Toledo, Ohio’s Maywood Avenue Gets Facelift and Gains Recognition from Local Leaders

Facelift?  Facelift equals street-scale green infrastructure retrofit.  This story is just one of many like it, but it sure is good. 

Over three years ago, the City of Toledo’s Division of Environmental Services along with Tetra Tech and American Rivers put together a street-scale green infrastructure project outline that would include the use of bioswales in rights-of-ways, permeable pavement on sidewalks and driveway approaches, and rain gardens and rain barrels on private property.  This project mimicked well established street-scale projects in Burnsville, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington.  Inspired by these projects by how effective they are in improving water quality and reducing stormwater runoff, we felt the need to put together a project of similar scale in Toledo. 

One issue with this project proposal was that at the time there was very little federal and state dollars being allocated to projects like this for design, construction, and monitoring.  It was necessary to look closely at existing resources that could possibly integrate funds for these types of green infrastructure projects.  The most likely place to integrate was states’ Revolving Loan Funds

As this project sat on the shelf, efforts had been underway to secure water infrastructure funding for green infrastructure and water efficiency as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARRA required that states use 20% of their allocation under the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds for green infrastructure, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and environmental innovation.  

It was as if the “green” light turned on once this funding for the Green Reserve under ARRA was secured (see Putting Green to Work: Economic Recovery Investments for Clean and Reliable Water).  The City of Toledo applied to Ohio EPA’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund program and was awarded nearly $1 million for their project. 

In this time, Toledoans have seen significant changes in attitudes regarding green infrastructure and how it might fit in with city and county goals for long-term solutions to combined sewer issues.  Last month, the Maywood Avenue Project had finished construction.  An article in Toledo’s Free Press highlights some necessary steps the city had been taking over the years to address water quality issues in regard to combined sewer overflows.  It is evident that collaborating with local partners to put together good green infrastructure projects is an approach that wins big in the end.

It also gets the attention of our local leaders.  On October 20, 2010, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur visited the site and spoke with residents about how this will not only reduce their flooding issues, but also beautify their neighborhood and feel supported by their local government.  See the Toledo Blade article for the complete story.