If all goes according to plan, Westgate will be the first public park in the area to feature a rain garden.
A rain garden is a depressed area that allows rain runoff to pond and percolated back into the soil.
“It will let nature do its thing naturally,” said Kristi Crissinger, a representative with Friends of the Scioto River at the July 1 meeting of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission. She was at the meeting to discuss the possibility of putting a rain garden near the north end of the enclosed shelter house at Westgate Park.
According to the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District, rain gardens are needed because the ability of the environment to perform its natural process decreases as development increases. This happens because the natural landscape that was once able to absorb and clean storm water is covered by impervious surfaces, which are surfaces that water is unable to penetrate, such as roads, rooftops, and driveways.
The increased impervious surfaces result in an increased amount of storm water runoff and an increased chance of pollution to enter the waterways through the storm sewer systems. The rain garden, which would be installed in a depressed area of the land, would capture the water and allow it to soak into the ground via perennial native plants.
Crissinger noted that it was not a retention pond, and the rain garden is only meant to hold water up to 48 hours.
Patterson expressed his interest in the idea, but asked about funding for the project.
Crissinger said that funding is not secure yet, but they are working on bids for the improvements. She added that the funding would mainly be for the plants and mulch, and believes the City of Columbus and Friends of the Scioto River would help cover some of the supplies, such as limestone slabs.
“We would not get the rain garden built without the proper funding, but we also need the support of the community for it,” she said.
The GHAC held their annual elections on June 28.
There were four elected positions up for grabs within the commission and the voting results welcomed three familiar faces and one new person into the fold.
Current commissioners Dave Horn, Sue Laughlin and Chuck Patterson were re-elected for an additional three-year term and Hilltop resident John Contonio was elected to his first commission term.
Contonio, who is the captain of the WOW (Wheatland, Oakley and Wayne avenues) Blockwatch, ran for a seat to help bring awareness to the area.
“I live in an under represented area and many residents feel they are not recognized by the commission, so that’s why I ran,” he said.
Chairman Chuck Patterson said he is excited by the election of Contonio because the area he represents is a “paramount of importance” to the Hilltop.
There were also two appointed seats to fill, and the commissioners voted to appoint Steve Hermiller to a three-year term and Stanley Thornburgh to a one-year term.
“I’m very excited by all of them,” Patterson said. “Steve Hermiller brings architecture expertise to the table and that’s very important for the redevelopment of the Greater Hilltop Area.
“Stanley is great because he is very involved with the community and has a lot of passion for it. There is always room for more passion.”
Regarding positions within the commission, Mark Potts will take over the treasurer position, while Dave Horn and Chuck Patterson will retain their vice-chair and chairman positions, respectively.
The commission approved a motion to establish an Ad Hoc Budget Committee.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Commissioner Tasha Corson. “It’s all about accountability.”
Patterson added that the budget committee would not have to meet every month, but would like them to meet once every third or fourth month to discuss the expenditures of the commission.
National Night Out falls on the first Tuesday of August, which is also the scheduled date of the next GHAC meeting.
“We had this problem last year when they fell on the same date,” said Patterson. “We would try to cram in a 25 minute meeting.”
For a solution to this problem, Patterson asked the commission to pass a motion to move the Aug. 5 meeting until Aug. 12, the following Tuesday, which they approved.
The commission will still meet at the regular time, which is 7 p.m. at the Hilltop Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.