2.5.16

Reading the Highland Villager #154


[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: Tours highlight ‘pinch points’ of building new Riverview line
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There are plans to maybe build rail transit somewhere on or near West 7th Street. The Rail Authority is going to lead walking tours of some of the routes. A “preferred route and mode” will be chosen by the fall. [I recently joined the “technical advisory committee” for this project. You can see some of my early thoughts here, but it turns out there are a lot of interesting options for how to build rail along or on West 7th Street. Surprisingly, the plan that I suggested, at least parts of it, is on the table in some familiar form.] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. Article quotes CM Noecker: “The loss of parking is obviously an issue in my ward, so not to identify the street as a pinch point is an omission.” [A lot can be done without taking away most of the on-street parking.] Crossing the river is still the biggest determining factor. [It’s the #1 issue, in my opinion. Other concerns are much more flexible, with more options and solutions.] The tours are May 11th and 19th.


Headline: Citizens sound off on Midway stadium plans; Neighbors grill city officials with questions about project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a meeting about the new soccer stadium and surrounding development at Snelling and University. Neighbors were concerned about traffic, parking, noise, and taxes. Article quotes CM Prince: “This is a project that deserves much more public process.” Article describes a moment in the meeting: “When asked for a show of hands, more than half of the audience indicated that they are worried about parking.” [The “show of hands” thing is a terrible way to run a meeting, by the way, as it divides people into black-and-white categories when in reality there is almost always a great deal of grey area and middle ground.] In theory, the new development will have 4,500 parking spaces. [Also there’s a  brand new train and a soon-to-open bus rapid transit that go right to this corner. They're both kind of a big deal.] City staff is aware that people are concerned about parking.


Headline: District revises $15M plan to expand Linwood-Monroe
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An arts school was going to expand but neighbors were concerned about “loss of green space” so some small changes have been suggested by an architect. There are “dueling Facebook groups.” One neighbor likes being able to “use” the green space around the school. [To walk his dog because he doesn’t have a yard of his own?] Neighbors are concerned about “long shadows.” The school desperately needs renovations and expansion. [Um, this is pretty ridiculous. The #1 priority should be a good school for the children that attend the school, with quality spaces for the children in the school. The property is for the school and its kids, not for neighbors to feel better because they can see some grass out their windows or something.]


Headline: Area around St. Thomas at top of list as city reviews permit parking issues
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is studying changing and tweaking its permit parking system. [This is a good idea. I’d like to see some quantification of use for permit areas, the fee raised (it hasn’t gone up since the 80s, I believe) and perhaps some sort of “target” set for occupancy – say 50% – and then permits “sold” to people for a much higher price if they so choose.] Neighbors are concerned about parking. A public works staffer called the current system “archaic.” [Strong words for an engineer!] There are 26 permit parking areas in St. Paul. Even when students have garages, they don’t use them. And other students with their cars are parking illegally. [Ticket them until they cry!] The permit thing is a lot more complex than it appears. [Rely on some studies to solve this problem. I recommend Shoup’s work, obviously. The real solution though is to have more on-campus housing at St. Thomas and to restrict the access to cars for students, especially for first- and second-year students.]


Headline: East 46th Street bridge to be replaced
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Yes, the Villager technically covers small parts of Minneapolis. Did you know that in Minneapolis they build bike lanes without riots in the streets? It's true. I know people that live over there and I talk to them on a regular basis. In fact, few people seem to complain about the bike lanes. The debates they have over there, which did I mention is in the Villager coverage area technically speaking, is whether their bike lanes should have planted boulevard medians or whether they should just be really wide. Incidentally, Minneapolis is right across the river from Saint Paul located within the Villager coverage area.]


Headline: Permit denied for Summit Hill triplex
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A couple who bought a building that had been a triplex now have to have it be a duplex because that’s how it’s zoned and it hasn’t been a triplex for ten years straight. The fire marshal was involved.


Headline: HRA OKs bonds for Model Cities site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A one-story brownstone project on University Avenue will become a four-story mixed-use building.


Headline: BZA OKs variances for Garden Theater
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old theater on West 7th Street will be allowed to be remodeled even though it doesn’t have its own large parking lot with 12 more spaces. [Classic minimum parking requirement v. historic preservation situation here. It’ll still take a lot of money though.]


Headline: Council denies early closing of skyway
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A building manager for a downtown building won’t be able to lock her skyway doors at 10:00 pm like she wants to because skyways in St. Paul are regulated and publicly owned. [Unlike Minneapolis! See Peter’s column on this, that features a photo from me!] There will be a group to study security in the skyways.


Headline: Leave roadway project markings alone [Note: this is the best headline in years! Very Britney.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People should stop taking away the flags placed on the boulevards and streets that are designed to show people where gas mains and utilities are located. Apparently this is a problem somehow. Article quotes a “damage control supervisor”: “We don’t want anyone else to hit a line and cause an accident or explosion.” [Jeez, people.] Best line: “The flags are removed when the work is done and the paint fades with time.” [All things fade with time.]


Headline: RS Eden gains support for four-story Marshall Avenue apartment building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A neighborhood group voted to support plans to build a 4-story apartment buidling on Marshall. It will be supporting housing for low-income people. No mention of neighbors being concerned.


Headline: Work finally starts on building an updated McDonald’s in Highland [No wait, this is the best article in years]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Finally! I don’t know how Highland Village has survived this long without an updated McDonald’s.] Zoning changed from “commercial” to “traditional neighborhood” a while back. [In theory that means drive-thrus and curb cuts are discouraged, fencing is required, etc.] Article quotes franchise owner: “it’s going to be beautiful.” [I like the film Coming to America, don’t you?] The set-back will be much less, closer to West 7th Street. It will have two curb cuts, a “double drive-through”, and 40 parking spaces, which is 14 more than the parking maximum [yes, you read that correctly] set by the city. Quote from the article: “The argument for more parking was that the new restaurant is expected to have 50-80 customers per hour at peak times. Like other new McDonald’s, the redone Highland restaurant will have such amenities as Wi-Fi and television screens. That entices customers to linger longer and was also an argument for additional parking.” [McDonalds wi-fi lingering: I’m going to have to hang out there for an afternoon and live-blog it.]


Headline: Quaint Hi-Lo diner brings a taste of bygone era to E. Lake
Author: Loren Green

Short short version: [Again with the Minneapolis. Did you know that they have double the bicycle mode share in Minneapolis, which is right across the river from Saint Paul and technically part of the Villager coverage area? They do things like install bike racks, stripe bike lanes, and things like that. Apparently people like it, and also somehow, though I’m not sure how, businesses seem to survive.  Dunno, it’s a mystery to me too!]



Bonus: this fortnight's RTHV opera was Falstaff, which is apparently about "the thwarted comical efforts of a fat knight to seduce two married women to gain access to their husbands' wealth."




2 comments:

PT said...

St. Thomas has unused underground parking. One of the reasons they supported the bike lane on Cleveland was to sell more parking with the lose of on street parking.

Has student population risen at St. Thomas? I don't think so BTW. They just built enormous on campus dorm. Don't think you're getting more students on campus any time soon.

PT said...

St. Thomas has unused underground parking. One of the reasons they supported the bike lane on Cleveland was to sell more parking with the lose of on street parking.

Has student population risen at St. Thomas? I don't think so BTW. They just built enormous on campus dorm. Don't think you're getting more students on campus any time soon.