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Posted on Sat, Jul 6, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

$165K rain garden project at Arbor Oaks Park will help handle stormwater in southeast Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

A series of rain gardens is planned for Arbor Oaks Park on Ann Arbor's southeast side, and city officials say it should improve management of stormwater runoff that enters the park.


The existing layout of Arbor Oaks Park, which contains a play area, basketball court, pathways, picnic tables, benches, shade trellis and open field area.

City of Ann Arbor

The project is moving forward after the Ann Arbor City Council voted 9-0 Monday night to approve a $149,925 contract with Woodhaven-based Erie Construction LLC.

Arbor Oaks is a neighborhood park located near Bryant Elementary School and the Bryant Community Center, southeast of Interstate 94 and Stone School Road.

The park contains a play area, basketball court, pathways, picnic tables, benches, a shade trellis, and an open field area.

The project involves regrading a portion of the park to accommodate the installation of a series of rain gardens, which are designed to detain and infiltrate rain from storms.

To ensure drainage to the rain gardens from a large open area within the park, and to make the area usable for neighborhood residents, soil will be placed to raise the elevation of the open area, according to Nichole Woodward, a utilities engineer in the city's field operations unit.

City officials said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is helping with financing the project through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revolving fund. The project is eligible for up to 50 percent loan forgiveness for water quality improvement construction costs.

The total budget for the project is $164,925, which includes a contingency in the amount of $15,000 for change orders to be approved by the city administrator.

Funds for the project are being advanced from the city's approved stormwater capital budget pending reimbursement from the EPA's revolving fund.

The debt service for the loan repayment — less 50 percent loan forgiveness — is budgeted in the city's approved stormwater operations and maintenance budget.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Joe Kidd

Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

I do not understand why cannot put addresses on location referred to in stories. When I studied journalism at U of M, that was a standard fact needed in a story. For example, here simply the 2000 block of Champagn Dr., or the intersection of Champagn Dr and Stratton Ct. "Arbor Oaks is a neighborhood park located near Bryant Elementary School and the Bryant Community Center, southeast of Interstate 94 and Stone School Road," is just not specific enough to tell us where this park is and having to look it up yourself shows a lack of important facts. Even when you click on the link you do not get an address, just map you have already printed.


Mon, Jul 8, 2013 : 2:19 a.m.

By definition a rain garden is not a permanent pond. Rain gardens are designed to hold rain runoff for at most a few days, allowing the water to infiltrate into the soil. They don't hold water long enough for mosquitos to breed in them. I guess the main benefit to the park will be improved drainage, so the field will drain promptly. The main benefit of the rain garden is to the stormwater system and to local streams. The gardens trap runoff that would otherwise flow into the storm drains and from there into streams and the river. This reduces the load on the storm drain system, and decreases pollution and erosion in the streams.


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

Rain gardens seem to be an upcoming part of the solution to rain water runoff, and a very good part of the solution if they are positioned and managed properly. The question here is how much area is going to benefit from this 165,000 dollar investment? The article seems to say that only the park will benefit, reducing water levels in the area of the park during rains does not benefit the homes, streets, and business areas of the community, unless the community drains into the park site. The rain gardens normally retain rain waters for a few days after the rains, creating a birthplace for mosquitos and other crawling, and flying insects that the city sprays to keep under control. Individual home rain gardens seldom have standing water in them for days to create this condition. I do hope that this improvement will benefit all tax payers in the surrounding subdivisions.

Vince Caruso

Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

This is great! Many involved in trying to reduce flooding and improve water quality to the Huron River have advocated handling rain water runoff (storm-water) at the source not installing more expensive pipes. Ann Arbor is moving in that direction now like many other communities. Less flooding, cleaner runoff, at less cost, and it looks great, what's not to like. In a few years maybe like San Francisco we can start to daylight our streams, theirs were enclosed in the 1800's.


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 12:08 a.m.

So just what is a rain "garden". Is it a pond to hold excess rain water that is then somehow piped into sewer lines? Are there plants in it which help filter the water? If its just standing water seems like it would breed a lot of mosquitos.


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 6:34 a.m.

Thanks foobar,I was wondering the same thing.


Sun, Jul 7, 2013 : 12:47 a.m.