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Grass shoulder too much of a burden in Greenfield

Residents prefer gravel along 35th Street roadside

April 10, 2012

Greenfield - Some residents along a section of 35th Street are asking the city to forget about the newly planted grass and give them their gravel shoulders back along the road's sides.

The city redid about three-quarters of a mile of 35th Street between Ramsey and College avenues last year, taking up the gravel shoulders and planting grass. But some neighbors say that the grass shoulders are now so soft that their guests cannot park at the side of the road without sinking into the ground.

"It's all rutted out," said Robert Shilling who is one of those appealing to the city.

Guests who overflow the driveway no longer have a hard surface to park on at the side of the road.

"Now they sink like mud," Shilling said. "It's a big problem."

The Greenfield Board of Public Works might consider the request as early as April 24, but there are a couple of problems with gravel, said Richard Sokol, director of neighborhood services.

One is that it's more expensive. The city can't just pour gravel on top of the loosened soil that's there now, Sokol said. That would make the shoulder so high that storm water wouldn't drain properly into the roadside ditches, he said.

To put in gravel, the new shoulders would have to be taken out, then gravel put in and finally compacted, he said.

The other problem with gravel is something the neighbors haven't experienced because the gravel shoulders have been there so long, he added. Gravel from new shoulders is kicked up into yards by snowplows, a problem which could continue for years, Sokol said.

There are a couple of options that might make the grass shoulders strong enough to handle parked cars, Sokol suggested. One involves a fabric mixed with topsoil that would be more firm. The other is compacting a different mix of soil using a roller. Sokol said the city will look into both options.

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