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Turning Gas Pumps and Asphalt Into Soil and Shade Trees

11:41 AM PDT on July 23, 2013

Anyone who takes an abandoned gas station and converts it into a neighborhood business is a hero in our book.

Drake Patten in Providence, Rhode Island, recently converted a gas station into a farm supply store called Cluck!, and believe it or not, she had to fight a legal battle with neighbors to make it possible.

But Patten didn't stop there. Now she's removing a large portion of the Cluck! parking lot. James Kennedy at Transport Providence helps put this depaving into a larger context:

Twelve percent of Rhode Island, the country's second-densest state after New Jersey, is covered by impervious surfaces such as parking lots, roads, roofs and concrete. Much of the pollution in Narragansett Bay washes in from paved-over surfaces. The problem has reached comic proportions. A study published earlier this year noted that Rhode Island’s top location for Craigslist “missed connections” was parking lots, putting it at odds with neighboring Massachusetts, where a plurality of missed connections happen on the MBTA.

Although the city’s zoning ordinances require Cluck! to have three off-street parking spots, the new business will not provide any more than required by law. It will instead use the remaining space that was once paved for stormwater mitigation by planting several tupelo and shade trees.

Cluck! owner, Drake Patten, who holds a master’s degree in archeology, said the process of removing the asphalt reminded her of digs she had been on.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Green Lane Project says Atlanta's new protected bike lane might be the best urban bikeway in the South. Bike Walk Lee shares an Orlando Sentinel editorial imploring the city to take action to reduce its pedestrian fatality rate. And This Big City offers three strategies to bring abandoned gas stations back into productive use.

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