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‘Controversial video documentary about Lambert…’ barely had a live week on YouTube before its creators succumbed to politics and pulled it off the air.

I watched all three episodes. Not just to find my interviews and scream, ‘Look! I’m on Youtube!’ I watched it because of Sarah. Conrad. Bill. Rowan. I watched my heroes talk about their old battle to save our homes. The same heroes I grew up listening to and thought they would win against the airport. Their perspectives have not changed in the 30 years of the disaster that is the new runway. It seems that once again, our personal stories got ungraciously dismissed in political tugs of war.

I knew that by doing these interviews what they may may become. The production values had some real money beyond a simple documentary telling a story about an area. Beforehand, I researched Rex, First Rule, and where the political positions the creators of this documentary fell. I can’t say I agree with everything they do. However, when offered a platform to support the former residents of Carrollton and this area of Bridgeton, of course I was willing to give a voice to the historical tragedy that is the loss of our entire community.

In the StL P-D article today, the airport spokesperson said that the documentary did not accurately reflect today’s numbers. I will say that the historical context of the documentary seemed pretty accurate in regards to my own notes and research on the 1989 expansion and the W-1W runway. Since 95% of the documentary focused on the airport’s past events, pulling the episodes off all media does little more than silence those who lived in the area and just want our stories heard. Once again, political forces tell those of us trapped in the middle to shut up and accept our fates at their hands.

The controversial question around why the documentary was pulled didn’t have much to do with the documentary itself. The question is, ‘Should the airport be privatized or remain in the hands of St. Louis City?’ Interesting and much more controversial than anything that was actually in the documentary (timing and political pressure did it in). Despite all that St. Louis City has done to destroy Bridgeton, I still have much love St. Louis City. I have traveled far and wide and lived outside of StL for some time, but St. Louis City’s people and institutions are by far the absolutely best in the world. I love this City like no other, and carry the red, yellow, and blue flag with me. Can St. Louis carry on with the responsibility of managing the airport? While I’m not an expert on general airport management, St. Louis City’s history regarding the airport expansion has been terrible at best. Given the condition the airport and surrounding land is in now, I don’t believe any private entity can or will do any better with it either. I do think private interests and public City managers needs to accept two realities of Lambert- 1. The new runway was a horrible, shortsighted, and costly mistake that still has ramifications today, and 2. In many decades to come, Lambert will still be what it is now- a struggling midsized airport with no future of becoming a world-class airport or air-shipping destination. I don’t think any entity, be it public or private, could make that happen in the future if it already hasn’t. I don’t think there will be any winners in this, whatever happens to Lambert’s ownership. I say this not as any kind of airport expert, but as someone who has passively watched over Lambert’s skies my entire life.

And Sarah, Conrad, Bill, Rowan, all of us will still tell our damn stories.

This site has gone the way of Carrollton itself- neglected, trees growing up through the cracks, and less passerbys driving through.

While Carrollton remains in a perpetual holding pattern, I’m finally making headway on my book project. More importantly, there will be a film documentary released to the public soon! While I can’t give too many details now, what I can say is that it is moving, powerful, and factual. I will add the links soon! I cannot wait until you can view it.

I’ll be cleaning up and updating this site in the coming months in anticipation of completing the book project and the release of the film. While Carrollton remains in limbo, the memorials to our former landscape deserve a bit of a polishing.

All my best to you, the former residents and interested friends,

Desy

Carrollton existed between a radioactive dump and a radioactive creek. These dangers were unknown throughout Carrollton’s existence. Yet, despite knowing how useless the new runway would likely be, multiple agencies were determined to buyout our houses in Bridgeton and build it. Was there another motive to building the runway? Did they know then what we know now?

Many are still looking for answers from Lambert and the FAA on why the runway was built even after TWA collapsed and the airline ecomonic bubble appeared to be bursting in 2002. Maybe  it is a coincidence that 2,000 homes in very close proximity to a radioactive landfill was destroyed and what was left of the area is (mostly) gated off.

A blessing in disguise, or maybe officials in St. Louis and Jefferson City knew something we didn’t know. If they did damage control by  removing Bridgeton’s largest community, they left behind many other small neighborhoods that are, surprisingly, still thriving.

Just a mere thought regarding the coincidence of it all.

As if poisoned waters in North County via the contaminated Coldwater Creek wasn’t already a serious environmental problem, there is a greater urgency in protecting people from the potential of radioactive fallout from fires burning deep inside the West Lake Landfill. In both cases, the waste came from the careless dumping of toxic byproducts after developing weapons of mass destruction used in the WWII.

For decades, Carrollton silently rested in the middle of environmental disasters. Two disasters that were only publicly exposed in recent years. Disasters that have quietly sickened an unknown percentage of the population of North County who likely considered themselves just plain unlucky. Those of us who grew up in North County now begin to wonder when, not if, we will be affected. Today, we wonder not if, but when, the subterranean fires will burn their way into the radioactive waste field.

From the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Plan (West Lake Landfill Evacuation Plan): “Muncipalities directly affected are Bridgeton, Hazelwood, Maryland Heights, the Village of Champ, and the City of St. Charles.”

