Dec 9, 2014

Saying Goodbye

2014-12-06 (1) 18 years ago, when we moved from Colorado to Minnesota, we had a pipedream that we’d find our “cabin in the north” with a lake, a big yard, privacy, and great neighbors. 17 years ago, we lucked into being the first buyers to visit our house on Lake Shore Avenue and we made an offer on the spot. We have worked on turning our little house into a more functional place for work, art, and living space for 17 years. We turned a minor disaster of a yard into what our friends call “a private park.” More than anything, Savage Lake has been a cornerstone of our life in Little Canada.

Every once in a while, I get an anonymous visitor (always anonymous) who takes me to task for imagining that our little ‘'watershed’' is a real lake. My last such visitor said, “The attention your blog is bringing to this nasty little ditch is drawing away funds and efforts from real lakes like Gervais and Round Lakes and our city parks. We'll be glad to see you gone and I hope no one takes over your pathetic blog. Savage is nothing more than a catch basin for freeway runoff as it should be.”

Wow! This is the third or fourth time I’ve had a response like this to the blog and my claim that this is a lake that should be valued and appreciated. Regardless, we’ve loved the wildlife on and around the lake. My wife regenerated her love of bird watching on Savage Lake’s banks. We’ve taken hundreds of canoe rides around the lake and the island. Our grandson grew up playing on the dock we built together and practicing catch-and-release with the frogs, turtles, and toads he found on our beach.

We’ve had a wedding, a college graduation party, several winter solstice parties, infamous sledding parties, a retirement party and celebrated Little Canada days with dozens of friends and family with the lake as the beautiful backdrop. We’ve barbequed steaks, hot dogs, hamburgers, smores, and all sorts of hillbilly-gourmet meals on our lake shore firepit and spent hundreds of hours talking into the night, enjoying the fire and the view.

My ex-neighbor and friend, John Bibeau, and I canoed the lake with a few hundred gallons of diluted herbicide to fight off the total invasion of the lake with water lilies and it worked. We were canoeing this year all the way into August with enough clear water to make the ride interesting. There are even some signs that some small fish are making a comeback after the school’s pollution runoff killed off the lake several years ago.

Rocky Waite is petitioning MNDOT and the mostly-useless DNR to dredge the silt MNDOT’s idiot freeway entrance drainage siphoned into the northeast corner of the lake. He’ll need backup from lakeshore owners or the city council will be as absent from this argument as they have been on every Savage Lake issue for the last 17 years, except the highly-profitable and unsupportable goose roundup.

Our new Red Wing neighborhood is quiet and after 17 years of fighting the noise pollution from I35E, that is an amazing benefit to having left the Cities. Nights are dark, since we’re far enough from the city and Cities to have left the light pollution. The I35E noise barrier will will help, a little, when it is finally installed in 2015, but MNDOT demonstrated its usual incompetence by cutting down all of the lakeshore trees that would have provided noise absorption was disappointing. Not surprising, but disappointing. The neighborhood support for the noise barriers was one of the high points, for us, in our Little Canada civic life. MNDOT and the DNR expected about five people to show up and I think there were at least fifty people in the room at one time at that meeting.
Gardens (84)
I can’t walk down to our beach with being flooded with memories of days and nights spent on Savage Lake. Now that we are all but moved into our new home in Red Wing, coming back to Little Canada is bittersweet. My grandson went from being a toddler to a teenager in our backyard. From the dock to the landscaping to the stairs and handrails and the gardens, we can point to all of the things we built and planted together (most of which he doesn’t remember) and enjoyed as a family for years afterwards. When I loaded up the kayak and canoe for Red Wing, it was a sad moment to realize we would never make a lap around Savage Lake and the island to put a fine ending on a beautiful spring, summer, or fall day. I’ve had those two boats for almost 30 years, but they saw more use in Savage Lake than any other place we’ve lived.
05-04 Wolf launching 2

We’ve lived in Little Canada longer than any place in our lives and no matter who owns our house here, in the future, it will always seem like “home.” Our Little Canada neighbors have been the most generous, most tolerant, most friendly, most helpful friends imaginable. We won’t miss the freeway noise or the Harley’s blasting around our corner on Lake Shore Ave, but we will miss this community no matter how much Red Wing or the future has to offer.

