Small blue-collar Maryland hamlet innovates with stimulus help

Even more green for Edmonston, MD. (via their website)

The town of Edmonston in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., is a small hamlet of under 2000 residents, most of them blue-collar workers. Like many other cities in America, times are tough in Edmonston, which has high rates of unemployment and foreclosure. What makes life particularly hard for Edmonston is that it is bisected by the Anacostia River. Due to poor environmental practices, the Anacostia periodically floods the town, wreaking devastation on a place already struggling to get by.

Instead of making routine repairs on Decatur Street, its main residential street, Edmonston’s Mayor, City Council, and residents banded together to come up with a better solution — to apply for stimulus funds to make Decatur Street a “green street.” According to an article in the Washington Post last week, this means that in a few weeks, 40 newly-employed workers will begin

…ripping up Edmonston’s main road and replacing it with an environmentally friendly street of rain gardens, porous brick and a drought-resistant tree canopy designed to shade the concrete, filter rainwater before it flows into the river and put people to work. When the work is done, Decatur Street will naturally treat more than 90 percent of the pollution from the 40 inches of rainwater that sweeps into the Anacostia each year.

Other features of the project include use of recycled materials for the street and sidewalk, accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians, and street lights powered by alternative energy, probably wind. For a city that currently  has no ability to even filter stormwater on their streets, these changes represent a huge leap forward — and will help clean the heavily polluted Anacostia River.

Projects like this have previously been constructed elsewhere, of course, but this will be the first one to be implemented in Maryland, and one of the first in a small town. The City of Edmonston writes, “By completing this project, we hope to make a positive contribution to our regional environment, especially to our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay…We think that this project is the responsible thing to do. We also think that if our little working class town can accomplish a project like this, other municipalities — of any size — can and should do them too.”