Editorial: One pollution issue to be solved while another still needs addressing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 11, 2021

After the city addresses one pollution issue, they should take public action to address another.

The first case involves light pollution at the yet-to-be-opened Bell Tower Green Park.

In an 11th-hour debate, the Historic Preservation Commission on Thursday listened to a request to replace 19 lights at Bell Tower Green Park because of concerns from nearby residents that the lights are too obtrusive. A different light fixture would reduce the color temperature and decrease the degree to which the park’s lights contribute to light pollution in Salisbury’s downtown area. The problem is that the park is expected to open to the public in five or so weeks. The first event at the park, Pops at the Post, is scheduled for Sept. 11.

People will write off too-bright lights as not being a problem, but the debate is a fine one to have. When there are lights that can illuminate the park adequately and have a decreased effect on neighbors, it’s best to find a solution. Notably, it appears the park’s proprietors are the ones requesting the replacement.

Without quick work, the new concerns could have an effect on when or how the park opens to the public. The park truly will be a gem in Downtown Salisbury, but it’s a gem that’s been in progress for years now. While funding is nearly all from private sources, taxpayer money has contributed to construction.

The Historic Preservation Commission plans to hold a called meeting to discuss the issue, and it should make sure it adjourns with a final decision then.

Contrast the light debate to one that’s received relatively little public action from Salisbury city officials: noise caused by Norfolk Southern.

After last year’s closure of the company’s “hump yard” in Linwood, Norfolk Southern moved operations into the Spencer and Salisbury area, causing an unexpected ruckus for residents.

In an email to Salisbury City Council members last week, North Caldwell Street resident Jared Paulo pleaded for help.

“Since May of last year, I have not received a good night’s sleep.  That is not an exaggeration,” Paulo wrote.

Later on, he invited the council members to have their next council meeting at his house so they could experience the noise first hand, which includes “unbearable” train horns and loud banging noises from cars being coupled together that he compared to thunder.

“Why has nothing been done? Is there not a noise pollution ordinance that can be enforced?” he asked.

Because he’s the latest in a growing line of people and that it’s still a relatively new problem, the city of Salisbury need to take action to limit the noise. In October, reporter Carl Blankenship wrote that the city could update its noise ordinance to include the railroad noises. We’re not aware of any action that’s done this yet. It seems like a commonsense solution.