Reading the Highland Villager #44

[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. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.] 

Total # of articles about sidewalks: 11
Total # of articles about sidewalks written by Jane McClure: 8

Headline: St. Paul bans new student rentals near St. Thomas; Moratorium gives city year to study increase in home conversions 
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: CM Stark's [aforementioned] ban on affordable student housing near St Thomas University in the name of protecting well-to-do families from the blight of being near St Thomas students passed the City Council on a unanimous vote. [Some St Thomas official claims that student housing does NOT negatively affect property values. Meanwhile, everybody agrees that at least 20% of St Thomas students suck.] The city planning commission will “study” the issue during the next year. [This is why I never want to be on a planning commission. -Ed.] Article includes descriptions of [what surely was] a [riveting] community meeting in which anti-Tommie voices outnumbered pro-Tommie voices by a 3-to-1 margin. Includes this memorable quote from “Yvonne Jonk”: “I'm frankly tired of not even being able to put pumpkins out on my steps.” 

Headline: Popular Red Balloon begins new chapter on Grand; Bookshop changes hands to another pair of women who embrace children's literature. 
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The bookstore has been open since 1984. It's still open.

Headline: Coleman proposes 6.5 percent tax levy increase in 2012; Mayor's budget includes $6.2 million in cuts and hefty increases in fees 
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Because of a $12 million cut in St Paul's LGA allotment, the mayor's city budget will cut $6M largely out of fire dep't overtime, shorter library hours, NOT doing the Marshall Avenue median project, fee increases, and across the board cuts to all city departments. The other half of the reduction would be made up by a property tax increase. [The mayor gave the budget address out of the now-open but then-closed Amsterdam location. I am on my way there right now.] Article includes quotes and dramatic statements about snowplowing from various CMs.

Headline: City parks budget marked by higher fees, less frequent cleaning; But no buildings are closed under mayor's plan for 2012 
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: See above. Article is basically the same, except it lists out all the cleaning schedules for the various city-owned park buildings. For example, “restroom facilities at playgrounds without a rec center would be cleaned five days a week.”

Headline: SteppingStone to spend 200,000 to restore historical front stairway [Note: headline missing a dollar sign]
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The [cool building that houses the] SteppingStone Theater [right near William Mitchell College of Law] will restore the large set of stairs that lead down to the Victoria Avenue sidewalk. The money comes largely from the city's STAR grants. The building was originally a bunch of different types of church.

Headline: Judge sides with neighbors, negates PPL zoning variance; Now council may consider amending lot size ordinance 
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: [In an ongoing NIMBY saga] A group of neighbors along West 7th Street have successfully stopped a large affordable housing building from being constructed on a vacant lot. A judge recently supported the neighbor's challenge of the zoning variance granted earlier by the city. Article includes gritty details of RM-2 zoning. Article includes photo of old man leaning on a scarecrow looking pleased with himself. Article also includes Churchill-type quotes from PPL head Steve Cramer about indefatigability, etc.

Headline: Diverter meets the intent of bike-walk program 
Reporter: Barb Thoman [exec. Director / founder of TLC] 

Short short version: Explanation of the need for safe and comfortable biking routes, the NMTP project, TLC's role in administering the money, the history of how they decide which projects to fund, the history of which projects have actually been built, and why making a bike boulevard without medians and serious traffic calming is like building a bike lane and allowing cars to park inside it. [NOTE: That last metaphor is my own. -Ed.] Column includes the following ultimatum: “TLC has indicated to the city of St Paul that this segment must include at least one effective traffic-calming treatment to minimally meet the criteria under which it was funded.” [They built one over in Minneapolis with THREE diverters, but I suppose that was in a less soucheray neighborhood. NOTE: dfn. soucheray. Adjective. 1. (politics) a place where the only point of view is through a windshield. Ex. “That's a very soucheray coffee shop, its parking lot is huge!” -Ed.] 

Headline: Waiting for the rebound; Homes for sale are in short supply as sellers sit out of market 
Reporter: Larry Englund

Short short version: Article on the real estate market. Includes large table showing average home prices of all St Paul neighborhoods.

Headline: Committee favors industrial development of Pelham site; City staff argued that no errors were made in approving the site plan and noted that the site is actually in the St Anthony Park neighborhood, not Union Park 
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Holy crap!] The old Overnight Express site right next to the Rock-Tenn factory will get a new one-story industrial building. The city had considered changing it to a “traditional neighborhood” zoning because its near the new University Ave LRT. Article includes [way too many] details about city politics featuring many different departments and actors and internal debates. Article includes illustration of the new building, which is a classic one story St Paul Port Authority industrial park development with a parking lot moat [safely] separating any walls and windows from the street.

Headline: Plans for Dino's Gyros, Culver's restaurants move forward 
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Culver's restaurant slated for University and Pascal is on track for completion. Article includes great description from an anonymous University Avenue resident describing this section of University as “blighted by crappy old buildings and broken-up parking lots”. [I hate Culver's. I hate drive-thrus. Case closed.] Meanwhile, in Highland Park, Dino's Gyros will be opening up on Ford Parkway near the new Walgreen's. The building will NOT have a drive thru, but may try to get a liquor license. [Great St Paul. Way to go. So now we have new drive-thrus, crappy industrial office moat buildings, and windowless CVS no-doors-on-the-street-on-a-main-streetcorner crap built on University Avenue. That sounds like a pedestrian paradise! The Champs Elysees of the West! -Ed.] 

Headline: Rentals are a bright spot in market; New housing projects aim to take advantage of low apartment vacancy rate 
Reporter: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: Article about how rental properties are in high demand, thus becoming pricey. Article includes photos of the Farmer's Market lofts under construction downtown. [For further information about this, see earlier stories higher up on your screen on how St Paul politics is putting the kibosh on the construction of rental housing near St Thomas, affordable rental housing along W 7th, and how nobody who owns a home is selling it, thereby increasing demand for rentals. -Ed.]


Unknown said...

Once again, I am so glad that this publication is not online so I don't have to waste my time looking at the photographs you mention.

Also, I kind of like Culver's! Doesn't do much for a streetscape, but it sure tastes good (until the low self-esteem aftertaste kicks in...).

Alex said...

St Paul seems to love to pretend its scientific by conducting "studies" like the one on the West End that found that almost no housing was being converted to duplexes, yet recommended zoning to prevent duplexes anyway.

How exactly are they going to "study" St Thomas student rental conversions if they banned them in the entire St Thomas area? I hope they use a college with a study body from a lower income bracket as a control, so they find that conversions aren't a problem. But obviously the St Paul Planning Dept's "studies" are about as scientific as those conducted by the tobacco industry proving that Winstons have real flavor.

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