Reading the Highland Villager #175

[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: Higher Ground gives St. Paul’s homeless a path to self-sufficiency
Author: Larry Englund

Short short version: The homeless shelter and housing center downtown is expanding. The bunks will have USB connections. [How about that!] They cost $7 a night or $42 a week. [And not moving from its central downtown location. When the expansion was first pitched, many people wanted the shelter to be relocated to a peripheral part of downtown Saint Paul. Instead, it will remain near the freeway and the Xcel center. This centers on the tricky question of “who downtown is for.”] The laundry machines will be free to use. [That seems wise.] The president of Catholic Charities is named Marx.

Headline: Port Authority  spurs Midway stadium project; Steps in as master tenant of 16 acres of shopping center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The St. Paul Port Authority will lease much of the Midway Shopping Center that is underneath the plans for the soccer stadium and surrounding development. [See my article on this in Minnpost.] Construction of the stadium will begin “in earnest” in April. [When will the Rainbow Foods close? It is irrevocably occupying the stadium footprint.] The authority is getting involved because of so-called “complicated financial aspects.” [This probably means “lease agreements and non-compete clauses.” This is one huge reason why it’s nearly impossible to re-develop a strip mall unless it’s gone out of business completely.]

Headline: Public comment sought on the redesign of High Bridge; West End-West Side span will close this fall for full year of reconstruction
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The top surface of the high bridge needs to be replaced and so the bridge will be shut for a year. [The reason for this is because when the MnDOT agency built it in the 1980s, they initially tried to save money by using two different kinds of rebar – coated and uncoated – in alternation, instead of simply using coated rebar. It turns out it wore down more quickly than anyone expected and so the concrete deck needs to be re-done about a decade early.] Neighbors are concerned about suicide prevention. [See my article on this in Minnpost. The bridge plans will have much higher, thinner fences about 8-10’ high, a 2.5’ divider separating the sidewalk from the traffic lanes, and most importantly, bumpouts along Smith Avenue in three new places, Baker, Goodrich, and Curtice Streets.]

Headline: St. Paul’s rollout of new wheeled carts has been a bumpy ride
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Saint Paul’s recycling contractor [see my article on this in the Park Bugle] is switching to wheeled carts. [These are way better IMO because you can fill them up any day of the week and then just set them out once a week, or leave them in the same place all the time and the people come to pick them up.] Some of the carts are not being emptied for various reasons including ice, improper placement, or bad alley maps. Neighbors are complaining on Facebook. CM Stark is quoted: “We’re seeing problems but they’re fixable.” The carts have tiny RFID chips, and some people are concerned about privacy. [These chips are able to communicate with each other, and are the early stages of a vast AI-style big brother network that will track our every move until it achieves autonomous sentience, at which point Saint Paul will become the epicenter of a Terminator-style machine army that will wipe humanity from the Earth. Just kidding.] CM Tolbert is quoted: “I’m all for technology, but we need to have it clearly understood how the information would be used.” The recycling trucks have cameras in them. [Prediction: in six months, when the recycle cart system is working smoothly as it does in Minneapolis every day, almost nobody will even remember that this was an issue. Seriously, in Minneapolis, very closely located to Saint Paul, people just put recycling, trash, and compost (!) into bins and the city picks them up and everything works really well and is very cheap, cheaper than Saint Paul even, and also reduces wear on roads (which is a thing!) to the lowest possible levels pretty much.]

Headline: City to review plans for cycle tracks through Merriam Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city would like to construct a safe bike lane, called a protected bike lane / cycletrack, to link up the Grand Round from Como Avenue down to the Mississippi River along Pelham Boulevard and up to Raymond Avenue. They would be two-way lanes with plastic bollards on one side to keep cars from driving there. Some parking would disappear. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. [Pelham Boulevard, a wide street where cars currently speed and with very few homes and none without driveways, is a critical and obvious link for the “grand round” which is a thing that Saint Paul should have.]

Headline: Highland neighbors are uneasy about projected increases in traffic from a redeveloped Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.

Headline: GABA wants Grand Old Day to last a little longer this year
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A business group would like Grand Old Day, a street parade, to last longer in order for “more gradual disbursement.” Neighbors are probably concerned.

Headline: Council approves new rules for conducting outdoor sales
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Stores can put things outside on the sidewalk on a more regular basis now, or sell things off of tables on the street farmers’ market-style, if they get a permit. [See the example of this Dale Street vintage store, now closed.]

Headline: St. Paul appoints members to committee studying poverty
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A committee will study poverty.

Headline: BZA to hear variance requests for Linwood, Adams additions
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Two schools want to expand. For one, neighbors are concerned about the loss of green space. For the other, neighbors are not concerned. [What do the children think? We should ask them. No seriously.]

Headline: St. Paul continues removal of ash trees on public land
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: 850 more ash trees are being chopped down because of a tiny voracious bug. Como Park and the river are heavily infected. [There is no stopping this bug. It will destroy your ash tree. The ash tree has a poetic name, and has long been a symbol of druidic myth. For example, Stephen Dedalus, the young poet in James Joyce’s work, carries an ash stick.]

Headline: Rondo on the brink: ‘Highwaymen’ revisits a decision that sealed a neighborhood’s fate
Author: Frank Jossi

Short short version: There’s a new play at the History Theater about how the freeway demolished Saint Paul’s most important African-American neighborhood. [This, and other kinds of legacies of structural urban racism, is something we should spend much much more time thinking about… as opposed to other concerns that I won’t mention right now.]

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