Nov 4, 2014

Two Pre-Election Lake Issues

After talking with City Council candidate and best-neighbor-in-history, Rocky Waite, yesterday, I learned there are two issues up for grabs concerning our abused lake. First is an issue Rocky has been working on for a couple of years; renaming the lake to something less racially abusive. Rocky has collected enough city and lake shore owner names to petition the state to rename the lake, but the petition has stalled in the state bureaucracy. The proposed name for our lake would be "M├ętis Lake," obviously substantially less racist than the current name. According to a brief conversation my wife and I had with our state representative, Jason Isaacson, there are a couple of missing hoops needed for the renaming proposal to be properly presented to whoever the Powers That Be might be for this to happen. According to Rocky, the petition is all the state needs to get moving on this issue. There is, apparently, some resistance to making this harmless, historically accurate, and politically simple change and it's probably up to lake shore owners to get it done. Rocky can't do this one by himself.

The second issue is more of the usual lame crap from the perfectly useless and massively bureaucratic inept and inert bozos from the DNR. MNDOT has, apparently, agreed to dredge up "some" of the freeway silt deposited by their poorly designed southbound freeway entrance drainage (the "island" created on the northeast corner of the west lake). The DNR refuses to grant MNDOT permission to do that work more than a few feet into the lake. As usual, the DNR is claiming authority to prevent action while doing its best to ignore any responsibility for doing nothing to protect our natural resources. This has to be the perfect situation for a bureaucrat, but is once again proves that the DNR would be the easiest place for the state to save billions of taxpayer dollars. If the whole department were eliminated, it might be decades before any of us noticed. Even a DNR simpleton should recognize that ALL of the silt dumped into the lake by the freeway drain should be removed at this opportunity. Once the noise barrier is constructed, the lake will be inaccessible to the kind of equipment required to dredge the lake. Not only should the northeast side of the lake be dredged, but the southeast side has also been improperly used as a catch-basin for the freeway and should be dredged, too.

Whoever we elect today for city council ought to be on board with getting the damage to our lake undone. For the hundreds of residents affected by Savage Lake, there are few issues more pressing.

Oct 31, 2014

What A Concept

We’ve all received a trash barrel full of political crap this season. The Koch brothers are buying as many votes as Faux News will allow and even our local state representative race is being financed by those pure evil corporate welfare queens. I’m at the point where I go straight from my mailbox to the recycling can and bring practically nothing into the house. I’m really looking forward to November 3.

Today, there was an exception. Christian Torkelson’s Little Canada To-Do list in his “Things I’ve Heard from Residents” was a breath of fresh air. I haven’t seen anything that optimistic or ambitious regarding the city of Little Canada since Matt Anderson was on the council. I suspect we won’t be city residents long enough to see any of this great stuff proposed in the council, but I really hope a good bit of it happens. This is a terrific town and it deserves to be as well represented and regarded as Mr. Torkelson’s list indicates. No matter who wins, Christian has put his finger on the exact right list of critical items to be dealt with:

Torkelson001

Oct 18, 2014

The Answers

10/14/2014 I sent the following email to the seven candidates for Little Canada city council:
“I manage a Little Canada-based blog, http://savagelake.blogspot.com/, that mostly comments on the city, county, and state activities that affect Savage Lake. In the past, the city council has been marginally supportive of lake shore residents; allowing the Watershed District to lower our lake level to the point that invasive plant species took over the surface of the lake, allowing Roseville School District to dump vehicle cleaning chemicals into the lake killing off most of the lake's life, ignoring Gopher Electronics' parking lot runoff and the freeway ramp runoff that practically filled the northeast end of the lake's west side with sediment, and ignoring the MNDOT freeway design that filled the southeast end of the lake with even more sediment. I'd like to ask all of the Little Canada city council candidates the following question and post your responses on the Savage Lake blogsite:
"Savage Lake has received fairly brutal treatment from the Ramsey County Watershed District, the DNR, MNDOT, and our city government. What would you do to help lakeshore residents to protect and improve this disrespected natural resource?"

The answers were as follows (in the order received):

From: Kevin Keenan [mailto:kkeenan123@comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:03 PM
Subject: Little Canada City Council Question

Thomas - I definitely share your frustration. Myself and my brother own lakeshore on Gervais lake and we have many times had to deal with the same issues. We have had a ton of problems with the lake levels. I love to use and enjoy the lake as I know most of your neighbors do. You can be assured that if I'm elected any topic regarding lake (water) quality that comes directly to me or comes from city staff will have my full attention. I know Bev Scalze personally and I would insure she is part of the solution along with MNDOT, the DNR,  and Ramsey Watershed. I am a 45 year resident of LC and I will be a voice for my fellow neighbors. I am a Captain on the Little Canada Fire Department and I have been serving our community for 20 years in that capacity and look forward to digging in my heals even more if elected on Nov. 4th.

