Drivers tired of looking at weeds that have popped up in concrete medians across the metro area are hoping the coming cold will kill off the unwelcome vegetation.
The overgrown weeds are hard to look at, said David Crary, who sent the Drive photos of unkempt medians he spotted on Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, along Hwy. 280 near University Avenue in St. Paul and next to the Green Line near Raymond Avenue in St. Paul.
“It’s a pet peeve and it has driven me nuts for years,” Crary said. “Where is our pride? It looks like nobody cares. And the weeds hold the litter, just adding to the ugliness.”
This year’s constant rains have led to a bumper crop of weeds sprouting in cracks in gutters, curbs and pavement.
Public works officials don’t deny that overgrown greenery makes things look unsightly but confess that pulling weeds is not on the top of their to-do lists.
“In general, it is a very low priority due to budget directives,” said Mike Kennedy, director of Transportation, Maintenance and Repair for the city of Minneapolis. “It’s not a high priority. We are busy doing other things, and weeds are not interfering with the passage of people.”
Kennedy said the city is aware of the problem and addresses it as time and resources allow. Some of that will occur starting Oct. 22 when crews begin the annual fall street sweeping, he said.
Hennepin County takes a similar approach and does not patrol for weeds growing along its roads. But the county will tackle them if Public Works receives enough complaints, said spokesman Colin Cox.
“Heavy rains like we saw this year can lead to weeds or grasses popping up quickly,” Cox said. “The challenge is to balance timely removal with weather, available staff and trying not to be overaggressive with the use of chemicals and pesticides.”
Sometimes the county turns to Sentencing to Service (STS), which allows low-risk criminal offenders to do community service projects rather than spend time in jail or paying a fine. The county has asked STS to clean up the neglected weeds on Washington Avenue “as it’s clearly time,” Cox said.
South St. Paul Mayor James Francis is taking action. “I stop and pull them out personally,” he said. “Ever since I was elected mayor, I’ve learned I am the official weed inspector.”
Francis recalls a recent Facebook post on an unrelated matter in the city that turned ugly when residents chastised the city for not keeping roadsides tidy.
Francis said he wants to see public entities be more aggressive when it comes to eradicating weeds. He also proposes they send out flash mobs of weeders at 2 a.m. when traffic is scarce.
“People would rather post and complain rather than pulling the weeds,” he said. “We need a more concerted effort.”
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