City Council moves forward with library rain garden project

In an effort to curb flooding problems on the north side of the Grand Marais Public Library, city councilors moved forward with plans to design and construct a 570-square-foot rain garden in front of the building at their July 9 meeting.

City Administrator Mike Roth explained that in times of extreme rainfall, the water tends to pool behind the building. He said by improving the ditching on the east side of the library and creating a pathway for the water, the problem should be somewhat alleviated. However, Roth cautioned, the rain garden is not designed for a “large-scale event” and will help–-but not solve–-the problem.

Councilors reviewed a drawing prepared by the Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District of the proposed rain garden.

Although the city council elected to proceed with the project, final design work has yet to be done, along with the task of finding a steward to take care of the garden upon completion.

Mayor Larry Carlson asked Roth about the garden’s maintenance and cost, and Roth said the city and Soil & Water would pay for the construction, but it is imperative that a steward be enlisted for upkeep, as past experiences with rain gardens have shown that time and attention are directly proportional to attractiveness.

Councilor Tim Kennedy agreed, stating that a well cared-for rain garden, such as the one on West First Street near the library, is quite attractive, while a nearby one off the highway looks like a “bunch of brush.”

If a caretaker cannot be found, Roth said the rain garden could be as simple as a grassy depression that the city crews mow with the rest of the lawn. So at this point, Roth said it is not known what the garden will look like.

However, the city administrator said he was optimistic the project could be a joint venture with the tenants of the Arrowhead Building, as they have a vested interest in mitigating the drainage problem and may be willing to care for the runoff area.