Neighborhood Improvements: Rain Gardens, Artwork, and Ellerbe Creek Cultural Signage

Thanks to Duke’s Doing Good In the Neighborhood grant program, Trinity Park benefitted from several improvements this summer:

Rain Gardens

The rain gardens on the George Watts school playground protect downhill areas of the neighborhood, including Ellerbe Creek, by preventing soil erosion during rainstorms, and slowing and filtering runoff. They also make a beautiful gathering spot open to the public outside of school hours.  With a grant from Duke of $1100 in June, TPNA and the George Watts PTA paid for critical maintenance of the rain gardens, replacing fallen rocks that support the sloped surfaces, and removing debris from the drainage outflows.  TPNA and the PTA also held a rain garden workshop on July 17 with help from Robert Meehan of the  Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association (ECWA).  About a dozen Trinity Park neighbors and school families pitched in to weed the gardens and learned how they protect our waterways.  Thanks to neighbors Annie Ambrose and Sarah Musser for organizing the workshop, and to all who volunteered to help!

Volunteer and Trinity Park neighbor Jane Brown said, “Seeing the beauty of the rain gardens up close and knowing how they protect water quality made me want to put one in my own yard.  We’re working on the plans now and expect to install it in the spring!”

Did you know?? Installing a rain garden can be less expensive than you might think.  ECWA’s Meehan advised neighbors who are interested in creating a rain garden of their own to check out Durham’s Community Conservation Assistance Program, a cost-reimbursement program in which a homeowner pays the upfront costs of installing a rain garden (usually about $1000) and then gets 75% back as a reimbursement. “In this case, the average rain garden costs the homeowner about $250. However, the cost could be even lower if you provide some of the costs yourself (labor, for instance),” said Meehan.

Brass Labels for Trinity Park Art

With a $1400 grant from Duke through the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, awarded in partnership with TPNA, the Trinity Park Foundation purchased (and will soon install) long-hoped-for bronze labels for the three works of art located in The Trinity Park. 

Ellerbe Creek Maintenance and New Cultural Signage

With a grant of $9000 from Duke, TPNA partnered with Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association to make two big improvements along the Ellerbe Creek trail in Trinity Park.  

  • Removing invasive shrubs: ECWA hired a summer Stewardship Technician to organize workdays to help remove invasive shrubs along the greenway. This increased visibility and safety for trail users and will help native plants and animals to flourish.
  • Creating a cultural display about African American heritage: TPNA and ECWA collaborated with NCCU history professor Dr. Charles Johnson and local history buff Algin Holloway to research African American heritage in the watershed.  We developed cultural signage to be installed along the trail, similar in style to existing signage highlighting ecological features. The new display features bios of three distinguished African Americans who grew up in the watershed.  We hope that this might be the first installment of a potentially larger exhibit with more local history – the Ellerbe Creek Hall of Distinction!  Look for the display to be installed along the trail in the coming months.
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