Thanks for the opportunity! 
Kevin Keenan

From: Christian Torkelson [mailto:christian.torkelson@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:13 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

Thanks Thomas for sending me this email.

I have more to write on this issue, and will work on putting together a full response within the next few days.

But the long and short of it in quick response form is this:
The first problem was putting a highway through a lake, the second was doing it poorly from a sound design and drainage perspective, and the third problem is that I think a lot of folks have simply written the lake off at this point.

I think the biggest thing homeowners on the lake want to see (I spoke with a resident on Lake Shore Ave who helps out with the local Boy/Cub Scouts Troop) is keeping pollutants out of it, and making sure the levels don't continue to drop. After that we can look to addressing sound barrier issues and invasive species removal.

I have some friends at the U of M who have earned or are pursuing degrees in the environmental sciences and natural resources management areas. I know that we could bring in some top notch students to evaluate the Lake and present their findings and recommendations for action with little to no cost. I'm inclined to pursue that path if we aren't seeing concrete recommendations from folks at the Soil and Water Conservation Board. Incidentally I'd be curious to know what your experiences have been in working with those folks?

Finally we can leverage our State Senator and State Representative. I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time working with Rep. Isaacson at the State House, I know he would be receptive to carrying the ball forward on this with folks at the DNR and elsewhere (MNPCA perhaps?) I'd bet Sen. Scalze would as well. And as much as I hate to say it, often times its easy to ignore the Joe Six Packs out there, but not so much sitting House or Senate member, and that is why we need to use them. I'd bet they might be able shake something loose that you or I might not.

Finally I'd hope that we could overcome maybe some apathy folks have toward the lake. I think simply getting folks (outside of the immediate vicinity) to care about it again will be the biggest challenge. As a council member you can expect me to push a perspective that considers keeping a clean environment and working on any remediation measures to fix problems that we have caused. I think a clean healthy environment promotes neighborhood health and also does good things for local property values.

From: Rocky Waite [mailto:rock2651@comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:54 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

I will keep doing what I have been doing.  I have gotten the DNR and DOT out to Savage Lake and it will be dredged this Fall.  I will work on the Southeast area next.  I have met with  the DNR regarding the historical lake levels and I am waiting for a decision at this time.  I have been working on improving Savage Lake for many years and will continue until it is deemed to be a "Lake " again.

Rocky Waite

From: Jeff Hdflooring [mailto:handdflooringinc@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 10:25 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

My name is Jeff Heikke and I am an advocate for clean water ways and lakes within our city. I live on a water way that connects Gervais Mills park and lake Gervais"I see on a daily bases the sediment oils and other contaminants that stream through and into beautiful Lake Gervais. As for Savage Lake I would start by eliminating the contaminated run off into the lake. Via storm drains rain gardens Etc, I would also like to see us strengthen our city ordinances regarding our water ways and construction practices around them. Finally lets get some environmental minds together and come up with some long term viable solutions to get the lake quality back to where it should be. I am smart enough to know that I know very little in this field, But I am willing to listen, learn and do what is best for the lake. In turn doing what is best for Little Canada. No Little Canada resident should feel less importarrt. than another just like no Little Canada issues should be addressed with less urgency based on its complexity. I cannot guarantee a fast solution but I will guarantee my full efforts until the problem is solved.

Thank you
Jeff Heikke

From: Andrew Henderson [mailto:hendersonforcitycouncil@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 19, 2014 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question
Mr. Day,

I apologize for the late reply. I have had to give a few lectures at different Universities throughout the state this week. Please except my apology.

My answer to this is pretty simple; If elected you and your neighbors will be my bosses. My core belief is that people are in charge of the government, and I fully intend to remain true to that belief. I would work as hard as possible to achieve the goals that you and community have set for me. As you have the right to petition your government for a redress of grievances, this seems like a major one to me.

As a person that values the environment, I understand your concern. I want what is best for the city and the people that reside here. It seems like it would be pretty easy, expectable by community standards, and just plain common sense to create an ordnance against dumping chemicals into wetlands and bodies of water if one does not exist or if there is a loophole in state law. If there is already an ordnance or law in existence on this issue, it should have a higher priority in enforcement.

Thank you for the question, I hope it gave you a better understanding of my view on this issue.

Andrew J Henderson












Oct 14, 2014

Passing the Squirt Gun

In a phone reply to my question about caring for Savage Lake, candidate Christian Torkelson reminded me that there is a candidates’ forum tonight at City Hall at 7PM. He invited me to be there to ask my question regarding the lake at the forum. I thought about it and my wife, Elvy, and I decided it would be inappropriate for us to carry the lake’s torch much further.

