Reading the Highland Villager #158

[Highland Villagers out on the town in Longfellow.]
[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: Getting a handle on trash collection; Small haulers draft a plan for organized collection that maintains their market share
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: In an effort to prevent the organization of city garbage hauling, a group of garbage haulers are organizing. [Yep you read that right. It's kind of like the people sitting on the North Minneapolis greenway protesting the North Minneapolis greenway, or the "bicyclists against bicycling" advocates that seem to pop up from time to time.] Not everyone though. Article includes detail about public policy studies about organized trash collection and externalities. Garbage haulers are concerned about "one national hauler" [read "Waste Management"] getting the city-wide contract. [Pretty sure nobody in Saint Paul is advocating for that. This kind of reminds me of the liquor distributors against the very popular and sensical Sunday Sales policies, out of slippery slope fears that it will lead to other changes.]

Headline: City review of Midway stadium plan begins in earnest
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A soccer stadium is planned for a vacant lot and strip mall on a key corner. The process is rushed. There was a public hearing at the Planning Commission. [I was surprised how few people testified, to be honest. Only about 5 that weren't millionaires.] Lots of people want more details. Article quotes people who have been on a [largely symbolic] committee. The neighborhood group is forming a task force, and is concerned about "open space, pedestrian safety, design and density." Neighbors are concerned about construction noise and parking. Hearing included famous anti-government former politiican [and former anti-sidewalk poetry editorialist] who [rightly] claimed that stadiums do not catalyze economic development [very much]. Article quotes strip mall owner who claimed he would not make money unless he developed the land along the lines of the proposed plan.

Headline: Game for pro soccer; City officials say expected increases in traffic with stadium are manageable
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: While city staff and stadium planning consultants are concerned about traffic parking, the study also says that traffic and parking are solvable problems, though there might be gridlock in 2035 if all goes well. [And there might not. It all depends on transportation trends which could go many different directions locally, regionally, and globally.] Article quotes city planning head saying that the study confirms "the viability of a soccer stadium." The study called the AUAR is full of details, some of which are included in the article, such as the fact that 80% of the fans would have to get to the stadium in ways that are not private cars, including by shuttle bus. [I call this the "magic bus" theory.] People might have to wait to exit the stadium site area because of crowds. Some traffic signals will need to be changed to accommodate more cars. [The basic facts are that there these streets have been designed to handle large amounts of cars already, and because of induced demand will always be congested as long as they're free-flowing... if that makes sense to you. The other fact on the ground is that there is tons of parking on the ground in this area, which will become more valuable with the increased demand from developing this site. Meanwhile the land will also become more valuable. The final fact is that there is tons of transit here, more than anywhere outside of the two downtowns and maybe the Mall of America. It will work out, though I'm sure it will become harder to park in nearby neighborhoods some of the time. That was always going to be true in this area, however, and will be a basic fact of living in a desirable and walkable part of the city, which I hope this will become. I'm more worried about the too-narrow sidewalks, and the complete lack of North-South bike access. There needs to be high quality bike connections from the stadium site North across University to Charles, Minnehaha, and Como, and South across the Freeway to Marshall and Summit. That needs to happen along with the stadium construction, or else I fear that Saint Paul's dreams of millennial revolution made clear in the latest Adele video will come to naught.]

Headline: Meeting to address next steps in preparing Ford site for new use
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a meeting at a church in Highland where the Ford Motor Company released its results of the environmental study which determines how developable the land of the old factory can be. The company was conducting an intensive and long study of existing pollution on the site, which can really shape the value and use of the land. [I have heard that the meeting was "very good news." Many people were worried that it would be too polluted and that the future developer would be unable to build residential on the site. But there was only one area that was too polluted for residential, but it's on the corner by the River Road and Ford Parkway, which is where plans called for commercial development anyway. If all goes well, there will be thousands of units of residential here along with good high quality transit of the Snelling/University type. The ETA on all of this is a ways off, though. Ford is going to clean up the site itself, instead of contracting it out to someone like the Port Authority. They won't be marketing it to a developer until later in 2017 at the earliest.]

Headline: City delays vote on accessory dwellings
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The council delayed its vote to approve ADUs for a week to let neighbors comment more and to review building codes. [I think they should loosen up requirements especially around external staircases. The idea is to make ADUs affordable enough so that some can actually be built.]

