Parks update // Pools get mossy

Pools to get mossy for the sake of cleanliness

After watching it save money for the city of St. Paul, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is planning to test a type of moss to clean eight of the city’s pools.

Sphagnum moss is found naturally in water throughout the world. It battles heavy metals and adds clarity — it’s the reason the Boundary Waters are so clear — but its main use in pools is that it inhibits the formation of chlorine-absorbing biofilm. That means a much smaller need for chlorine in pools, which in turns means a drop in eye irritation and discolored swimsuits.

“People tell me they shower before they go in, because they feel so good afterward they feel clean,” said David Knighton, of Creative Water Solutions.

Knighton has led the movement to expand the use of sphagnum moss. He tested it last year in St. Paul’s municipal pools, where it helped cut down the city’s chemical budget by 45 percent, Knighton said. Six grams of moss treats 1,000 gallons of water.

“The moss is an amazing plant,” he said.

Park Board representatives were impressed.

“This is almost too good to be true,” General Manager Mike Schmidt said. “But staff really believes this to be true.”

If approved by commissioners, the Park Board would introduce the moss at six wading pools this summer, including at Southwest’s Bryant Square Park. The moss also would be used at Webber Pool and Lupient Water Park. As part of the experiment, Park Board staff would check pH and chlorine levels daily to compare to non-moss pools.

“This is just an incredible opportunity,” Schmidt said.

The board will vote on the project at its June 16 meeting.

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Citizens committee to advise on Brownie Lake

The future of the smallest member of the Chain of Lakes is expected to be revisited soon by a citizen group.

The Park Board will vote June 16 on the formation of a citizens’ advisory committee for a Brownie Lake Area Plan. The group will advise board staff on the creation of schematics for the 18-acre lake, covering issues such as trails and connections, environmental improvements, recreation and maintenance. In particular, the committee will weigh in on ways to make the lake more accessible.

Hidden beneath a brush of trees at the edge of a dipped prairie, Brownie is one of the more secret natural locations in Minneapolis. It’s notable for what it is — peaceful and rustic — but more notable for what it isn’t — surrounded by parkways, traffic or people. Its shoreline is just a fifth of a mile long.

While lakes Calhoun and Harriet regularly are brushed up with new amenities, the biggest changes at Brownie over the past decade have been a buckthorn removal, the addition of wood chips to its surrounding trail and the installation of a small canoe rack. The Park Board now is interested in bringing the trail up to current standards.

The 15-member committee is expected to be filled with appointments from six parks commissioners, a Metropolitan Council member, a City Council member, Mayor R.T. Rybak, three neighborhood boards, the Cedar Lake Park Association, Target Corp. and Golden Valley Mayor Linda Loomis.

Tentatively, the committee’s work will be completed at year’s end, followed by design and engineering in early 2011. Lower trail work would be completed in 2012 and an on-street bike trail would be done in 2013.

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Summer food service to launch June 14

The Park Board and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer food service program was set to launch June 14. The program offers free meals as a public service on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Two Southwest parks are participating:

— Bryant Square Park, 3101 Bryant Ave. S., will offer lunch from 12:15–1:15 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Call 370-4907.

— Martin Luther King Park, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S., will offer lunch from 1:30–2:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Call 370-4908.

The program runs through Aug. 13.