Reading the Highland Villager #201

[Stacks of Villagers stand ready at the grocery.]
[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 ups services at Fire Station 20 on University Ave.; changes are part of effort to improve EMS across St. Paul
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be more trucks and an ambulance at Station 20. Article includes details about different kinds of fire trucks and staffing. [The vast majority of fire calls can be served through an ambulance these days.] A fire truck is moving out of the station on the East Side, and it’s annoying some people such as CM Prince.

Headline: Public school parents push for snow policy reform; Storm stranded kids, left parents in dark for hours
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A snowstorm made it hard for school buses to get kids home, and lots of them did not get home until late at night. Parents were pissed and some say the District should have called off school.

Headline: City lays out plan to double size of Highland disc golf course
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The disc golf course might get larger. It’s really cheap, only $5K. [Disc golf is cooler than actual golf, in a way. Certainly way way cheaper for both the city and the people playing.] Neighbors are concerned about crime, trash, loitering, and noise. Another neighbor says that “more activity could deter crime.”

Headline: Developer looks to create arts venue at historic St. Paul’s Church
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to turn a vacant church into an event center and music school offices. The church dates to 1904.

Headline: Local projects nearly shut out of Dayton’s $1.5B bonding bill
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The things that Saint Paul was hoping the legislature would fund are probably not going to be funded because the Governor did not include them in his proposal. These include a big parking lot on the bluff downtown, and a new bridge from downtown to the east side. Rep. Haussman  is throwing some shade at both requests, suggesting parking ramps are usually funded by their price. [She has a point, but still that ramp is a big liability because I heard it is falling apart. Not including any core city projects seems like politics to me, though, in a big election year.]

Headline: Neighbors challenge approval of Marshall-Moore apartments
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The approval of an apartment building that was proposed with by-right zoning is being appealed to the City Council after passing through the Planning Commission. Neighbors are concerned about density, traffic, and parking. They are arguing that the underground parking lot grade is not actually below the ground. [I believe the Council meeting on this is tonight.]

Headline: Catholic Charities facility for homeless gets sign variance
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The homeless shelter can put up a sign over the parking lot entrance that is higher than normally allowed.

Headline: Open house set on Smith Ave. and Dodd Road landscaping
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: MnDOT is reconstructing these two roads and is going to have a meeting about how they handle the new trees. There will also be new sidewalks and intersection designs. [And Smith Avenue bumpouts, which the article does not mention!]

Headline: Neighbors raise concerns over St. Kate’s parking lot proposal
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The college wants to build a surface parking lot where a grove of woods is located. Neighbors are concerned about the loss of the trees and storm drainage. Quote from a neighbor: “once we pave over the forest, it’s not coming back.” Others would like to find alternatives to building a new parking lot, suggesting empty cars be stored elsewhere. Quote from a neighbor: “i’m really surprised that you have such a dire need for parking.” [She has never spoken with university administrators before, has she? All university administrators display a dire need for parking, with very few exceptions. It suffices to say that some simple price signals could “nudge” this problem into oblivion.]

Headline: Backlash scuttles idea for mixed-use building at Dixie’s
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A guy who owns a building and a bunch of restaurants on Grand Avenue wanted to build housing on top of his restaurants and in the existing parking lot. [This makes sense because housing is badly needed in Saint Paul, and especially on Grand Avenue.] He proposed having an underground parking lot instead of the current surface lot. The proposed building would have been up to five stories tall. Article includes a lot of detail about different zoning or design rules in the area. He had a meeting with the neighborhood group. Neighbors were concerned about traffic, parking, renters, and scale, and he has dropped the proposal. Quote from a neighbor: “every day I walk down Grand I see for rent signs.” [Well that settles it. This is a damn shame, if you ask me. Worst thing I've seen in a long while in Saint Paul. It seems like exactly the kind of medium-density parking lot infill along a transit corridor that we're supposed to be building and advocating for all over the city.] Quote describing concerns of the restaurant owner: “with the explosive growth of restaurants and bars in downtown and on West Seventh, ‘people are stealing business from us.’” [Prediction: Grand Avenue, once the most thriving commercial street in Saint Paul, will be an afterthought in a few years, hardly worth mentioning on lists of places to go or things to do.]

Headline: Opposition to soccer stadium noise exemption is rather muted [Your Villager pun of the week!]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A soccer stadium is being built by the freeway, and neighbors are concerned about noise. There was almost a meeting about it, but it snowed. [Ironic, because snow dampens sound. Also, the freeway is very loud, as is Snelling Avenue, which is full of trucks because they aren’t allowed on 35E.]

Headline: Student rental registration revoked for Marshall Ave. house
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A house that a landlord had been renting to students can no longer be rented completely to students. There can be four people there, but only two of them can be undergrads. Graduate students are OK though, apparently. An inspector found “six to eight” students there, but there were only four on the lease. Quote from a neighbor: The neighborhood I live in is under siege some of the time by student rentals.”  Another saying: “the students fill all of the bedrooms to get the rents down.” [Wanting lower rent is very normal, especially for poor people, such as a younger student often is. I lived in a “student house” on Grand Avenue after college, and I am pretty sure we were exceeding the occupancy regulations, though I was unaware of them at the time. There were, if I recall, five people living in the house, and we got along great and it was such a relief to only have to pay $250 a month for my tiny room. Also, now we need police to inspect them for their papers proving they are not students? The student witch hunt is bad. Also, I am in favor of getting rid of “unrelated adults” rules, which seem so Victorian to me.]

Headline: Rezoning sought for senior campus on old Riverside site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The place where the old school used to be might get rezoned. This is the spot where the road might get re-routed to make the intersection less dangerous for everyone involved. Senior housing is planned for the site.

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