From the Ground Up

July 8, 2013
Palmetto, Fla., is a reminder of what life in small-town America still means in today’s world. Located on the Manatee River on the west central coast, Palmetto is an idyllic suburb of nearby Tampa, St. Petersburg and Bradenton. The town recalls its agricultural history while expanding into new industries that will create jobs for future generations. 
Against this backdrop, the city converted a former high school football field into Sutton Park, named in memory of local resident Ben Sutton—a 1964 graduate of that same high school who was killed in Vietnam—as well as for all other veterans of the military. Sutton Park and the adjacent Lamb Park form a green-space corridor within the central business district.
These days, the park is a central part of the community. Families picnic regularly there and on Friday nights, there are outdoor movies. It is used for yoga, Pilates and other fitness classes. Bicyclists and pedestrians share the space, and it is utilized as a staging area for parades and concerts.  
The challenge in designing the park was twofold; first, the designers wanted to incorporate green construction into the design; and second, it placed a specific emphasis on minimizing storm water runoff, which traditionally flowed untreated into the Manatee River—and which caused flooding during heavy rains.
For the first priority, the design included pervious pavers, LED lighting, drought-tolerant landscaping and a low-volume irrigation system using treated effluent. For the second challenge, StormPave pavers from Pine Hall Brick Co. were specified because they provided a way to treat storm water on site, were durable enough to withstand both pedestrian and vehicular traffic and were inexpensive to maintain. Several heavy rainfalls, including one tropical storm, tested the StormPave system and it worked flawlessly.
On the ground, the aesthetics of the pavers are an advantage. The variety of colors allowed design flexibility both in how the project looked and in how it allowed designers to create gathering areas. Designers used concentric circles and other patterns to subliminally guide visitors around the park. In one example, paver patterns were altered to help steer pedestrian and bicyclists in separate directions.
As it turns out, the aesthetics also sent a message about the town. The goal was to reflect the town's values, including the importance of family and traditions that endure over time. That sense of tradition is spelled out in the use of clay brick columns and StormPave pavers, which are being used in other projects in the area.
Because this park is expected to be in place for decades, the town chose to build them with materials that would last. The color in clay bricks and pavers goes all the way through, so they will look the same 50 years from now as they do today, with minimal maintenance costs. The clay bricks and clay pavers carry the promise that they will be there both today and tomorrow—just like Palmetto itself.

Ted Corvey is vice president of sales and marketing at Pine Hall Brick Co. Corvey can be reached at 800.334.8689 or [email protected]

About the Author

Ted Corvey