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Frank Gray

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Austin Grate, operations manager for MulchWorx Landscape Supply at moves chopped up trees to make more room for tree drop-offs in July.

Debris of big storm won’t all be wasted

If you want to get an idea of just how powerful the storm was in late June, just go to some of the places where debris is being accumulated.

At Swinney Park next to the closed swimming pool there was a mountain of debris that now is slowly being ground up. Foster Park even has its own little pile – mainly trees that blew down on the golf course.

One can’t help but wonder, though, what is going to happen to some of the giant logs that have ended up in those piles.

The logs in some cases have diameters well in excess of 3 feet, and even the smaller ones look as though they could easily weigh a ton or more.

Looking over one collection of such logs I started to wonder just how much lumber you could get out of the logs.

There are organizations that are involved in urban timber harvesting. They take trees that have been blown down or had to be cut down for some reason and salvage what lumber they can.

Normally, though, urban timber gets a sideways glance from most sawmills. Trees that grew in cities can be full of things such as nails and ax heads that can damage a sawmill’s expensive saw blades.

It seems a shame to let that wood go to waste.

What will happen to it, though, is a mystery.

The city has hired contractors to deal with these trees, and they will haul them off, but it remains unclear whether they will be cut up for firewood, chipped for mulch or actually salvaged.

Which brings us to another question: What is going to happen to all the mulch created by contractors grinding up all the limbs recovered from streets and parks and people’s yards?

Right now there are large piles at Lawton Park and at Lions Park, which is at Carew Street and Hazelwood Avenue. The mulch there, except for the mulch on playgrounds, is free to members of the public who are willing to haul it themselves, said Natalie Eggeman, public information officer for the parks department.

In the fall, the parks department will take what is left and distribute it to the city parks, using it to mulch around trees and so on.

It’s good to know that at least that won’t be wasted.

While I’m worrying over the fate of handsome logs, though, I realize that I should be fretting over more animated creatures, specifically bicycles.

The city painted bicycle lanes on some downtown streets in the past year or so, a bike-friendly gesture, and the lanes have been getting good use.

It’s not unusual to see someone on a bicycle zipping down West Wayne or West Berry streets traveling as fast as automotive traffic.

I just wish some cyclists would do one thing differently: Quit riding the wrong way on one-way streets.

When drivers come to one-way streets, they tend to look in the direction of approaching traffic, not the other way.

More than once, though, I’ve gotten ready to punch through an intersection only to notice at the last second someone on a bike coming the wrong way.

If I were to hit a cyclist under those circumstances, it might not be my fault, but I really have no desire to smash my car into someone on a bike.

Many cyclists do tend to be free spirits, so some of us look the other way when they break some rules.

For their own good, though, I wish they’d occasionally travel one short block so they could ride in the right direction on the one-way streets downtown. It has the potential be a lot less painful.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.