Rain Garden Slated for Binford Blacktop 

The project is generating attention because the expansive asphalt parking lot and playground, which is enclosed by a chain-link fence, has become the school's unwanted trademark. The cracked and uneven blacktop has given Binford — the entrance faces Floyd Avenue; the blacktop behind the school faces West Main Street — the appearance of being a run-down, inner-city school, project supporters say.

"It's prisonlike," says Pat Daniels, who lives just blocks from the school and is an active member of the Fan District Association. The association plans to give Binford one of its biggest grants ever — $10,000 — to help get the rain garden off the ground.

Binford Middle School parent and PTA member Kelly Tsow, who is also an organic gardener, spearheaded the effort. "It's such an ugly stretch and so bleak," Tsow says, "and way overdue for a face-lift."

The rain garden will teach kids the value of sustainable practices and will incorporate at least one solar panel and use rainwater, Tsow says. Neighboring Robert Rentz Interiors and The Rentz Gallery have agreed to let the school channel rainwater from its roof into barrels, which will irrigate the garden.

In addition to money pledged by the Fan District Association, the Binford PTA has received $5,000 from the Fan Townhouse and Garden Club. It also hopes to receive money from a $15,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

If all goes as planned, demolition of the blacktop could begin late this summer. S

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