Headline: Zoning board OKs small expansion of 128 Café's parking lot
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A café on the ground floor of an older apartment by a University got a setback variance to expand its parking lot from 6 to 10 spaces. The street by the building will have bike lanes sometime later this summer or fall. The owner is concerned that people won't walk in the winter. [People will walk in the winter.] They also are seeking an on-sale liquor license. [Parking lots and liquor licenses, a match made in heaven.]

Headline: Resident-only parking in Merriam Park opened to others
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Some areas of the city that where on-street parking is restricted to people with a sticker [but using rules which are very hard to enforce] are going to be changed to allow one-hour parking for people without a sticker [in ways that are impossible to enforce]. The street by the areas will have bike lanes sometime later this summer or fall. [The sooner the better. Let's rip off the band-aid, please!] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. There was a discussion of whether Area 16 was or was not more congested than Area 17. [Hunger Games: Saint Paul.] A man with a disability will get a handicapped-parking sign.

Headline: City wrestles with ways to make Jefferson safer for pedestrians
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A neighborhood group is trying to get the city to improve safety on a [half-assed] bike boulevard in Saint Paul that runs past day care centers and schools. Ideas include painting a center line and "fog lines" [what are those?] and re-painting the sharrows. [This project, on Jefferson Avenue, is legendary for its half-assedness and political shenanigan levels, if you recall, eclipsing even the Cleveland Bike Lane situation in terms of Saint Paul craziness.] Article includes a brief history. Article quotes one resident saying :"the street isn't safe and traffic is moving way too fast." [I can confirm this from personal experience of course. Bicycle boulevards live and die by their traffic counts and speeds, and both here remain waaaaawaaaaaaay too high to make this the kind of project that it was intended to be. The only solution is to install a diverter at a key intersection like Jefferson and Hamline, like the ones they have on the Riverlake Greenway in Minneapolis at two or three key intersections. It might cost a few hundred thousands dollars but it might save lives and actually make this project start to barely live up to its initial vision. Anything less will be lipstick on a pig driving an SUV too fast next to a school.] Article mentions bright orange ["surrender"] flags According to the article, Public Works isn't interested in touching this with a ten foot pole.

Headline: CIB committee objects to selling public safety annex to developer; Says it doesn't fit longstanding plans for Pedro Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A committee that funds stuff got upset when city staff suggested selling a downtown building to a developer. The building had initially been slated for a public park as part of a land donation to the city. The park would cost a lot, and the building is worth a lot too. [There's a temporary park on the part of the site that was donated, a very cool public art project done at minimal budget.] The building is currently holding a "police annex." [... whatever that means. I don't know this seems like a chance for Saint Paul to be flexible, keep a cool already-half-existing park, make some money for the taxpayers, and increase density downtown. Just my reaction. People tend to really idolize open space in ways that aren't always helpful. I kind of like Flower Field as it is, though it could use a real budget to make it even better. Certainly though the decision should be made in the public eye and with some discussion.]

Headline: Norths contend liquor license delay could close curtain on Garden Theater
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A couple who are trying to restore an old theater on West 7th Street want a liquor license ASAP. Neighbors are concerned about parking and "patron problems." A bank loan vs. a 45-day waiting period is the main issue. Article quotes building owner: "I think that some of the neighbors will never be happy." [Well that's glum! Certainly true, unless you stop to think about the question "just what is happiness anyway?" Maybe some people are happiest when they're complaining about parking? So are they happy or not happy? That is the great noumenal question of parking-itself.]

Headline: For sale: Seven-room Highland school building on a 5.4-acre lot
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The school district is selling an old school that closed in the 70s. It will likely be mixed-use.

Headline: Cooks of Croscus Hill resolves dispute with fire inspectors
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A fancy cooking item store on Grand Avenue will not have to install a "fire suppression system" over the demonstration countertop that it's been using for many years.

Headline: Ramsey County Board will get 2.5% pay hike in 2017
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: It was a 4-2 vote, Huffman and Rettman voting against. They will make $90K.

Headline: St. Paul seeks state funds to rehab historic Lilydale bridge
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A small limestone bridge in a park by the river might get some state money to get fixed up.

Headline: Historic Randolph Ave. fire station to be for sale soon
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old semi-abandoned fire station from 1885 will be for sale. It might get "some level" of historic designation. [No, it's not the same old semi-abandoned fire station as the other one.]


This Highland Villager re-cap written to the dulcet tones of Verdi's opera Don Carlos.

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