Designing with Nature in Detroit: Innovative approach to incorporating green infrastructure captures rainwater while beautifying neighborhoods
Turning Vacant Properties into Green Infrastructure
ANN ARBOR—On the former sites of vacant Detroit homes, University of Michigan researchers and their partners have built innovative gardens that help manage stormwater while removing neighborhood blight.
The pilot project, comprised of four new “bioretention gardens”, shows how vacant properties can become green infrastructure that enhances neighborhood quality of life while improving water quality in the Detroit River and the Great Lake.
A Vision for Neighbourhood Enhancement
“Projects like these are going to be extremely important as we move forward in the city. They allow us to make use of vacant land and to make it more productive, while at the same time eradicating blight in the neighborhoods,” said Palencia Mobley, deputy director/chief engineer at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
“One thing that we have in this city is land. We have tons and tons of land. And being able to make that land productive is going to be an amazing benefit for us in the future.”
“I do think these projects have the ability to inspire hope,” Mobley said. “And they reinforce a message to residents: We haven’t forgotten about you. You’re important. You matter.”
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Appointed as deputy director and chief engineer in October 2015, Palencia Mobley provides planning, design and construction administration and management services for water and wastewater treatment facilities across metro Detroit. She has a master’s in civil/environmental engineering and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering.
At the age of 26,, she was one of the youngest minority women to ever attain licensure as a professional engineer in the state of Michigan. Mobley was the co-author of a proposal to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that resulted in the City of Detroit receiving a special $8.9 million allocation green infrastructure planning and implementation and storm water resiliency.