Reading the Highland Villager #131

[A Villager waits for customers on Cleveland Avenue. H/t Patrick.]

[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: More growth, less congestion; Highland Park pins hopes on new traffic patterns at Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on the public meeting that took place about how to plan transportation around the development at the old Ford truck plant. Article includes quote from CM Tolbert: "The Ford Site is not an island." People want development ideas that do not generate traffic. [Cemetery? Housing for people in comas?] A city planner says big box stores are out as an idea. [Phew. Note that bikes and transit are not mentioned in the article for some reason.]

Headline: Support builds for new home design standards; Ward 3 residents push for adoption of some controls
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: City attempts to slow or change "teardown" constructions in the Southwest corner of the city won't happen for another six weeks or so. They will be heard by the Planning Commission, then the City Council. Article includes neighbor quotes about teardowns in Highland. Because the standards will be city-wide [still not sure that's a good idea], many neighborhoods have to look at them and think them over. "Large new homes block sunlight and air ... and alter character of neighborhoods." Article includes quote from neighbor that large new homes "drive up sale price of nearby homes." [Not sure if that's true or not. How do teardowns or lack thereof affect home prices? Same question goes for mixed-use development; see next article.] Best quote from neighbor: "It's starting to look like Woodbury." Article ends with a few quotes against the proposal.

Headline: Council denies attempt to block Cleveland Ave. building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version:  A one-story real estate office will become a four-story mixed-use apartment building with more parking than is required by the city. [The irony of a Edina Realty real estate office being the catalyst for development is not lost on me.]

Headline: Council to consider new Cleveland bike lane; Local businesses request compromise to mitigate loss of off-street parking
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city council will have a hearing on June 3rd about proposed bike lanes for Cleveland, Lexington, and Front. The lanes will not cost the city any money because the County is resurfacing the streets, and all the streets were planned for lanes when the Bike Plan passed earlier this year. Article offers [surprising] balance from local neighborhood groups, who see both sides of the issue. [One side: safety for bicyclists; the other side: we need parking at our doorstep or we'll lose all our presumably very lazy customers.] Article claims [incorrectly] that local bike advocates support a "sharrows compromise" that would keep parking at a few intersections. [Note: this is compeltely wrong. Not sure where the Villager got its information, but it wasn't from bike groups. See a rejoinder from bike advocates here.] "The possibility of saving customer parking was cause for hope for some and skepticism for others." [See also this thing I wrote.] The council will vote on recommendations to the county after the public hearing on June 3rd.

Headline:  Opus to break ground in June on 7 Corners redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A new mixed-use apartment/hotel will be built on West 7th at the site of an old hardware store.

Headline: $290,000 more approved for Riverview Corridor planning
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A study is continuing about transit along the W7th area, but nobody knows what's going to happen. The committee hopes to select a route and mode by "next winter." [No hurry? Sigh. The best idea is a LRT/streetcar down West 7th that goes to the Ford Site.]

Headline: Public financing approved for 1.8-acre West Midway project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A vacant lot on the corner University and Emerald [on the border of the city] will become mixed-use apartments, some affordable. There is a TIF district involved.

Headline: New federal rules on cellular antennas approved by city
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: It's slightly easier to erect a cell phone antenna now. [This is probably Federal meddling at the behest of Verizon or something.]

Headline:  Study recommends better management of downtown parking
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city completed a study of downtown parking which pointed out that Saint Paul is doing almost everything wrong on that front. "The perceived parking problem is not so much a lack of supply as of convenience." Article includes kevetching about the bike loop from CM Thune, but also this sensible quote: "There's a feeling downtown that if we can implement recommendations right away, we should." There are more than 28K parking spots in downtown. Article buries the most important recommendation: setting longer times and higher rates at meters, and controlling placards.  Article includes [head-spinning anecdote]: "One strategy was to raise parking meter rates to the point that motorists would rather use parking ramps or lots. That got a tepid response from City Council members. CM Thune said the city needs to reserve its meters for those needing short-term parking." [Wouldn't raising rates do just that?]  

Headline: Rondo Land Trust gets the go-ahead to plan development of vacant Selby lots
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Long-time vacant lots on Selby Avenue might beg developed into two three-story buildings. The buildings will use a "land-trust model" [which will theoretically keep them affordable].

Headline: Local CIB requests find slim pickings; Committee recommends funding fewer than 50 out of 131 total projects
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Capital Improvement Budget committee ranked a long list of city projects [where every possible kind of project competes with each other, e.g. playgrounds for kids vs. fire station vs. falling down bridge]. Article includes quote from committee member: "The amount of money needed for some of the larger projects handcuffs every other project." There is about $11M to go around. [Saint Paul: Hunger Games!] Lots of [good] ideas were left off the list, including streetscape improvements for West 7th.

Headline: Catholic Charities kicks off $40 million campaign to replace Dorothy Day Center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A downtown homeless shelter is raising money for a new building. [A worthy cause.]

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