Saturday, May 28, 2011

Captions By Tobias

Our bike trailer.

Warm apples.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Progress, Pain, Cost, Risk, and the Greater Good

My sister Heather wrote an excellent post describing how disillusioned she is by the decision of the Sioux Center City Council to approve the Sandy Hollow gun range, despite being presented strong evidence of it's risk, and over 400 signatures from those opposed.

These are some thoughts that I wanted to add to hers:

There are risks in all areas of life. And yes, "progress" sometimes causes pain, and it costs something. As a pregnant woman, I'm well aware that that the progress of bringing another child into the world will involve risk and pain, and it will cost something. There's road construction near my house. There's an element of risk there to the workers working with construction equipment. The progress will cost the city money, and the detour I am sure is causing excess noise to a residential community, for a short time.

There is a tiny element of truth in most lies, and I think this idea that
"a little risk is OK, a little pain is OK, progress always has it's costs" is one of the ideas causing people to support the gun range. However, they are failing to realize the bigger truth that whenever possible, a good leader will minimize the risks, and the risks are borne by consenting adults, hopefully for a short time in order to have a long-term gain. A good leader follows the reasonable recommendations of expert organizations: I take my vitamins and eat healthy and get prenatal care, and I see the construction workers using safety equipment and directing traffic away from workers. A good leader speaks up for those less powerful than himself.

People undertake the risk of having children, building roads, etc. because the situation of never having children, or continuing to use an old and overcrowded road system would be, in the long run, more dangerous and risky than the temporary risks of pregnancy and road construction.

These situations are entirely different than the situation of the gun range, where the City Council (and others) are asking someone else to bear long-term or permanent risks, costs, and pain of "progress" that isn't essential at all, and meanwhile ignoring the safety recommendations of experts such as the NRA and EPA.

John Byl, president of NIOSC, the gun club planning to build the range, said

"All progress is not good for everyone in the community." (quote in Northwest Iowa Review).

I think this statement admits that the gun range plan would have a significant negative impact on a lot of people, including neighbors of Sandy Hollow and people who do or would participate in other recreational activities there.

I think Heather's post excellently demonstrates that the thinking behind approving this range just isn't right, and it is a shame to those that approved it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sandy Hollow: Better Options

Hello readers! I feel that perhaps my last few Sandy Hollow posts, by necessity, have been a little information heavy and negative. I do not know what the next steps will be in the process of trying to stop the gun range. Today I would like you to help me brainstorm some great ideas that could be done that would not be controversial, that would allow current attractions such as camping and fishing to continue undisturbed, that would not decrease the quality of life and property value for Sandy Hollow area residents, and that would not present a safety and health risk. Some ideas that have been proposed so far, plus a few of my own, are:

  • Three hole golf course. putting green, driving range and mini-golf. This level of golf activity would not compete with the Ridge and would likely foster more desire in people to actually golf at the Ridge, which would increase their business.
  • Facilities for sporting activities such roller hockey, volleyball, and disc golf could be made or upgraded
  • Ponds, beaches and shorelines could be improved. There are many people that enjoy fishing and swimming at Sandy Hollow, and these improvements would increase their numbers.
  • Improve the camping facilities and add camping spots. As other improvements are added more campers will come. They will spend money in Sioux Center also.
  • Improve and add shelter houses
  • Prairie, wetland, or nature areas with walking trails
  • Connect the bike trail to Orange city, which is connected to Alton
  • Archery range
  • Community gardens
  • Cabins that could be used for camping, family reunions, etc. I have enjoyed spending time with family at Inspiration Hills at their cabins, which are available year round, and I think something similar would be great at Sandy Hollow.
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Low ropes course for teamwork activities
  • Outdoor exercise and fitness equipment such as that available on the Orange City/Alton bike trail
What activities would you like to see at Sandy Hollow that would provide excellent recreation for residents and visitors?

