Used needles highlight safety concerns along Minneapolis' Midtown Greenway Trail
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Used condoms, feces and needles--those are the top three objects Rand Ratterath regularly finds along a five-and-a-half mile stretch of the Midtown Greenway trail.
“You don’t have to go very far to find them. They’re right there!” he exclaimed. “Kids run ahead, they pick up a needle and they want to play doctor.”
Around Bloomington Bridge is where he's found the highest concentration of needles, as well as up by the Second Avenue Bridge and the nearby freeway.
FOX 9 confirmed the disturbing trend is present near the Greenway Monday when we discovered two used needles and syringes under the Second Avenue overpass.
Ratternath collected approximately 15 needles along the walking and cycling path over the last three weeks.
“What concerns me the most is the potential impact it has for the kids that are riding up and down,” said Ratterath, who makes cleaning up the Greenway a regular part of his daily run.
The Midtown Greenway Coalition does have a volunteer-led bike patrol. The Coalition on its website claims they also work with Minneapolis police and also have a Safety Task Force that works with the government to maintain the Greenway.
Ratternath says those efforts simply aren’t enough to address the larger problems that have trickled onto the path that’s open to several thousand people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Everybody’s got to have a part in it,” he said.
Ratterath has been vocal. He has reached out to the Midtown Greenway Coalition, Ward 9 Councilwoman Alondra Cano and District 4 Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, to no avail.
“I think the thing that's most egregious and this applies both to Alondra Cano and the Midtown Greenway Coalition is the fact that nobody does anything,” he insisted.
He’s even launched a Facebook page to raise awareness about the social problems the litter proves.
“I call it polyculture because there's an interplay between Lake Street and the Greenway, between the sex traffic, the drug addiction and homelessness, they all three are operating in and around there.”
Ratterath tells Fox 9 he even checks on the homeless who camp near the trail.
“They’re people! That’s someone’s ‘someone.’ That's what I keep saying over and over again and they deserve to be respected,” he said. “They’ve actually helped solve crimes.”
The city block leader admits there’s no easy fix for loitering, litter nor the obvious drug use on and around his beloved Greenway.
“You're not going to solve it but to just turn a blind eye to it I think is more immoral and more unconscionable than any of the other phenomena we're talking about here,” he said.
Ratternath’s moral and social concerns may be what drive him to pick up and patrol the area every week, but to him, inaction only perpetuates the cycle of issues too big to ignore.
“We're supposed to be one of the largest, best economically insulated cities in the country? And you're doing nothing? That's just wrong.” he said. “I think the crime is the fact nobody is doing anything.”
Fox 9 also attempted to reach the Midtown Greenway Coalition, Councilwoman Cano and Commissioner McLaughlin Monday. Neither accepted our request for an on-camera interview.