Parkersburg installs first planter boxes

PARKERSBURG – City crews this week finished installing the first planter boxes along Juliana Street.

Ricky Yeager, planning administrator for Parkersburg, said the boxes are part of the city’s “green infrastructure projects,” improvements designed to both help with beautification and to meet some of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for stormwater management.

The planter boxes use drought- and salt-resistant plants as well as different kinds of soil and mulch to help collect and filter rainwater.

But don’t call them “bioswales.”

“They’re not bioswales,” Yeager said Tuesday. “That was my fault. We were using the wrong term.”

The term was first used when Mayor Bob Newell announced the green infrastructure initiative in April, but Yeager said while the two are similar, they are not the same.

“Functionally they are two different things,” he said.

The difference between the planter boxes and bioswales is in how each directs rainwater. While a true bioswale moves water from one area to another, filtering it as it goes, the planter boxes gather rainwater from the streets and it infiltrates the soil, Yeager said.

Each of the planter boxes has cub cuts, areas where water can run off of Juliana Street and into two-foot deep rock wells which then allow the water to permeate the soil. In doing so it also helps filter the water, which is then used by the plants.

Yeager said while there are no new planter boxes being installed right now, the city has received inquiries from several businesses in the downtown area. Officials are concentrating on Juliana Street and possibly other areas of downtown Parkersburg as potential locations for more planter boxes.

“It’s really a cost-effective way to beautify the area while improving our stormwater management,” Yeager said. “That’s why a lot of cities throughout the country are doing these kinds of green infrastructure projects.”