Reading the Highland Villager #178

[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: Opening of festive marketplace in old brewery keg house is on tap for 2017
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A building next to the brewery that is now artist apartments is going to have a whole bunch of shops in it. [The term “festival marketplace” was a very trendy urban planning concept from the 1980s epitomized by Boston’s Faneuil Hall and San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square. It’s a bit dated, but it’s odd how these concepts and buzzwords return to be trendy again just like 80s “normcore” sweaters, big eyeglasses, Rick Astley, and zubaz. (Still waiting on that last one.) But this latest twist on the concept is something I’ve seen personally in other cities, such as the market in downtown Milwaukee, or St. Roch market in New Orleans or maybe even a place like Eataly in Manhattan or the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Anyway, it’s a cool idea and hopefully will draw lots of people to West 7th Street.] There will be a “huge woodburning hearth.” [Always wanted one of those in my city.] There will be 32 stalls for food vendors. [That is a lot! Too many perhaps? The other markets I have seen are much smaller.] There might be a bandshell. Parking is not mentioned in the article even once. [Remember when restoring a small theater across the street and giving them a liquor license was going to destroy the character of the neighborhood because of all the noise, late-night activity, and parking pressure? This will have fifty times the impact and nobody seems concerned, which is good.]

Headline: Neighbors appeal Linwood-Monroe expansion; District’s plan for building a bigger school in Summit Hill will be reviewed by council
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A school wants to expand its building. Neighbors are concerned about the loss of open space. The City Council has the final say. Article includes a site plan diagram. There are “dueling petitions,” with 1,400 in favor and 163 against. [It’s amazing how small a number of people can cause such a big ruckus in cases like this and the Ford site petition, which is also small.] One neighbor is quoted saying “the expansion needs to be done in a way that does not create a ‘huge mass’… [which] would harm the character of the neighborhood.” [I am picturing The Blob, 1958.]

Headline: Commission will review plan for 128-unit apartment bldg. at St. Clair and Snelling aves.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to build an apartment building on the site of an old strip mall. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, parking, and the size of the proposed building. The neighborhood group wants the building to be smaller. There are “penthouses” proposed which one individual compared to airport control towers. The land has been for sale for a long time, according to one neighbor. Others are concerned about blocking views and sunlight.  Quote from neighbor: “You’re going to lose the character of the neighborhood.”

Headline: Reduction in street maintenance fees in ’17 comes with budget cuts
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is not able to asses non-profits and government buildings for street maintenance any more so they are cutting the city budget by about $14 million. [Roads are expensive. Very expensive, in fact.] The Citizens League is going to begin a process to study a program to try and get non-profits to pay voluntarily. [Maybe a “drive pledge” where people stand outside MPR  with a bucket as the employees drive into their parking lot? It could last for two weeks and people could take turns holding the buckets while they chat incessantly about how important Saint Paul streets are and how now more then ever they need your support and it could all be over soon if they reach their goal.] CMs Prince and Brendmoen are upset about the lack of transparency about the committee formation and procedures.

Headline: It costs more to park at St. Paul meters [Great headline right here, by the way. Seems like something I would write!]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Parking meters downtown are working well and their prices are changed using market principles, because parking is a market and also a thing that costs money, earning the city much-needed revenue.] Neighbors are surprisingly unconcerned. Quote from neighborhood group guy: “In the last few months, it hasn’t been an issue that has generated a lot of discussion at any of our meetings.” [Stop and read that again. Maybe twice more.]

Headline:  Highland Park puzzle room solves lack of city variance
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Here’s the idea: you’re trapped inside a community meeting about parking meters and have to find a way out. Every door is blocked by an angry person holding an anti-parking meter sign. What do you do?]

Headline: St. Paul settles assessment suit over Village streetscape work
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [“Village” is still a term that’s used apparently. Why is it called a "village"? All the farming and peasants? Dunno.] The city assessed buildings for sidewalks and streetscapes. Some didn’t like it and is appealing the costs. [Streets are expensive. Very expensive.]

Headline: At Home receives permit for apartment building on Grand
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer is planning to build a mixed-use apartment buidling on Grand Avenue where a few old homes were previously located. [It will have lots of off-street parking, much more than is usual. 48 spaces for 26 apartments.]

Headline: HRA sells portion of land eyed for Ayd Mill Road construction
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a piece of land that the City acquired 50 years ago as part of Ayd Mill Road. The city finally sold it back to the people who lived next to it for about $4K. [The Ayd Mill Road freeway was a terrible idea and remains so to this day. Someday soon the city will have to reckon with its literal and figurative costs, because that bill is coming due. Another problem created by Randy Kelly that nobody wants to face.]

Headline: Transit improvement board finds breaking up hard to do; Postponed voted delays counties’ plans to collect own transit sales taxes
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on the transit board (CTIB) dissolution that was nixed by Dakota County [which had already planned to heave the Board anyway, which makes the whole thing super ironic and puts it squarely in “spite politics” territory. See these two stories and my earlier thing on Dakota County in particular.]

Headline: Counties’ sales tax revenue would help pay for operation of Riverview Corridor
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The [aforementioned] CTIB is a funding source for local/regional transit projects such as Riverview. Article includes a brief overview of the current options on the table.

Headline: St. Paul simplifies board appointments
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is better at appointing people to public boards and committees now because they have a new “online portal” and other things. Hopefully it leads to more diversity. [So far, so good, on the Planning Commission. 5 out of 6 of the new members are people of color, which is great in a diverse city. It would be great if neighborhood groups had similar levels of representation, e.g. around issues like transit use, renting versus owning, etc. That is something that should be publicly available to see and measure District Council composition against that of the neighborhood, in my opinion. If necessary, it might be good for Councils to have reserved Board seats for people who fall into these categories, i.e. some percentage of seats on councils reserved for renters, POC, etc. See my story on this same problem in Minneapolis from a while back.]

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