Reading the Highland Villager #144

[Window 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: Ford's report on the extent of pollution at plant is expected; study will weigh heavily in plans for redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The automobile/truck factory that was there for almost a century probably polluted the hell out of the land in Highland that the city and Ford now want to redevelop. Nobody knows much much pollution is there but they've been testing it for a long time. [You can't build residential on really polluted land for liability reasons.] Article includes lots of boring detail. [Get it? Soil borings.] Article includes some redevelopment planning info, such as the desire not to have big box retail on the site. A consulting firm is dong a traffic study, which might be affected by Riverview corridor planning. [These two things are deeply linked. If we put transit to the Ford site we could redevelop the site with almost minimal growth in traffic, like they do in other cities.]

Headline: Soccer stadium planning kicks into high gear; Coleman aims to have plans in place by March
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A public meeting about the new stadium was held. It will be 10 acres, but the larger block is also slated for redevelopment, which is much larger.  Architects have been hired. [Just like with the Ford site] the city really wants to encourage transit here instead of driving. [Good thing there's a light rail and aBRT stop on the corner.] There's a committee of interested citizens. Also people want job opportunities for neighborhood kids and other people. Ayd Mill Road is mentioned by someone who does not want it turned into a freeway. Actual quote: "Coleman said the new stadium does raise the profile of any traffic problems associated with Ayd Mill Road. However, he added, that issue needed to be addressed anyway because of the new developments at Snelling and Selby avenues." [Because it's a city "freeway", AMR is a hugely expensive proposition with very little benefit for Saint Paul. If the city wants the road to actually benefit the city itself, economically-speaking, they should design the street so that it's a benefit for residents nearby rather than commuters outside of city boundaries. It's a pretty clear trade-off right now. Currently Saint Paul is subsidizing people to live in the burbs and travel right through Saint Paul without stopping at all. Stay tuned.]

Headline: Neighbors, city staff oppose plan for new CVS on Grand; Proposed pharmacy's drive-through service is the sticking point for staff
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Someone wants to turn an old Whole Foods on Grand Avenue into a CVS Pharmacy store. Drive-thru lanes [and this one would be directly on Grand Avenue, next to the sidewalk] require a conditional use permit. [Curb cuts, ladies and gentlemen. Not just a lack of transparency along the sidewalk, but actual idling cars.] Article includes quote from developer saying that "site plan would improve traffic safety by re-configuring the existing curb cuts." [Ummmm, no. Not really.] Article includes quote from neighborhood guy: "CVS is trying to 'cram a suburban-looking drugstore' into the grocery store space." [Of course, they've done that before, in worse place in Saint Paul. Also note: I wrote about curb cuts on Grand Avenue before.] It seems like CVS does not need a CUP or variance for anything other than the drive-thru.

Headline: Riverview transit options narrow: Favored routes are West 7th St., Canadian Pacific tracks
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The [long-winded] transit study for the area between downtown and the airport has finally chosen a route, though not a mode. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. 20 years ago many people got upset about parking and construction and so they likely still would again. Quote from guy on committee: "If light rail is picked, you can forget about parking, you can forget about left-turn lanes." Another quote: "if you go through our  neighborhood, you need to pay attention to us. West 7th is a walking and biking neighborhood." [Both these comments seem to understand that there's a distinction between "modern streetcar" and light rail, which is nuanced and correct and kind of forward-thinking for a situation and conversation that so  often seems stuck in the past.] Sometime next year planners will pick a mode and route combination of West 7th and/or the CP Ford spur. [This is, of course, a huge decision, and a pretty obvious one to me, if folks can wrap their heads around some kind of street-car that would act like a LRT once it reaches the Ford spur by the Schmidt brewery. It could turn off of 7th right past the brewery, perhaps on Drake Street, and then have a dedicated ROW from that point through the neighborhood to the Ford site, perhaps stopping at Victoria Park, the public housing complex, Sibley Plaza, as close as possible to Cleveland/Ford parkway, and then over to the Blue Line. It would be able to go pretty quickly through here and have excellent TOD prospects. See? That didn't take long.] 

Headline: Grassroots Solutions cofounder strives to give more people a chance to be heard
Author: Melanie Soucheray

Short short version: Guy wants to improve community engagement processes. [How can you improve on Villager LTEs?]

Headline: Full liquor service may be coming to a restaurant near you
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has for a long time limited the number of liquor licenses in the city according to an [obscure ward-based system] set of [arbitrary?] limits. Some folks want to exempt restaurants from this so free up space for more bars. [And because it just makes sense?] St. Paul S.T.[W.]R.O.N.G. opposes the effort along with the owner of a squash club because of "alleged lack of public comment." Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. [Don't worry, Dan Bostrom is putting the kibosh on this change.] Restaurant owners really seem to like the idea. CM Stark claims there is "overwhelming support for the change." Article includes a lot of other details about restaurant regulation [which all seem a bit petty to me].

Headline: Study could lead to decision on Getten's move to Highland
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [I just don't understand this story.] Something about a weird credit bank and zoning and an old building. CM Bostrom is involved.

Headline: St. Paul grants licenses for new Italian restaurant on Randolph
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be a new Italian restaurant near the Schmidt brewery. [I have demanded a patio with a view of the river valley.]

Headline: Council sets limit on campers and trailers parked on streets
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: You can't keep parking there any more for more than two days or you'll get a ticket. [There's one of these on my block by the way, with an electric cord running out of the house, across the sidewalk, and plugging into the mobile home trailer, which has light on inside. The folks who live there are a bit weird in the old-school Saint Paul kind of way, always fixing things and selling snowblowers and bicycles from their yard. But you know, whatever.]

Headline: Old Garden Theater building may not have seen its final act; City stays demolition so potential new owners can submit plans to reuse site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old movie theater on 7th Street that has been vacant for a long time might not be torn down after all. [We will see. I am skeptical. It's in really rough shape.] Article includes history of various rehab attempts. [This is the talk of the neighborhood, believe me.]

Headline: High price of homeowenrship; property owners may take a hit with rise in local tax levies and home market values
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Real estate, government, capitalism.] Article includes chart.

Headline: City officials express frustration with owners of condemned Grand building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: "What is believed to be Grand Avenue's oldest remaining mixed-use building" [that's a nut right there] might be torn down because it has been allowed to deteriorate and was condemned. They have been vacant since a pub was removed from inside it citing city inspection. Nothing has been fixed. Article includes the terms "questionable supports", emergency evacuation," and the following quote: "there are holes in the ceiling where you can see straight up to the sky." [I lived in a house like that for years.] There is some debate as the neighborhood group simply wants them torn down. Some would like a "six-month stay" [of execution], others would not.

Headline: St. Paul eyes changes to street maintenance fees; Rates culd drop for corner properties and increase for colleges
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Fixing roads is expensive.]

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