The rules for unkempt lawns in Coon Rapids used to be cut and dried; for instance, grass and weeds taller than 8 inches were in violation of city ordinance.

Now city officials, aware of the buzz surrounding pollinator-friendly landscapes and native plantings, have eased up on the rules a bit.

In May, the City Council rewrote its vegetation ordinance at the urging of the city’s sustainability commission. Native landscaping, including flowers and tall grasses, will be allowed in clearly defined areas that are at least 20 feet back from the front lot line. The revised ordinance outlines a host of criteria.

Coon Rapids also is experimenting with some natural areas in its parks. Native plants often require less water and help nourish native bees, butterflies and other critters.

“You see so much in the media about helping bees and pollinators and their decline,” said Colleen Sinclair, Coon Rapids’ recycling coordinator and staff adviser to the sustainability committee.

The committee, she said, “wanted to be able to promote and educate about native planting and water conservation.”

The new rules protect legitimate gardeners experimenting with native plants but also contain measures that allow city officials to cite residents for failing to mow their lawns. The most common complaints the city receives during the summer season are for unmown lawns, Sinclair said.

Shannon Prather


Station added as State Fair park-and-ride site

Metro Transit will use the Newport Transit Station as a park-and-ride site for this year’s Minnesota State Fair, the Washington County Board decided on May 24.

Metro Transit will stripe up to 350 parking spaces in the grassy outlets near the station, bringing the station’s capacity to 500 for the State Fair. There is no cost to Washington County for granting the license.

Metro Transit has identified the Newport station as an ideal location for the daily service during the fair, the board was told.

The station, at the southwest corner of Interstate 494 and Hwy. 61, is being developed as a commuter stop for the planned Red Rock transit line, to be served by bus rapid-transit between Hastings and downtown St. Paul.

Kevin Giles


Unmarried dads can learn rights

A presentation by attorney Steven Coodin on the rights of unmarried fathers will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Wildwood Library in Mahtomedi.

Under Minnesota law, if a child’s parents aren’t married to each other when the child is born, the birth father isn’t recognized as the legal father until someone takes steps to establish paternity. The father has no legal rights to the child even if he is providing financial support and his name is on the child’s birth certificate. Until a temporary or permanent order is entered granting custody to another, the mother has sole custody.

Coodin’s discussion, titled “Father’s Rights for Unmarried Fathers,” will address questions such as the difference between legal and physical custody, and what to expect with parent time and child support costs.

The library is at 763 Stillwater Rd. To preregister, call the Washington County Law Library, the event sponsor, at 651-430-6330 or send an e-mail to

Kevin Giles


Kids can spend “Fridays with Firefighters”

Children 12 and younger can spend Fridays with a firefighter this summer, beginning June 10 by participating in Roseville’s Fridays with Firefighters program. Activities will include a scavenger hunt, spraying the fire hose, learning how to prevent a fire and climbing aboard a fire truck.

Anyone wanting to participate can visit the Roseville Fire Station, 2701 Lexington Av. N., between 10 a.m. and noon on June 10 and 24, July 8 and 22, and Aug. 12 and 26. Parking and bike racks are available at City Hall.

For more information, contact Emily Nelson at or 651-792-7309.

Kevin Giles


Beaver Lake to dedicate new playground

Beaver Lake Education Center, the preschool center for the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district, will dedicate its new fully accessible playground at noon on Wednesday.

The playground, designed to be accessible for children from infants to kindergartners, includes different sensory options and ramp access for kids with physical disabilities. It also has an outdoor classroom with a stage and adult seating. It was funded mostly by the district and a state grant.

Beaver Lake serves about 400 children in early learning classes and many more in other programs. The center is located at 1060 Sterling St. N., Maplewood.

Kevin Duchschere