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Green Infrastructure Project Blends Public Art And An Environmental Message

NEORSD's Matt Scharver says an neighborhood locust tree was preserved in designing the Buckeye Road project  [David C. Barnett / ideastream]
NEORSD's Matt Scharver says an neighborhood locust tree was preserved in designing the Buckeye Road project.

Some of the storm waters from our rainy spring weather are now being diverted back to Mother Nature thanks to a new "green infrastructure" project on Cleveland's East Side. The Buckeye Road site also features public art with an environmental theme.

Four blocks of abandoned homes and businesses along Buckeye Road were recently plowed down and replaced with a series of rain gardens and grassy dips in the landscape, called detention basins, that will hold storm water, after a heavy rain.

Walking the site, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's Matt Scharver pointed out how rain water flowing down the streets is steered away from the sewers.

Stephen Manka's iron grates feature a thematic raindrop pattern  [David C. Barnett / ideastream]

“The water follows the gutter line and then is able to turn and divert into this curb cut,” he said. From there it’s funneled into one of the detention basins. Along the way, street trash and grit is caught by screens and the water in the basin slowly filters into the ground. 

Scharver notes that, before this, neighborhood sewers were overwhelmed during big storms.

"Projects like this really weave in resiliency into the sewer infrastructure into the future and ensure that we decrease the amount of combined sewer overflows into the environment," he said.

This site is one of nine green infrastructure projects designed by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. The Buckeye Road project also integrates public art into the landscaping — a series of poems and sculptures, all with an environmental theme. Neighborhood poet Damien Ware created a spiral-shaped poem that resembles water going down a drain.

Damien Ware's circular poem emulates water going down a drain  [David C. Barnett / ideastream]

"Which is what this whole site is about: cleaning, redirecting the waste water that overflows with melting snow and all of this rain that we've been getting over the last couple days,” Ware said.

Cleveland-based LAND Studio commissioned the public art for the site, which includes other environmental thoughts by poet Dawn Arrington, also a Buckeye resident.   

Stephen Manka's Water Tower  [David C. Barnett / ideastream]

Sculptor Stephen Manka created some Buckeye-themed detention basin grates, a silver water tower that anchors one end of the park and a bike rack shaped like a huge splash of water.

[David C. Barnett / ideastream]

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.