Exemplifying a very successful private-public partnership, this green infrastructure project began with some specific goals established by the Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster (CMCL), the site’s owner, and by the City of Lancaster, a project investor.

Congregational goals identified included the following:

  • redevelop CMCL’s fully impervious parking lot to incorporate green areas while retaining the existing quantity of parking spaces;
  • improve the quality of life for nearby residents who lack sufficient neighborhood green space and available on-street parking; and
  • demonstrate environmental stewardship through community engagement in an outdoor learning area where the science and process of creative stormwater solutions can be taught.

Goals established by the City as it committed to fund 90% of these green infrastructure costs via a PENNVEST grant included the following:

  • address stormwater volume management including reduced neighborhood flooding and increased infiltration of site runoff;
  • improve water quality by filtering stormwater runoff via vegetated rain gardens; and
  • effectively engage the local community including CMCL leaders and neighboring residents.

To fully meet these goals, RGS contacted CMCL’s up-stream neighbors and requested access to their yards to observe the existing townhouse roof drainage systems – most of which discharged toward the church’s parking lot located at the base of a topographic ‘bowl’. To retain the quantity of previously available parking spaces while adding new green space, the rear portion of a vacant industrial building was removed, and its re-useable materials were carefully salvaged.  Razing a section of the building, along with the removal an unmapped underground storage tank proved to be significant project challenges, but the new, greener parking area that replaced them now prevent nearly 88% of yearly rainfall events from entering Lancaster City’s combined storm sewer.  Throughout the design and construction phases, RGS provided continuous communication with CMCL congregants, City representatives, and curious neighbors – including some folks who were initially skeptical of neighborhood change, but who now consider the newly greened parking area as a local landmark.


2015 Stormwater Top Projects, Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster