We were pleased to have the opportunity yesterday to host Thomas Hylton for a tour of our urban forestry work, and some of the other green infrastructure projects we have completed in the watershed. Tom is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist from Pottstown, PA, the founder of Trees. Inc, and the President of Save Our Lands, Save Our Towns. He was in Pittsburgh to present at a Post-Agenda session for Pittsburgh City Council on Sidewalk Materials, called by Councilwoman Deb Gross.
He shared with Council members the innovative work that has been done in Pottstown over the last 20 years to preserve the life of large, mature street trees by re-thinking how to handle tree & sidewalk conflicts. He challenged the idea that concrete is the ideal material for sidewalks, showing how even in the absence of trees, it is prone to cracking, and spalling, and before long panels become uneven, leading to tripping hazards. In many parts of the world asphalt is the standard material used for sidewalks, and it is much more friendly to trees because it is flexible. It is also easier and cheaper to repair when repairs are needed. It can be painted with slip-proof paint so the surface will stay cool in the summer – the product used to mark out bike lanes in cities around the world.
Pottstown is also experimenting with porous materials such as Flexi-Pave. Many of you know that
NMRWA completed the first installation of this material, made of recycled tires, gravel, and polyurethane, in Southwestern PA in 2011 on S. Trenton Ave. across the street from what is now Biddle’s Escape Coffee Shop. It can infiltrate a remarkable amount of water – only in the most severe storms is any runoff produced.
Right now porous materials like Flexi-Pave are considerably more expensive than concrete, because few people or municipalities are using them. If usage increased, the price would come down. However, asphalt is cheaper than concrete and clearly preferable for a variety of reasons.
Hopefully one day soon Pittsburgh can become as progressive as Pottstown and update its ordinance that currently requires sidewalks to be constructed of concrete. It would be great to see experimentation with a variety of solutions that benefit our urban forest infrastructure, which is becoming more important than ever as we begin to experience directly the effects of climate change.
Thanks to Tom Hylton for sharing his insights and experience with us!
Last Monday, January 19th, we held a special Stream Sweep in Frick Park. We were joined by students from Chatham University who, as part of a service day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, chose to clean up Nine Mile Run. Each year, Chatham hosts a day of service, honoring MLK, where their staff and students can give their time to the community. Those at the university could choose one of 4 activities to participate in that day. About 20 people chose to help us. Monday morning, braving the cold, they set out to collect trash and debris from the stream. Starting at the soccer field, we split into two groups to cover more ground. The stream was definitely different than it is when we host our Spring and Fall Stream Sweeps. Without any foliage on the trees, the trash was abundant and apparent. Thanks to colder recent temperatures in Pittsburgh, parts of the ground around the Stream were still frozen and some of the trash was stuck in the ground! A few participants attempted to remove a sock that was buried and frozen in the ground without any luck.
The students from Chatham worked hard and collected enough trash to fill 30 bags! They were able to warm up afterward with some hot coffee and hot chocolate. As always, the group found some interesting things while cleaning up the stream. One participant found a rug while another found a small hub cap with a few other small car parts.
We greatly appreciate Chatham reaching out to us to work together on the Stream Sweep. We want to thank all of the students and staff members for working hard on a chilly day.
Be sure to stay tuned for all of our upcoming events to join us in the watershed sometime soon!
Check out pictures below of Chatham’s Stream Sweep!
Did you know? There are 3 employees at NMRWA named Sara(h)! We don’t always know which one someone is talking to but we always have fun with it.
It can be a challenge sometimes to differentiate between Sara, Sara and Sarah or Sara P and Sarah P, so we thought we would help you out.
We created a little game to get to know the 3 Sara(h)s better. Each Sara(h) answered the same five questions about themselves. Below are the questions and the Sara(h)s’ answers. Read the question and think about which answer you most identify with. Keep track of your responses and at the bottom, you will find a key that will tell you which Sara(h) you most relate to. You can also see what the other two Sara(h)s answered to learn a little more about them. Okay, let’s get started!
1. What is your favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh?
A. Il Pizzaiolo
B. Spak Brothers
C. Mad Mex
2. What is your favorite book, TV show and movie?
A. A Walk Across America, Breaking Bad, and The Life Aquatic
B. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, 30 Rock, and Almost Famous
C. Harry Potter, The West Wing, The Birdcage
3. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would it be?
A. Tour the country of Iceland
C. Victoria Falls
4. Tea, coffee or hot chocolate?
B. Coffee, Coffee, Coffee
5. What is the last thing you ate?
A. North African Yam Salad from the Co-op
C. Kale salad
If you answered mostly A: you identify most with Sara Madden, the Design Manager for Stormworks.
If you answered mostly B: you identify most with Sarah Peterson, the Communications Program Assistant for NMRWA
If you answered mostly C: you identify most with Sara Powell, the Monitoring and Communications Manager for NMRWA
Which Sara(h) did you get matched with?
We hope this helped distinguish the Sara(h)s a bit more and that it was fun in the process! If you ever see us around the watershed (or our favorite restaurants) be sure to say hi!