The Lower Merion Historical Society has launched a grassroots endeavor to green a historic property as efficiently as possible, and on a dime. It will be used as a case study and classroom on how to employ innovative and cost-effective strategies to green and renovate historic properties.
The Cynwyd Train Station, a historic structure built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1890, and still used as an active SEPTA stop on the Cynwyd line and the major trailhead for the Cynwyd Heritage Trail. The station’s basement is continually wet, and will soon threaten the foundation and the habitability of the structure. An additional goal is to manage the stormwater runoff that is polluting Vine Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River (and source of Philly's drinking water supply) and one of the highlights of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail.
The sustainable landscape was designed by North Street Design, LLC, in conjunction with students of the Engineering School at Villanova University. The most impressive element of the initiative is its innovative, multifunctional rainwater harvesting system, designed specifically for the station. Tanks made from recycled materials can also be used as benches for trail users and commuters, and the collected water will irrigate surrounding gardens, lowering our tap water use, while also preventing runoff from causing more soil erosion in the gardens. As a highly visible amenity in the community, the system will also serve as a the first and only demonstration project on sustainable rainwater and stormwater systems in the township.
A working prototype exists at historic Woodford mansion, Philadelphia. Rainwater collected off the roof is used to irrigate a nearby orchard. See North Street Design, LLC on facebook for images.
Please visit www.cynwydheritagetrail.com for more info on the Cynwyd Station, and the full story of its greening and revitalization.
Risks and challenges
This grant will purchase materials that we need for the raintank benches and stormwater planters. All designs and oversight are already completed. This is a shovel-ready project, that was designed and will be installed pro bono. Thus, all but one of the challenges have already been overcome.
We will have to obtain SEPTA (our metropolitan transportation authority, and owner of the building) approval. Since it protects their active platform from erosion and flooding, and as stormwater management is listed as one of our responsibilities on our sublease, we are pretty sure they will be supportive.
Maintenance is ensured, as it is part of the responsibility of the caretaker living on the second floor of the train station, and his lease can be revoked if he fails in these responsibilities.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The idea for a rainwater harvesting system first came about because of our problem if a wet basement in the station. We had a group of enginneering students from Villanova evaluate the hydrology of the site, and they determined that the majority of the water came from poor drainage and back up of our downspouts. Since construction, the drainage has improved, but, unfortunately, that has moved the problem downstream. All of the drains dump into the same swale, which has significantly increased erosion problems along Vine Creek. The rain tank benches and the stormwater planters will really help take some of the burden off the swale by reducing volume and slowing down the velocity of the water during and after downpours.
No, the terracing is potential future work. This Kickstarter Project will only fund materials for the depicted raintank benches and the stormwater planters.
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