Reading the Highland Villager #191

[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 Council lays groundwork for possible TIF at Midway Center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There might be tax-increment financing to help develop the Midway Shopping center, which is finally being demolished [thanks to Bill McGuire simply buying it]. CMs Noecker and Prince voted against the decision. Staff suggest a need for streets, sidewalks, etc. CM Noecker quoted saying “we’re giving up property taxes.”  [Um, try to keep it to an absolute minimum, folks. Also, no huge subsidized parking lots please. There’s a light rail station 100’ away.]

Headline: Council gets an earful on city’s master plan for old Ford plant
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a public hearing about the proposed zoning for the Ford site. [It passed a week later, 5-2. CMs Thao and Prince voted against.] Lots of people spoke. Quote from anti-guy: “there will be traffic galore.” Another guy who owns a jeweler is upset about how hard it is to cross the street and is worried development will make it worse. [On the contrary, much like the changes at Snelby, development will make it better! Mark my words, jewelry guy.] Little league kids want ballfields [see image at top right] to play on. People who like the plan say things like “I want to be able to move there” and “it will provide the best of urban living.” There was a debate about how much affordable housing to have, pushed by CM Thao. [Note that his affordable housing amendment passed, but he then voted against the plan anyway, citing “by the people, for the people” for some reason. Watch the vote yourself, because it’s interesting if you’re into City Council politics]. The city is also going to study realigning part of the River Road by the parcel. [Two main takeaways: this is and was always about traffic. Is it your opinion that we should try to fight car traffic congestion by keeping development out of Saint Paul? (I.e. #KSPB?) If so, you don’t like the plan. If you see an alternative, you probably like the plan. It’s that simple, because none of the other arguments make much sense. The second observation: nobody is forcing anyone to move into any of the new buildings! The anti-folks always seemed to be suggesting that teams of city staffers would show up at their door and frog-march them out of their homes and into these small apartments in these new buildings. Actually, no. Entirely different people, folks who actually want to live in them, will be living in the new buildings. By choice. On purpose. Anyway, glad that’s over for now!]

Headline: Neighbors group threatens lawsuit over city’s Ford site plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Whoopsies! Sigh. I guess I spoke too soon.] The people who don’t like future traffic have hired a lawyer who will attempt to prove some sort of grand conspiracy theory. [The lawyer is a former Republican legislator who was one of the leading voices against gay marriage, so is used to being on the wrong side of history, I guess.] Quote: "Our conclusions are that something is being hidden.” [Is it Hidden Falls? Is it a winter carnival medallion? Let’s crowd source a Groupon to put these folks in one of those trendy new puzzle rooms and see what happens.] They are requesting city documents from a whole bunch of people, including city staff and CM Tolbert’s aides. [That should be fun. Just like the Jefferson Avenue bikeway FOIA that has made everyone’s lives worse and also wasted tons of tax dollars.] Another quote: “citizens’ group wants specific documentation n the cleanup of pollution and documentation of Ford’s refusal to allow the site to be redeveloped with single-family housing.” [Single-family housing? This effort will not go quietly into the annals of embarrassing Saint Paul political moments. No, it will go screaming and ranting and pounding its fists against the padded walls of that one City Hall elevator that's always under construction.]

Headline: Cooper’s Foods finally calls it quits in Sibley Plaza
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: A grocery store is closing in a strip mall on West 7th Street. Quote from owner: “city’s new minimum wage laws and sick pay laws are killing me.” [Note that both of those ordinances are entirely reasonable.] Owner also cites the loss of other shops in the strip mall. [I wrote about this strip mall a while back.] The strip mall is probably being remodeled [and the construction is likely part of the reason for the closure]. The store had lots of different types of food for the diverse customers. There are not any/many groceries nearby. [I feel bad for people who rely on crossing the street to get food here. The grocery business seems super-duper competitive, and only getting more so!]

Headline: Cooper’s closing jump-starts talks about Sibley Plaza redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The strip mall may get remodeled into mixed-use and/or apartments. There was an attempt to re-zone the area but the owner really wanted to keep parking in front of the buildings, so it didn’t happen. Some people want a new grocery store and pharmacy. Others want housing. Quote from one “consulting firm”: “the apartments impact the perception of the site.” [That is really dumb. Maybe true, but still dumb.]

