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State coughs up cash for green roof, but Rochester has to find a home for it

The City of Rochester is building a green roof. It's just not clear at this point where that roof will be.


That's the word from the city after last week's announcement from Governor David Paterson that $61.5 million in state aid is going toward improving water quality around the state. Rochester got $2 million in state grant money for green infrastructure improvements.

The crown jewel was going to be a green roof on top of City Hall. But, alas, things have changed.

"We did apply for putting the green roof on City Hall," said the city's Senior Environmental Specialist Anne Spaulding. "We may not be able to at this point because we had to replace the roof in the meantime."

The city put in its application with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for the green roof in October 2009. But the roof needed repairs, which were conducted between the grant application and the grant funds coming through. So now, according to Spaulding, the city is considering other city-owned buildings for the green roof.

Wherever it is, it would be the first city-owned building in Rochester to have a green roof.

In addition to the now-homeless green roof, the state grant money will also fund several other green infrastructure projects in Rochester. They are:

  1. A porous pavement parking lot at City Hall.
  2. A new connector street that will feature porous pavement and sidewalks, a rain garden and bioswales.
  3. Retrofits to a downtown green space to replace brick walkways with porous pavement and raised plant beds with a rain garden.
  4. Porous tree pits for city trees to allow for more water infiltration.

Spaulding says it's all part of an effort to help more city soil naturally filter storm water runoff.
"It's exciting because it'll showcase these green infrastructure techniques," said Spaulding. "And putting them on public facilities and on public right-of-ways really shows the different ways we can mitigate storm water and improve water quality in the area."

Green infrastructure projects use techniques that basically allow the Earth do its thing: namely, filtering water through soil to help remove pollutants. When rain falls on roads and sidewalks the water picks up oil, dirt and other pollutants and can cause water quality issues. Green infrastructure projects reduce the amount of water that flows into the system in need of treatment.

Spaulding says construction on the projects will likely begin about a year from now. She says getting the grant contract executed with the state is said to take 8-12 months.

Rochester's Seneca Park Zoo currently has a green roof, but that's owned by Monroe County.