Reading the Highland Villager #183

[A Villager perched on a mailbox.]
[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: City’s master plan for Ford site endorsed by task force; Though a minority of task force members maintain the zoning is too dense
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A “planning task force” that has been meeting for ten years [yes you read that correctly] voted on the city’s zoning plan and approved it. Article includes details of the plan. One member is quoted as being concerned about density. [Most ridiculous] quote: “[she] asked her colleagues how it would feel walking along that village thoroughfare beside mixed-use buildings up to 75 feet tall.” [Believe it or not, by “village thoroughfare” she was referring to Ford Parkway. If you’ve ever walked along Ford Parkway, you know that it feels constantly as though you are about to be run over by multiple turning SUVs at the same time. The curb cuts are atrocious, most especially the one leading into the Lund’s strip mall area. Crossing the street is similarly horrible, with multiple lanes of cars speeding up and down the hill from the river, weaving back and forth. Village thoroughfare this is not.] There is still some debate over how to resolve the little league ballfield pickle, as the land targeted for ballfields is owned by the railroad and they have “objected to having its former railyard designated for recreational use.” [For some reason the article does not list what the vote actually was. For example, 12-3? 9-6? How big was “the minority”? That might have been useful information to know.]

Headline: Divided Highland Council supports city’s plan for Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Same article as above only with the neighborhood group instead of the task force. The vote was 8-3. Neighbors are concerned about traffic, density, and character of the neighborhood, and attended the meeting. [...and roundly booed when the votes were cast, I am told. One woman left shouting "Highland elects the mayor!"] Other neighbors were not concerned about these things. Best description: “When [one man] said the plan shows only a ‘minor increase’ in traffic in the surrounding neighborhood, many audience members guffawed.’” [Incidentally, here are some slides from the carefully-done traffic study, which makes conservative assumptions about mode share, that show how minimal the traffic increases would be.] One man was concerned about heights relative to trees: “the area’s tree canopy tops out at six stories. ‘Anything taller than that stands out.’”

Headline: City pursues new use for Ford rail spur; New transit, bike and walking trails studied
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a community meeting to discuss how to make use of the abandoned railroad corridor from the Ford site to most of the way to downtown. There might or might not be transit on it. People like bike and walking plans, but not necessarily transit plans. The railroad is playing hard to get.

Headline: Riding tandem: Ford, Riverview planning
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Planning for the Ford site and the Riverview transit corridor are happening simultaneously. [In theory this could be great as land use and transportation are two sides of the same coin, so to speak.] A Riverview decision will be happening in the fall. It might or might not go through the Ford site.

Headline: Support grows for river balcony plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission voted to support a plan to build a walkway along the bluff downtown. Neighbors are concerned about sightlines. [There is no money for this.And if the city is committing money to it, that seems like a big opportunity cost for projects which could be built this decade.]

Headline: UST to expand Aquinas Chapel as first project in its master plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A church building on the campus of the University of St. Thomas is being expanded. Neighbors are concerned about Tommies, especially the younger ones. Dorms are expensive to build. Near many schools, private developers build student-oriented housing. [For example, all around the U of MN.]

Headline: Thirst to be doused at old firehouse
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old fire station will become a wine bar if the City council says it’s OK. There will be a hotel built next to it.

Headline: Commission says it’s a ‘go’ for VanGO Auto in Highland Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A car repair place will be allowed to start renting VW camper vans. Neighbors are concerned about having too many camper vans parked on the site at the same time.

Headline: Twin Cities Pride march gets moved to John Ireland blvd.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Because Catholic priests have always supported Pride, haven’t they?]

Headline: Your sales tax dollars at play: Cultural STAR grants $800K
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city gave out some money through its arts funding program to arts-type things. Article includes list.

Headline: Public weighs in on city’s proposal to rezone Snelling Ave.; Plan promotes denser redevelopment along busy transit corridor
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is planning to rezone parts of Snelling Avenue, from 94 to Ford Parkway, to “traditional neighborhood” zoning, which allows for less auto-oriented uses and more walkable density. Neighbors are slightly concerned about density, affordability, sunlight, and parking.

Headline: Efforts to aid homeless continue with second phase of Dorothy Day project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The homeless shelter downtown is expanding thanks to some money from the city, Met Council, and probably state.

Headline: Residents balk at city’s higher rate for renting block party barricades
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city doubled the amount they charge for barricades for neighborhood block parties. It now costs $130. [This is dumb. Block parties are a huge asset to neighborhood social connections, and probably save the city money in the long run in public health and policing costs.] Some neighborhood groups would like to have smaller barricades that they rent out to people, but Public Works wants to keep the 10’ ones. Quote from Director: “We’re a public works department, not a collection agency.” Article quote CM Tolbert who says the city needs the money.

Headline: Counties to go their separate ways in funding transit improvements
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The board that funds transit projects is now separated, with only Ramsey and Hennepin working together very closely. Riverview funding will be more likely under this scenario.

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