Headline: City Council weighs new mandate on sustainable carryout packaging
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Some people want Saint Paul to ban Styrofoam packaging in favor of recyclable or re-usable take-out containers. [Seems reasonable to me. It’s like one of those things that you sigh about, make the change, and then nobody thinks about it ever again.] Some business have switched already, others are complaining. [I seem to recall a certain food packaging lobbyist incident from a little while ago that may or may not have impacted the mayor’s race…] Quote from local [seemingly always angry] business guy Cossetta: “We use black plastic for many items, and a change would be costly.” [Maybe he can use the money he saved by not paying his employees a livable wage? Or stop suing the city?] Article describes compostable flatware.

Headline: Firehouse wine bar clears hurdle
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The old fire station that was saved from the wrecking ball can become a wine bar. There will be offices above. Article has brief history of the place. There is still a parking variance request. They need a 17-space variance.

Headline: ‘Great lawn’ proposed for 0.63 acres north of soccer stadium
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be parkland north of the now-under-construction soccer stadium, if the Council approves it. [This is par for the course for stadia, as per my article on the Vikings stadium.] It is unclear who does or will own the park. There is some confusion about whether or not the park meets the parkland dedication requirement, because it will be sorta-private and sorta-public. [Much like the new “Commons” park, or Bill McGuire’s other park, which is cited as a precedent.] The team would be able to close the park for events and stuff like tha, without negotiating with the city or anyone. [There should probably at least be some rules about that?]

Headline: St. Paul’s three jurisdictions are all eyeing tax increases for ‘18
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Taxes are going up.

Headline: Parks & Rec is falling behind on capital maintenance, tree removal
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The parks department is short of money, about $57M according to a consultant. [Please take consultant estimates of budgetary shortfalls with huge grains of salt.] The ash borer is expensive.  Lots of seemingly-good programs are being cut. The city got a grant to pay for the shuttle to the extra parking lots by Como Park. [One of the many things that could be fixed with a small parking fee.]

Headline: Board flush with proposals for Highland’s southerns reservoir
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A now-mothballed giant grassy reservoir thing can be used for something else now. Lots of people have ideas. The city is “leaning toward a lease” because nobody can predict the future of water. The city wants fields for soccer, baseball, and other sports. The County wants to add ice rinks and parking. [That’s what we need: more parking for ice rinks. Actually no that’s wrong. We need soccer fields, especially. If you think about Saint Paul and who are young people here and what ethnicity and interests they have and also about how football gives you terrible brain diseases and how also soccer is the most popular sport in the world and it’s also easy to play because all you really need is a ball, and also how because of a lot of diffuse issues like, well, racism, soccer fields are often fought against by neighbors, well then the answer is pretty clear, isn’t it?] A consultant wants to build a solar field. Another group wants to build a berry greenhouse. Some developers want to build housing or mixed-use. [It’s a prime spot on Snelling with a great view!] Some group called the “St. Paul Development Corporation” wants to build single-family homes. [Wait what?] There are other ideas too.

Headline: After midnight, St. Paul skyways can close down
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council passed a new ordinance allowing the skyways to be shut at midnight instead of 2AM. One property owner had been doing this already even though it was against city ordinance. [Saint Paul’s skyways are publicly owned.] There is a new “security plan.” CM Noecker is quoted: “no one is entirely happy with where we’re at.” [I’d like to see a plan for removing skyways on the margins, and a policy to not build any new ones.]

Headline: Desire to serve Ford site divides Riverview Transit committee
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: People deciding the plans for a transit line along West 7th street might or might not prefer that it go through the Ford site also. Article includes some details of the plans so far. [The preferred route, not yet voted on by the Policy Committee, is to be a streetcar along West 7th that would not go through Ford. That said, just like with the Green Line, where Metro Transit added routes to feed into the new rail, that would certainly happen here with the Ford site. There will be good transit with good ROW options through the Ford site, even if the river crossing is at the Highway 5 bridge.] One member from Minneapolis said that both markets, Ford and Davern, should be served.Some people voted against the study plans because they don’t like any rail. Neighbors are concerned about parking and loading zones.

Headline: Council ready to restrict sale of menthol tobacco
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council will vote on a ban on menthol cigarettes at regular corner stores and gas stations. [At the Council hearing, the delayed the vote for a month to figure out more details and questions about how the ban should go. There appeared to be support for it, however. Some details remain, like whether some stores would continue to be able to sell these, or how best to help businesses deal with the change.] Businesses are concerned about loss of business. [One interesting detail from the public hearing was that 80% of menthol customers are people of color.]

Headline: BZA approves remodel of Highland home once hit by plane
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A family can remodel a house that was crashed into by a plan 45 years ago, with a slightly higher roof and slightly smaller set back. [Donnie Darko much? This is a nice change from buildings being hit by cars, I suppose.]

1 comment:

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