Community Collaboration

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A group of 12 Everett Public Schools (EPS) students helped transform a neglected piece of land into an environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing entry point to the Northern Strand Community Trail.

The Jon Norton Community Rain Garden was officially introduced to the community earlier this month. The effort, which began last spring and was overseen by Resident Artist Carolyn Lewenberg, is a successful combination of science, art, and community planning.

The rain garden is located at the end of Wyllis Avenue, near the Madeline English School. It catches, soaks, and filters storm water before it makes its way into the Malden River, removing pollutants, reducing flood risks, and recharging groundwater in the process. Decorative features include cloud benches, a bright floral mural, decorative signs, and careful landscaping.

“We turned a persistent puddle into a rain garden with murals, cloud benches, and plants that attract bees, butterflies and birds,” Lewenberg said. “It’s a climate-resilience project that ties in with the City's larger efforts to restore ecology and public access to the landscape, which had been degraded by industry.”

The Northern Strand Community Tail is a 10-mile bicycle path and walking trail that connects EverettMaldenRevere, and Saugus, along the former Saugus Branch Railroad of the Boston & Maine Railroad. Jon Norton, a longtime and tireless advocate for recycling and waterfront access to the Malden River, was on hand for the opening of the rain garden, where he was joined by an impressive group of city and civic leaders.

The project was a big undertaking involving many people, city departments, agencies, and organizations, including students Leticia Aiala, Emmily Veras, Laura Teresa Castilho, Mathew Fonseca, Philip Fonseca, Ferdolsa Guilluame, Margie Martinez Zuniga, Cindy Nguyen, Heidi Orellana Ramos, Kelita Pinto, Gennecis Romero, and Lamiah Wyzard.

Thanks also to:

• Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Tony Sousa and Maria Josefson of the Planning Department, Greg Saint Louis and Mike Russo from the Department of Public Works, and the city’s Communication Director, Tom Philbin, who was instrumental in planning and coordinating this project from its inception until its completion

• EPS Art Director Amanda Gil, Madeline English School Principal Theresa Tringale, and science teacher Bruce Jaffe.

• Muralists Sophy Tuttle, Amanda Hill, and Julie Saint Louis, who translated the students’ design ideas into reality.

• The Samtan Engineering Company, which let the team use its electricity and donated some its exterior space for artwork.

• Amber Christofferson from the Mystic River Watershed for providing valuable guidance, and Becky Rupel from Copley Wolff, who helped with the planting plan.

• National Grid for purchasing the plants and Caruso and Sons for installing them.

•A grant from the Barr Foundation, administered by Darci Schofield from The Metropolitan Area Planning Council.