Milfoil remains steady issue for Park Board
Eurasian water milfoil is out in full force this year. Just ask Bob Fine, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioner.
He’s used to fielding a lot of phone calls and e-mails from his constituency, but he said he’s been surprised at how dominant the topic of milfoil has been this summer. While he hears about the discomfort the invasive underwater plant species brings every year, Fine said that this year, in particular, people in the parks’ sixth district are asking about it a lot.
That doesn’t mean the situation is getting worse, according to Park Board staff.
It makes sense to hear people talking milfoil in August, said Mike Schmidt, the Park Board’s general manager of operations and recreation.
“This is the worst time of year,” Schmidt said, “but I would not characterize things as worse than before. We don’t have a milfoil explosion any worse than in any of the past dozen years.”
Eurasian water milfoil presents a bit of a conundrum for parks staff. On one hand, it’s a real nuisance to swimmers and grows relentlessly. On the other, some aquatic species live off the plant, and the Department of Natural Resources does not allow its complete removal.
“It’s fish habitat, so we can’t get rid of it,” Fine said. “We’d like to.”
The Park Board has been dealing with the issue through eight-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week harvesting. Schmidt said about 145 cubic yards of material are harvested every week. The main focus is on recreation areas such as beaches, followed by boat docks, he said.
Harvesting is expected to continue through Labor Day.
Dealing with tree stumps
Another issue on Southwest residents’ minds, Commissioner Bob Fine said, is that of tree stumps.
Chances are that if you’ve been waiting years for a stump to be removed from your yard, so has your neighbor. That’s because the Park Board’s Forestry Department removes stumps by neighborhood. (East Harriet and East Calhoun are current targets.)
Forestry Director Ralph Sievert said that, given the about $300,000 budgeted annually for stump removal, working by neighborhood is the fairest way to get the job done.
“I think we’re holding our own fairly well,” he said.
That’s despite a big gap between the number of stumps and how many are getting removed. Sievert said at a Park Board meeting in May that he expects about 368,000 stumps to be left behind in the city at the end of 2008. Only about 2,200 stumps are scheduled for grinding this year.
While the cash-strapped status of the Park Board is part of the reason for the gap, Sievert said, another part is policy. Commissioner Tracy Nordstrom said the Board emphasizes replanting over removal.
Feasibility study to start soon for shuttered bridge
LYNNHURST — A feasibility study for the repair of a closed pedestrian bridge over Minnehaha Creek is expected to begin shortly and be done by the end of the year, according to the city’s director of transportation maintenance and repair.
Mike Kennedy said the city’s Public Works Department and the Park Board have a consultant picked. The parties most recently have been working out the finer details of what will be included in the study, such as a hazardous material survey, important because of the bridge’s age, Kennedy said.
A final proposal for the study is expected around the end of the month, after which work can begin. Kennedy said he anticipates the Park Board will have the findings before year’s end.
The city’s bridge department has told the Park Board that repairing the bridge could cost at least $200,000. While that’s less expensive than replacing the bridge — which would cost at least $500,000 — the Park Board does not have money budgeted for the project. An alternative funding source has yet to be located, although Mayor R.T. Rybak requested some city money be earmarked in his 2009 budget proposal. The bridge, by Bryant Avenue, was shuttered in April.
5K to benefit band shell
EAST HARRIET — The nonprofit People for Parks once again will be raising money for the Lake Harriet band shell with a 5K around the lake.
Check-in for the run/walk, billed as a family event, will start at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 7. The race will start 11 a.m. Advance registration costs $20 for adults and $15 for children. On race day, the entry fee will be $25.
Register at www.active.com, keyword “bandshell.” For more information, go to www.peopleforparks.net.