New Balloon Track permit on tap

The Balloon Track property in Eureka continues to capture the spotlight this week — the former rail yard is on the agenda for tonight’s Eureka City Council meeting. Property owners are seeking a new Coastal Development Permit (CDP) to reduce stormwater contaminated with dissolved copper from discharging into Humboldt Bay.

If approved, the Interim Stormwater Management Program would install a PVC riser pipe in two drainage ditches, and “the creation of a detention/infiltration area formed with pre-fabricated concrete K-rails and sandbags, located near the center and at the highest elevation of the Balloon Track property,” according to the staff report.

The permit is in addition to the CDP that was appealed to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) late last year, which stalled out for lack of cooperation by applicant Security National, which owns the property.

Speaking of that battle, the above cartoon appeared in Sunday’s Times-Standard after Security National denied the CCC access to the property.

  1. 69er
    September 21, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Anyone with opposition to this project should be required to have their head examined for sanity. Anything done to prevent the runoff of contamination that has been approved to be effective should go forward without any more of the petty opposition.

  2. Walt
    September 21, 2010 at 5:27 am

    Anyone with opposition to this project is a terrorist and should be subjected to enhanced interrogation until they join the Tea Party. Anything Mr. Gans and Mr. Arkley want to do is in the best interests of the environment, the economy and the people, and snivelling naysayers must be made to shut up.

  3. Osprey
    September 21, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Anyone who thinks that the polluted run-off leaving this site isn’t impacting the Bay is a bit crazed and should be subject to attending ALL of the upcoming season’s shows at the Arkley Center……not the “Vagina Monologues” though…..RA won’t allow it. You know how Tea Partiers are about our ‘private parts’ and especially touching them!

  4. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 7:14 am

    All this time I thought it was called the balloon tract. Now I find out it is the Ballon Track? Oh, well, live and learn! But seriously, folks, Karen Gordon is becoming more skillful as an editorial cartoonist. This one packs a punch!

  5. 06em
    September 21, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Meanwhile, Walmarts new strategy is to downsize … huh.

  6. anon
    September 21, 2010 at 7:20 am

    It is good, however she should spell-check a little better though. It’s “Balloon”……

  7. Goldie
    September 21, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Poor Mr. Arkly bought a piece of property he knew was seriously polluted from Union Pacific. He spins he ducks and he weaves. He stalls and manipulates. He bullies and dodges. My favorite all time move is still the Jeff-in-the-box jump up and change directions maneuver from city council meeting in 2004.

    “But suddenly, Councilmember Jeff Leonard didn’t agree. Despite the fact that the Balloon Track master plan had been standing city policy for almost a year, … and despite the hundreds of hours of staff time spent writing grant applications and interviewing prospective consulting firms, Leonard had experienced a change of heart.

    “With all apologies to council and staff, I’m not willing to go any farther forward down this particular road,” he said. “A hundred thousand dollars is actually, in my mind, a lot to pay for a study.”

    ( But not too much for the Above the Law ‘global investigation’ )

    “Councilmember Mike Jones quickly seconded Leonard’s motion, and a vote was taken. With Councilmember Virginia Bass-Jackson’s support, the contract with the consultant was delayed, for the time being.”
    Why? Jeff said ” he became aware the buyer would be Rob Arkley, the multimillionaire owner of Eureka’s Security National Servicing Corp. who has, in recent years, taken a great interest in development in the city. And Leonard knew that Arkley wanted the Balloon Track master plan killed.”
    And what did community minded Mr. Arkly have to say? “If you’re me, do you really care what the city thinks?” he said. “I don’t want to have an alternate plan out there because it might not be what I want.”

    Stall, Dodge, Repeat.

  8. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Virgina Bass, the best government developers can buy.

  9. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 8:26 am

    FYI The Balloon Track Tract is so called because the rail track on the property (tract) when looking from above is shaped like a balloon. Thus, it is a balloon shaped track on the tract, aka the balloon track tract or the balloono track or the balloon tract. All of the above, and that is why. Simple?

  10. Pitchfork
    September 21, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Goldie…Well done!

  11. A-Nony-Mouse
    September 21, 2010 at 8:32 am

    And I thought it was because so much Hot Air was rising from its owner.

    September 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Anyone who thinks their politically elected and appointed officials are of any help in this matter ought to stop voting. No real difference since a gun is still pointed at a communities heart.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

    September 21, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I am used to tract! Like contract!!!


  14. Ball On
    September 21, 2010 at 8:48 am

    “If you’re me, do you really care what the city thinks?”. He can try to spin this line as much as he wants now, but even at the time he’d already made up his mind to make big, permanent changes to the city in question. Damn straight he’s gotta pony up…other people live here too. Not somebody I’d blindly trust to build walls around me, that’s for sure.

