It’s Flood Storage! It’s a Park! As climate change causes more severe weather, construction of the first flood control project in Chapel Hill’s history is about to begin.
The Town of Chapel Hill project is designed to slow down the flow of rainwater that typically floods the area near Eastgate Crossing and East Franklin Street. Practically, it will be an engineered flood storage area, capturing more water and holding it in place. Passively, it will serve as the newly named Booker Creek Basin Park. This green infrastructure approach to manage runoff reflects the Town’s openness to choose an innovative solutions to runoff.
The plan is to carve a shallow, earthen basin into about four acres of land that you may have never noticed between Eastgate Crossing Shopping Center and South Elliott Road. If you can’t picture the area, it’s a swath of scruffy pines, invasive shrubs and prickly vines – surrounded by parking lots and Hwy. 15-501/Fordham Boulevard.
Satellite Image of the Booker Creek Basin Park Project Location
(click for larger version)
All that is about to change. After the flood storage area is engineered, the greenspace will be transformed with native plants, walking trails, an overlook, and public art by local metal sculptor Holly Felice.
An overhead view of the design plan for the Booker Creek Basin Park
(Click for a larger version)
In 2015, the Stormwater Division of the Public Works Department began to study watersheds within Chapel Hill town limits. The goal of these studies is to recommend and prioritize projects that will control existing flooding, stabilize streams, and improve overall water quality.
The 2017 Lower Booker Creek Subwatershed Study identified $22 million in needed capital projects to improve flooding and water quality. The Council approved using the 2015 Stormwater bonds of $5.9 million for the top priority projects identified in the report, starting with the Booker Creek Basin Park.
To celebrate the construction of this landmark project, the Town hosted a virtual groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, May 15. The groundbreaking video features messages from Mayor Pam Hemminger, Stormwater Management Utility Advisory Board chair Pamela Schultz, local artist Holly Felice, and Town staff. You can find the video on Facebook, YouTube, and the project webpage.