Southwest cyclists have two new paths to the river

KINGFIELD — The city wrapped-up work on two new sections of its ever-expanding bicycle trail network in June, and both link Southwest to the Mississippi River.

A June 14 grand opening was planned for the newest section of the Cedar Lake Trail, which now connects Bryn Mawr to the Mississippi River via a tunnel under Target Field. The extended north end of the trail links to the West River Parkway near the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis building.

A second grand opening was scheduled for a few days earlier, on June 11, to mark the completion of the RiverLake Greenway. The east-west bikeway runs on 40th Street through Southwest, connecting at the east end to Lake Harriet Parkway and crossing Interstate 35W just north of Dr. Martin Luther King Park. Once in South, the trail runs on 40th Street until Nokomis Avenue, where it cuts south for two blocks before continuing to the West River Parkway via East 42nd Street.

Construction of the RiverLake Greenway, begun in September and completed this spring, was funded with $400,000 grant to the city from Bike Walk Twin Cities. Bike Walk Twin Cities is a program of Transit for Livable Communities, which administers the $22 million federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program for the Twin Cities metro area.The RiverLake Greenway includes striped bicycle lanes at its eastern and western ends. In between, street improvements create the city’s newest bicycle boulevard.

Traffic calming measures, including curb extensions and new medians, are designed to discouraged heavy automobile traffic while making the street safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. Stop signs were removed to speed the progress of bicyclists, and some new medians at some major intersection force vehicles to turn but allow bicyclists and pedestrians to pass through.

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Plant, then recycle

With spring planting season coming to a close, it’s time to find something to do with your leftover or unused plastic garden pots.

The Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association sponsors a plastic garden pot recycling program that runs all growing season long at two dozen garden centers across the state. Another dozen neighborhood garden centers, including several in Southwest, will accept plastic garden pots, trays and baskets for recycling on two special weekends this year, including June 18–19.

Uncommon Gardens, 5750 Lyndale Ave. S., Wagner Greenhouses, 6024 Penn Ave. S., and the Bachman’s at 6010 Lyndale Ave. S. are all participating in the upcoming June recycling event.

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First Master Recycler/Composter class graduates

Keep an eye out for Hennepin County’s newest recycling and composting experts at upcoming summer events.

Green Digest readers may recall the county enrolled its first-ever Master Recycler/Composter class this spring. Now, 30 graduates from the two-month program are completing their training by volunteering at area events and helping local schools, workplaces and organizations design and implement customized waste-reduction strategies.

Hennepin County launched the program with the intention of creating a corps of local volunteers to lead waste-reduction efforts in their communities. Their training program included courses in: waste prevention; recycling processes; alternatives to hazardous household products; organics recycling and home composting; deconstruction and green building equipment; and public engagement.

Seats in the spring Master Recycler/Composter training course filled quickly after the program was announced in March, but Hennepin County plans to offer another session this fall. To sign up, contact Carolyn Collopy at carolyn.collopy@co.hennepin.mn.us or 596-0993.

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(Outdoor) fire code

A reader wrote in to Green Digest last month with a small request: Please remind readers of the city’s recreational fire ordinances.

She signed her e-mail: “Victim of neighbor’s smoke from their fire pit placed less than 5 feet from my kitchen window.”

It just goes to show you that one person’s pleasant backyard fire is another’s particulate spewing health hazard. It seemed city officials anticipated the seasonal upswing in complaints; preceding that missive’s arrival in the Green Digest inbox was a city press release urging residents to enjoy their outdoor recreational fires responsibly.

Here are the basics:

— Outdoor fires are permitted 9 a.m.–10 p.m.;

— Fires must be no bigger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high;

— Burn only unpainted, untreated, dry wood, and no trash, cardboard or other debris, which can produce toxic smoke;

— Burn in a fire pit or ring with edges at least 6 inches high and located at least 25 feet from the nearest structure.

Also, keep a hose or fire extinguisher nearby and make sure at least one fire attendant is 18 years old or older. Delay a fire when winds get up above 10 mph, the city is under an air pollution advisory or when a breeze is carrying smoke into your neighbor’s kitchen window.

No permits are required for outdoor recreational fires, but breaking the rules can lead to a citation.