An estimated 300 feet of a stream that is buried under Plumtree Park in Bel Air will soon see "daylight" again.
The portion of the stream was buried under Plumtree Park in the 1950s, when the areas around it were developed, according to the news release from Ecotone Inc., which is working on the project. The stream runs through a concrete culvert pipe between Thomas and George Street and is not a habitat for any fish, amphibians or reptiles.
But a project about to begin will "daylight" the stream, according to the release from Ecotone, the restoration firm that is parterning with the Harford Soil Conversation District and the Town of Bel Air for the project.
The stream often overflows into neighboring properties, according to the release.
With the daylighting, which the company called "true stream restoration," the culvert pipe will be replaced and a meandering stream, with riffles, pools and native trees and shrubs, will be recreated.
Although it will appear to be an ordinary stream, there will be a bioengineered streambank, complete with Ecotone-designed rock, natural fiber matting and live branches, to make sure the stream "remains in a natural state indefinitely."
The benefits of the daylighting include improved water quality, restoration of a wildlife habitat and reduced flooding, according to the release.
Once the stream is restored, the town of Bel Air will plant 80 trees and shrubs on the banks to create a "forested stream corridor," according to the release.
This particular project is four years in the making among the three agencies and is part of the town's overall renovation of Plumtree Park. Funding for this portion is through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, according to the release.
The daylighting entails excavating the existing drain pipe, which carries stormwater from an inlet at Thomas Street, according to Bel Air Public Works Director Randy Robertson. Through this project, which he wrote in an e-mail will cost $157,000, drainage will be improved at the park and adjacent properties.
The funding comes from a Department of Natural Resources grant, he added.
In addition to that project, Robertson also wrote that the town will replace the existing pipe culvert under George Street with a new, larger one. The 24-inch pipes there now cannot carry the amount of water flow from "significant rain events" and cause the water to back up into the park, according to Robertson.
This $333,000 project is funded by money from the Community Development Block Grant program and the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Playgrounds grant, Robertson wrote.
Once the project starts, which is expected by the end of June, George Street at the culvert will be closed for approximately 90 days to through traffic, although local residents will have access, according to Robertson. Construction on both projects is expected to begin within the next several weeks, he added.