Reading the Highland Villager #153

[Villagers in the foyer of the downtown Lunds.]
[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: HDC OKs plan to install median on Snelling Avenue
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: If the city somehow gets money from the State to build a median on the Southern end of Snelling Avenue [much like the median next to Macalester, where multiple people have been hit by car drivers while trying to cross the street]. The city would pay 3/5 of the $2M cost, and a State grant would cover the rest. [I think this is the last of the 8-80 money?] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. Article quotes CM Tolbert on Snelling: "It's like a freeway at times." [It's specifically designed to be a freeway, in fact.] The neighborhood group wants 10' medians, but would settle for 8' medians with trees. [Better question is why not do a road diet here? Traffic counts are low enough, then you could add bike lanes or something.] Article discusses "Z-style crosswalks." MnDOT will have to sign off on any changes. Parking bays might be added by the funeral home or churches. Article quotes one neighbor: "I find crossing Snelling to be terrifying." Business owners are worried about access to parking lots. Article quotes owner of the piano store: "I like the idea and its goals; I just think it could cause trouble." [Little known fact: pedestrian medians have been the leading cause of vagrancy and crime in American cities since 1976.]

Headline: Sale of Penfield could net city $7.85M
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A downtown mixed-use apartment building that the city developed on its own is being sold for a profit. The money will go to clean up the Snelling-Univeristy site. Years ago when the building was financed using TIF money it was controversial. The TIF district will cease when the building is sold. [Meaning tax revenues will go into the general city coffers. Maybe downtwon density is a winning proposition?]

Headline: Another full summer of road work begins
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Roads require expensive maintenance on a regular basis. Article includes picture of a bicyclist "watching warily for an opportunity to cross Lexington Parkway." [This is highly unusual.] Article lists projects, including the construction of new ADA sidewalk ramps on Cretin between Ford and Summit, which were not installed during the"terrible 20" emergency paving thing a few years ago [but probably should have been]. After complaints from disability groups, the city is finally installing them. [Better late than never.]

Headline: Commission denies Nova Academy's appeal; Modified plan allows four-story apartment building near school
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission voted to allow an apartment building to be built in the Victoria Park area near a school there. The original master plans for the site were very different [because half the site cannot be built on because of unforeseen pollution]. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. [I have heard that the school offers busing only for people living in Saint Paul, but many or most parents drive their kids there.] The school has a strange half-owned parking lot.

Headline: The greening of Central; School's parents raise half a million to transform south end of campus
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: Saint Paul's oldest high school "looks like a prison." A group of people want to make it look less like a prison. Ideas include: an outdoor classroom, a nicer fence, rain gardens, a nicer parking lot entrance. They are raising money to match the rest of the funds. [Fun game to play in the car while traveling: "school or prison"?]

Headline: Garden Theater restoration given six months to get going
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: And old movie theater on West 7th Street that people have been trying to restore for many years is applying for money to maybe restore it before it gets demolished. Article quote a neighbor who saw the film The Blob at the theater. It closed in 1959. [Wow.] The theater "has not parking lot of its own." [I don't understand how people can think this building will have a future if it has no parking lot.] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.

Headline: Thirty-nine projects are wishing on a STAR grant or loan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has a fund where different projects apply for money.  Lots of projects are applying for money.

Headline: Demolition delayed as groups attempt to save old fire station
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to build a hotel [on a block that has long been dilapidated] and to tear down an old fire station that dates to 1871. Article includes quote from developer: I've saved a lot of buildings, but I'm scratching my head about this one." Article quotes neighbor: "this is a neighborhood that values its history and we value our historic structures." [Unless they're being demolished for parking lots?] The building has been used as a warehouse. Demolition has been delayed with a court order.

Headline: Neighborhood groups hold forum on proposed stadium
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Two grassroots neighborhood groups had a meeting about the new soccer stadium and surrounding development. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, noise, and property values.

Headline: Neighborhood meeting set on Linwood School addition
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A arts school on Osceola Avenue might expand. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, and the "scale of the neighborhood".

Headline: Financial adviser eyes Bayard property for office, residence
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A financial advisory might open an office on Bayard. It is zoned residential but has traditionally been mixed-use.

Headline: HPC raises a bottle to the history of brewing on West 7th; Vote returns gigantic beer, billboard-like signs to Schmidt site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A 60-year-old giant beer bottle sign and billboard by the brewery on West 7th Street can stay.Apparently it is a "contributing structure." An anti-billboard group does not like the sign because of its inaccurate beer choices. [See my story on the group.] The neighborhood group had been using the sign to advertise Grain Belt [which is a Minneapolis-now-New Ulm beer and completely inappropriate]. The signs will have to be changed to advertise local businesses. Nobody knows how old the beer bottle is.

Headline: City Council to adopt new regulations governing group homes: But it rejects increasing the minimum distance between sober houses
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city used to have a lot of categories for "congregate living facilities" but is reducing them to just a few. Sober houses in particular will not be required to be farther apart than they already are. Neighbors in Merriam Park are concerned about sober houses, density, traffic, noise, and parking. The City Council voted to keep the zoning changes as it, and not require sober houses to be more spread out. Zoning for these types of housing had not been changed since 1991. [I see both sides of this, and agree that group homes should be spread out through the city. But don't see why people in recovery were singled out.]

Headline: St. Paul seeks grant to address unstable slopes in Lilydale Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is trying to get $4.5M from the state to stabilize bluffs along a park that collapsed in a landslides a few years ago, killing two young people. Article includes some history of the area. Park advocates are sad about the loss of beautiful spaces along the bluffs. There is some debate about how to spend money if they get any money.

[Villager read while listening to Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte.]

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