You might know that we have had our house for sale (by owner) for much of this summer. We’ve bought a house in Red Wing and will begin moving there as soon as next week. We have lived in Little Canada for 17 years and love this place. However, I retired last fall and we decided to slow down our pace of life, reduce the real estate we have to care for (1.4 acres and 2600 square feet of living space), and pursue travel and other interests on a considerably downsized scale. We have had the best neighbors possible on Lake Shore Ave (or Lakeshore Ave or Lakeshore Street, whichever it is called at the moment). This is a wonderful community, a beautiful neighborhood, and an amazing place to life, work, and raise a family.

One of the great disappointments I’ve had living here has been my inability to generate any interest in a lakeshore homeowners’ group. If you look at the header for this website, you’ll see I optimistically subtitled it “This blogsite is intended for lakeshore owners in Little Canada, Minnesota who have property on the shores of the much-abused Savage Lake. Your help is needed to protect this historic small lake.” My first entry in 2008 was a brief announcement, “Savage Lake has received the short shrift from the Little Canada city government and the state of Minnesota for so long that the lake is practically dead and gone. The long history of this body of water deserves more respect and this website is an attempt to begin a process of organizing lake shore property owners to begin the process of restoring the lake to recreational and scenic beauty.” I think we’ve made some solid steps toward preventing the lake from getting worse, but we haven’t done much toward making it better.

If anyone wants to take over this blog, for whatever purpose, I’d be glad to transfer Admin rights to any lake shore property owner. If not, It will sit here until Google decides it’s inactive.

I’d say “Thanks for the fish,” but Roseville Middle School pretty much wiped them out with a maintenance department chemical spill almost a decade ago. So, we’ll just stick with thanks for being our friends, neighbors, and fellow treehuggers. I think the noise barriers and other improvements we’ve battled for in the past will continue to rebuild Savage Lake and I hope the city continues to prosper.

2014 Little Canada and County Elections

2014 LC ElectionI just got a look at the 2014 mid-term election ballot for our area. The Little Canada City Offices, State Supreme Court judges, court of appeals judges, and 2nd district court judges are on one side of the ballot and the federal and state offices are on the other. At least for the purposes of this blog and our lake, the Little Canada City Offices and our local state representative are probably the most critical.

First up, the Little Canada City offices. As you can see from this section of the ballot, we have an incumbent council member, John Keis, running unopposed for mayor and seven candidates running for two council member offices. Probably a little-known fact about the Little Canada city council is that it has become a well-paid part-time job over the years, $475/month. Back when my wife ran for office in 2006, the job paid about $2,000/year. The following year the council began to regularly increase their paycheck, even when a past council woman noted it was in poor taste to do so when the economy was crashing and many local resident were seriously hurting. Now, the job pays about 3X that and amounts to a pretty good part-time job with little-to-no-qualifications necessary.

Andrew Henderson (http://www.eastmetrovoterguide.com/henderson.php) is a young, energetic recent resident who has a lot of good ideas for the city and our community. I couldn’t find anything regarding Christian Torkelson. Jeff Heikke is a young local business man who has been very involved in the city’s recreational organizations. Rocky Waite is a neighbor and someone who has a long history in Little Canada and who has been a constant defender of Savage Lake and our neighborhood. Tom Fisher (http://www.eastmetrovoterguide.com/fischer.php) is a member of the Planning Commission and a familiar face to the current commission.

I asked each of the candidates who had listed an email address on their website the following question, “Savage Lake has received fairly brutal treatment from the Ramsey County Watershed District, the DNR, MNDOT, and our city government. What would you do to help lakeshore residents to protect this disrespected natural resource?” Stay tuned, I’ll let you know what they had to say.

2014 State Election

The state office that most affects our lake and community is the State Representative for District 42B. We have to thank Jason “Ike” Isaacson for his work in getting the MNDOT ombudsman office involved in bringing a little sanity to the I35E construction process. Within a couple of days of receiving my letter about the construction crew’s all-night noise bash, Representative Isaacson had sent me a letter (published earlier in this blog) and interrupted a few MNDOT bureaucrats’ naps and got a response and some action for our community. This is a no-brainer for me.

Subtext: In a moderate effort to be upfront on my own personal bias, because John Keis was the a new council member, part of the clan who appointed Michael McGraw to office in 2007, I will write-in a candidate for mayor. When my wife ran for Little Canada City Council in 2006 after Jim Lavelle died before being able to assume office, the council chose not even to interview her even though she had received nearly 1,000 votes (about half of the winning total). The council pretty much made its choices from a collection of city insiders, Michael McGraw being the ultimate selection. From that point on, I felt that our city government arrogantly and consistently chose to ignore voters and do what they want, east coast style, and our connection to the city was never the same. Since the 2006 election, I have never voted for any of the council members who were in office at that time, usually writing-in my choices. Rocky Waite has been one of my regular city officer votes for 16 years, so it with particularly enthusiasm I will get to vote for him without having to write his name into my ballot although I’ll probably still write in his name for mayor.

