16.10.12

Reading the Highland Villager #69

[The Villager in autumn.]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]


[Editors note: This is the time of year -- election season -- when the Highland Villager turns away from neighborhood and sidewalk news to focus on campaign pieces. Thus, the lack of interesting St Paul development stuff.]


 Headline: Opinions vary on Island Station moratorium
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on a public hearing about a moratorium on redevelopment at Island Station, the old long-vacant coal plant just up the Mississippi River from downtown St Paul. The proposed moratorium pits the Chamber of Commerce and property owner (who want to tear down the building) against Parks and Rec and historical preservation lobbies. The issue is heated currently because the impending passage of the “Great River Passage” plan, which would likely emphasize the need to preserve the Island Station building. [This gets to the heart of a key tension around historical preservation: how long do you let a building stay vacant in the hopes that a preservation project comes along? Or, do you bulldoze a beautiful building because the land is valuable, and it’s too expensive to save it? There’s no simple answer. A lot depends on context. Is the building a big drag on the neighborhood? How historically important is it? What are the positive and negative impacts the proposed development? This case is unique because this property is so isolated. There is literally nothing nearby, other than the river and a high-speed road. That’s one reason why I’m in the moratorium camp. Compared to other sites (e.g. the city’s two old breweries), waiting to develop this gorgeous structure has little cost for the city. The GRP parks plan spends a lot of time talking about this exact area, and it’s worth the extra time to see what impact the plan has. -Ed.]

Headline: Memory care OK’d for Ramsey Hill site
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission approved plans to use an old church home on Ashland Avenue as housing for seniors with memory problems. The plans involve a mix of preservation and new construction. The building’s plans were scaled back from 4 to 3 stories after hearing neighbor concerns.


Headline: Committee to discuss soccer fields, other uses for Victoria Park space
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The large unused vacant space in the Victoria Park neighborhood that used to be an Exxon Mobil “fuel tank farm” will become some kind of park. A committee will decide in April. One of the ideas is a large soccer complex. Another idea is a “more natural park with playground equipment and grass fields.” There is extensive cleanup of pollution from the former oil uses. [From what I have heard, the city really messed up with this site. They should have held out and insisted that the land be used for housing. Instead they're stuck with these park proposals which, while being better than a oil tank situation, do not come close to the development potential for this lovely riverfront land. -Ed.]

1 comment:

Alex said...

Houses are scary! Let's just build natural playgrounds for the children that live in all the houses we refused to allow.