- Associated Press - Sunday, October 1, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Satisfaction with park maintenance continues to decrease in surveys of Lincoln residents, with comments indicating people are unhappy specifically with grass mowing and trimming.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports fescue is allowed to grow up to 20 inches in long-grass areas, and is mowed just two to four times a year. Park staff mow more traditional park areas about every two weeks.

The Parks and Recreation Department continues to receive complaints about long-grass areas, which cover more than 700 acres in more than 50 city parks. That’s about half the city parkland, said Lynn Johnson, director of the department.

He said the city had hoped to convert some fescue into prairie grass and wildflowers each year, but money and weather conditions have limited that conversion.

Johnson said the department will ask more specific questions in future surveys to better understand the mowing and maintenance complaints.

Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird said people tend to like the prairie grass and wildflower areas. Baird is on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

She said she gets complaints primarily about weeds and volunteer trees in the long-grass areas, not about the areas themselves. She also said complaints are often from people who live adjacent to a park.

In the absence of wildflowers, some of the long-grass areas look like “someone is falling down on their job,” she said.

Johnson said setting aside long-grass areas is both an environmental and a budget issue. Environmentally, Lincoln uses less fuel and fewer pesticides, and the long grass helps prevent erosion along stream banks and drainage ways.

The city also saves an estimated $25 million each year in fuel and staff costs on long-grass areas, he said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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