More brainstorms that have come up (added August 2011):
  • Gazebos: good for relaxing, small group meeting place useful for day camps, retreats, reunions
  • Paddleboat rental
  • Paintball area

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who Would Pay for Lead Cleanup at Sandy Hollow?

Here is an excerpt from the document presented by opponents of the gun range planned at Sandy Hollow, to the Sioux Center City Council, on May 18, 2011:

Liability and Financial Risk for the City of Sioux Center:

As the owner of the Sandy Hollow property, the City of Sioux Center is likely to be held partially responsible for environmental degradation caused by the proposed Outdoor Sporting Complex, should it occur. Given the nature of the site, and the operations currently planned, ground and surface water contamination are likely, and the cost of remediation could be substantial. Applicable federal laws and regulations include the Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund). (National Shooting Sports Foundation, ‘Environmental Aspects of Construction and Management of Outdoor Shooting Ranges, p. 1-3 to 1-9).

The proposed lease with the NIOSC Board indicates that the Board is responsible for managing the lead shot dispersed on the property, but does not include language specific enough to ensure that the site will be decontaminated prior to termination of the lease. Contaminated land (defined by statute) would have minimal resale value, and if the shooting range was no longer in operation could be subject to RCRA statutes requiring decontamination at the owner’s expense. Given the extensive areas that will receive lead deposits at Sandy Hollow, the land area is very likely to be considered ‘contaminated’ at the end of the lease, leaving the City and its residents with a substantial (hundreds of thousands of dollars in comparable cases) cleanup bill.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sign the Petition Against Sandy Hollow NIOSC gun range

Wednesday update: The City Council voted unanimously to approve the lease of Sandy Hollow to NIOSC. Opponents managed to collect almost 400 signatures in just two days and presented a comprehensive packet of information detailing the problems with the current plan (which I will post later) but unfortunately it still passed.

, Wednesday 18, the Sioux Center City Council will be meeting to discuss a proposed 25 year lease, with the option to sell, of Sandy Hollow to NIOSC (Northwest Iowa Outdoor Sportsmen's Club).

Residents and property owners of Sioux Center are invited to show up and voice their concerns and opposition orally or in writing. There is also a time for public input open to non-residents.

If you are opposed to the building of this complex (see previous posts for information on the sound issues, lead contamination risk, etc.), please sign the petition. Your signature carries more weight if you own property or live in Sioux Center. However, please sign anyway if you are a regular visitor to Sioux Center, a student in Sioux Center, someone in the surrounding area (especially if you are in Orange City and your drinking water wells are at risk for lead contamination from this project), or just concerned about the general risks of this project.

Also be in continued prayer that this issue can be resolved quickly and without legal action.

What does the petition say?

We the following people of the City of Sioux Center and surrounding area hereby object to the City’s leasing of City property to the Northwest Iowa Outdoor Sporting Complex Board for the purposes of a public shooting range and sports complex. We object to the City’s involvement in such shooting range and sports complex as it will inevitably subject the City to future liability for personal injury, property damage, nuisance, diminution of surrounding real estate values, and environmental waste and cleanup under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

How do I sign the petition?

Contact someone who lives in the Sandy Hollow area to sign the petition in person, or sign electronically by sending an e-mail to warren at parkingdesigngroup dot com (replace at and dot with the appropriate punctuation). In the e-mail, you need to include a jpg or tiff file of your signature (take a picture of it or scan it), along with your address and phone number.

If you prefer, you can e-mail me (hnnhhyr at gmail dot com) and I will send you a pdf document of the petition that you can print, sign and then scan and send in by e-mail, or deliver to someone.

Why should I get involved?

NIOSC board chairman John Byl says that only a handful of neighbors are opposing the plan; please sign the petition to show that this is not the case and that a wide variety of people are concerned about it. He also stated in an interview with the Northwest IA Review, about the residents of the Sandy Hollow area:

"If you want to go to a place where you're protected from what your neighbor does, you ought to live in a community".

Please show your support and that "community" is something larger and deeper than simply the city limits of Sioux Center, it is a group of people who want to support each other and do what is safe and respectful of all.