Weed control has become a bigger job than ever for the City of Minot.
Public works director Dan Jonasson told the Minot City Council's Public Works and Safety Committee Wednesday that complaints about abandoned yards have doubled this year. So far, the city has recorded more than 270 weed complaints, he said.
The city increased its mowing staff from two to four people to try to get a handle on the problem as well as mow 80 lots acquired by the city for flood protection, the 23 miles of levee and various boulevards.
"We are concentrating on the worst ones and the city lots first and then we go after the other complaints as we receive them and can get to them," Jonasson said.
The city's response upon receiving a complaint is to send a letter to the property owner, giving the owner five days to mow an untamed yard. If there is no response, the city will perform the mowing and assess the cost to the property owner.
With such a high number of properties needing mowing, the city is falling behind, though.
"I don't think we are going to get them all done," Jonasson said, warning the committee that the city could go into winter with weeds still standing in some yards.
The weed issue is aggravated by the number of abandoned, flood-damaged properties, but Jonasson said the problem goes beyond the valley.
"It's all over town. It's not only in the flooded zones but up on the hills," he said.
Jonasson and city manager David Waind said help eventually might be available from outside sources. There has been discussion with volunteer groups that could lead to some type of assistance, but nothing is finalized at this time.
"It's not just a simple matter of coming in with the mower because the weeds will win," said council member Dave Lehner. Taking a sickle to an abandoned yard in his neighborhood, he said knocking down tough, thick-stemmed weeds still was a struggle.
"They fight back," he said.
Jonasson said the city acquired a self-propelled sickle mower because an industrial weed-eater wasn't up to the job. He said the danger to equipment from potential debris or ground holes hidden among the weeds complicates clean-up efforts.