Reading the Highland Villager #166

[A dense tower of Villagers along Snelling Avenue.]
[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: UST rolls out its master plan for St. Paul campus; List of projects could run $300M over next decade
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The medium-sized Catholic university on the West end of Summit Avenue is doing some medium-term planning. They might build new dormitory beds, academic buildings, and parking spaces. Article includes maps. These things might or might not require permits and other city bureaucratic hoop-jumping. Neighbors are pleased about some things, less so about others. For example, neighbors want more students living on campus instead of the neighborhoods, and some would like to see more housing in a parking lot. [Presumably, not in mobile homes.] Quote from neighbor: "You'll get the good students [back on campus] and we'll get the party people." Neighbors are also concerned about parking, and would like to ban cars for first years. [At my school, you couldn't have cars your first year. Now that there's a bike lane on Cleveland Avenue this might make more sense because bike lanes make it safer to bike around.] Quote: "providing more parking without encouraging students to bike, walk,or take public transit will just add to parking congestion." [Very sophisticated insight, he wrote non-ironically.] Neighbors are also concerned about pile drivers. [Nobody likes pile drivers apart from professional wrestling fans. That said, getting more first- and second-year students living on campus, in fact requiring it, would be a good move for UST and alleviate some of the party / vomit / noise problems I should think.]

Headline: Slim City council majority OKs 7.95% maximum levy hike
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Taxes are going up this year more than in years previous. The resulting rate is a compromise after a mayoral veto. CMs Bostrom, Thao, and Tolbert voted against the levy [though for different reasons]. Article includes quotes from different CMs saying things about "parks" and "emergencies" and "necessities."

Headline: St. Paul homeowners may see tax hikes of $100 or more in '17 [Curious why the term "homeowners". of course it makes sense but it is not as if renters are not also affected by rising property taxes though in an indirect way but still. could just say "tax levy" or "taxpayers"]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Same as above with more details about geographic impact on different neighborhoods. Article includes lots of numbers. Takeaway: houses with values increasing from lower starting points will see the highest percentage, but not total, increases. [That makes sense of course, mathematically speaking.]

Headline: Port Authority prepares to step in in stadium negotiations falter
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The public-private mostly-industrial development organization with bonding ability is ready, if necessary, to help finance parts of the soccer stadium area development. [It kinda reminds me of like the movie where the mob guy has got his arm around the local business guy and says "well wouldn't want anything to happen to your nice plans for skyscapers here, you know..." But you know maybe they're just trying to instill confidence that Saint Paul will follow through on its development visions or something...] Nobody knows when construction might begin or if they will be able to keep their ambitious timeline. Quote from Port Authority guy: "We're prepared, if need be, to provide assistance." CM Bostrom does not want the Port Authority to "move in a different direction" from the original plans. ["Like, you know, a strip mall would look mighty good right here, you know," guy making menacing gesture says. "It'd be a shame if someone were to build some parking lot-centered townhomes next to your soccer stadium..."]

Headline: City unveils plan for high-density zoning all along Snelling; New zoning would extend down major cross streets
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is working on plans to re-zone Snelling Avenue, which is now a major transit corridor. Recently five- and four-story buildings were built on Snelling. Current zoning is all over the place. The new zoning would be "traditional neighborhood" zoning [a much-improved zoning category the city came up with years ago and has been slowly making uniform through the city]. There are lots of plans that "designate the street as a high-density mixed-use corridor" and have done so for years. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, taxes [though unclear in what sense], and pedestrian and bicycle safety. One lady wants Ayd Mill Road turned into a freeway and received applause.  Neighborhood groups will be deciding how they feel soon. [Snelling is the perfect place for higher-density zoning, and it will hopefully help make the street feel less like a freeway and more like a neighborhood. The new A-line, though I have not ridden it, is purported to be quite nice.]

Headline: Merriam Park residents surprised by tree removal along I-94
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: MnDOT cut down trees between I-94 and a street by the freeway. A neighbor noticed and asked a construction worker what he was doing and the guy said that it was part of super bowl beautification. [LOL. Lipstick on a freeway pig!] MnDOT claims it is to remove invasive species like black locust and buckthorn. [That makes more sense.] MnDOT almost built a sound wall on the site but the City Council and neighbors were concerned for some reason so they didn't build it. [See also my Minnpost column about freeway soundwalls.] There's nothing anyone can do.

