Reading the Highland Villager #145

[Stack of Villagers just over the West St Paul border.]
[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 loses champion of neighborhoods; Ward 2's Thune steps down after two decades on council
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A bio tribute to retiring CM Thune. Article includes history of Thune's career, paying especial attention to the Schmidt Brewery restoration and development, the smoking ban, gay rights, funding the Xcel arena, and [finally] Grand Avenue parking meters. [I didn't know that] Thune used to be a Republican! [CM Noecker takes over this week.]

Headline: West End worried about West 7th's transit future
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A transit line is being planned for the West 7th street area. Exact route and mode choice are up in the air. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. CM Thune tried to get a motion passed that would "eliminate from consideration any transit options that would result in the loss of a traffic lane or a parking lane on W 7th St." It didn't pass. Article includes [rather heated] quotes from Thune and County Commissioner Ortega. Article includes quote from Pat Mancini [of Mancini's Char House] predicting an "uproar if parking is lost" because of light rail. Quote from Dan Cossetta [of Cossetta's parking lot] stating that "This is an already-built community; you can only put 10 pounds of stuff into a 10-pound bucket". [Best quote! Q: If Cossetta's "bucket" is overflowing, what exactly is it overflowing with?] The committee seems quite testy. There are public meetings next week.

Headline: Council sweetens 2016 city budget with $1.6 million in shifts. St. Paul's bottom line sees 4.3% growth in spending
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city passed a budget. CM Stark says it "went smoothly." They'd like to find more money for library books. The city will spend $549 million dollars next year, which is more than last year. When the Grand Avenue parking meter plan was "dropped," there was a $400K budget hole. Article includes lots of details.

Headline: County, school boards to adopt maximum tax levies; School district ups its levy by 3.85%, county levies additional 2.8%
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Property taxes will pay for things.

Headline: St. Paul sets aside #330K to dig into organized trash collection
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Saint Paul is going to spend money to study whether or not to organize the currently "free-market" system of trash collection. There's a report by a neighborhood group detailing all the pros and cons of such a plan. Article includes quote from Frogtown woman about trash dumping, and from garbage haulers about how they're already trying to reduce their impact.

Headline: City passes on buying Riverside School
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city didn't buy an old school off West 7th Street that's been vacant for a few years. [Why? Article doesn't say. Probably something to do with money.]

Headline: St. Paul agrees to put Penfield up for sale
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city is going to sell a 250+ unit mixed-use apartment building downtown that it developed. It was originally going to be 40-stories tall, but got shrunk, and ended up costing $62M. [It's actually pretty nice now, and turned out to be a good move for the city. I'll bet they'll make money, even?]

Headline: Noecker brings considerable energy, host of ideas to new City Council post
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: Bio piece on the new Ward 2 City CM Rebecca Noecker. Article mentions the gender balance on the incoming council [See also here.] Article includes lots of biographic details, some laudatory quotes from co-workers, and list of Noecker's priorities: Riverview corridor, grants for small businesses, economic development, and jobs for teenagers. Also, guaranteed sick leave for workers and better transit. [Note that Noecker, a neighbor of mine, comes from the West Side, which is outside the Villager coverage area. *CUE KLAXONS* The closest hard copy of the Villager to our neighborhood is located a mile South, over the city border to West Saint Paul.]

Headline: New bike lanes, parking bay are in the works for Cleveland
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on the outcome of the [great 2015] Cleveland Avenue bike lane debate, reporting on CMs Tolbert and Stark's statement on plans to stripe the lanes and add a "parking bay" by the Randolph intersection. Exact budget, size, and location of bays still TBD. Article includes brief history of argument. Best quote from local neighbor upset by the "level of controversy": "the city can't have this level of chaos in the neighborhood." Quote from dogged anti-bike-lane property owner [who funded much of the opposition]: "I don't plan to stop until there is parking mitigation for everyone who needs it." ["Parking mitigation" = a pair of shoes.]

Headline: Council orders demolition of condemned building on Grand Avenue
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A run down two-story restaurant and apartment building -- and "Grand Avenue's oldest mixed-use building" -- will be demo'd because it's in such bad shape. It's located in a very attractive spot, right by Macalester College. The Heritage Preservation Commission wanted a delay to evaluate the possibility of rehab, but the council voted to tear it down. The building is from 1891. Article quotes city official stating that the property cannot be turned into a parking lot. [No doubt, that was everyone's first desire.]

Headline: Council supports financing plans to complete brewery's redevelopment
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council approved plans to tweak a long-standing Tax Increment Financing district to include the Schmidt brewery, to allow some "left over" tax money to be used for rehab of the Schmidt brewery. The focus is on the "German-style rathskeller," the one-story building fronting West 7th street. It will have offices for firefighters and the local neighborhood group, in addition to a bar of some kind, [though it's unclear if it'll be open all the time or just rentable for events]. Also a separate TIF district will go toward the "keg house" which will be a "festival marketplace." [Hello 1980s! Seems like a lot of city money for a project that may or may not still need it, but whatever.]

Headline: West End site renamed Cossetta Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A small piece of park land has been renamed after noted Italian restaurateur family Cossetta, whose business started on the site back in 1911. [The famous business is now run by heir and West 7th landmark, liveable wage opponent, and parking lot aficionado Dan Cossetta.]

Headline: Landmark for Lowertown; Stolpestad writes history of Custom House, the old federal building his firm is redeveloping in downtown
Author: Dave Page

Short short version: Article on the history of a building that is being redeveloped on Kellogg Boulevard. The building has a unique history because of how it interacts with the river bluff. Half the building housed the post office, some went to US Customs,  and other parts were for other businesses. Quote from author/developer, on the amount of time it took to work with the city: "The city was very supportive; they're just understaffed right now." [This is something to keep in mind. City departments like Planning and Economic Development, and even Public Works, are fractions of their former size. They probably peaked in the 90s?] There will be 200+ "luxury apartments" there in addition to a Hyatt and other things like parking ramps.

Headline: [buried in the back of the paper for some reason] City lifts limits on full liquor service at restaurants; Council also redefines 'restaurant' to ensure they don't act like bars
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council approved changes to the city charter to exempt restaurants from limits on liquor licenses. [See the previous Villager re-cap for more on this.] CM Bostrom, who had been the lone hold-out, changed his mind on the issue. Because of the change, CM Stark no longer has to make a new "commercial district" on the Western portion of University Avenue. [This seems like a huge step forward in decreasing bureaucratic red tape, which conservatives and urbanists should be in favor of. It will allow, for example, newer mixed-use buildings to more easily house restaurants.]

1 comment:

Carl said...

why is the villager distributed to west st. paul?