We have one big lake here in Fridley, Moore Lake, but we can't walk, run or pedal around it now without risking our lives or dignity, due to official path-plowing neglect.
Moore Lake is a great water feature three seasons of the year. But the beautiful asphalt path on its east side is totally snowed-in now south of the tennis courts, as it has been each winter since I became a property owner in Fridley.
Occasionally, I see non-motorized people walking or pedaling on Old Central Avenue in the winter and I worry for them. Why? Because the road has too much motorized traffic and the city government has not advocated for the people of Fridley to get the path plowed.
I recently learned that two of my neighbors have stepped up to become advocates for the people that the city should rightly do. Two brothers, Alex Gray and Gary Gray, have been plowing the path with an all-terrain vehicle from their parents' house on Moore Lake, all the way north to East Moore Lake Drive since 2004.
In recent years they have extended their plow route southward to the crosswalk at Gardena Avenue NE, the road to Totino-Grace High School, due to popular demand. People feel safe with a land or snow buffer between them and the frequent traffic. Pedestrians love the Grays. That kind of personal can-do/will-do attitude can't help but be applauded, especially in the face of official neglect.
As winters progress, roadways narrow. Alex Gray informed me that packs of runners from both Fridley and Totino-Grace high schools frequently use the lake loop–even in the winter. Every step that each of those runners take on the Gray's path increases their safety. Every time they have to jump the plow-bank to go back on the road should be a cause of concern for city officials.
Adult people like to circumnavigate the lake for exercise too. Once, one of the Grays' path users pleaded with Alex Gray to plow all the way to Highway 65. "I do what I can do," he told her. What can the city do to help?
This stretch of pedestrian pavement is a special case and should immediately be placed on the city plow circuit. The city already plows the pedestrian asphalt along Medtronic Boulevard, crosses Highway 65 and plows to the bus stop north of Holiday. The city plows along East Moore Lake Drive at least to Old Central Avenue.
If city officials argue that they lack the funds to clear this stretch of pedestrian asphalt, that would be bogus. I've done commercial snow removal for years and I know that the challenge is to have the right machinery in the right place, which we have. It's time to give the good Gray brothers a well-deserved rest.