  15. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 9:12 am

    He meant the City, meaning the council and officials and their official control. He does seem to care what the general population thinks, however.

  16. Ball On
    September 21, 2010 at 9:20 am

    No kidding, Anon 9:12, the council members and officials elected by the general population to represent them…just as nobody’s personally snubbing this guy, but danged if the companies that represent him, and vice versa, seem to be pulling some shady stuff.

  17. Snarkley Schmarkley
    September 21, 2010 at 9:36 am

    “If you’re me, do you really care what the city thinks?” Those who’ve been in the inner circle say RA snickers when he is referred to as Eureka’s “Mr. Potter.” Anonymous 9:12, you’re whitewashing. Rob wants what Rob wants and will go so far as to engage in public bullying if thwarted. THIS is why I say NO ARKLEYVILLE. Rob wants Eureka as his personal plaything; he pretties-up and spends money at projects that benefit his bottom line and are pretty enough to lull the massess into complacency. The whole family are a bunch of gimmee-gimmee, whining bullies.

  18. tenth street dreamer
    September 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

    This plan actually seems to make sense. There will be very little moving of top soil and mixing of contaminated areas using earth movers, as the previous plan was going to do. The ground water collected from lower areas will be collected and gathered in one spot, then removed from the property, limiting ground water runoff into the bay. I wonder why SN didn’t come up with this plan a year ago? Better late than never.

  19. 69er
    September 21, 2010 at 10:20 am

    So far tenth street dreamer is the only commenter here so far that makes any sense as far as I can see. All others are simply here to bash , rant and rave. It seems that the whole bunch need to have their heads examined for sanity.

  20. Goldie
    September 21, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Run off is a concern but so is deeper water transfer of dioxins into the bay. A good testing of the area would allow for the creation of a clear clean up plan, oh but wait… every time we come close to testing it some Arkley type thing happens and it is again distraction and stall time.
    Do you remember Arkley’s support of PALCO and how that worked long term for the hard working people here?

  21. Ball On
    September 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

    sorry, 69’er, but the tally so far is still way more steps back than forward…check your sanity if you suddenly have a hankerin’ to like the way their ideas smell because of this.

  22. 69er
    September 21, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I am only promoting what can be done immediately to take care of the problem until a permanent solution can be agreed upon. Enough of this bickering.

  23. Decline to State
    September 21, 2010 at 11:08 am

    On a somewhat related topic I see an article on Yahoo Finance today that…

    “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is planning an aggressive push into urban markets with a new small format that’s a fraction of the size of its supercenters.”

    It seems sales have gone flat for Wal-Mart and these new, Balloon Track sized stores are supposed to help revive the company.

  24. Smokemonster
    September 21, 2010 at 11:21 am

    This anti anything movement is typical,don’t get me wrong im no RA supporter but like I have stated hardly anyone gave a shit about tgat property for twenty years………This is on par with the county/city tharting the plan of a Chicago investment group to buy and repair the railways from willits north 7-10 years ago,they had the capitol they had the plan but no love from the northcoast. It’s sad to say but if you think the economy and drug abuse arpund here is bad now just wait until pot becomes legal,no income we are going to have a lot of 2006 full size trucks for sale and a lot more meth use,how safe will the old burnt out hippies feel then,good luck

  25. Ball On
    September 21, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Decline to State, the business motto is “the solution to pollution is dilution.”…they’re scattering their density into “micro-markets” that actually cover sales over a larger area. They’re dollar stores with big investors.

    The balloon track and mega-village scenario is even more disgusting because they incorporate dense residential areas…not for the sake of them being quality places to live, or to benefit the people who have already been living in the area, but because they provide the proprietors the most profit. It’s straight up treating people like cattle.

  26. Mike Buettner
    September 21, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I don’t know about “tharting” but this did not happen:

    “This is on par with the county/city tharting the plan of a Chicago investment group to buy and repair the railways from willits north 7-10 years ago,they had the capitol they had the plan but no love from the northcoast.”

  27. September 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Who tharted?

  28. Not A Native
    September 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    You know, you gotta “look under the hood” to understand what’s going on. I read the agenda item and the “issue” stated is preventing copper in runoff water from reaching the bay. Earlier during the SIRAP process, CUE said most of the runoff pollution originates outside the balloon track so it should be mitigated at the source. But here’s where the “magic” comes in.

