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Normal Park earns big Tennessee Healthy Watershed Initiative grant

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Normal Park Upper School assistant principal Jason McKinney, left, was assisted by Mo Minkara, city water quality manager and a Normal Park parent, in applying for a Tennessee Healthy Watershed Initiative grant the school was recently awarded for $98,800.

Normal Park Upper School has been awarded a Tennessee Healthy Watershed Initiative grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, The Nature Conservancy and TVA for $98,800 that the Hamilton County School Board will vote to officially accept this week.

The grant will help fund the Normal Park Stormwater Mitigation and Educational Project, which comes to a total cost of $285,300 and will fix drainage issues the school has experienced on the its football field as well as provide hands-on learning opportunities for students, said principal Jill Levine.

“The school has drainage issues and I was looking for an opportunity to help,” said Mo Minkara, the city’s water quality manager who has a child attending the school and who helped assistant principal Jason McKinney apply for the grant.

Normal Park is the only public entity out of nine grant recipients, Minkara said.

Including in-kind materials and labor donated by various vendors such as the city of Chattanooga, Elemi, AquaShield Stormwater Treatment Solutions, Belgard Hardscapes, Passpointe Engineering and Advanced Drainage Systems, the total grant amounts to $186,500. Engineering students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will help with the project’s design, and Chattanooga State is partnering with Normal Park as well to help with construction.

Minkara said he is working with TVA to gain additional funding to help with material costs for a rain garden that will be installed to filter stormwater runoff.

Among the components of the project are the installation of asphalt that allows stormwater to permeate the surface, as well as solar panels on the school’s outdoor classroom. An AquaShield storm tank will also be installed under the surface of the field to capture runoff, Minkara said.

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