I don't know how much good it will do (probably about as much good as it does when people write letters to my department, i.e. nada, and some poor schmuck like me will have to write a letter back full of platitudes and empty bureaucratic nonsense (god I love my job), but I have put my complaints in writing (and next time I go to the bank or doctor's office and see similar signs, I will send similar letters):
July 15, 2009
Roger J. Katz
Mayor, City of Augusta
City Center Plaza
16 Cony Street
Augusta, ME 04330
Dear Mr. Katz:
This morning when I dropped my son off for the Old Fort Western Apprenticeship program, I was distressed to see a small white sign signifying that the area around the flagpole in front of City Center had been treated with herbicide. As you are no doubt aware, the children in the program meet on the benches in that area before and after the apprenticeship program every morning.
When we arrived, several children were already milling about on the gravel that had been treated and the Old Fort Western leader for the day had no idea what had been sprayed or what area had been affected. Inside City Hall, neither the receptionist nor the assistant planner who were behind the desk had any information either. By the time I returned outside, the white warning sign had been flattened, no doubt by a child walking on it. If it had not already been a completely ineffective deterrent to eight- and nine-year-olds, it was now rendered obsolete. All of those children will go home tonight with herbicide-laden shoes.
First of all, I would like to point out that cosmetic spraying of herbicide is a dangerous and excessive practice, as well as a waste of money, especially during times when the city is so pressed for funds; I don’t think anyone cares if a few green plants grow among the gravel. That consideration aside, however, it should be standard practice that if an area frequented by children on a daily basis is to be treated with a pesticide, the people in charge of the children (in this case the Old Fort Western staff) should be notified well in advance, so that alternative arrangements can be made for their drop-off and pick-up locales. However, that still would not protect the many children who pass through that area while accompanying their parents on errands inside City Hall.
I appreciate your time and attention to this matter, and I sincerely hope that the City will update its policies to eliminate the cosmetic application of pesticides for the health of all our children.
Andrea E. Lani
C.C. Robert Labreck, Facilities Manager