    As Goldie noted, this plan is to pump runoff water to the top of the balloon tract property where the copper will settle and the water will “infiltrate” into the soil thereby eliminating surface runoff. But water doesn’t just disappear, the runoff will percolate through the soils and go into the bay, under the ground. And what pollutants might it take with it as it percolates? We don’t know, but CUE hopes at least some will be “washed away” into the bay. Then it ain’t CUE’s problem any more. There are other better solutions to the coppert issue but they don’t have the “doubleplay’ effect this “solution” has.

    quoting the agenda item summary(my bolding), page 2:

    “The detention/infiltration area is located at the highest elevation point on the Balloon Track property and where there is the least amount of known contamination that could be mobilized by project activities.”

  29. What are you smoking?
    September 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Smokemonster, you may be right about nothing much being said, and very few appearing to care about the BT twenty years back. But here’s why:

    Twenty years ago, Nancy Flemming ran the show around here, there was a business-as-usual, “protect the usual actors”-approach on the city council, then comprised (as it had always been) by thoroughly unimaginative people loathe to be perceived as upsetting the town’s movers and shakers (a fairly small cabal of real estate people, bankers and developers). Quality of life concerns rated nearly last in how the long-term way forward was being planned. Few, if any, progressive activists lived in Eureka, and it was pretty much unheard of that the council would ever consider, let alone vote for, their proposals.

    Fast forward to now: A development is proposed for the Balloon Track comprised overwhelmingly of a big box home improvement store and its surrounding parking lot, scarcely five years following an emotional battle in which a Wal-Mart has been overwhelmingly voted down by the citizens of Eureka. According the city’s own commissioned study (1999 Bay Area Economics report), home improvement is the most over-retailed sector in Humboldt County. The developer goes on record at the very outset as saying he doesn’t give a crap about what the citizens of Eureka think about it. Widely-held sentiment holds that the development, as proposed, will strangle traffic in the already most congested part of town, cause blight elsewhere in Eureka’s other retail zones, play a zero-sum jobs game in which local hardware stores pay the price, and to cap it all off (no pun intended), a substandard, on-the-cheap cleanup is rammed through the Water Quality Board, without public input, in which little testing is to be done before the entire lot is graded, the soil is thoroughly mixed, and existing toxins mobilized and buried.

    And now, you’re asking us, honestly, “Why do any of you oppose this?”

  30. Reinventing The Wheel
    September 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    So, who are these “No-Growth” organizations?

    Are they responsible for the building moratoriums imposed on North Coast cities by regulators?

  31. September 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    For God sake, let ’em clean up the site further. The plan makes sense and is not invasive.

    To highlight the disingenuous TS cartoon complaining about access to the Balloon Track when Baykeeper and even some of the CCC commissioners themselves are taking active steps to stop the clean-up is stunning in its duplicity. THEY are the ones saying it’s not safe for the public, yet they demanded to take the public on site for an “inspection.”

    Add to this that several CCC commissioners attended a fundraiser for Bonnie Neeley when they were in tow, given her stated opposition to the project.

    Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way and let SN clean up the property !!!

  32. tenth street dreamer
    September 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I am no fan of RA, however this small step forward seems like a safe way to get started in the cleanup. The water collected will be removed from the property and not left to perk into the water table. It is a first step. Let them do it. Isn’t the object of all this to clean it?

  33. When Pigs Fly
    September 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Stunning in their duplicity is YOU, Chris Crawford.

    Bald-faced lie #1: “Baykeeper is taking active steps to stop the clean-up.”

    Truth: Baykeeper is suing to stop a cover-up masquerading as a clean-up. What you are referring to as a “clean-up” amounts to (as someone posted above) a mass grading, mobilizing and burying of the toxins on-site so that not only can they not be fully characterized, but neither cleaned up as well. All in the name of saving Arkley money. A total sham.

    Bald-faced lie #2: “Baykeeper and the CCC are saying it’s not safe for the public.”

    Truth: Chris Crawford is well aware of Balloon Track site walking tours and inspections in the last few years that included Baykeeper and the Coastal Commission as well as one given by Security National open to the general public. Despite this, he fudges and elides a simple statement to make his opponents APPEAR to be hypocritical.

    This guy’s a total liar!

  34. Not A Native
    September 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    dreamer, you really are dreaming. Read the plan. The water won’t be “removed from the property” as you wrote, the water will be pumped to the top of the property, then it will perk into the water table and the bay.

    All Eureka stormwater eventually goes into the bay. This water will pick up Balloon Track pollutants and deliver them into the bay. Thats the real “CUE Cleanup plan”.

  35. When Pigs Fly
    September 21, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    The simple fact that bears repeating is that Security National knows that there have been numerous official complaints to the CCC since the last time they were permitted to walk the BT a few years back, about Arkley and Randy Gans allowing (encouraging) Schmidbauer Lumber to extend their overflow log deck far beyond its traditional site adjacent to the mill, to virtually cover the entire wetlands of the Balloon Track. Then, Randy cries crocodile tears about the wetlands on-site as being just a bunch of “tire tracks.”

