The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 2, 2014

Rooftop garden in works at Art Works

David Hurst

JOHNSTOWN — It might not look like it now, but Art Works’ snow-covered roof will soon be home to a lush, living green space – and a bed of succulent plant life.

Thanks to a $212,500 state Growing Greener grant, project planners hope to get infrastructure in place this summer to begin planting a rooftop garden of sedum plants and other greenery on top of the Cambria City art center, Art Works Director Theresa Gay Rohall said.

If all goes as planned, the center’s 18,000-square-foot former industrial building’s roof will eventually offer a patio for events and an aesthetic garden with drought-resistant plants fed by rainwater that would otherwise become stormwater runoff, she added.

“It’s not just an art project,” Rohall said, noting the stormwater remediation effort will also further the Art Works and Bottle Works nonprofit mission to further “green” efforts.

The rooftop garden will also work as an insulator for the Art Works building itself, she noted, lowering heating and cooling costs.

“This is part of the original vision we had for our facility,” added John Yerger, president of the Art Works and Bottle Works board that oversees the newly merged efforts, noting it will allow the building to collect and remediate its stormwater while providing an innovative, attractive outdoor event venue.

Planners have spent years preparing for the project, adding support beams and other components to the roof so it could handle the project and the foot traffic it will bring.  

A $20,000 Foundation For Pennsylvania Watersheds grant was acquired in 2010 that will also be matched with the new funds, Rohall said.

“This is great news for them,” said Cambria County President Commissioner Doug Lengenfelder, whose board restored its annual $10,000 contribution to Bottle Works earlier this year. “It’s going to open up a lot of possibilities for these folks that are going to benefit their (mission) and Johnstown.”

The rooftop project was one of 97 statewide to receive a share of $15.1 million in state Department of Environmental Protection funds. Gov. Tom Corbett announced its aid as part “our our continued commitment to protecting and preserving our environment and natural resources.”

Among other area projects receiving aid:

• The Clearfield Creek Watershed Association received $42,350 for an old Beldin Mine acid mine drainage treatment system, making it the third it will add to the Little Laurel Run, a badly-polluted 3 1/2 mile Clearfield Creek tributary, said Earl Smithmyer, the watershed group’s director.

In the coming year, Clearfield Creek Watershed Association hopes to have a total of five treatment systems along the Little Laurel Run, which flows from the village of Buckhorn toward Dysart.

• In Somerset County, the Shade Creek Watershed Association will receive $297,950 to repair an acid mine drainage treatment system on Coal Run as part of its ongoing efforts to restore Shade Creek’s mine-damaged waterways into fishing habitats.

• In Bedford County, two projects totaling nearly $325,000 were awarded for the Sandy Run AMD Treatment System and Trust for Tomorrow’s Yellow Creek Tributary Restoration.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.