1.12.15

Reading the Highland Villager #143

[Villager hide out with other papers at the Dunn Brothers.]
[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: Questions derail accord on north-south bike route; task force favors Cleveland but controversy continues
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The citizen task force voted 8-4 in favor of bike lanes on Cleveland Avenue but costs for the project are still up in the air. The local neighborhood group spent time talking about it, and it sounds like the meeting was testy, with accusations of "fillibustering." The neighborhood group decided to defer a decision. [Article jumps around between describing the citizen task force and local neighborhood group committees, for some reason.] Article outlines the history of the debate over the issue. [Also, banner day! I was on the Cleveland task force and am quoted in the Villager for the first time, saying "look at the big picture and not just the street in front of your house." Note: my right knee had previously appeared in the Villager, but was not quoted.] Article includes quotes from many task force members.  [Article might have spent more time talking about projected costs for the proposed parking bays, which could amount to over a hundred thousand dollars.] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.



Headline: Riverview transit decision rolls into station on Dec. 10
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on the Riverview Transit Corridor Policy Advisory Committee, which is apparently going to decide to narrow the options for transit along the W 7th Street area to "a few." [My preferred option: a non-disruptive streetcar along W 7th Street that turns into a LRT-speed option when it hits the Ford spur, running over to the Ford site, and then crossing the river and either stopping at 46th or going to the airport on a new bridge. That would be awesome! Combined with the "b-line" aBRT project straight down 7th Street would make transit in this area and to downtown Saint Paul pretty top-notch, and it's the only way to really make a great Ford site project without making "traffic and parking" the center of attention.] Article describes the Riverview corridor project [which has been going on since the 80s.] Apparently bridging the Mississippi is difficult. [Who knew?] Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, and construction disruption. [Since this article went to press, a few routes were taken off the table: 35E and Shepard Road, both of which would have almost no TOD benefits.] Article quotes St. Paul Chamber prez saying that costs should be a factor in the decision making process. [Good point, sir.]


Headline: Public weights in about future operation of county's ice arenas
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The county owns and operates 11 ice arenas. Some people would like more sheets of ice in Highland for tournaments. Most arenas are getting old. Some arenas don't have lockers. User fees mostly cover operating costs, but costs are going up. There's a weird chemical that keeps ice cold but the EPA doesn't like it. Millions of dollars might be needed. The West Side arena might close, and people are upset. [People who play hockey is a very small group of people who are very intense and serious about it. Damn but it's expensive though. This is kinda like the golf thing, only colder and less land-usage-y.]


Headline: CVS Pharmacy is hoping to open at Grand and Fairview
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A soon-to-be-abandoned Whole Foods store might become a CVS with a drive through, but needs a permit. [CVS is based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Please note the previous crappy CVS building at a major intersection.]


Headline: St. Paul to add liquor licenses near downtown, Schmidt site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: More restaurants that serve booze can open near West 7th Street. The city has [an archaic system of] "ward caps" on liquor licenses.  CM Thune would like the "downtown district", which allows liquor licenses, to be expanded to the West Side Flats and farther down W7th  street.  Article includes the term "festival marketplace." [There's a blast from the past. Hello 1980s!]


Headline: HRA secures funds to upgrade local YWCA housing facilities
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: YWCA "supportive housing" complexes will get a grant to upgrade their housing, including one in Highland.


Headline: City Council OKs  $11M in TIF for Macy's redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city will use "tax increment financing" to help pay for the development at the [now defunct, white elephant] downtown Macy's building. [I don't have strong feelings here. If not for the TIF, fairly sure this building would sit empty for a decade. I guess I'm not sure why the city / Port Authority bought it in the first place.] CM Stark wants to make sure that Walgreen's, which will be in there, will be held to the living wage ordinance. CM Thune recused himself because "at the end of the year he will likely be working as a lobbyist." [Hm.]


Headline: St. Paul OKs sale of city-owned properties for redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city will sell some of its buildings, two for $1 each, and one for $50K, to redevelopers. The city is trying to sell property it owns.


Headline: Stadium site citizen advisory board named
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: 24 people will be on a committee to help design the soccer stadium. [I doubt they'll have much power, but at least it's something.]


Headline: Parking may be restored on University
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city might allow on-street parking for much of University Avenue between the hours of 6PM and 2AM, though not the busy section between Fairview and Lexington. There will be a public hearing. [Why not, I say. Nobody uses the remaining on-street parking now, however, even when it's free. But if people do park on University again, it would create a "buffer" for the sidewalk. I only wish they could do it in the places that really need it, like by the Turf Club and Ax-Man.]


Headline: Highland Bank reveals renovation plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A bank is going to be remodeled to include "retail stores, and a "reconfigured drive-thru." [Seems great.] Article includes quote about the move to online banking: "in recent years banking traffic has gone way down." [Thus the need for smaller bank drive-thru lanes?] Article quotes neighborhood group prez: "pedestrians who cut through the parking lot ... create a safety hazard."


Headline: City Council agrees with neighbors, rejects proposed Grand Ave. condos; votes to deny variances for eight-unit development
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A condo proposal that would replace a [dilapidated] single family house [between two apartment buildings] on Grand Avenue was rejected by the City Council after an appeal from the neighborhood groups. Article includes quotes from the developer: "this isn't being built on Lincoln. This isn't being built in the middle of a bunch of single-family homes." Article quotes neighborhood group guy: it is "way too large" for the lot. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.  [The key point is that the only reason this building is slightly larger than the code allows is because of the underground parking built there because of the parking minimums. The historic 1920s apartments buildings on either side are slightly smaller in mass, but have more apartments and fewer off-street parking spots.]


Headline: City poised to exempt restaurants fro liquor license limits; Council will hold public hearing on December 2
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Restaurants that serve booze might no longer be counted as bars as part of the "ward caps" [which are quite arbitrary, IMO]. CM Tolbert is "championing" the move, and is quoted saying "there's no rhyme or reason for the liquor laws the way they are now." [His ward, Highland, has the fewest number of permitted liquor licenses, which is one reason that Tiffany's is the way it is.] The ward caps are in the City Charter. Some would like to just remove ward caps all together, instead of exempting restaurants. CM Prince would like more discussion to take place. Article quotes restaurant owner: "I'd love to be able to serve a bloody mary." Restaurateurs would also like to get rid of the "60/40 rule."


Headline: HDC, HBA raise idea of Snelling Avenue median in Highland; Proposal would stretch from Randolph to Highland Pkwy.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A neighborhood group and business association would like to see a median built on Snelling. "Street breaks" would be a thing. [This is the PERFECT opportunity to make a "diverter median" for the Jefferson Bike Boulevard here at little to no extra cost. You simply remove the traffic light, and create a median break just for bikes that would copy the design along Charles.] No funding has been identified, but the article mentions CIB. MN-DOT would have to be involved because they "own" this street. For some reason article does not spend much time discussing pedestrian safety [which is the big reason why a median should be built]. Neighbors are concerned about access for cars.

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