Sep 11, 2014

More Backup from Our State Senator

Nobody has been a more consistent supporter of our beleaguered lake, over the years we’ve lived here, than Senator Bev Scalze. She has gone after state bureaucrats, local officials, and other state politicians any time we have asked for her help. This time, she is asking Department of Transportation Charles Zelle and Governor Dayton why the construction project in our backyards is so different from any other freeway project in past history. MnDot has clearly decided that Little Canada is a non-entity and that our city and neighborhoods are their dumping ground. In this election year, I’d expect to see some kind of response from Governor Dayton that would reflect evidence that he has some comprehension of the damage his MnDOT goons are doing to our neighborhood.

Scalze letter 1Scalze letter 2

Personally, after the “Unweave the Weave” project turned out to be such a fiasco and contributed nothing but confusion to the intersection of I35E and I694, I’d like to see someone with actual freeway construction skills oversee any major project undertaken by MnDOT. Based on my own travel experience and the sorry mess our freeways have become tanks to MnDOT’s inabilities, I have to suspect that few MnDOT “engineers” have ever visited cities that have actual traffic congestion.

Thank you, once again, Senator Scalze.

Aug 29, 2014

Confirmation, Finally

One of the things “Transportation Ombudsman Officer,” Marcell Walker (marcell.walker@state.mn.us, 651-366-3340) had promised back in early August was a letter from MNDOT confirming the construction schedule and informing residents of the noise expectations. He'd said that MNDOT's procedure was to make that announcement before construction began, but since they failed that he promised that he'd do what he could to make it happen eventually.

All last week, I'd considered calling or emailing Marcell to see if he'd found any of the construction schedule information or managed to raise a living mind at MNDOT to get that letter sent. I received my copy ("to current resident") on Wednesday. Now, we have a couple of things: including the "project website" mndot.gov/metro/projects/35estpaul, the nightwork project schedule mndot.gov/metro/projects/35estpaul/nightwork.html, a project hotline (612/284-1781), and confirmation of the noise wall schedules.

Aug 20, 2014

Stay Tuned, Things Might Get Better

About the time it seems things could not get worse, that view turns out to be wrong. Like Mark Twain's condition and to paraphrase his response, the report of our lake's sad fate may have been an exaggeration. The complaints from our neighbors about MNDOT's abuse of the lake with the freeway drainage plan some carefully planted suggestions that our business neighbor, Gopher Electronics, has been less than environmentally conscious has drawn the attention of an otherwise slumbering bureaucracy, the DNR.

A few weeks ago, Rocky Waite dropped by and introduced someone from the DNR office who had seen the articles on this blog regarding MNDOT's drainage damage. She made a lap around some of the lakeshore and found enough evidence of abuse to recommend work be done on the lake. Who knows, we might even have some help, finally, with the Eurasian Watermilfoil and nonnative waterlilies. It's pretty obvious that efforts to control those species are failing in Gervais Lake and a lap around our lake would demonstrate where the seeds for the downstream contamination are coming from.

Rocky has put a lot of time, thought, and effort into getting attention for our lake and we all owe him a big "thanks" for his work. He has been a persistent advocate for Savage Lake and our neighborhood for the nearly two decades that I have known him.

At any rate, it sounds like we might see some serious dredging action where the freeway has filled the lake with silt and freeway runoff. The drainage problems from Gopher Electronics might get addressed, too.

The freeway construction project seems to be making a reasonable effort to contain construction noise late at night and that has brought back a little peace and quiet to our neighborhood. Our state representative, Jason Isaacson (rep.jason.isaacson@house.mn), has been extremely helpful in getting some attention brought to this issue and it wouldn't hurt to let him know we appreciate his efforts.

Aug 13, 2014

Today’s Abuse

IMG_6290 The noise pollution from today’s environmentally irresponsible MNDOT abuse of Savage Lake came from a giant pile driver inserting these pieces of steel into our side (the west side) of the lake. Nothing good can come from this, I suspect.

