Congratulations are in order for all involved with the Seawell Elementary Storm Water Project. It was one of four land development projects honored at the sixth annual awards cycle for the Greater Triangle Stewardship Development Awards Program (GTSDA). The awards ceremony was held at the Power Plant at the American Tobacco Campus on May 10.
An interdisciplinary expert panel of judges evaluated the projects for achievement in these areas:
Natural resource assessment
Water quality protection
Wildlife Habitat Protection
Vegetation Protection and Enhancement
Integration with the Community
Long-Term Management and Maintenance
Community Outreach and Education
Jim Goodmon, CEO of Capital Broadcasting Company, provided a brief keynote address, followed by presentation of awards to recipients by GTSDA Board members.
The four innovative winning projects are:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve, Raleigh
This City of Raleigh nature preserve was awarded the highest award, a Gold Stewardship Development Award. The project, pictured above, demonstrated exceptional achievement on all applicable GTSDA criteria. Surface 678, a landscape architecture firm, worked with the City of Raleigh to create a model public recreation and environmental education facility grounded in resource conservation and sustainable development principles. Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve is situated above a dramatic oxbow formed by the Neuse River and is becoming a showcase for innovation in sustainability and low impact park development and management practices. In particular, judges commended the extensive natural resource assessment that informed the design and programming, the use of green building techniques, and the development and use of a management plan to guide stewardship of the park moving forward.
Kent Corner Project, Durham
Kent Corner received a Silver Stewardship Development Award. The champions of Kent Corner, Self Help, transformed an environmentally contaminated site within a historic low-income community on the edge of downtown Durham. Self-Help engaged extensively with the three surrounding neighborhoods, resulting in a project that creates strong connections to the residents and meets both economic and cultural goals. Judges praised the place-making aspect of this development, including the community outreach and the features incorporated to connect community members with the project and to recognize the history of the site. They also cited the reuse and remediation of a brownfield site, and use of green building techniques. Two anchor Kent Corner tenants amplify the goal of positive community impact. The Durham Co-op Market brings healthy foods to a food desert as well as jobs to the community. The non-profit Center for Child and Family Health is a partnership among many of the Triangle's universities to integrate and deliver mental health services to children and families recovering from traumatic events. DTW Architects and Planners, Ltd., designed the project, and CT Wilson was the general contractor.
Seawell Elementary School, Chapel Hill
The Seawell Elementary Storm Water Project was awarded an Honorable Mention for Water Quality Protection, Vegetation Protection & Enhancement, and Community Outreach and Education. The main buildings of Seawell were built in 1969. As other buildings and school features were added, storm water management was not an integral part of the decision making process. The stormwater project included installing a 75-foot water retention trench, adding four 500-gallon cisterns, replanting two hillsides with native plants and grasses, and installing two rain gardens. The judges were extremely impressed with the exceptional respect shown to local water resources through innovative solutions at a developed site, while at the same time providing native vegetation that can benefit wildlife. They also praised how education about the stormwater features was integrated into the curricula throughout multiple grades. The project team included Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools, Lands and Waters South, and North Carolina Cooperative Extension, with funding from the Jandy Ammons Foundation.
Robertson’s Millpond Preserve, Wake County
Robertson Millpond Preserve was awarded an Honorable Mention for Natural Resource Assessment and Wildlife Habitat Protection. The 85-acre preserve along Buffalo Creek lies near Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon, and centers around a historic millpond. In more than 180 years, the millpond has become a blackwater swamp, unusual for the Piedmont area. It is home to Wake County's only known bald cypress habitat. County leaders, responding to the need for additional recreation areas as part of the Wake County Open Space and Greenway Masterplan, approved the purchase of this property for a nature preserve. This millpond is an aesthetic and visual amenity for county residents to enjoy. The judges were extremely impressed with the exceptional respect for conserving wildlife habitat through the assessment and protection of the unique bald cypress blackwater swamp habitat in the piedmont. DHM Design was the leading firm in the design efforts for the visitor access point, with the design team including Ward Consulting Engineers, Lysaght & Associates Structural Engineers, and Axiom Environmental.
Event sponsors included Moffatt & Nichol, WithersRavenel, Stewart, Inc., Soil & Environmental Consulting, Weaver Street Realty, and Summit Design and Engineering Services, with beverages provided by Haw River Farmhouse Ales.
Modeled after a sister program in the Coastal North Carolina area, called the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Development Awards, the Greater Triangle Stewardship Development Awards Program was established as a partnership in 2010 among local businesses, academia, state agencies and local governments. The program incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2014. Applications for recognition in the 2017 cycle will be solicited in fall 2016.
More information about the program and past winners is available at www.trianglestewardship.org.