Reading the Highland Villager #128

[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. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.] 

Headline: St. Paul approves historic bike plan; From Grand Round to downtown, effort would double current paths
Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: "Bicyclists are beaming, but downtown businesses remain concerned..." Article about unanimous passage of the [long in the works] city bike plan at the mid-March City council meeting. Article includes description of plan's details, including the # of miles and some of the routes. Article includes rough synopsis of council and public discussion, emphasizing opponents who are concerned about how bicycle paths might "take away customer parking." [The Villager gives short shrift to the supporters, placing their comments at the end, despite the fact that the testimony at the meeting was 3-4:1 in support of the bike plan and that it passed unanimously. To see the full testimony, including the short speech by yours truly, check out the video online here.] For example: "Keys Cafe owners Carol Gregory said the 'real and legitimate concerns' of downtown businesses have been ignored." [Personally I'm really and legitimately interested in these concerns, and I'm being serious. Is the problem that there it's too hard to park downtown, or too expensive to park downtown?]

Headline: Ward 3 home design standards are rewritten for entire city; Area residents worry citywide hearing will delay rules' adoption
Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: The city has studied how to initiate rules that will limit and/or shape teardown construction in Saint Paul, which is focused in Ward 3 [e.g. the city's largest wealthy area]. The debate at the Planning Commission was about whether to have rules apply only to Ward 3 or to the city as a whole. Neighborhood groups are worried that any delay will allow more homes to be torn down. Article repeatedly cites "houses that are viewed as out of character or out of scale with neighboring homes." [Character is notoriously hard to define, and the city's study tries valiantly to accomplish this impossible feat.] The study's suggestions include regulating total lot coverage, "sidewall articulation" [whatever that is], minimum coverage of doors and windows. There will be a full hearing and this issue will come up again. [I was not at this particular meeting because I was out of town.]

Headline: Redevelopment bug spreading from Selby-Snelling to Marshall; new retail shops and housing eyed for Marshall east of Snelling [If redevelopment is like a virus, reading the Villager is like a flu shot?]
Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: A parking lot/drive-thru coffee shop, three single family homes, a warehouse and a vacant commercial building might become something else such as a townhouse or apartments or new buildings, but nobody really knows what. There is some debate about whether a new Starbucks may or may not have a drive thru, but it is not zoned for a drive thru. [Saint Paul needs more drive-thrus. The new Culvers on University Avenue has really revolutionized the Midway neighborhood.] The neighborhood group doesn't want a drive thru. Nothing has actually been proposed yet. "Union PArk committee members agree the site has potential but also noted several drawbacks." [Great story here.]

Headline: Despite revisions, residents still raising concerns over Cleveland Ave. building
Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: A developer is trying to build a four-story mixed-use building on the site of an realty office in Highland Park but nobody is happy bout it because "many neighbors still believe the building would be too tall and too dense."There was a meeting about it. The local neighborhood committee made no recommendation. The developer has set back taller stories to attempt to please neighbors. There will be 111 parking spaces, "more than the 93 required by the city." Concerns raised include "early-morning trash collection", "gatherings on decks", "tenants being able to look out into yards and homes", [here it is folks, the one you've been waiting for] "potential traffic and parking impacts." Quote from neighbor: "It's going to be a nightmare." A public works engineer is quoted saying "the development is not expected to have the impact on traffic that neighbors fear."

Headline: City to resurface St. Clair this summer; New asphalt will be laid from Snelling to Victoria
Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: A street will get new asphalt. Article includes details about assessments.

Headline: St. PAul calls up new cellular antenna regs
Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: The Planning Commission approved new rules for cell towers that will make it easier to add antennas on buildings where antennas already exist. [It's kind of a deep philosohpical problem.]

Headline: Riverview Corridor study at crossroads on public outreach
Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: The County [which is leading the study of a transit potential of West 7th Street and its greater environs] is still trying to get input from the public. Article includes quote by CM Thune: "People are going to die of boredom before we get done." [Not if they're in the living nightmare that is Highland Village with a four-story building in it...] Article includes details of outreach from the study, which goes back at least a year, and in fact goes back ten years. Article includes quote from one committee member: "I'm personally convinced that more input is better." [The people involved are trying to reach non-jaded Saint Paul-ites with flexible worldviews, apparently, which takes a lot of work. I guess people like that are hard to find?]

Headline: St. Paul inaugurates study of college campus expansion; Macalester, Hamline are among school buying properties off campus
Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: The city  is going to study how to regulate colleges which are expanding without asking permission first. Macalester and Hamline are cited as culprits [though I have also heard that Metro State is guilty of this as well]. Article includes quote from Macalester VP: ""the college does not intent to expand its campus boundary."

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