Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College’s (Eastern) master plan always included the construction of a parking lot on the right side of the school’s main entrance that would be a mirror image to the lot currently situated off Eastern Drive, but finding the funding for the new pavement had proven problematic for the nearly 10-year-old campus, until recently.
Because of Eastern’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the region’s desire to reduce water runoff into the waterways, Eastern’s President Dr. Chuck Terrell approached the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to see if there was an opportunity for the college and government agency to partner in a mutually beneficial project.
The partnership, which included a $67,000 grant from the WV Department of Environmental Protection, resulted in a complete parking lot redesign that would include bioretention beds to collect and absorb natural water runoff and pavers to curb excess water away from the watershed.
Eastern broke ground on the new lot earlier this year and was able to save thousands of dollars by working directly with the Hardy County Department of Highways.
“This is a state agency working together with the community college for a unique community project,” said Dr. Terrell. “We are a small institution, but we think in partnerships. That’s how things get done: collaborative partnerships working together for a win-win. We try to be architects of our own destiny in rural communities and we need to bring more people to the table. It gets down to the grassroots idea of this can get done if we do it together.”
Eastern’s “hybrid” parking lot with traditional paving and concrete curving combined with the pavers and bioretention beds, will be completed sometime this fall. It will also include solar parking lights once a builder has been selected through a “request for proposals” process and Terrell said he hopes TESLA will donate a charging station.
The remaining funding needed to complete the lot has come from Eastern’s capital project funds and the college received a USDA grant to construct a solar canopy, supporting its commitment to renewable energy sources and sustainability.