LAKE COMO, NJ — A new rain garden is rising outside Lake Como’s borough hall — the first step in a stormwater management project for the Main Street site.
The borough recently received a supply of nearly 200 plants — 190 perennials and nine shrubs, worth $300 — from the Freehold Soil Conservation District for the garden, which sits between the borough parking lot and sidewalk. And wasting no time, the Environmental Commission, led by its former chairman Jon Gibbons, assembled a group of volunteers to get the plants into the ground last Saturday morning, June 13.
The new planting replaces a native plant garden that was installed seven years ago by the commission as its first-ever project. “This rain garden shows how our thinking has expanded from encouraging native plants and pollinators to the more ecological scale, now toward reducing the volume and toxicity of stormwater from impervious surfaces (like parking lots) going into our lake," said Gibbons.
That part of the project will involve placing a two-inch high berm to divert stormwater from the parking lot to the plot of new plants — to make it a true rain garden.
And once the blossoming plants, grasses and other greenery become established over the next several years, they are expected to be moved to the banks of Lake Como. Currently, a major revitalization of the lakefront is under consideration, based on a landscape design plan developed by students at Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design in Brooklyn.
The “Fun and Wildlife Lakefront Park” proposal calls for creating an environment that preserves the land on the northern banks of the 34-acre lake, while incorporating attractions and recreational amenities for the community.
Until that becomes a reality, Gibbons said the rain garden will prove quite beneficial in several ways. “In the interim, we can use it to educate residents and visitors on the importance of managing stormwater, which will reduce the toxins flowing into the lake, to help promote our environmental vision, and to enjoy the beauty and the butterflies that are a lovely benefit of native plants,” he said.
In addition to the plants from the Freehold Soil Conservation District, which were supplied by Pinelands Nursery & Supply in Columbus, another 15 plants were donated — six by Patrick Underhill and nine by Gibbons from his own award-winning Candide’s Garden.
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