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Noxious weeds, lawns present clean-up issues for PR City Council, staff

Weeds grow in a field where trees were toppled by a 2011 tornado. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

A Park Rapids resident is concerned about weeds growing in a Department of Natural Resources lot along Highway 34.

Dick Rutherford, who owns the business Toys for Boys that neighbors the DNR property, appeared at Tuesday's Park Rapids City Council meeting with photos and a weed about four feet tall to show council members.

The lot had been filled with trees until a tornado swept through Park Rapids in May of 2011. Early this year the DNR planted tree seedlings in the area and added a sign that reads, "Tornado destroyed forest Memorial Day 2011. Trees replanted 2012. Watch them grow."

Rutherford said the property was an eyesore.

"This is a disgrace to Park Rapids," he added.

City administrator Bill Smith said he spoke with someone from DNR Forestry later this week and was told that spraying for weeds would harm the seedlings. The city hasn't taken any further action in the matter.

Meanwhile, the city has been sending letters to residents to mow grass, remove diseased trees or remove weeds from their yards.

Julie Snow attended Tuesday's meeting and said she felt like she was being harassed by the city.

"I've gotten three letters in the last three weeks," she said.

One letter was about long grass, another was about diseased trees and another letter said a camper needed to be removed from the yard.

"I'd never had a problem before," Snow told the council.

She had talked with Smith about the letters and he was looking into some issues regarding the timing of the letters and other issues she had expressed about the situation. He will continue working with Snow, he said.

About 80 letters about dead trees have been sent out and Smith said he anticipates hearing from other people in the city.

City officials have said they are working to make sure Park Rapids is looking clean for the Governor's Fishing Opener in the spring of 2013.

In other business, the council:

n Appointed Alex Torkelson as a volunteer firefighter for the city of Park Rapids.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561