Many visitors to Downtown Hershey are familiar with the West Caracas Avenue parking lot, located behind ChocolateTown Square Park and adjacent to the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company. Beginning on Monday, July 24, this lot will be under construction for major improvements!
Construction is scheduled through mid-October, making the parking lot unavailable for use during this window of time. However, that won’t stop weekly Saturdays on Chocolate events, including Market on Chocolate, which will be moved to ChocolateTown Square Park and the First United Methodist Church parking lot along Chocolate Avenue.
Currently, the West Caracas Avenue parking lot is entirely paved, hindering infiltration, and has no vegetation, leaving little opportunity for groundwater recharge. However, the lot is soon to be revamped through the West Caracas Avenue Public Parking Best Management Practices project.
The project will change the orientation of the parking spaces and add special paving for heavy equipment to accommodate fire apparatus. The project also eliminates one of the three access points off of Caracas Avenue to better control flow and eliminate the number of driveways, helping to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Stormwater management improvements include the installation of porous asphalt and vegetated islands, which allow for groundwater recharge and improve water quality, and will also limit the volume of stormwater runoff that currently travels into the storm sewer system and discharges directly into Spring Creek. The reconstructed parking lot will have porous asphalt placed in five locations that will have two-foot-deep, stone filled, subsurface infiltration beds beneath them. This approach is designed to infiltrate the entire volume of surface runoff, and aid in addressing street flooding.
Additionally, the project will add vegetative islands, landscaping, and trees to aid in rainwater absorption throughout the lot. Finally, an informational sign will be installed that educates the public on the benefits of infiltration and the stormwater best management practices.
The project is funded in part by a $200,000 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Local Stormwater BMP Implementation grant.
Once the West Caracas Avenue parking lot in Downtown Hershey returns it will be back and better than ever!