Recreational Fires Must Be Eliminated

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The air is smoky from burning wood in North St. Paul, MN, almost every evening. It is a nightmare. What used to be a nice place to live has become a living hell.

WARNING: If you buy a house in North St. Paul, MN, you will regret it! It may be the biggest, most expensive mistake you ever make. You will breathe smoky air almost every day of your life in this town. This is not an exaggeration. The wood smoke in this town gets heavy and gets heavy often. When you want to get out of this dump of a town, how many people do you think are going to want to buy a house in a city where heavy air pollution every night is normal and clean air is rare? This blog gets thousands of visitors every year. The word is out: North St. Paul is a horrible place to live!

Fresh air is very rare around here. If you are considering moving to North St. Paul or buying a home here, I strongly recommend that you do not do it no matter how good of a price you get. The only way you will be happy in this town is if you love breathing smoky air almost every day. North St. Paul, MN, is a horrible place to live because of the smoky air!

Burning wood, grass, leaves, paper, cardboard, and sometimes plastic, construction materials, and chemicals, if it is combustible it gets burned in North St. Paul and you are going to breathe it.

The air was smoky 25 out of 31 evenings in July 2009. We had 37 hours of continuous wood smoke in the air Aug. 29th - 31st. There was wood smoke in the air 19 consecutive evenings from Aug. 21st to Sept. 8th. It rained heavily on Aug. 20th, providing the only relief we got from wood smoke for almost three weeks.

Is this a good way to live? No. It is a horrible way to live. Take it from someone who knows. Breathing smoky, polluted air every day is misery.

Every day in this city several people are having recreational fires. Every evening the air is filled with the stench of burning wood. I am one person sick and tired of breathing smoky air every day. Is it too much to ask to be able to breathe fresh air in your own home?

Who is responsible for this wood smoke nightmare? The four city council members are responsible. Council members Jan Walczak, Bob Bruton, Terry Furlong, and Dave Zick have refused to do anything about this wood smoke problem. They don't care if you have a child with asthma. They don't care if you have to live like a shut-in because the air is so polluted. They don't care if your sinuses burn because the wood smoke is so heavy.

Our four Council members have defended the rights of a small percentage of households to burn wood daily over the rights of all the rest of us to breathe.

You have no right to breathe under Walczak, Bruton, Furlong, and Zick. Burners have the right to burn wood 49 hours a week recreationally. The rest of us have no rights at all.

If you are considering purchasing real estate in the city of North Saint Paul, Minnesota (55109), factor this blog carefully into your decision. Buying a home in this city means that your kids will breathe smoky air while playing in the yard almost every day. Your baby will breathe smoky air in her crib should you leave the windows open around your house. If you leave your windows open you will wake up in the middle of the night choking on smoky air.

Perhaps worst of all, your utility rates will be high because you will have to run the air conditioner instead of leaving the windows open on a cool summer evening. You have no other choice because almost every night the air is too smoky to breathe in this city. Consider this blog your warning.

North St. Paul, Minnesota, is a wonderful community other than the wood smoke. If we could restore fresh air like we used to enjoy, life would be happy again. But that is not going to happen any time soon.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Updates coming with a new direction for the blog

It's another brutal night of heavy wood smoke pollution in North St. Paul.  It is almost 4:30 AM as I write this and the air is so smoky there will be no chance of opening the windows for hours.  Again we are forced to live as prisoners in our own home.  After a long heat wave, temperatures have dropped to a point where the windows can be opened again.  As always in North St. Paul, MN, when the weather is nice the air is too smoky to breathe.  North St. Paul is hell on earth.

Maybe the air will be clear enough by 6 or 7 AM to finally open the windows and get some fresh air in the house.  Maybe the bonfires will smolder until long after sunrise.  Maybe we will get 10 or 12 hours of fresh air before the burning starts again.  Maybe we will not.

It's been two months since my last update.  With this summer's above normal temperatures there has been much less burning than normal.  High heat and humidity is not only a deterrent for bonfire burners, but for yard waste burners as well.  When this blog is not updated regularly, my readership drops.  The visitors that drop the most are from search engines like Google and Yahoo.  I want more people reading about this shitty city, not less.  So after years of deliberation I have decided to expand the scope of this blog.

The reason this blog was started in spring 2008 was to serve as a public document of the heavy wood smoke pollution we endure.  I honestly thought the stupid assholes who run this city (Jan Walczak, Bob Bruton, Terry Furlong) would do something about it.  I was wrong.  My intent was never to bash the city of North St. Paul or the stupid assholes on the city council.  I just wanted people to know the daily hell we experience as residents of this once nice city, especially prospective home buyers who will have no idea what they are getting into.  Would you want to invest $150,000 or more in a home and breathe smoky air every evening?

