According to the Valley Sun (“City inches toward sound walls,” May 19) The City Council has decided to take steps toward erecting sound walls along the 210 Freeway through our city. That may be good news. On the other hand, what kind of sound walls are we getting?

Going back more than a decade, it has been stated numerous times that with our valley topography, we need sound-absorbing walls. In other words, Caltrans sound-reflecting walls will not get the job done. I believe Parsons Corporation calculated that sound-reflecting walls would be as high as 16 feet and would therefore compete with the multistory parking structure in the Town Center for the ultimate eyesore in our city. It is far from certain that most La Cañadans would go for 16-foot inefficient sound walls vs. living with the freeway noise.

The question now becomes rather simple. Who writes the specifications for the sound-wall design? I may be mistaken, but I do not believe our city staff has any acoustic experts. The City Council has appointed a sound wall ad-hoc committee. I don’t know what the committee’s assignment is. Hopefully its members have acoustic expertise in their midst. If not, with JPL and Caltech in our neighborhood, talent to write precise specifications should not be difficult to find. Without clear specifications, we will only get what the lowest bidder has to offer.

Some may ask, what is a sound-absorbing wall? It has to do with the elements (stones, blocks, bricks) used for the wall, their configuration, their mass, and how they are placed relative to each other. Of course, where the walls are located is also critical.

So, dear City Council members, who is writing the specifications you are sending out, requesting bids for the sound wall design?

Erik B. Fiske

La Cañada Flintridge


A thank you to Conrad’s

Being the last of something can conjure many things. A sense of failure if taking an exam, or defeat if running a marathon. It can also elicit a sense of sadness when referring to something that was once here and now is no more. The Last Waltz, the Last of the Mohicans, the Last Supper.

My family and I were literally the last ones to break bread and finally exit Conrad's Family Restaurant in La Cañada late on Sunday, its last night.

Vons had chosen not to renew Conrad's lease. I come not to bury Vons but to praise Conrad's, the Bissias family and the staff who kept customers sated and happy for more than 40 years.

Peter Bissias and I shared memories of our LCHS days (He was in the Class of '77, I graduated in ‘'79) and we talked about his father Nick, who opened the La Cañada eatery in 1968.

Julie, our server, hugged us as we left and we asked whether or not she had a new job. Luckily, she had found one.

The all-purpose diner/coffee shop/restaurant is truly a sine qua non in American culture and Conrad's was right out of central casting. It was the ready remedy for spontaneous get-togethers when friends or family dropped by. Sad news and sobering discussions, also, seemed to go down better with a slice of pie and an endless cup of coffee.

My mind recalls the image of Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks.” That's the Conrad's I'll always remember. A late-night refuge where concerns and ideas could float in conversation and be solved, or even keep until another time.

There will remain other eating establishments in La Cañada, but I believe that this particular restaurant will be missed. As Joni Mitchell sang, “Don't you know it always goes, that you don't know what you got till it's gone.”

Thank you, Conrad's, for 43 years of a beautiful friendship.

Daniel Baker