published Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Chattanooga Airport demolishing car lots to make green space


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    The Chattanooga airport is preparing to demolish two former car dealerships that they acquired near the 5900 block of Brainerd Rd. which will be converted to greenspace at the end of the runway.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

Two car lots that have stood on Brainerd Road for years soon will disappear and green space will take their place.

Demolition will start within the next few months at the former Volvo and Volkswagen dealerships near Eastgate Town Center, which are located near the end of the runway at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, said Christina Siebold, spokeswoman for the airport.

The airport authority and the city are partnering to transform the large asphalt parking lots into a green, lush field that will help with water quality in the area.

"We are hoping to be finished with all design and begin the bid process for demolition of the sites in mid- to late July," Siebold said.

The airport is in charge of demolishing the pavement and buildings while the city will reshape the site into a better natural filter for chemicals in rainwater that runs offBrainerd Road.

"It's about providing a demonstration for what will be the new standard that we call green infrastructure," said City Engineer Bill Payne.

The City Council took the first step Tuesday night, voting 9-0 to use $334,000 in water-quality money to design the project.

The airport acquired the two properties within the last year. Siebold said the airport was following federal suggestions that it should control the protection zone at the end of the runway, and added that partnering with Chattanooga was an obvious move.

"We are assisting in that process because we have an opportunity to regrade the site during demolition and want to do everything we can to help mitigate issues like stormwater runoff flooding," Siebold said.

With South Chickamauga Creek running through its center, Brainerd floods easily. Payne said rain falling on the concrete runway runs straight into the creek, carrying along various pollutants. The new natural filter also will slow the water and help with flooding, he said.

The engineering firm Arcadis will study the project and come up with recommendations on how the area should reshaped, he said.

"It's just not dig a hole, plant a tree," Payne said.

Councilwoman Carol Berz said she is hoping the demolition project moves quickly because events are planned around the fall.

"I gave them a deadline of Sept. 20," Berz said.

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