By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Heritage Museum in Starkville will get a new porch and ramp as part of a six-year partnership with the landscape architecture department at Mississippi State University.
The makeover will be the third step in the project to make the museum a more beautiful and sustainable part of the community. The landscape architecture department has already installed a rain garden and a sand filter on the property.
The rain garden collects rain water that would normally flow right into the sewer system to be filtered.
“Rain gardens are attempts to use traditional landscaping, like flower beds, to improve water quality. It filters out the water and slows it down,” Wayne Wilkerson, associate professor at MSU and one of the key designers of the whole project said. “Our goal is to treat and hold all water on site.”
The sand filter was the second step in process. The wooden box at the front of the property collects water and filters it.
“The sand filter is similar to the rain garden, except it is built out of impermeable materials, like wood, so it has a smaller footprint,” Wilkerson said.
The projects have helped the museum become a more beautiful place, but it’s also provided valuable experience for MSU students.
“The landscape architecture department saw the museum as a situation that could well use this example of water treatment and they took it on as a project,” Joan Wilson from the museum said. “They and the landscape students did the whole thing. It will help with the drainage at the museum.”
They hope to use the museum as an example for the community.
“We’re trying to make this a demonstration site to encourage traditional home owners to implement these strategies,” Wilkerson said. “As a result we had a new home in Greenbriar that embraced the use of rain gardens.”
In the coming months, the museum will also tear out part of the parking lot and turn it into green space. And later in the year, the department will build a cistern to capture rain water at the museum.
“We are very fortunate to have the expertise from the MSU campus,” Wilson said.