The other day, Rocky Waite brought a representative of the DNR to look at the sorry state of our lake. He’s trying to convince the Powers That Be that the lake height is unnaturally low and that is contributing the lake’s demise. Fifteen years ago, our lake had a small spring near the north eastern corner. In most years, even when the water level was “low” (for the time) that corner of the lake didn’t freeze over until well into the winter. After the mess the Watershed District made of the drain on the east side and the water level dropped dramatically, the spring seemed to have re-routed itself. MNDOT followed that with the entrance ramp and bridge drain near the middle of the south-bound entrance ramp. That drain dumped tons of sediment into the lake until it overwhelmed itself and clogged with its own sediment. That turned the spring corner into a silt island, which the Watershed District has been ignoring with its pointless measurements and water samples for a decade.

IMG_6289With the latest MNDOT addition to the freeway, the irresponsible I35E drainage is bound to be even more aggressively harmful to the lake and our peace and quiet. I suppose this is pretty much what it feels like to be a second-class citizen. I suppose the only thing MNDOT and the Watershed District will have left to do to our lake will be to install a rest stop along the lakeshore with toilets that dump directly into the lake. I can hardly wait. 

Aug 7, 2014

Getting Attention

I have always been a believer in “you get the government you deserve.” Americans are well known as being one of the most pacified, conservative (timid), and easiest to fool citizens in the industrialized world. In simple terms, we’re whipped.

After my rant about the freeway construction last week, I decided to do the least “something” I could manage and I wrote a letter to our state representatives:

From: Thomas Day
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2014 2:02 PM
To: sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn; rep.jason.isaacson@house.mn
Subject: Little Canada noise

It is pretty obvious that Little Canada residents are considered to be throwaway citizens, based on the indiscriminate noise generation of the current I35E construction and the "plan" to widen the freeway without consideration for the noise pollution we'll suffer as a result. If the state had a functional EPA that actually monitored the noise level highway construction and freeway expansion in neighborhoods, we might be receiving some protection from the uncontrolled, irrational expansion of our barely-taxed (as in overbuilt) freeway system and the multiple pollution sources that idiocy generates. Since we seem to be barreling toward becoming another Texas, in every moronic respect, citizens are constantly out-voted by special interests.

Having been kept awake almost every night for the last two months by the unregulated, inconsiderate construction schedule just across Savage Lake from I35E, I have about had it with Minnesota and, especially, the Cities. Residents of the other side of the lake are even closer to these vandals and corporate criminals and they have all of my sympathy.

Why this place would want to model itself after Houston, Dallas, Chicago, and other mismanged urban hell-holes is beyond me, but it appears that is the direction our quality of life is degrading. If I thought we had a functioning civil court system, I'd consider hiring a lawyer to shut this project down until some semblance of sanity raised its head out of the muck. Minneapolis is regulating noise in night clubs while St. Paul is turning into a noise pollution nightmare. Clearly, the closer to the state government one lives, the dumber the environment. I'm only 66, so I'm not old enough to remember a time when this country was a "nation of laws," but at one time I believed Minnesota was a place where government served the people instead of itself. I've lost that faith along with several months of reasonable peace and quiet.

Sincerely,
Thomas Day

Yeah, I admit I was a little over the top. A couple weeks of little-to-no sleep will do that to me. I also pretty much assumed that my note would vanish into the void of state government. So, you might assume I was surprised when I received a call from the “Transportation Ombudsman Office.” Marcell Walker (marcell.walker@state.mn.us, 651-366-3340), the MNDOT representative, asked if we could meet so he could hear my complaints and any suggestions I might have to mitigate the intolerable noise in our neighborhood. Monday, Mr. Walker and I spent several hours in our backyard discussing the noise, what could be done to moderate it or make it less offensive, and other issues regarding our neighborhood and the freeway. True to form, he said I was the only person from Little Canada to complain about the construction noise. He admitted that isn’t unusual. He offered to do some investigation into the construction schedule and get back to me with what he learns. So far, I haven’t heard back from him, but if some of you were to offer some verbal or electronic input we might learn something.

All of the links I’ve previously posted about the construction plan and schedule have been taken down by the state. I can’t guess why. Mr. Walker suggested that, as property owners near this project, we should have received something more than the city’s notice that our noise ordinances would be ignored for an indefinite period. The reason the jack hammering is going on all night is because the construction company is concerned with flying concrete shrapnel from that work and is too unconcerned with our neighborhood’s peace and quiet to bother with putting up screens so that work could go on during the day. The rest of the noise they are generating could likely be modified with some motivation, but if we’re willing to put up with being abused I’m sure they will be willing to offer plenty of abuse.

I’d like to thank Representative Jason Isaacson (rep.jason.isaacson@house.mn) for forwarding my email to the department that might be able to help. I’d like to thank Marcell Walker for taking the time to seriously listen to the noise in our neighborhood and trying to help.

