Reading the Highland Villager #226

[An ice-crusted stoop Villager.]
[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: Grand Ave.'s retail landscape is changing; several longtime merchants are squeezed out by rising costs, new market pressures
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A bookstore closed, and over the last year so did a furniture store and a tchotchke store, a [crappy] bar/club, a Chinese restaurant, and another restaurant. [In many cases, other businesses opened up in their places.] Minimum wage, property taxes are cited as reasons for the closures. [Even though the minimum wage increase is very slowly phased in and has not even taken effect.] Quote from the furniture store guy: "it's not fun to do business in Saint Paul any more." The phrase "parking meter debacle" appears. [One way to reduce property tax increases is to build more housing and retail in your city, such as this project that was rejected by neighbors concerned about traffic and parking. The quotes from the business owner in that particular case really did lay out what was happening re: changes to the retail environment along Grand Avenue.] Some business owners have closed their stores for personal reasons or because its difficult to compete with online retail. Others have been able to "adapt." [There's not a very coherent message here. Change is going to happen whether people like it or not, due to the passage of time, capitalism, aging of humans, technology, etc. IMO parking meters would in fact help more customers frequent Grand Avenue, by first ensuring turnover, and by second making the street welcoming to new customers who are not necessarily used to the archaic, opaque, and confusing parking situation that exists today. Mike Sonn had a good list of other ideas on Twitter.] 

Headline: City seeks large increase in local government aid from state in '19; Criminal justice reform, housing assistance also sought from legislature
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is asking the state for money. [Hopefully they get it; LGA is way down compared to past decades.] They are also asking for almost $60M for a parking ramp and almost $50M for a new bridge out of downtown, as well as some other policy changes. [Cities are concerned about traffic and parking.]

Headline: County lobbies state for more assistance; more stable recycling market, more money for transit studies are also sought from Legislature
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The County is also asking the state for money and policy changes, for example, to study transit along West 7th Street and for snow making equipment in Battle Creek Park. [I would love that!]

Headline: Design unveiled for new Dale Street bridge over I-94
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The bridge over the freeway along Dale Street will be rebuilt with more lanes for cars and wider sidewalks. It will cost about $12M. For some reason the wide sidewalks are referred to as "pedestrian plazas." Medians on Dale will also be added. [Has Ramsey County Public Works ever seen a street it did not want to widen?] There will be public art.

Headline: Higher Ground shelters more homeless
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The homeless shelter downtown has about forty more beds now.

Headline: St. Paul is falling behind in effort to eradicate ash borer; for 10th year, infestation is spreading faster than city chainsaws can keep up
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A tiny bug is eating and killing all the ash trees. City staff are cutting them down as fast as they can. There is a seven-year plan. All this is expensive.

Headline: St. Paul grants its 17 district councils a raise of 23 percent
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The budget for neighborhood groups has been raised, after many years of being flat. [IMO these funds should be tied to metrics about engagement, where the city tracks the representativeness of different groups and memberships according to categories like %POC, and % renter.]

Headline: Ryan discusses plan for Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be a public meeting about possible changes to the Ford site plans. The developer is named "Ryan."

Headline: City ups fees for construction projects and business licenses
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Costs for things like licenses, permits, sewers, street paving, etc., have gone up.

[Note: If it seems like the Villager has been getting a bit thinner with its sidewalk-related news, that's true. The "News Briefs" section has not been in the paper for the last 3-4 issues, which represents a decrease in total news of about 25% in my estimation. Is this concerning? I think it might be. Where else does this zoning, development, and local government news appear? Nowhere.]

1 comment:

John Maddening said...

The tchotchke shop isn't even closing! It found a new owner! Plus, it was going to close because the owner was going to retire, not any other nefarious reason.

That furniture store, though -- man, I wanted in there when my wife had an appointment across the street, and it was a ridiculously priced joint. Maybe the Grand Avenue of years ago, a tonier place than it is now, but I just don't need to spend that much money on a couch that doesn't even look comfortable.