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Product Profile: Belgard

PICP makes Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center a win-win.

The City of Pinellas Park is a vision – with small lakes and nearby blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, swaying palm trees and frequent festive gatherings, it’s a beautiful Tampa Bay suburb enjoyed by its nearly 45,000 residents. The City of Pinellas Park also had a vision – an eye to find an innovative solution for a community-gathering space but with low impact development (LID) benefits.

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The city purchased an aging church to renovate into a performing arts center with a large grassy area that could serve as the perfect venue for food trucks and concerts. However, the two-acre property did not have enough space for the proposed 180 parking spots. The space identified as the best location for parking was next to a youth soccer field, but the property’s flood zone status added complication when the project team evaluated this option; if the planners were to use this space, they would need to convert the soccer field into a small detention pond to accommodate stormwater management needs. As a result, the community would lose a valuable amenity for their youth.

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The solution was to use permeable interlocking concrete pavers (PICP) to build a usable parking area with a built in stormwater detention system underneath, preserving the soccer field and creating a durable, attractive, and ADA compliant parking area for the performance arts center and adjacent park.

“I feel it’s more environmentally friendly any time you can build with two functions,” says Dan Hubbard, director, City of Pinellas Park Public Works - Facilities and Project Management Division. “In this case, the low impact development means there’s less discharge into surface waters in the county.”

Low impact development is a leading Best Management Practice (BMP) design strategy used to reduce the negative impacts of traditional development on watershed areas and receiving waters. The goal of LID is to mimic a site’s predevelopment hydrology by using design techniques that infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate, and detain runoff close to its source.

For the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center, permeable pavers proved to be a very effective best management practice for controlling stormwater runoff to the point of eliminating the need for detention and retention ponds and sewer pipes. Permeable pavers create a pervious surface allowing water to infiltrate the ground, naturally filtering pollutants and replenishing ground water reserves. With this design, the permeable parking lot will limit the 25-year/24-hour discharge rate to the predevelopment 25-year/24-hour discharge rate.

Constructed over three months, the parking area at Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center included over-excavation of two feet of unsuitable subgrade soil (muck) and replacement with two feet of clean fill. A layer of non-woven geotextile material was installed and covered with eight inches of #4 stone and a four-inch layer of #57 stone; these layers serve as the open graded aggregate reservoir, where water can be temporarily stored until it percolates in the soil and recharges the aquifer.

Once the stone was compacted, two inches of #89 aggregate were added to serve as a bedding course for the Belgard Eco-Holland stone pavers. The pavers were hand installed and compacted into the bedding course to create a smooth pavement surface; a small aggregate then was swept into the joints to lock everything into place.

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The project was the county’s first PICP project and only the second to be permitted by South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), which closely monitored the project using several imbedded single-ring infiltrometers – test rings with a tube on top that show at what rate the water is drawn down – that were installed during construction.

“It was good not only from an environmental perspective but also that we’ll never have to repave it or restripe it – the parking lines were done in white pavers,” Hubbard says. “Architecturally, it’s really nice. It’s a win-win.”

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