    Yeah, asshole, after YOU got through with them!

    Randy, count on the Coastal Commission calling you to account for your bullshit very soon. It’s a well known fact that anyone can walk the sidewalk down Waterfront Drive and see the damage you’ve allowed (conspired) to happen.

    What’re you gonna do next, build a ten-foot clapboard fence around the place to hide the evidence?

  36. Oldphart
    September 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    It was ok with Paykeepers to cap the Del Norte Street mill site. Let’s not get carried away here.

  37. Let the record show
    September 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Uh, Oldphart, if you’re referring to the old Simpson Plywood mill on Del Norte, it was Baykeeper that discovered (on its own) that the Water Quality Board had approved and signed-off on a cleanup that left dioxin levels 50,000 times the allowable level at the site. Baykeeper devised and implemented a new cleanup plan, concluded last year, that cleaned up the dioxin to safe levels.

    You should spend some time getting your facts straight, my friend.

    Also, to use “capping” as a be-all, end-all issue is disingenuous on your part. Capping, per se, is not the issue, nor is it opposed across the board by Baykeeper, as you would have everyone believe.

    What is critical is how a site’s toxins are tested and cleaned up. What happens afterward (including capping) is relatively incidental.

    Nice try blowing smoke, though.

  38. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    I have not heard of even one person around Humboldt Bay dying of dioxide poisoning. Has anyone else?

  39. tenth street dreamer
    September 21, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    My understanding is that the water will be transferred to the city treatment plant where they have the means to remove the dissolved copper. I could be wrong but that is my understanding. Hopefully it will be cleared up at tonight’s council meeting.

    Dioxin in the bay is absorbed by fish and then eaten and moves up the food chain. It can be absorbed by dairy cattle from ponds and grass. Teepee burners in Arcata bottoms many years ago left dioxin from ash and smoke plumes in the soil. some of it ended up in the bay, later to be covered by mud deposits. At this point it is safer to leave it undisturbed as it is capped by the mud. The land sites are now being cleaned. We are the ones who eat the food and it ends up in our system and builds up over years until we become toxic. It is like the Romans lining their aqueducts with lead to seal them. The accumulated effect over years took its toll. You can argue all you want about over regulation but the standards are set for a reason.
    Eureka had many teepee burners along the water front and much of the dioxin here came from those burners and the smoke from coal and wood burning train engines. The old timers tell of the smokey haze that hung over Eureka for weeks on end. Our clean air is a relatively recent event. Just a little history.

  40. September 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    The City Council is now discussing the permit. Channel 10 if you’re not at city hall.

  41. September 21, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Leonard is on his soap box. Conflating issues. Typical.

  42. September 21, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    He’s bitter about the SIRAP, he says.

  43. September 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Jeff is citing Hank Sims as a science expert.

  44. September 21, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Permit passes unanimously with no public comment.

  45. tenth street dreamer
    September 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Well, there you go. Good to see everyone in agreement, even with the hot air.

  46. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Right now, the City Council and staff are trying to be polite on the surface, but underneath, they are seething with conflicts about the process regarding funding for the Clark Historical Museum.

    If Mike Jones moved into my neighborhood, I would sell my house.

  47. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    When will the Eureka City Council Meeting appear again on Channel 10?

  48. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Mike Jones already lives in my neighborhood. What happened now?

  49. Anonymous
    September 21, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    This is after-the-fact but I’m bothered by the misspelling of “balloon” in this cartoon. Track vs. tract, or track tract – all are pretty much interchangeable at this point – not so glaring.

  50. Pitchfork
    September 22, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Wow!!!!!!!!! Did you see Linda call the City Manager out!!!!!!!! Awesome!!!!!!!

  51. Not an Expert
    September 22, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I’m so sick and tired of people claiming that nothing ever gets built because of the anti-everything crowd. I can’t help but notice that there is virtually no opposition from environmental groups to 2 of the biggest projects to be proposed in Humboldt County memory: Danco’s Samoa town project and Forster-Gill’s Ridgewood Village. Those 2 projects have one thing in common: the proponents went to the environmental groups for input before their proposals made it to the hearing stage. Arkley may want to blame enviros for the failure of his half-assed cleanup plan to pass Coastal Commission muster, but he has no one to blame but himself.

  52. Reinventing The Wheel
    September 23, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Maybe RA will dedicate a Marina Center housing unit to Chris Crawford.

    On the bottom level.

    “No one has died yet from the Balloon Tract toxins…”

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