Md. Grant Could Fund Bio-Retention Project

SALISBURY — Stormwater runoff concerns could see some action in Salisbury with the City Council indicating general support of a bio-retention project on Market Street.

Funded by a Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) grant, totaling approximately $250,000, the bio-retention project would be constructed adjacent to City Parking Lot number 12.

The area would include native plants and be designed in a manner to funnel stormwater runoff away from the watershed. The plants and soils used for the bio-retention would filter incoming water before it enters storm drains. The plans were crafted by the Center for Watershed Protection (CWP) and have reached the 95-percent design stage.

“The city has worked closely with CWP and extensive effort has been made to balance the amount of disturbance to the existing City Parking Lot,” read a memo from Jennifer Mills, assistant director of internal services, “and to also achieve the goal of properly designing the stormwater bio-retention area to function properly to reduce nutrients and sediments before entering the Wicomico River.”

While a special effort is being made to minimize the disturbance of the project on the parking lot, the city will lose at least a few spaces.

“The creation of the bio-retention area will also result in the elimination of up to four parking spaces, two of which are metered spaces and two of which are permit spaces,” wrote Miller. “There is also the possibility that we will gain an additional parking space (for a net loss of three spaces) but as of this writing, that has not been finalized.”

The greater impact that the council wondered about, however, was how the bio-retention project would mesh with an expansion of the city’s River Walk. Council President Jake Day asked that the city seek some clarification on how the two projects will work together in the same general area. He admitted that he was surprised that the $250,000 MDNR grant didn’t have any provisions related to River Walk.

“My understanding was, and it might have been a mistaken understanding,” said Day, “but my understanding was when we voted on accepting the grant that River Walk was part of that.”

But that is not the case and Day asked that River Walk be kept in mind as the bio-retention moves forward. It will be, according to Miller.

“River Walk would probably go over the bio-retention area … so what we are envisioning in the future is it would continue along like a boardwalk over the bio-retention area,” she said.

The council consented to vote on beginning the project at their next legislative meeting Monday.