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Please Plow Fridley Paths

Paths around Moore Lake ought to be clear of snow.

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.

John Anderson December 18, 2010 at 02:01 PM
This could have been a great story about members of the community identifying a want and taking it upon themselves to provide a service to their city. Instead it was an article about entitlement, demanding that government do what you want because you want it. Clearing a path around Moore Lake is not an essential and/or legitimate government function. I applaud the Gray brothers for their efforts and when they decide they can't do it anymore, someone else from the community will offer their efforts.
Chris Steller (Editor) December 20, 2010 at 05:00 PM
John, thanks for your comment. I'm interested in your views on legitimate government functions in Fridley. The city council just passed a new budget—what do you think of the things Fridley taxes and spends for? I invite you (and anyone) to send Fridley Patch an opinion column; please write me at chris.steller@patch.com.
Jeff Thompson January 14, 2011 at 08:25 PM
The 2010/2030 Comprehensive Plan approved by City Officials looks promising and I almost find myself crossing my fingers that our elected leaders can partner with investors and companies to join them in the same visualization for a Fridley of the future. The Columbia Arena project sounds encouraging after 6 years of vacancy; however, such a location deserves more than a half-baked solution. University Ave. from 694 to Northtown should be the centerpiece of our community. Today, it looks like a thoroughfare/corridor for the northern county at our expense. County and State Hi-ways fragment our community into neighborhoods without a defined downtown. Will the 57th Street overpass and re-development from Medtronic to the NorthStar Station be the answer? The nearly vacant parking lot at the NorthStar station doesn’t justify the cost of plowing for 100 or so vehicles. The vacant property the city bought along University south of 61st is still vacant. If we do nothing then our corridors will just move transportation right on by us and Fridley will fall further into history without creating a new history that our children can tell. Are all the projects Fridley tried working? No. Maybe crossing our fingers is not enough. Maybe more of us should go to the meetings and bring our voice. Maybe more of us should be like the Gray brothers and make something happen.
Odean Hoss February 04, 2011 at 03:27 AM
@ John, If you're so self-righteous, then please explain why it is necessary for the city to provide ANY snow removal over by the Medtronic facility, when clearly that company could afford to do this all on their own dime? Public sidewalks (such as these), SHOULD be taken care of by the City. NOT by private individuals, or private companies. These brothers are spending their own time, their own money, and risking their own safety and liability to provide this help. I'd be curious if you even live near this area, or are you only spouting your opinion for other reasons? I for one, do not live near this area, but as a frequent pedestrian in an extremely poorly plowed area (Coon Rapids), I can completely relate to the risks taken by anyone trying to navigate in less than stellar conditions. But these cities choose not to do anything, until it is too late. (Waiting for a pedestrian to get injured or killed, perhaps, are you Fridley?) The government SHOULD be providing a better service than what they are. It's what we pay them for. Quit wasting it elsewhere, and do a better job keeping people safe. Big Kudos to the Gray Brothers!
Ruth February 04, 2011 at 05:41 AM
Thank you Alex and Gary! Giving hearts are one of the most valuable assets a community can have. And keeping walking/running trails open is a valuable asset to the community as well. Our first Lady Michelle Obama has stressed the importance of staying fit and healthy, so the city should take note. Keeping paths plowed around a popular trail will encourage more citizens to stay active during the winter months when many are tempted to be couch potatoes instead. One might wonder why Medtronic gets preferential treatment where other areas are neglected. Sometimes it is plausible to ask what's missing or what's the payoff? Wouldn't it be nice if we had more neighbors like Alex and Gary who give selflessly instead of asking what's in it for them. JFK said: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, ask what you can do for your country." Sounds like Alex and Gary could teach people a thing or two about having a servants heart just like JFK envisioned. Hats off to you both, now come on in for a bit and warm up with a hot cup of cocoa!

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