Jul 28, 2014

The High Cost of Non-Representative Government

noise_pollution A few months back, Savage Lake residents and (possibly) other Little Canada residents received a notice that the city would be ignoring the noise ordinance so that construction on the massively unnecessary I35E boondoggle could “progress” unimpeded by law, reason, or conscience. The city council and city management can do this sort of thing because some of those folks barely qualify as residents, let alone victims of their discriminating decisions.

noise_pollution2 It doesn’t take long to discover how much this construction damages Little Canada home prices. From every antle, Roseville prices are consistently higher, except immediately along Gervais Lake. In fact, if it weren’t for the pricy Gervais Lake properties, Little Canada real estate would more resemble St. Paul’s market than any of the more prosperous suburbs.

The first thing any prospective home buyer says when they step into most of our backyards is “How do you stand all that noise?” If I35E were an urban airport, the state would have to provide us with noise abatement resources; special windows, improved wall and roof construction techniques, and even financial considerations for those whose property values have been damaged by the airport traffic. Freeway construction, on the other hand, appears to be an uncontrolled Big Brother pork barrel party with no restrictions, regulation, or obligation on anyone’s part.

Niosh_OshaNoiseLimits Contrary to uninformed popular belief, OSHA standards are not intended to protect workers from health injuries. Their real purpose is to provide protection from liaSbility for employers. It is common audiologist and scientific knowledge that the outdated OSHA standards have been replaced with NIOSH’s current recommendations. Currently, my backyard exceeds OSHA standards for factory noise safety. Regardless, there seems to be no concern for the health of Little Canada residents; physically or economically. In a participatory democracy, you would hope that would result in a complete overthrow of our current city government in the next election. It’s pretty obvious that Minnesota voters do not have enough energy or gumption to participate in their government. Personally, I’d vote for anyone opposing any of the standing City Council. In fact, I have written-in my own candidates in every election since

To be clear about this, the adverse health effects of noise pollution are not only well known, but they were identified in the 1950’s. One of the reasons Americans have not been up in arms about this aspect of our degraded quality of life is one of the effects of noise pollution is called “learned helplessness syndrome.” In fact, for many urban voters this might be the reason that rural areas tend to have a higher election turnout than urban areas; providing those places with a greater governmental clout than their populations and economies warrant. So, thanks to noise pollution, our kids are getting dumber and less healthy and energetic, adults are sicker and unmotivated to improve their environments or properly care for their children,

This is one of the many places where our status as “consumers” overwhelms our rights as “citizens.” The rights of the state, the county, our city government, and the corporation raking in construction profits blows city residents and our quality of life out of the water; literally. In the last 18 years, there haven’t been many things that have motivated us to leave our Little Canada house, except the freeway noise. It has exponentially grown worse over the years and is now intolerable. I’m sure there is reason to hold out some hope that the noise barrier, if ever built, will abate this mess somewhat, but at my age that won’t be soon enough. It would be interesting to learn what compensation the city received for the noise regulation allowance and even more interesting to know why the people most affected by this construction received nothing for their suffering.

Jun 11, 2014

City Council Meeting Notes Catch-Up

The Little Canada City Council notes are always a little depressing. After years of monitoring our city’s management, not thinking about the direction our city is heading for a few months has been relaxing. I've been out of state for a while and this is the moment I have to catch up on the Little Canada City Council meeting notes regarding our lake and neighborhood. Here's a scattering of topics that have come up over the last year:

2014

Nothing new, so far, regarding any of the Savage Lake or I35E noise issues. Conversations about MNDOT’s noise barrier constructions along the new, widened I35E corridor have been notably absent. While I was in New Mexico, I received a call from a Star Tribune reporter regarding the comments I’ve made about the freeway noise in our neighborhood. After demoting/promoting me from an educator/engineer/acoustician into a “retired electrician,” the reporter briefly summarized our noise problems into a couple of sound bites. I guess some attention to our problem is better than none, but not much. The reporter semi-quoted me with, “’We’ve picked up 6 to 8 decibels [of noise] in our back yard just in the past few years,’ he [me] said. ‘When traffic is at its peak, you can’t have a normal conversation in our back yard. We have to shout at each other.’” Unfortunately, he left out the fact that the increases have put our backyards well above the sadly conservative and outdated OSHA guidelines well known to cause hearing damage and a variety of health problems.

