Years of parking lot flooding had taken its toll in Tattnall Square, pouring through natural areas of the park, sweeping sediment and pollutants down the hillside to the bottom of the park, and flowing into a storm sewer leading to the Ocmulgee River. Not only did that fast-flowing water contribute to the park’s eroded slopes, but its sediments contribute to chronic problems with Macon-Bibb’s downtown drainage system, its oils and pollutants flowing into the Ocmulgee to poison species of fish and other water-dependent species.
Led by a design team of Mercer Engineering students led by Alex Oliver and with funding from a Knight Neighborhood Grant, FOTSP created Macon-Bibb’s first public rain gardens: two beds of mostly native grasses, shrubs, and perennial flowers split by a graceful and oft-photographed stone bridge designed by landscape architect Bill Murphy. The gardens stop the parking lot storm water from coursing downhill and into the sewer, instead allowing it to drain for three days while native grasses leech pollutants out of the water. What had been a storm-water problem is now a garden that delights bees, butterflies, birds, and people young and old, who come to the garden for its refreshing peace and beauty.