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MLK Park project wins state award

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The city of Columbia and landscape designer Woolpert, based in St. Andrews, have received a South Carolina America Public Works Association award for their water quality and detention project at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

The project, a collaborative effort between Woolpert water resource engineers and landscape architects along with Columbia Engineering Parks and Recreation Department staff, won the 2019 project of the year award in the category of Structures/Historical Restoration. The effort addressed routine flooding and water quality issues while improving the park’s appearance and functionality, according to a news release.

“It was important that the design strike a balance between alleviating flooding and creating an engaging destination for the community,” Woolpert program director Hal Clarkson said in the release. “With this project, the park regained lost space, water quality improved and people of all mobilities can now enjoy this beautiful site. I’m just proud to be a part of it.”

The team designed and constructed an off-line dry detention area to help with stormwater attenuation, increased the park’s stormwater storage capacity and provided pollutant trapping in new storage areas. The detention area can also be used as an environmental education area, and a handicapped-accessible boardwalk now provides visitors access to Rocky Creek.

“Extreme weather events are part and parcel with living in the Southeast, and mitigating stormwater from them in an environmentally responsible way is what this project is all about,” Clint Shealy, assistant city manager for Columbia Water, said. “As this project shows, building more resilient infrastructure can go hand-in-hand with creating a more aesthetic and livable city.”

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