Letters to the editor for May 1


Published: Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 4:52 p.m.

The Koppers elephant

The elephant in Gainesville's living room is rarely mentioned. That will change today when the joint city and county commission meets at the County Administration Building to address the Koppers Superfund Cleanup Site.

Declared a Superfund Site decades ago, Koppers continues to operate. The site has not been cleaned up from past misuse, and as its contaminants travel underground, the safety of the city's water supply is, with each passing day, further jeopardized. Contaminated dust spreads from the site to adjacent neighborhoods and its untreated storm water pollutes Springstead Creek.

The cleanup of the Koppers plant is paramount to the health and well being of every person in Gainesville. If you care about whether Gainesville is a wholesome place to live, please attend. Your presence is important.

Harriet and Jeffrey Roth,

Gainesville

Neighborhoods at risk

There is a very important joint meeting of the city and county commissions today at 5 p.m. at the county administration building. Its focus is to discuss the status of the Superfund cleanup site located at Koppers 90-acre property on the eastern border of our Stephen Foster Neighborhood.

Very little is ever mentioned regarding the daily impact this site has on the health of individuals like myself who live in the neighborhood. We must live with nuisance noise from operating hydraulic equipment and contaminated dust which billows from on-site directly into our lungs, onto our soils, and through our windows.

Our city's main water well field is in imminent danger of contamination from multiple toxic chemicals. And our neighborhood, Springstead Creek, receives untreated stormwater from the northwest side of Koppers property every time it rains. This Superfund site has been known to us since 1983.

My hope is that many in our community will take this opportunity to speak directly to our commissioners and the staffers who will be giving presentations.

Sharon Sheets,

Gainesville

Hazards in the creek

Did you know our city commissioners are fighting to have a one-stop homeless assistance center put right next to a polluted Superfund site?

Commissioners are luring the city's destitute, needy and homeless to a site where they know the homeless will bath themselves, wash their things and water themselves and their pets in a tainted creek. The creek's soil and water are polluted with a plethora of toxic chemicals.

Contaminants detected in water samples, taken right next to the proposed site, consist of: phthalates, carbon disulfide and barium. Soil samples taken in the same spot were found to contain barium, chromium, lead and vanadium. Many other contaminators, like mercury, were also found very close to where these samples were taken.

The contaminants found right near the one-stop center site cause cancer, neurological and developmental damage and target the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and liver. Phthalates have already banned in Europe because they cause cancer, among other problems.

I and others have informed the mayor and commissioners about these toxins, repeatedly. Yet, they will not discard this site as "the spot" for the one-stop homeless assistance center. It is part of their "10-year program to end homelessness" in our city, but is it really the answer?

Jennifer Muir,

Gainesville

Rev. Wright is wrong

After hearing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.'s latest outburst, I decided to voice my opinion. Wright does not speak for black America.

If he thought that America was responsible for 9/11, why didn't he speak out on 9/12? He must hate Barack Obama very much to wait until Obama (who has come farther than any black American) came so close to being the next president to spew so much negativism.

Prejudice was here before the Rev. Wright was born and it will be here after he leaves. He should read Ezekiel 11:19, only God can change a heart. No matter what he says, it will only further divide the races if people listen to him.

The Rev. Wright is like some others that I know who love the publicity and media attention.

Obama has received endorsements from prominent white Americans who believe that he can make a change. I say to you, keep believing in him.

I have attended a local church all of my life and my pastor does not say the things the Rev. Wright says. I know there are other churches whose members will say the same thing. I was always told "loose lips sink ships."

Bettye Stoney Allen,

Gainesville

Another fine regression

While emerging Asian countries stress teaching of science and engineering, and Asian students are inexorably matriculating in U.S. universities to earn graduate degrees in these crucial areas, the Florida Senate has passed a bill that allows public school teachers to challenge the scientific theory of evolution, a bill that could encourage teaching creationism.

I consider this regression another fine mess that George Bush and his faith-based administration have gotten us into!

Jerry G. Fossum,

Gainesville

Bespoiling our jewels

Once upon a time, there was a pleasant little city with good, well-intentioned people, governed by good, mostly well-intentioned leaders.

But all the people wore blinders and could only see in one direction. The city was surrounded by beautiful jewels, rare and valuable, although fragile.

It came to pass that the people wanted their city to grow as others had and so, in the rush to move forward, the jewels were trampled and destroyed. And the people never knew what had been lost. End of sad story.

My blinders were removed recently while helping clean up garbage around Mill Creek Sink, in Alachua, near I-75 and U.S. 441. I've driven past it many times, knew there was a sinkhole there somewhere but never realized its beauty.

The sink is steep-sided and deep, presently with a pool of clear blue water at the rocky bottom. Ferns and rare plants grow down the sides because of the unusually cool climate. The adjacent woods contain trails alongside ancient cypress trees. While there you forget about the traffic on 441 a few feet away. It's like being in a park.

Water from sinkholes on land where the Wal-Mart Supercenter is proposed to be built flows into here, then into Hornsby Spring and the Santa Fe River. The cities of Alachua and High Springs are fortunate to be this close to the Santa Fe and Ichetucknee rivers with their many interconnected springs. Not only are these a source of our drinking water, but a valuable tourist attraction.

Why then build "big box" stores, with the resulting heavy traffic and polluted runoff from parking lots, right in the midst of this unique and fragile area? Why the headlong rush to turn it into just another shopping center?

Sara Long,

Alachua

Here's a 'fair trade'

A new "fair trade" agreement: Whatever the U.S. ships to oil-producing countries should be priced according to what they are charging us for oil. And whatever food we produce here, stays here!

Sylvia Hollifield,

Gainesville

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