signage explaining the work the wetland does naturally.
“Kids will grow up understanding what this is about and hopefully, carry it over to adulthood,” Haring said.
Road improvements will include adding a turn lane to Steese Road, where there is a high volume of driveways. Although work is not expected to be completed by the start of school, traffic on Steese Road will be maintained in both directions, city Engineer Paul Pickett said.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com.