COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge Memorial State Park will hold an open house from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the new park office, located at 5901 S. Missouri 163. The public is invited to attend the meeting, where staff members will answer questions concerning the new pervious paver parking lot and rain garden, as well as the management and maintenance of the park.
Park officials chose to build the new lot and garden because they are environmentally friendly. The pervious parking lot was an expansion of an old gravel driveway that led to the park's offices.
"We needed to expand and put in parking spots," said Jim Gast, superintendent of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. "We decided to go with pervious because of its benefits, and the grant money was available."
Pervious lots have small cracks built in to allow soil to soak up water and material. With asphalt, pollution and rain are more likely to run off into nearby streams and cause pollution, erosion and harm to animals.
"Pervious lots are good at keeping pollution and large volumes of water from going into the creeks," said Kathryn DiFoxfire, interpretive resource technician for the park.
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is one of the only parks in Missouri to have a pervious lot. Lake of the Ozarks State Park was the first to build that kind of lot, which was completed in 2007, shortly before Rock Bridge Memorial decided to expand their driveway.
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park staff hope others will see the benefits of choosing pervious materials, rather than asphalt, through their new lot.
"The parking lot is like an interpretive tool," Gast said.
The park staff is in the process of setting up study plots to test the benefits and provide proof of results, he said.
Construction on the lot, done by the North Construction Unit Division of State Parks, began in mid-March and ended this summer. The two projects' combined cost was approximately $79,000, half paid by a Boone County grant, the other half met by the park. Material costs accounted for $36,668 of the total while labor, design, and administration accounted for $42,468.
"Compared to asphalt, pervious lots are more labor intensive, whereas if you have asphalt, machines do it," Gast said. "Each brick had to be cut and placed by hand."
The other part of the construction project, the rain garden, is located in front of the park office. The garden traps water and keeps it from going into Clear Creek, which is located behind the office. The water either soaks into the ground or evaporates.
"Our rain garden was designed to capture water from the roof," DiFoxfire said. "A drain empties into a rain barrel where a hose is connected. The hose then empties into the garden. Not only does it serve a useful purpose, but it's really pretty, too."