The flashing sign says "road construction 5/2-8/27/2010," but we just received notification of what is being constructed with this month's Burbank Water and Power bill.
I was hoping to read that some extraordinarily energy-efficient modifications were being made, or perhaps another set of stacks that billow steam into the Burbank sky. New offices for utility employees? After all, a full block was literally torn up, sidewalks, gutters, half the street, all the trees, bushes, lawns, retaining walls, buildings and who knows what else buried beneath it all.
The green notice in my bill advised me of what all the commotion is about: green street improvements coming to Lake Street, which is "being converted into an attractive, pedestrian-friendly environment … new trees, new shrubs, energy-efficient lighting."
I drive that area quite often and very rarely see pedestrians walking this industrial block. Why would all these funds be spent for this seldom-visited area, especially when the front page of the Aug. 7 Leader has an article proclaiming "City trying to pool resources." Why not divert the newly lit sidewalk funds to reconstructing the badly missed Verdugo Park pool? After all, it's been empty since 2008!
It's so disappointing to see misdirected funds. Why hasn't there been any mention of the detours and construction in the Burbank Leader? Where is the City Council in all this? Do these improvements require their approval? Oh wait, there's that 15% rate hike, so the money must be burning a hole in the proverbial pocket.
I'm anxiously awaiting completion of this "aesthetic and environmental project" to see how many pedestrians pass by. Maybe about as few that ride their bikes on Verdugo Avenue?
City employees should take pay cuts
It was mentioned in the July 3 article "Water execs in line for raise" that Ron Davis had been offered a job with Austin Energy. Therefore, Burbank needed to give our utility executives big salary increases since conservation had worked so well and revenues are down, as well as increasing our rates.
I would like to point out to our City Council that Burbank Water and Power serves 51,000 customers while Austin Energy serves 388,000 people, and so Davis would naturally make more money working there.
Maybe it would have been better for Burbank to let him take the job with Austin Energy. With so many people out of work, I am sure you could have found a competent person to run our facility at Davis' previous salary.
It is gratifying to know that city employees in Redondo Beach, Signal Hill, Santa Fe Springs and Bellflower have reduced their pay or declined merit bonuses in these hard economic times.
Don't aspire to be a transportation hub
Every single time a plane takes off from Bob Hope Airport, or a train pulls out from one of our train stations, an unholy amount of poisonous gas belches out into our immediate atmosphere. A similar noxious mixture is emitted by the thousands of cars, trucks, cabs and livery vehicles that drop goods and people off at the terminals every day.
With our backs up against the Verdugo Mountains on the east and the prevailing winds coming in from the west, that ominous fuming soup has little choice but to fall directly on our front lawns, shops, schools and playgrounds.
Recently, a story on the Leader website announced that La Cañada Flintridge had the highest life expectancy of any city in Los Angeles County (87.8 years), and Burbank was a distant 37th (81.2 years). Funny, I don't hear La Cañada clamoring to make itself into a "transportation hub" any time soon, do you?
I would assume that the No. 1 transportation complex this side of Chicago would be L.A. International Airport. Have you been by there lately? It's one ugly pile of filthy warehouses, dingy brown-tinged hotels and gargantuan traffic jams.
Is this the great future the Burbank City Council envisions for our city? Then God help us all.
Richard J. Tafilaw