Time to make long-term decisions about Highway 61

Having read Sara Moore’s article in the July 31 issue (“2 new traffic lights proposed for bus line”), I have some observations to share. My hope in starting this discussion is that many of you will chime in, especially our legislative leaders and those who are making decisions or who previously made decisions that changed U.S. Highway 61 through White Bear Lake’s core downtown.

What I feel our community should be openly talking about:

• Why did the 2007 death of Brittany Nelson on Highway 61 result in a large fence, rather than safety changes to the highway? Why was a crossing signal after her death installed at Seventh instead of Eighth Street where the fence ends? Why does a future bus station tucked behind a successful local business now make a signal at Eighth viable?

• Why was the much-needed pedestrian crossing signal at Whitaker not installed during the 2013-2014 beautification of U.S. Highway 61, but which seems to be no issue to accommodate Rush Line’s future?

• Why is there such a willingness from the (Rush Line) Policy Advisory Committee to suggest moving the highway for mass transit to accommodate pedestrians, yet local decision-makers opted for broad, expensive, planted medians with fixed structures over having a continuous and safe place for people to walk and bike the length of the corridor?

• Should this road be re-classified and can its original intent for the area be changed or shared with another road? More importantly, what do WE as citizens, business owners, parents, retirees, kids, or dogs, want from this stretch of land?

If these proposed signals happen, we will have a traffic light at every cross street from Hwy. 96 to the north to White Bear Avenue to the south. This signals the overwhelming need we have to stop traffic and get across the highway.

It’s time we stopped reacting and duct-taping solutions to this vital corridor. Let’s be in control of our town’s legacy and personality. Let’s make a statement and reshape this corridor to finally play a positive, guiding role in White Bear Lake’s long-term personal safety, livability and economic development.

Michael Brooks

White Bear Lake

 

Country already under threat

Mike Gibbons’ letter (July 31) in response to Dr. Reitman's sincere question (July 17) of what he might do if we have a situation similar to Hitler's Germany where people were rounded up simply because of their ethnicity or other classifications was hard to comprehend. In it, Mr. Gibbons repeated the current right-wing talking points designed to make liberals seem scary and out of touch by obediently using the latest label, "socialist," and spreading the troubling belief that main street media news is false. It is curious to me that Mr. Gibbons is not concerned with how our country is already under threat. Does he not know that every expert has confirmed that the 2016 election was influenced by a hostile, foreign power, Russia, a country that is currently aiming to do it again? Does it not concern him that the Trump campaign welcomed this help and shared polling data (including data from Minnesota) with Russia? Does it not concern him that no one in the Trump campaign reported contacts by Russia to the FBI? Does it not concern him that there are 10 instances of Trump's obstruction of justice, a situation that will lead to his indictment when he leaves the presidency? Does it not concern him that Mitch McConnell has blocked every bill to help prevent foreign interference in our elections?

Who is benefiting from getting about 35-40% of the population to turn against fellow Americans who greatly love this country using a "divide-and-conquer" strategy? Who is benefiting from getting people who also love this country to believe that liberals are enemies and actual, legitimate news is "fake?" Follow the money, and you will find it is wealthy, powerful persons who are financially benefiting, not Mr. Gibbons.

Although I doubt it's possible, I'd ask Mr. Gibbons to try to open his mind to the possibility that the "other outlets that tell the other side of the story" are, in fact, propaganda to keep the rich and powerful in charge of this country, not him, others like him, or any of us. We should fear an oligarchy. 

Louise DiCesare

Mahtomedi

 

Enforce stipulation agreement as written

Thank you for publishing the article detailing Water Gremlin’s daily exceedances of DCE above 70 µg/m³ (“Neighbors still keeping watch over Water Gremlin,” Aug. 7). This limit was set in the stipulation agreement signed March 1 between Water Gremlin and MPCA in section tt.

The Neighborhood Concerned Citizens Group’s point of view continues to be that daily limits of DCE emissions by Water Gremlin are important. Prior to Water Gremlin’s current use of DCE, our community has been exposed to 17-plus years of excessive TCE emissions (a carcinogenic volatile organic compound). The full impact of excessive TCE emissions is not known since many conditions such as cancer, auto-immune deficiencies and neurological disorders don’t show up for years. 

When Water Gremlin operations were restarted on March 1, 2019, with the new chemical DCE, they weren’t starting with a clean slate. They restarted as a company in violation of the law and, as a company that in 2018 alone exposed our community to 120 tons of TCE. They were permitted to release 10 tons/year.  That is 12 times their allowed limit. TCE is a chemical the State of Minnesota came close to banning outright in May of 2019 because of its toxicity and will continue to work on moving forward. 

Water Gremlin didn’t have the right to expose our community to excessive amounts of the carcinogenic TCE chemical. This prior exposure amplifies why we are very concerned about daily limits for DCE.  DCE is a product that is very similar to TCE and a product that is not well studied. 

These daily exceedances are particularly important to us because many of us in the community continue to question whether DCE is a safe alternative to TCE.  DCE has very limited testing. The 90 ton per year limit was set based on limited data. The chemicals used by this company and others should be studied before they are able to be used — particularly in an area that is more residential than industrial. 

We request the stipulation agreement be enforced as it is written.  

Kelly Tapkan

Neighborhood Concerned Citizens Group

White Bear Township

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