Despite being developed a year ago, releasing it to the public is very telling of the potential for this plan to be a necessity. Today’s release of the plan is a warning that we need to be on closer guard. The fact that his was only the 8th headline down on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website means it will get overlooked by many who will need to read it. 

http://www.coldwatercreekfacts.com/

In January, a motorist traveling at a high rate of speed killed a bicyclist in Carrollton. Why was someone doing 68 miles per hour in Carrollton? Because the airport cannot control the streets? Because this driver likely thought nobody would be in his way?

Tragic story of a cyclist who likely wanted to be somewhere free of traffic and a driver who felt like he could speed at will in an abandoned area.

Full article in the link below:

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/hazelwood-driver-was-speeding-twice-limit-when-he-struck-and/article_8d1d8899-6f4b-5294-9209-034546df0d52.html

Those of us who grew up in Bridgeton knew we were sitting a little more than a mile from a landfill. Most of the time, it didn’t cause us any issues. The landfill had in fact almost no effect on our daily lives. Yet, there would be those few days in the summertime where the miserably humid air actually moved.  On those rare occasions that the wind picked up in the normally stagnant St. Louis summer, it sometimes carried a distinct and sweetly putrid smell. It was only when the wind moved from the west,  blowing just hard enough to sweep over the Missouri Bottom floodplain and up into the Bridgeton highgrounds.  Again, the conditions had to be just right. The smell appeared only on those stupid hot and sticky summer St. Louis days. The kind of days where you could see the fog of humidity discoloring everything  in town into a weird yellowish haze. The kind of days where you wondered if you would ever feel dryness again. You, my fellow St. Louisan, know exactly that level of heat and humidity I am talking about. For us in Bridgeton, on a dank summer day, the wind would carry a fragrance that would make you briefly stop and wonder what Earthly thing could possibly produce such a sickly scent before continuing on with your greater misery about the humidity as you unconsciously fan your shirt away from your skin.

We all knew the smell came from the landfill. It didn’t happen often enough to warrant a laundry list of complaints. The humid weather was more than enough for us to edure. Complaining about the occasional whiff of nasty air seemed a minor detail for stubborn, working and middle class North County residents who prided themselves on surviving brutal summers in St. Louis.

I didn’t know there was anything radioactive there. Neither did anyone in my family. Nor did we know it was a Superfund site until the lawsuits filed by remaining Bridgeton residents over the smell.

The landfill has caught an underground fire and releasing noxious odors that make the putrid odors we endured seem like a brief run through the mall perfume counter. This has become a health and environmental disaster for those in Bridgeton who were not affected by the Lambert Expansion project. Those remaining individuals have already been through enough by having their community dissected and disoriented over the years of Lambert’s encroachment. Now, they face the reality that they are in proximity to radioactive waste. The smell reminds them that there is much more nefarious things decaying in that landfill than annoying odors.

So many questions. How contained is the radioactive waste that exists in the West Lake site?  Did any of it seep into the soil in the years Carrollton existed?  Did the landfill’s radioactive waste seep and contaminate our drinking water, which came from a facility not too far from the site? How did we live decades without knowing that there was radioactive waste in the West Lake Landfill? How bad is it really now for Bridgeton residents?

It is sad that there are still about 400 homes in Bridgeton that has to deal with yet more bad news. According to the Post, the remaining homes are being compensated for enduring continuing odors caused by the underground landfill fires. The EPA contends that the fires have not yet reached the radioactive waste site. I have to wonder what the scale of this disaster would have been like if the 2,000 houses in the area had remained. I am also deeply concerned about what would happen if the underground fires do reach the contaminated section. I am curious what Geiger counters are reading at in the Missouri Bottoms and in Bridgeton area.

The latest STL Post-Dispatch article is here.

 

Since Lambert- St. Louis  International Airport has failed to attract commercial jet hubs and international cargo, they’re desperate to do anything for the milk and honey. Honey, it seems, is the first step.

A beekeeper has signed a contract with Lambert to keep bee hives on the property that was once Freebourn Park, leasing the land from the airport for $75 dollars a year. Don’t think all that money is going to help Lambert pay their $1.4 billion dollar debt down. 80% of the $75 annual rent will likely go towards the FAA first.

I applaud the fact that Lambert is working with an individual to utilize the land in a cooperative and eco-friendly manner. Allowing a beekeeper to keep hives on this empty North County land is a great idea and I am glad Lambert is allowing it. Besides, anyone keeping hives during these times of bee colony collapses is a hero in my book. The City of St. Louis already begun patting themselves on the back for adding this project line to their sustainability action list. The fact that the hives have been approved is very telling. The hives are the equivalent of the city conceding to the end of their cargo shipping hub pipe-dream, at least for this year-long contract. I have a feeling that the bees are here to stay and the beekeeper’s contract will be renewed for many years to come.

There isn’t much that Lambert-St. Louis International Airport can do at this point to pay down the $1.4 billion dollars they owe for building their little-used runway. They can’t attract passenger planes. They can’t attract international air freight. They can, however, attract bees. They will soon have the honey and now it’s time to collect the milk. Let’s add some cows to where our ranch-style houses once were.

You can find the Post-Dispatch’s July 8th, 2013 article on the Beekeeping agreement here.