Concern about sound walls

According to the Valley Sun (“City inches toward sound walls,” May 19) The City Council has decided to take steps toward erecting sound walls along the 210 Freeway through our city. That may be good news. On the other hand, what kind of sound walls are we getting?

Going back more than a decade, it has been stated numerous times that with our valley topography, we need sound-absorbing walls. In other words, Caltrans sound-reflecting walls will not get the job done. I believe Parsons Corporation calculated that sound-reflecting walls would be as high as 16 feet and would therefore compete with the multistory parking structure in the Town Center for the ultimate eyesore in our city. It is far from certain that most La Cañadans would go for 16-foot inefficient sound walls vs. living with the freeway noise.

The question now becomes rather simple. Who writes the specifications for the sound-wall design? I may be mistaken, but I do not believe our city staff has any acoustic experts. The City Council has appointed a sound wall ad-hoc committee. I don’t know what the committee’s assignment is. Hopefully its members have acoustic expertise in their midst. If not, with JPL and Caltech in our neighborhood, talent to write precise specifications should not be difficult to find. Without clear specifications, we will only get what the lowest bidder has to offer.

Some may ask, what is a sound-absorbing wall? It has to do with the elements (stones, blocks, bricks) used for the wall, their configuration, their mass, and how they are placed relative to each other. Of course, where the walls are located is also critical.

So, dear City Council members, who is writing the specifications you are sending out, requesting bids for the sound wall design?

Erik B. Fiske

La Cañada Flintridge


A thank you to Conrad’s

Being the last of something can conjure many things. A sense of failure if taking an exam, or defeat if running a marathon. It can also elicit a sense of sadness when referring to something that was once here and now is no more. The Last Waltz, the Last of the Mohicans, the Last Supper.

My family and I were literally the last ones to break bread and finally exit Conrad's Family Restaurant in La Cañada late on Sunday, its last night.

Vons had chosen not to renew Conrad's lease. I come not to bury Vons but to praise Conrad's, the Bissias family and the staff who kept customers sated and happy for more than 40 years.

Peter Bissias and I shared memories of our LCHS days (He was in the Class of '77, I graduated in ‘'79) and we talked about his father Nick, who opened the La Cañada eatery in 1968.

Julie, our server, hugged us as we left and we asked whether or not she had a new job. Luckily, she had found one.

The all-purpose diner/coffee shop/restaurant is truly a sine qua non in American culture and Conrad's was right out of central casting. It was the ready remedy for spontaneous get-togethers when friends or family dropped by. Sad news and sobering discussions, also, seemed to go down better with a slice of pie and an endless cup of coffee.

My mind recalls the image of Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks.” That's the Conrad's I'll always remember. A late-night refuge where concerns and ideas could float in conversation and be solved, or even keep until another time.

There will remain other eating establishments in La Cañada, but I believe that this particular restaurant will be missed. As Joni Mitchell sang, “Don't you know it always goes, that you don't know what you got till it's gone.”

Thank you, Conrad's, for 43 years of a beautiful friendship.

Daniel Baker

La Cañada


On going public

Re: “Be careful, words do count,” Piece of Mind column, May 19: As a parent of a son on Scott Comstock’s Pinto 7 WhiteSox team, I wished you had checked your facts as a good writer should. Karl Bathke, our League president, is right on when he says Scott is a gem.

I will go on record that Scott was one of the coaches that just really “got it” when it came to coaching young boys. It wasn't about winning our games, it was about our boys developing as better baseball players, growing into really neat kids and just enjoying the ups and downs of the season. Because of Scott, my son swings the bat so much better, something I know I couldn't have taught. His sense of humor was hilarious, in my opinion (and he warned us about it). I looked forward to his game reports and his emails. If he coaches next year, I would beg the league for my son to be on his team once again.

Please check your facts and talk to the rest of the parents on this team. I'm sure they would say the same. Perhaps just privately talking to Scott about his comments would have been appropriate, instead of going viral and creating an Op-Ed piece on this. I'm sure Scott would have gotten the message loud and clear. He is a dad and fantastic baseball coach.

In my opinion, it was bad choice to go public with this.

Gil Aviles



The words we use matter

In her May 19th column, Carol Cormaci chose to criticize a local youth baseball coach because, in an attempt at humor, he prepared a game report that used the age old joke of “kicking the dog” after a bad day. In her words, “to use animal (or human) cruelty as a metaphor for disappointment shows a basic misunderstanding of how the world works today. It just can’t be done.” Although many people I spoke to read the coach’s words as a harmless attempt at humor, I can understand how some would find no humor in his words.

We all agree animal cruelty is a serious matter. We can also all agree that the words we use matter. But shouldn’t the words used by the local press also matter? Isn’t it the responsibility of newspaper editors to recognize when the source of certain words is a citizen volunteer, and not a public figure or media professional?

Ms. Cormaci could have made her point without making it personal. Instead, she chose to call out the coach by name resulting in undue attention and embarrassment for the coach, his family, and the families on his team. This coach has made a tremendous contribution to La Cañada youth sports and certainly didn’t deserve Ms. Cormaci’s public criticism.

La Cañada Baseball Softball Association has been serving La Cañada since 1955. This year the league consists of more than 800 boys and girls on 70 teams, with more than 150 coaches and other volunteers that contribute countless hours of time to the youth of La Cañada. Teams played approximately 800 games and thousands of game reports have been prepared by coaches over the course of the season highlighting the fun and excitement enjoyed by our players and families. Another great season is coming to an end and I’m not going to let Ms. Cormaci’s column tarnish that, which I’m sure she does not intend.

The words we choose do matter. In the future, I hope Ms. Cormaci can use some her words to focus on the tremendous contribution volunteer coaches make to our community and the thousands of kids that have played baseball and softball in La Cañada.

Rob Valencia

La Cañada Flintridge

The writer is vice president of Baseball for the La Cañada Baseball Softball Association.

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