Reading the Highland Villager #65

[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.]

Headline: CIB committee recommends replacing Village’s sidewalks
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: [After many years of rejection] The St Paul Long-Range capital improvement budget committee voted to devote $300K for re-doing the [slippery when wet red brick patterned] sidewalks in “the Village” [the semi-creepy code name for the neighborhood around the Ford and Cleveland intersection in Highland Park]. The money is available thanks to a NIMBY rejection of a re-construction of the Cleveland and St Paul Avenue intersection. The debate over the sidewalk reconstruction was between "The Village’s" business community who think the current sidewalks are dangerous and rapidly deteriorating, and people who serve on the Community Improvement Budget (CIB) board who think that sidewalks shouldn’t be ranked ahead of “street and utility projects.” [I am a defender of sidewalks, FYI. The CIB ranking basically pits different parts of the city against each other for investment priorities. Ideally, those areas that most need city investment and have the most economic development potential would receive the CIB money, i.e. not just the folks that make the most noise or have the most political connections. –Ed.]  Article includes [odd recursive meta-self referential] quote about the sidewalk from local neighborhood group member: “We’ve had numerous letters to the Villager … asking when the village sidewalks will be fixed.” [This is like The Villager having a headline that says, “Concerned Citizens Write Letters to Local Newspaper Decrying Government Overreach,” where they report on their own existence. Now that I think about it, that story could replace about 29% of The Villager’s actual headlines. –Ed.]

Headline: With lawsuit pending, judge allows Pizza Luce to open new parking lot
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The lawsuit against Pizza Luce filed by  “neighborhood resident Eunice Smith” has failed to block the construction and use of the off-street parking lot on Selby Avenue by the popular [quasi-punk veggie-friendly] pizza restaurant. Article includes the apt phrase “latest salvo.” [Basically, it’s like Robert Moses said, that if you get the bulldozer working and start knocking down stuff, the project becomes inevitable and you win. –Ed.]

Headline: Vote set on land swap, funds for new ballpark
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on the City Council’s vote to prepare the city’s portion of the money for the St Paul Saints’ lowertown stadium. The deal also involves a swapping of the land between the St Paul port authority and the site of the current saints stadium. Article [is really interesting actually,] includes details about funding [$10M from the Saints, $17M from the city, $1.5M from the aforementioned STAR program, and $27M from the State (hopefully)], some [unsupported and probably outrageous] claims about economic impacts [stadium will have $10M / year “economic impact, and “create 500 full- and part-time jobs”], and quotes from Saints officials, Mayor Coleman, and CM Thune. [“I don’t want to be in a position where the community doesn’t have a say in what’s happening in Lowertown.” The vote passed, incidentally, and the city is now waiting to hear what the State (read: Governor Dayton) is going to do. –Ed.]

Headline: STAR board favors 18 projects citywide
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: [The Villager is really milking the STAR board report this fortnight, and for good reason.] List of STAR grants approved by the board includes $600K for affordable housing along University Avenue, $400K for the Schmidt Brewery, $74K for a housing at Selby and Dale, $100K for the Hulme building on W. 7th, $30K for Golden’s Deli, 150K for a bakery on E. 7th, and $42K for an Eriterian banquet hall on University. [Bedlam Theater’s grant request got shot down.  -Ed.]

Headline: Prospect of installing Miracle Field at Dunning discussed [This headline is a real clunker.]
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A district council is thinking about whether to take private money to improve a ballfield in Dunning Park.

Headline: Drivers will see new St Paul parking meters next month
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: St Paul is installing new credit card-friendly parking meters on University and around the Capitol.

Headline: St Paul budget discussion percolate in neighborhoods
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Mayor and council members are still having public meetings throughout the city to talk about the budget

Headline: Skyline Tower streetlights OK’d
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: New “lantern-style” streetlights are going in around the Skyline Tower [the large 20+ story apartment building near 94 and Hamline. –Ed].

Headline: Infighting by Union Park board raises red flag for key supporter
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Inside baseball-type dirty laundry-type] Piece on the politics of the Union Park District Council, featuring quotes from the administrator of Macalester College’s donations to the neighborhood group about “controversy and acrimony.” Quote is this: “our trustees read the Villager and they’re concerned… We’ve reviewed meeting minutes and we’re concerned.” [Another recursive Villager meta moment.] Examples cited are: conflicts between board members and neighborhood residents over Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) rankings, Pizza Luce parking lot, and the [Anti-Tommie] student housing overlay [which got expanded by city staff to include the area near Macalester, BTW]. Article includes specific residents of the district council’s secretary and editorial control over the meeting minutes. [Disclosure: this person is an acquaintance of mine.] Article includes the following quote from board member: “I’m very, very embarrassed to be on this board… I hope the individuals who aren’t getting along come to some kind of an agreement because its holding up these processes and its holding up this board.” [My sense from elevator conversations is that the Pizza LucĂ© issue was, above all, the one that caused the most conflict in this neighborhood group, though Macalester can’t be too happy with how the student housing situation was handled either. –Ed.]

Headline: Ayd Mill Road bike trail falls flat*
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The CIB committee voted to transfer funds that had been earmarked for the “St Paul Greenway” [see here for details] to a streetscape project on the East Side’s Payne Avenue. The projects was scuttled because of the obstinate inflexible stance by the Canadian Pacific Railroad, which owns the crucial right of way. Includes quotes from disappointed people, lots of puns. [“It was the nail in the tire for the long envisioned trail”, etc.]

Headline: How sweet it isn’t: Cupcake abandons Grand for Megamall
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Cupcake Bakery decided to open its new store at the Mall of America. Plans for the Grand Avenue location is “on indefinite hold.” Article includes understated quotes from neighborhood group president (“It’s been a big of a saga”) and CM Thune (who “echoed that sentiment”). [Article doesn't really point fingers. -Ed.]

Headline: Financing for brewery development slowly falls into place
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council approved “up to” $69M in bonds for the Schmidt brewery.

Headline: Efforts continue to save vacant Hill District homes
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version:  CM Carter III is attempting to “save” two homes that have been abandoned for years and are falling apart. One is on Iglehart; the other is on Selby.

*Ladies and gentlemen: Your RTHV Pun Of The Fortnight (RTHVPOTF) Winner!

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