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Crosslakers put flower planters on city bridges

Flower baskets adorn the Pine River Dam and Daggett Pine Creek bridges on County Road 66 in Crosslakers. The Crosslakers’ connectivity work group spearheaded the project as a way to beautify the city. Theresa Bourke / Echo Journal1 / 3
Flower baskets adorn the Pine River Dam and Daggett Pine Creek bridges on County Road 66 in Crosslakers. The Crosslakers’ connectivity work group spearheaded the project as a way to beautify the city. Theresa Bourke / Echo Journal2 / 3
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Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Crosslakers connectivity work group and funding approved by the Crosslake City Council, two bridges in Crosslake are adorned with flowers this summer.

Work group chairperson Pat Netko said the project is a first step the group hopes to build upon in future years. But it was no small effort to get the first step approved.

The group worked for over a year on the project. Since the bridges near the Pine River Dam and over Daggett Lake are on county roads but within Crosslake city limits, the group had to get approval from both the county and the city to make the project a reality.

One of the first hurdles was figuring out how to design a planter bracket to hold the planters that would not need to be bolted onto the bridges. Enter Crosslake's Jeremy Knippel, who designed a bracket that hangs on the water side of the bridges, allowing flowers to cascade over the bridge railings.

The next challenge was figuring out how the flowers would be watered every day. Resident Sam Shirey designed a system of solar panels, pumps and tubing that automatically handles that chore.

This year, 12 four-foot planters were installed - six on each bridge. The planters and plants were purchased wholesale from North Wedge Greenhouse. The total cost of materials to make all this happen is $3,872, including $3,032 in one-time costs for the solar panels and pump system.

On May 14, the Crosslake City Council approved up to $5,000 to install the planters and watering systems. At that meeting, Crow Wing County Engineer Tim Bray told the council that he had worked with the Crosslakers connectivity work group during the past year on the project. He said he had viewed a prototype of the planters and was satisfied that they would present no problem.

Bray commended the Crosslakers on taking such a thoughtful approach with the project and added that the county would draw up a written agreement spelling out specific duties related to the project. He said this project was the first of its kind in Crow Wing County.

Going forward, the connectivity working group will look for ways to fund additional bridge planters.

"We have a number of ideas we are exploring," Netko said.

During the city council meeting, Bray discussed another project the connectivity working group has been pursuing. Netko, who owns Lake Country Crafts and Cones, has long been concerned about the safety of people who cross County Road 66 from the trail on the west side of the road to get to her store. She has taken videos to show how dangerous the crossing can be.

The working group has asked the county to create a crosswalk at that location and to mark the walk with loons, paddles or some other design that would make it unique to Crosslake.

Bray said he is not yet ready to put a crosswalk in that location but conceded that he recognizes there are arguments to be made for and against placing one there. He said he is open to marking future crosswalks with designs that are unique to Crosslake.

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