22.9.15

Reading the Highland Villager #138

[A Villager my friend, is blowing in the wind.]
[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. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.] 


Headline: St. Paul police plan a test run of 30 new body cameras in '16; Complexities of maintaining and releasing videos are expected to push the annual cost to $700,000
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Given the civic liability for police misconduct, seems like a good use of money.]


Headline: School Board considers 2.75 percent hike in property tax levy
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: They might or might not raise taxes for educating children.


Headline: Plans brewing at Marshall-Snelling
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission Zoning Committee voted to approve a permit for a drive-thru Starbucks at the corner of Marshall and Snelling, which required a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a drive-thru and a variance to the floor-area-ratio (FAR) rules for a small building on a large lot. [The full Commission approved it as well, on an 8-5 vote; I voted against it because of neighborhood plans and because this plan is pretty much the least-possible use for this site I can imagine, other than a self-storage facility or a predatory lending "bank." See also this article about drive-thrus in general, and this Starbucks in particular.] Quote from local area group guy: "We've hosted this kind of use before. What's changed?" [I don't know, maybe the massive new mixed-use apartment building next to it? Or the new transit project planned for the corner? I had a friend who worked at that "coffee kiosk" 12 years ago. A lone guy in a tiny box handing out coffee to an endless stream of people driving past. Maybe one of the most depressing jobs?] Article cites traffic concerns. There will be an outdoor patio, 14 parking spaces, and two driveways that will "only allow right turns in and out." [What are the chances that whoever stops to get coffee will not immediately try to do a U-turn on Marshall Avenue?] Neighbors are concerned about traffic. Another quote from a neighborhood groups guy: "The use of traditional neighborhoods zoning on University Avenue has not brought in the promised mix of new retail and residential uses. 'Our zoning is keeping anything from happening unless it's a nonprofit or something built in collaboration with the city. It's basically zoned to be a vacant lot.'" [There's a doozy! I don't even know what to say to that. 'Things are happening slowly in the Midway, therefore Saint Paul needs more drive thrus?' I guess, be careful what you wish for. If the soccer stadium plans go ahead, as expected, in five years the Southeast corner of Snelling and University could be completely changed.]


Headline: Italian restaurant on menu for vacant Randolph Avenue spot
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A vacant restaurant space between West 7th and the river bluff will become a restaurant again, an Italian joint run by the Strip Club/St. Dinette guys. [I really want it to have a freakin' patio overlooking the Mississippi River valley. Why isn't there a single restaurant in Saint Paul with a patio overlooking the Mississippi River valley? Seriously, the best one is maybe Eagle Street, or Cossetta's now that the building across the way is temporarily gone. And both of those are mediocre. Someone needs to build a restaurant with a patio overlooking the river. How awesome would that be?]



Headline: Midway SuperTarget allowed to open separate liquor store
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council [acting as the Metaphysical Hairsplitting Authority (MHA)] decided to allow Target to sell booze. The liquor store distance requirement was a key sticking point, whether to measure the liquor store from the doorway or the wall. [I can't wait for Archer Farms Whiskey and Market Pantry Lager.] Neighbors are concerned about public intoxication and liquor.


Headline: St. Paul creates historic district for stone homes
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Five old Saint Paul buildings dating back to the 1850s made of limestone are now a "historic district." One of them will most likely become a taproom, though neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. [They will also sell rock candy and other 1860s-era foods like pickles. Pennyfarthing bike parking only.]


Headline:  Committee suggest selling unused Riverside School for redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An empty school in Highland Park might be sold for some sort of use, according to a School Board Committee. Maybe they'll sell it to the city first, maybe to a developer. It's really run down. The building was built in 1924. A document from the 1950s called the building "useless" even back then. it might become apartments, mixed-use, or a softball field. [That would start to make up for the softball field the Highland Park library paved over to make a parking lot.]


Headline: County Board backs tax exemption for new soccer stadium.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Except Janice Rettman.]


Headline: Work resumes on Snelling Avenue streetscape improvements; Bus rapid transit stations and platforms are being readied of the opening of 'A' line in early 2016
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The region's first bus rapid transit project will go down Snelling, and the street and sidewalks are being reconstructed with new medians, sidewalks, and lantern style lighting. Best quote is from MnDOT guy: "We sometimes hear Snelling described as Minnesota's main street." [Really? I'd be more likely to call it, Minnesota's Maim Street because of the way it continually kills and injures people trying to cross it.] There are questions about MnDOT owned "small parks" [i.e. trashy vacant semi-grassy spaces used only by onramp panhandlers] at the corners of Snelling and St. Anthony and some would like investments in "fountains" or "public art." [A waste of money because of the onramp proximity on the one hand; getting MnDOT to pay for it on the other hand.] BRT buses will ride low to the ground.


Headline:Highland 9 rolls out FootGolf in effort to boost course usage
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Golf is dying, you guys.]

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