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Re: Moment of Silence: Ben Seiler, ASLA, Mariani Landscape, LASN July 2006

Ben was a childhood friend of mine. To see his picture doing what he loved was a true comfort but to know Ben was an absolute treasure. Seeing his picture only makes me wonder how long he had been working on the design. I spent many hours watching him work. Only when the design was perfect would he finally stop. I will always cherish my many memories of him and all the beauty of his designs that he brought to East Tennessee.

Belinda Smith
Knoxville, Tenn.

Re: Senate Reining in Army Corps of Engineers,, August 14, 2006

(Senate passed measure requiring all ACOE flood control projects costing more than $40 million be subject to independent reviews re cost, engineering and design requirements and environmental impacts. Senators cited the levee breaks in New Orleans as an example of the agency's failures).

It seems the results of the recent court cases have not trickled down to regional offices of the Corps, and therefore, their authority has not really been limited in practice. For instance, at a meeting last week with the Chicago District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers we brought up the Rapanos case as it related to potentially isolated wetlands on a project site. The staffer from the Corps replied that they have no official guidance form HQ on Rapanos or related cases, and therefore it doesn't exist in their minds.

Tim Pollowy
Sr. Landscape Architect
Hey and Associates, Inc.
Geneva, Ill.

Re: New Rules for Wetland Restoration, LASN September 2006

(The Bush administration is encouraging developers who destroy wetlands or streams and are required to replace them to pay other businesses to do the work.)

Creating quality wetland systems has always been the weak link in mitigation. Long-term functionality is also an issue. Being able to define quality is a great stride towards better functioning mitigation projects. There has been too much emphasis on cost instead of the results. The lack of ecological diversity in most projects has resulted in less than desirable environmental return.

These shortcuts have also compromised the aesthetics of wetland projects. Ironically, we have created much more diverse and aesthetic wetland projects because our clients are focused on the aesthetic. In these cases the quality is a benefit by default.

Brad Kerr
Senior Fishery Biologist
Bend, Ore.

Re: LAs (Stephen Christy, Kim Sorvig) on Advisor Board of Green Burial Council,, August 23, 2006

(The Green Burial Council is "developing the first certification program in the death-care industry so the public can distinguish providers who operate in a consumer and environmentally-friendly manner from those who don't.")

This appears to be the epitome of the bad ideas of the politically correct and out of control "Green Crowd."

Henry G. Williford Jr., Sales Manager
Brown Manufacturing Corp.
Dothan, Ala.

Re: Green Burials,, August 23, 2006

Please be aware the Jewish funeral practices have embraced this idea of ashes to ashes for centuries. We do not embalm, we bury as soon as possible after death but funerals are not held on the Sabbath or on holidays. The deceased is wrapped in a shroud and buried in a simple pine casket. The family throws the first shovels of soil on the casket and prayers re-affirm the living.

Judith Siegal
The Plant Manger
Shaker Height, Ohio

Re: Tampa Mayor Won't Support National Landmark Status for Kiley Gardens,, March 20, 2006

Note: The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation placed Kiley Park on its 2005 list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

As of this writing, the current condition of the park has deteriorated even further. Tampa has jurisdiction over the park for required maintenance. Their latest action has been to cut down all the crape myrtles (every last one). All of the palm trees are still in place. The myrtles were cut off at the ground and stumps left in place. All of the grass is completely dead. As the city scrambles to redefine its waterfront/museum and riverfront projects (all within close adjacency) the park is in limbo between what it was and whether it ever will be again. The mayor has conceded that perhaps the park could be incorporated into the new museum plans, but there is no stated direction for that either. If you have had any sway or influence in the past, now is the time to weigh in on the fate of the park.

William Dobson
Vice President
RBK Architects
Tampa, Fla.

Re: Park Pentagram: Occult Symbol?,, June 16, 2006

(A five-pointed star etched in concrete in a Springfield, Ill. playground was altered after complaints.)

We had better change the U.S. flag, The presidential and senatorial seals and the back of the dollar bill for that matter. It's unfortunate that too many people read into things without the proper knowledge of the facts behind it. The supposed pentagonal representation of the "devil" is an upside down five-pointed star symbolically representing the goat, which is often associated with paganism, earth worshipers for which the five points represent the five elements.

Others have used this symbol throughout history. Pythagoras used it as a symbol of health and his followers wore them in order to recognize one another. In Medieval times, some Christian knights used the pentagram as their symbol. In Christianity, the pentagram or five pointed star represents the star of Bethlehem and the five wounds of Christ.

Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge leads to the additional costs to correct such an insignificant problem. Let's just hope no one knows the meaning of a circle or a pinwheel.

Alan Ahlstrom
Havenwood, LLC
Lincoln, R.I.

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