To protect the noise-makers, OSHA and the EPA (and all MN state regulators) use “A-weighting.” A conveniently forgotten fact about the noise weighting curves is that they were designed to be used with specific noise levels; accounting for the fact that our hearing response is dependent on noise levels. Even more important to remember, all of the weighting curves were determined by sine wave testing, not broadband noise exposure. So, A-weighting was intended for “extremely low level” signals, –55dB unweighted and below. C-weighting is appropriate for 80dB and above noise exposure. The “advantage” of using A-weighting for everything is that A-weighting deletes/attenuates the low frequency content of the noise measurement, allowing for considerably more noise than is actually sensed (or causing damage) in the specification. If you look at the yellow graph line, vs. the red one, you’ll see that an A-weighted 30Hz signal can be ~25dB louder for the same weighting reading in C-weighting. The overwhelming majority of noises from roadway traffic are low frequency, especially at distance. While A-weighting makes reducing noise levels much easier for the noise makers and regulators, it is inappropriate in most public safety standards. If you still labor under the drunken delusion that government regulations hinder industry, you’ll have to ignore all of the above information to maintain your fantasies. Most regulations are intended to protect people with money and power from being sued by people without.

Stay tuned. I’ve started a 24-hour noise study in our backyard. I’ll post the results when I have some data to talk about.

2013

12/18/2013

“Brian Singletary indicated that his property taxes are doubling for 2014. Singletary asked the basis for this increase. He also noted that he lives near Highway 36 and expressed concern about the noise from this highway. The City Administrator noted that the increase in Singletary’s property taxes is the result of his new home reaching a fully taxed status for 2013, pay 2014 property taxes. The Administrator also explained that the City has no authority relative to sound walls along freeways, and this is an issue that is under MN DOT’s control. The Administrator reported that MN DOT has many standards in place that will trigger the construction of noise walls. He noted that given there are no changes proposed along this portion of Highway 36, therefore, MN DOT standards would not be triggered to put up a noise wall.”

11/25/2013

“. . . Mayor Blesener noted that the City hired SEH Engineering to conduct a traffic study on LaBore Road from Edgerton Street to County Road D. The City Administrator presented the results of that study at the last Council meeting. . . Sohrweide reported that studies have indicated that if drivers feel a 4-way stop is unwarranted, in time they will only slow for the stop sign or do a slow roll-through. Sohrweide also pointed out that this area of LaBore Road is basically a residential through street. . . ” Which begs the question, if we know pointless multi-direction stops get ignored, what’s the purpose of the trio of stop signs at Jackson and Lake Streets? Can you say, “Tax collection disguised as traffic violations?”

May 23, 2014

Dead Deer Floating in the Middle of the Lake

Probably more than a few of you have noticed we have a dead dear in the water about 40' out from our house on the west end of the lake. We called the city and Bryce Shearen came out to look at the situation. He said the city doesn't have a way to remove an animal from the lake. Apparently, a deer left in the water long enough to decompose will weigh 2-3 times its original weight, approximately 300 pounds, when the fur gets saturated. It's pretty obvious the deer is decomposing, not just from the smell, but because ribs are showing and body parts are separating. Our next shot will be to call the Watershed district, but Bryce didn't give much hope for that option.

Bryce called a guy the city has used in the past for animal removal and he said our best option might be to tow the deer further into the lake, where it will sink and decompose naturally. So, unless there is some objection, workable alternative, or a better idea, I'm probably going to pull what I can of the body into the deep section of the lake and hope it sinks. If it does, the snappers will finish off the job in a month or so.

So, if you see me in the lake hauling a dead body behind the canoe. It's a deer. ;-)

Jan 22, 2014

Watershed District Meeting

In case you weren't on the mailing list:

You are invited to the following event:
Community Confluence: Where Conversations Meet
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Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Thursday, January 30, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM (CST)
Maplewood Community Center
Room C & D (doors open at 6:15 pm)
2100 White Bear Avenue
Maplewood, MN 55109

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This is a reminder we have our Community Confluence: Where Conversations Meet event coming up next Thursday, January 30th, 2014.  If you would like to attend please click on the green 'Attend Event' button above.  We look forward to seeing you there!

We would like to invite you to gather with us along with your friends and neighbors as we look forward to the next 10 years in the Watershed. We collected your concerns and solutions through our fall Community Conversations meetings and also through phone calls, emails and social media sites. Click HERE to find a summary of the input we’ve received so far.


Now it’s time to prioritize those issues and actions to provide guidance in developing our 10 year watershed management plan! We welcome all to attend. Please pass this invitation on to anyone you think may be interested.

Come enjoy awesome refreshments and music and share your valued input! For more information contact Sage Passi, Watershed Education Specialist at sage.passi@rwmwd.org or 651-792-7958.



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We hope you can make it!

Cheers,
Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District
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