30.10.12

Reading the Highland Villager #70

[The dread sidewalks of Highland Village.]
[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.]


Headline: Owners object to how St. Paul charges for its street services
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be a public hearing at the City Council for people to complain about right-of-way maintenance fees. The most common complaint is that the city has begun charging for all property, including nonprofits, churches, and schools. [This is a big deal in St Paul because it’s home to so many non-taxed property owners, including the State government. I saw one statistic that claimed that non-taxable property made up 30% of the city, but of course, that includes tons of river and parkland. Anyway, point is that the city needs to somehow raise money from nonprofit and institutional property holders. –Ed.]

Headline: Ayd Mill connection back for discussion
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The [long long typically St Paul] saga of St Paul’s Ayd Mill road is back for discussion due to the impending reconstruction of the Hamline Avenue bridge over Ayd Mill. Neighbors living along the North end of the road, near Hamline and Selby avenues. have been lobbying CM Carter III, who has agreed to “restart the public discussion” about the fate of the [semi-useless] stretch of old late-50s era freeway. Article includes short [interesting] history of debates over the road, including a 1990s plan to turn it into a linear park that was rejected by the Planning Commission, and the Mayor Kelly-era plan to connect the North end of the road to I-94. [Look for much, much more on this topic in the Villager and on this very website. –Ed.]

Headline: Commission OKs plan for Great River Passage with a few tweaks
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission approved the Great River Passage, a large land-use plan for the entire stretch of the St Paul riverfront. Debate over the plan was largely about process, whether or not this plan would erase the need for future debates and public meetings about specific land use decisions. Another point of controversy was the re-use of the Watergate Marina site, and whether or not it would be a good site for an “environmental education center.”

Headline: Bank eyes major redevelopment at Snelling-Selby corner
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Plans for a new development at the site of the [strange, wood paneled pebbled concrete] Associated Bank building on the corner of Selby and Snelling. [a.k.a. “Snelby.”] “A mixed-use development has been proposed, although few details are available.” Article includes lots of rumors, including: there may or may not be a grocery store, the current buildings may or not be demolished, there may or may not be 300 luxury apartments. The bank has signed a contract with Ryan Companies to be the developer.


Headline: Lexington Parkway bus, other route changes in line for Central Corridor
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Metro Transit has released a modified version of the plan for bus routes after the LRT line is complete. The major change is to the new Lexington Parkway bus, which will now travel along I-35E for a brief stretch after complaints from people living along the southern stretch of Lexington. The University Avenue (local stop) bus will be at 20 minute intervals instead of every half hour.

Headline: Better signal timing coming to Hiawatha
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version:The stop lights along Hiawatha Avenue [the almost completely impassable non-freeway, non-street which is supposed to somehow turn into a transit-oriented development site] are being re-timed. [Yes. This will fix everything.]

Headline: Council votes to save Island Station, other historic sites
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council has declared that the Island station power plant, the stairway behind the JJ Hill house, and two Ramsey Hill houses shall not be destroyed. [As mentioned in last fortnight's RTHV, the old power plant was under threat of demolition by a developer. –Ed.]

Headline: Council approves moratorium on west end of Grand Avenue
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council passed a one-year moratorium on development along Grand between Cretin and Fairview because a developer built an apartment building there. [Oy. This isn't quite as bad as I want to think, I'm tempted to say, because it's going to be a study of the current zoning. If we're lucky, they will still keep Grand Avenue zoned for density, just make it more logical in this area. Of course, given the track record of decision making along this end of the city, I'm not holding my breath for this outcome... -Ed.]

Headline: St Paul adopts regulations for pedal cars that ply city streets
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council adopted "fees, penalties, and other regulations" for pedal pubs. Regulations includes [unspecified] route and time restrictions.

Headline: Suggestions aired to address problems with Summit-U club
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A "private club" om Milton Street is attracting loiterers. Neighbors are concerned.

Headline: Mac-Grove supports license for Shish's new Grand cafe
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The local neighborhood group will not try to prevent a Grand Avenue restuarant from serving beer and wine. "The restaurant plans to have a pianist occasionally."


Headline: Judge sides with developer in suit over Pelham site plan
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has lost a lawsuit over a plan to re-develop a site near the city's industrial area between University Avenue and I-94. Neighbors had protested that the site plans were too auto oriented, and did not fit with the TOD designs near the new LRT. The Planning Commission had approved the industrial site plan, but the City Council overturned the Commission's decision, and denied the application. The judge criticized the council, and said that the site conformed to zoning. Article includes quote from the judge: "The council's interpretation of the newly revised zoning ordinance produced an absurd and unreasonable result." [Score one for the Planning Commission! Are we always right? Stay tuned. -Ed.]

Headline: BZA grants variances for new Mac-Grove roof, solar panels
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A house on Lincoln Avenue can add solar panels to their roof, according to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Headline: SHA committee favors the Lexington's plan for rooftop patio
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Summit Hill Association neighborhood group is supporting the proposed rooftop patio at the [old-school, white, fancy, non-St Thomas student frequented] Lexington Restaurant. [Please note contrast with the new-school, less white, less fancy, St Thomas student frequented Wild Onion. I guess patio drinking is OK as long as you stick to Pinot Grigio.] The suggested time for the patio to stop serving liquor is 9:00pm. [Do people in St Paul stay out past 9? I have no evidence of that. -Ed.] Article includes following delightful quote from neighbor:  "'It's like a ghost town back there,' he said of the area behind the Lexington."

Headline: Discussion begins on how to make Grand Avenue safer for pedestrians
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on how the Mac-Groveland Community Council, the Summit Hill Association, and the Grand Avenue Business Association [that's the Highland Villager's sacred trifecta!] are teaming up to look at "traffic safety improvements" for Grand Avenue following the tragic death of a young student, hit by a car at the corner of Hamline. Article is vague about suggestions improvements, but mentions education campaigns, "stepped-up enforcement," bumpouts, pedestrian activated crossing signals, motor-vehicle turning restrictions, and pedestrian medians. [The main issue isn't Grand, which is pretty calm. The main issue is the North-South cross streets. Almost all of these, except Fairview, could use a heavy dose of traffic calming. -Ed.] Article includes highly annoying sidebar of "safety tips."

Headline: Additional public art chances available at the Union Depot
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) [eew, the worst acronym of all time (WAAT)?] is soliciting bids for more artwork in the Union Depot, due November 13.

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