The wood smoke problem isn't limited to our neck of the woods (as some emailers try to tell me).  It is all over the city.  I can go for a ride on a Friday or Saturday evening and find patches of wood smoke all over the place, in the northern section of the city where we live and in the southern portion of the city, and when I find one smoky area I can find another within a block or two. 

North St. Paul was once a wonderful place to live.  As recently as the late 1990s or very early 2000s, North St. Paul was nice.  Then the wood smoke pollution started.  Then by 2005 or 2006 it became nearly an every day thing.  As the bonfire burning picked up, the yard waste burning gained in popularity as well. 

North St. Paul is going to hell rapidly.  The nightly wood smoke pollution is just a symptom of a greater underlying disease.  Parks are neglected.  Streets look terrible with patches of asphalt filling potholes.  Properties are not being maintained.  Residential homes are turning into rentals.  There is no respect for one's neighbors (as the wood burners demonstrate) and very few homeowners are taking pride in their properties these days.    

On my walks this summer and last, I was astounded by how many homes and yards are not being maintained.  Driveways crumbling and sagging into the soil.  Homes and garages in dire need of a fresh coat of paint, with the existing paint peeling off all over.  Vandalized mailboxes not being repaired or replaced.  On some blocks there are few homes with nice yards, with most of the yards consisting entirely of crabgrass.

I have passed by homes that at one time had nice yards.  I have seen the decorative plantings that have been allowed to grow wild and have become infiltrated with weeds.  I've seen yards with hardly a trace of normal grass, that are filled with crabgrass, weeds, dandelions, and clover.  On some blocks, a majority of properties are like this.  There is a block on 2nd St. N. between 17th Ave. and 19th Ave. that has only one home on it that I would call well maintained.  That entire block is an eyesore.

There is a house over by Poplar/Swan that once was a stately home.  I would not go so far as to call it a mansion, but it may be the most expensive home in the city.  It, too, is falling into disrepair.  I cannot think of the type of homeowner who would spend almost $1 million to buy a property and not perform necessary maintenance to keep the property looking nice.  The driveway is all cracked up.  The pickets on the fence are damaged with peeling paint.  The shrubbery growing behind the fence looks like it is both growing wild and dying.  The grass looks terrible.  You would think that a homeowner who pays more than $11,000 a year in property tax would spend a little money to keep the property maintained.  Not in North St. Paul.

So I have decided to expand the scope of this blog to include documentation of the decay taking place all around.  I'm not interested in becoming a City Hall watchdog.  To be frank, I couldn't stomach researching the stupidity that has come out of City Hall the past few years.  When the city leadership should be working on the issues harming our quality of life like the nightly wood smoke pollution, our city leaders have been concocting schemes to spend money this city does not have.  First there was the fiber optic internet system in 2009 that was estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $20 million.  Had that system been installed and failed, it could have bankrupted the city.  Then last year we had the crazy scheme from our city leaders to spend millions of dollars to make streets narrower and to put in drainage ditch rain gardens and sidewalks where they are neither needed nor wanted.  Both of these schemes were met with resounding opposition from the citizens of North St. Paul and the plans were abandoned.

I am going to focus on things that make North St. Paul a horrible place to live.  I will continue to document the nightly wood smoke pollution.  But I intended to do more like publish photographs of the big clouds of smoke produced by bonfire and yard waste burners.  Pictures of yards carpeted with weeds, retaining walls bulging, rundown homes, and things like that.  Next time I see a living room chair dumped in a city park like I did last fall, I hope I have a camera with me.

Anybody considering buying real estate in North St. Paul should be aware of the rapid decline of the city.  North St. Paul is not going to get any better.  It is only going to get worse.  Buyer beware.


  1. I will leave this post open for comments.

  2. I found this blog right after moving to North Saint Paul. At first, I thought you were a bit overzealous. But after the heat wave died down, I started smelling the wood smoke. About a month ago I started having asthma attacks. I haven't had an asthma attack since I was 8. I've had more in the last month than in my entire life up until moving here. I no longer think you're overzealous. I enjoy a bonfire once in a while, but not every night and I always put mine out... I don't leave them smoldering for hours and hours. It really is horrible with the thick smoke lingering in the air all the time.

  3. Rather than complain about the poor conditions, why don't you volunteer your time to help clean up and fix things. Sitting behind a computer and complaining about them doesn't do any good. Next time you see a chair in the park, pick it up and put it in the trash rather than walking by it and writing about it on your blog.

    1. You don't really expect me to carry a heavy living room chair all the way home on my back, do you? It wouldn't fit in the trash.

  4. And how is he supposed to stop the firepit knuckleheads from fouling the air we all breathe with their "recreational fires"?

  5. I have to agree, the smoke in the air in North Saint Paul is horrible. Every nice night the burning continues, can't even have the windows open. I have not had an asthma attack in 40 years, but had one last week. They have to ban burning in this city.


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