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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.

I want to give my thanks to Mr. Fehrenbacher for being a strong ally for the City of Bridgeton, a vocal opposition of the Lambert Runway Expansion, and a leader in Carrollton’s fight to exist.

You may read more about Tom Fehrenbacher on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website article here.

In case we need yet another reason why Aerotropolis at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport will likely not be built anytime soon: Illinois is reaching agreements with China for ground and water transport of Asian goods while Missouri has historically remained focused on solely attracting air cargo at Lambert. While this will not likely replace coastal ports nor do I believe this will have as much of an upward impact on Illinois economies as their local leaders boast, ground and water transport have a better chance of attracting trade partnerships than air cargo. Illinois has once again learned to diversify where Missouri and St. Louis leaders put on their blinders to focus on one option.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (STLToday, December 30, 2012):

The port district’s ability to use roads, rails, river and other modes of transport for goods makes it attractive to local and foreign developers, said Ellen Krohne, executive director of the Southwestern Illinois Leadership Council. The Edwardsville-based council is a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging growth and development in Madison and St. Clair counties.

The new agreement with Wuhan, she said, is also a boon to Madison County and the region because it opens doors.

“It gives the Chinese an opportunity to invest in Madison County,” Krohne said, including opening businesses and hiring workers. The county’s workforce, educational system and geographic location also make it competitive in competing for Chinese trade.”

The rest of the article can be found here.

Evidently there are some proposals being requested as ballot initiatives to limit the use of eminent domain in Missouri. Although I am skeptical of their movement past the Secretary of State, I would like to know more of exactly what these proposals state. This could be an interesting story to follow, especially if one of these four proposals finds itself in front of Missouri voters in less than two years. From yesterday’s Post-Dispatch, as reported by the Associated Press (entire article):

Supporters of Missouri proposals to reform laws on the use eminent domain can begin working to get their measures on the 2014 state ballot.

The secretary of state’s office says four initiatives have been approved for circulation, allowing backers to begin getting registered voters to sign petitions.

Backers must gather sufficient signatures from six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts and deliver them to the secretary of state by early May 2014.

Groups seeking to curtail the use of eminent domain to take private property have proposed initiatives in recent years. However, those proposals have not qualified for the ballot.

The documentary film Battle for Brooklyn was presented at the Show-Me-Institute’s panel discussion at the Luminary Center for the Arts this past April. If you wish to know more about the effects of eminent domain issues on citizens residing in the way of nearly boundless developments with governmental blessings, I highly suggest checking out this moving film.  During this viewing, I found a number of parallel situations between this particular 22 acre section of Brooklyn in New York being purchased for a new area for the Nets around 2006 and Lambert’s expansion into Bridgeton, Missouri from the 1990s into the 2000s.  

As a follow up to the documentary and panel discussion, I came across this article in the New York Times today. From the scathing NY TIMES article by

That said, the arena constitutes only the first part of Mr. Ratner’s 22-acre, $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards development. So what we see today is like seeing a naked man with just his socks on — nice socks, but we still can’t be sure what he’s going to look like when he gets dressed. Three apartment towers, the first of which starts rising shortly, will share the superblock with Barclays, obscuring much of the exterior. The arena will loom less like an object landed in the middle of Brooklyn; it will merge into a titanic complex, the towers most likely doing it and the aesthetics of the whole site no favors, the center’s identity focused more around its canopy and entrance plaza.

We’ll see who wants to live next to it. What’s clear now is that Barclays makes the Garden the second-best arena in town, which is to say even worse than we already thought it was. On the up side, losing face and business to Brooklyn may nudge the Garden’s competitive owners to reconsider moving in the coming years to a new site and a better home, which would finally make it possible to fix Penn Station.

I can’t help adding that while public officials went so far as to exercise eminent domain to clear the Barclays site for the arena, pushing out mixed-income tenants and a homeless shelter, these same officials (I speak from firsthand experience) greet any hypothetical question about eminent domain and the Garden like kryptonite.

But I digress.

Sort of, because the Atlantic Yards project also exemplifies how the city, in this case hamstrung by the state, got planning backward, trying to eke public benefits from private interests awarded public subsidies and too much leeway. Development on this scale may take its lead from a developer’s vision but needs to proceed from public-spirited, publicly debated plans for what the city and streets should ultimately look like.

In short, Brooklyn created an ugly and questionably necessary monstrosity in the middle of a historical neighborhood that desperately needed housing for low and middle income people, and it’s only the beginning phase of this highly controversial development. It is about time to see greater vocalizations for public input and the expertise of professional urban planners into such large scale urban developments.

Where would Bridgeton be today had the entire region of St. Louis been involved in the planning of W-1W? Perhaps we would have a functional, new airport outside our metro area, where it should be.

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