Here are answers to some of the questions we’ve been asked as Blooming Alleys projects are getting started:
Why are you focusing on alleys?
Blooming Alleys create great community spaces for the neighborhood and make ideal pedestrian and pollinator pathways. Additionally, the majority of runoff from a typical property, as well as the most polluted runoff, drains to the alleyway. The suggested practices capture runoff and allow it to sink into the soil to be cleaned and cooled naturally, rather than running into the alley, the nearest storm drain, and directly to a body of water.
Who are the partners on this project?
Partners vary depending on the neighborhood of the project, but all Blooming Alleys partners include: The City of Minneapolis, Metro Blooms, The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Friends of Lake Nokomis,The Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association, Diamond Lake Neighborhood Association, Friends of Diamond Lake, Hennepin County, the Clean Water Fund, Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, Blue Thumb Partners, Master Water Stewards, Master Gardeners, and neighborhood citizens.
What does it cost to participate?
This project is funded by the Clean Water Fund, Hennepin County, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, and the City of Minneapolis. The funding is already committed in Nokomis so participants will only have to contribute about $350-$650, depending on the project and how many people on each block are participating. In Lynnhurst and Diamond Lake, the community will apply for a cost share which typically covers 50-75% of the project cost up to $2,500. There will be no cost to homeowners until the installation phase of the project, and no commitment required until the cost share has been determined.
What would these projects usually cost?
By participating in Blooming Alleys, you will only pay up to 50% of what the project would usually cost. Raingardens generally cost $10-$25/sq. foot, and permeable pavement generally costs $30-45 sq. foot.
When will I be asked to commit to an installation?
You won’t be asked to commit to an installation until you’ve had your site consultation, received your plan, and are told what your cost share would be. At this point we’ll ask you to make a decision about whether or not you’ll move forward with an installation.
What does the cost share cover?
After you have a site consultation, you’ll receive a plan detailing all of the stormwater management options for your backyard and driveway. Once we reach about 30% participation on the block we’ll ask you which practices you’re interested in having installed (if any). The cost share will cover 1-2 projects/property (depending on number of people participating and type/scale of projects – permeable pavement is more expensive than a raingarden). Anything beyond that we can still install as part of this project but you’d be responsible for the additional cost.
What if I don’t want a raingarden or permeable pavement but still want to participate?
Many people are interested in doing something but aren’t quite ready to pursue a large project like a permeable pavement driveway. There are many other options, such as redirecting downspouts, installing a rain barrel, and putting gutters on your garage, that are great practices which protect water quality. We’re more than happy to connect you with Master Water Stewards who can help you implement these practices.
Where can I see examples of these projects?
Last year, Metro Blooms installed a demonstration alley between 16th & 17th Avenue and 50th and 51st Street, just to the west of Lake Nokomis. You are welcome to look at this alley on your own or attend an Alley Tour on August 6 from 5:30-7:00pm.
When will my alley be installed?
That depends on you and your neighbors and the neighborhood you live in. Nokomis Neighbors for Clean Water is a 3-year project to install 15 Blooming Alleys so we’ll be completing installations from Fall of 2015 – Fall of 2017. Diamond Lake & Lynnhurst Blooming Alleys will wrap up their first round in 2016. Our goal is at least 30% participation (around 10 properties) on each block. Once we have that many participants we’ll move forward with the installation phase. For some blocks this may happen right away and for some it may take a bit longer. Metro Blooms works with volunteers, the Conservation Corps of Minnesota, and other sub-contractors to install the proposed practices.
What are the project boundaries?
Blooming Alleys projects will only be installed within the Lake Nokomis Watershed, Diamond Lake Watershed, and Lynnhurst neighborhood. Stormwater runoff in these areas will drain directly into Lake Nokomis, Diamond Lake, or Minnehaha Creek.
Who maintains the practices once they’re installed?
Maintenance education will be provided by Master Gardeners, Master Water Stewards, and Metro Blooms. Participants will be responsible for maintaining their practices but we encourage blocks to organize group maintenance or hire an interested neighbor to maintain gardens and permeable pavement. We are always available after project completion to answer questions about maintenance.
How do I get involved?
Metro Blooms is actively seeking blocks in the Lake Nokomis Watershed to participate in the Blooming Alleys project in the coming years. If you are interested in getting your block involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.