Headline: St. Paul's street maintenance fees under fire on several fronts; With lawsuits pending, City council ratifies over $30M in right-of-way fees for '16
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is trying to get non-profits, universities, and government institutions to pay for streets in the city that they use but it's legally difficult and some groups [churches or something] are suing the city. The program has been around for 14 years. The State Supreme Court decided that it's not a fee it's a tax. 1/3 of Saint Paul's land is controlled by non-tax-paying institutions. [This all seems like it could go terribly wrong, like with a court decision that says that the city owes 14-years worth of back-fee payments that would basically bankrupt the city overnight. The basic premise seems sound, though. The City needs these institutions to help pay for streets that they use and depend on. There should be a way to do it.]

Headline: Later weekday closing eyed for liquor stores, craft breweries
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: You'll be able to buy beer until 10pm now. Some liquor store owners like it, others do not. Breweries all like it. Quote from one of the owners: "moderation and safety is our goal; most of our business comes in the afternoon  and early evening. Being open on Friday and Saturday night until 10 only seems to attract the younger crowd -- students, in particular, wand many others who would be better off without a purchase." [He might be right, but that's still condescending. But regardless, this passed, and Saint Paul is slightly less boring.]

Headline: City grants liquor license with conditions for West End theater
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A couple who own an old theater building and want to fix it up but need a loan from the bank but the bank won't give them the loan until they get a liquor license got a liquor license. Building inspectors are skeptical and want the couple to hurry up with the remodeling. The owner guy says it'll be done in six months. Neighbors are concerned about noise and theater behavior. Last call will be 11:30. The building was in rough shape. [One of the building inspectors last names is "Ubl", which is kinda cool.]

Headline: Renovated fire station will adjoin new West End hotel
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A hotel is being built and they were going to tear down an old abandoned fire station buidling but didn't after neighbors objected and now the building is going to be saved [with a bunch of city money that the article doesn't mention] and it will be redeveloped somehow and included in the Marriott. [Hopefully it will look nice.]

Headline: Permit allows St. Paws dog facility to stay on University
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission [of which I am a member] voted to allow a dog housing place to stay in a neighborhood where it's technically not allowed. There are lots of rules for the dogs. Neighbors are concerned about "drinking, drug use and drug dealing, muggings, and human urination", but not dogs. [Now there's a list of concerns!]

Headline: City planning tow-year break from competitive CIB process
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The [Hunger Games] way that the city funds small and large building projects might be put on hold for the next two-year cycle while someone somewhere figures out how to make the process less byzantine. [Or just because they want to save money.] A fire station and rec center would be hogging almost all of the appopriated money anyway, leaving only scraps for the rest of the proposals. [See also my Minnpost column on this topic.]


This Villager re-capulet composed while listening to Verdi's opera Ernani, about a noble bandit who disguises himself, falls in love, gets married, and then is forced to stab himself in the heart and dies in his lovers' hands.

[See also the extra-special Op-Ed letter to the editor that appeared in this fortnight's issue.]


Anonymous said...

What is your evidence that juniors and seniors are less vomity than freshmen and sophomores? I don't have any to the contrary but that is exactly why I don't make broad assumptions like this.

Bill Lindeke said...

This comes from my own personal theory of suburban-to-urban evolution. Now, I can't vouch for St Thomas students in particular, but in general I'd say that young people going off to college, the first year they can't believe that they are out of their suburban house, surrounded by people their own age, and can do whatever they want. Their first and only priority, in many cases, is to just party and hook up and enjoy not living with their parents. It's quite a learning experience, even if you're not wasted. These people tend to be the worst neighbors on earth.

It takes a year or two for the initial liberation euphoria to wear off and for students to learn that, oh hey they actually live in a city surrounded by other people. Typically, by the time you get to Senior year you've figured out a better sense of 'who you actually are' (identity) and are much more likely to be considerate of things like "not vomiting in people's yards" etc.

(Corollary: urban kids are typically less Dionysian, because they didn't spend their high school years in the suburbs in the first place and had more freedom to wander around on their own.)

This is just a theory, of course, and not supported by such films as Animal House. And it might not apply to UST kids, but more to liberal arts kids. I dunno. Also, once you're a senior you're typically 21 years old and can actually go drink like an adult at actual places and don't have to do it "off the books" which likely doesn't help the situation.