A small park in Downtown Rapid City has won the town’s 2015 Sustainability Award.
The solar powered Trinity Eco Prayer Park collects and cleans storm water runoff before it enters Rapid Creek while providing a bit of green landscape in the middle of downtown.
Driving past the corner of 4th street and Saint Joe you might not notice the Trinity Eco Prayer Park. It’s a set of walkways, native plants and a small shelter. Park Director Ken Steinken says around 2005 a plan to develop the parcel to a 10-story office building fell through. That’s when the adjacent Trinity Lutheran Church bought the property.
“I personally did not want to see it turn into a parking lot. I think it’s important to have nature work the way it’s supposed to and paving everything just makes lots of runoff,” says Steinken.
Steinken says the idea grew into creating a self-sustaining park. Solar panels provide lighting and put energy back into the grid, park is also a low point that collects runoff from the surrounding area and filters it before sending it downstream.
“A lot of people aren’t aware of this but when rainwater runs down the street and into the gutter it goes directly into Rapid Creek, there is nothing is done to filter it or anything. And as the water goes across the paved surfaces it takes oil and anything that’s on the surface and it just goes right into Rapid Creek so by holding it allows the water to infiltrate and evaporate and the contaminants remain in the park and that's what wetlands naturally do,” says Steinkein.
Advocates say parks like this are a cost effective way for municipalities to meet clean water discharge regulations. Steinken says thanks to the solar panels the parks electricity bill for the entire month of November was about $3.50. He says a capitol campaign to raise $300-thousand to cover the construction and improvements at the park is going on through the remainder of the year.
Steinken says the project fits in with the new East of 5th revitalization movement.
The Trinity Eco Prayer Park receives the Rapid City’s Sustainability Award at the city council meeting on December 7th, 2015.