Reading the Highland Villager #146

[See note at bottom.]
[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 Site Planning Task Force nears finish with a final review in January
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The task force that has met many times over the last two years to ask people what to do with the site of the old truck factory is finally meeting to talk about what to do. [IMO Riverview transit should go as close as possible to this site so that the development there isn't tied to cars; it's the only way to get density without increasing car travel, such a great opportunity to wed together transportation and land use in Saint Paul in one fell swoop.]  The City will use "city powers" like "zoning and the layout of streets and parks" to guide development. [Kinda like this.] The main thing right now is pollution testing and cleanup plans. The article also mentions the Koch fuel tank farm situation off West 7th Street as historical context. [Wet blanket!]

Headline: Stadium advisory plotting spinoff development; Soccer team, Midway Center owners are coordinating their plans for entire 34.5 site [Not sure if "plotting" is an attempt at a real estate pun or an attempt to invoke a dastardly mustachio'd fellow, or both. See also footnote at bottom.]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A new soccer stadium is being built on a large lot at Snelling and University that has been dominated for decades by strip mall parking lots. A committee is meeting to generate ideas for design of the stadium and the land around it. The Deputy Mayor described the committee as a "filter." [Like an oil filter? A coffee filter?] "Redeveloping the site as a walkable destination with safe crossings was the top hope." [About time. See also this.] Also bikes. One committee member wants crime statistics. There are "two master plans." [Made by nefarious master minds?] The owner of the team [and very very rich man] is pleased to see the community. They're doing everything very quickly. MnDOT must approve any changes to streets.

Headline: $2.4M redesign unveiled for downtown's Rice Park
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The Garden Club, the Parks Conservancy, and the city are going to spend lots of money to give Rice Park [by far the city's nicest downtown park] a "facelift." [This seems a bit unnecessary, much like the Nicollet Mall re-do. OTOH, if they can get rid of those Peanuts statues, it's a win.] It was last touched up in the year 2000. The city portion is $1.05M. They are now accepting donations. Some plans might include irrigation improvements, turf, new trees, granite pavers, etc. There is a "pro bono" plan. The pathways will be adjusted to be a "true diagonal." [Here's one annoying thing about that. The entrance for the Central Library is in the middle of the block, yet the pathways lead to the corners. Thus most people going to the library cut through the grass, including myself.] Some trees will be removed because of sightlines. Globe lanterns will be replaced. "Bollard path lighting that gives a wash effect." [OK! Who doesn't like a "wash effect?" Now all we need are committees to filter everything, and Saint Paul will be cleaner than ever!] "Colorful display gardens will gird the yew trees..." [I can't take this seriously any more. I'm sorry. I have to stop now.]

Headline: Downtown's Rice Park is almost as old as the city itself
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: Downtown Rice Park is very old. It had previously been used to "graze animals and hang laundry." [Well that explains the wash effect.] In 1860 Mayor John Prince planted a tree. Lights were installed in 1883 by President Chester A. Arthur himself. Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman fought a duel here. [I'm kind of making this up at this point. The Villager doesn't say these things. They're not actually true.]  In 1903 it was dubbed "the rendezvous of the engaged." [That should be the city motto, at least to the extent that Saint Paul makes a great backdrop for wedding photos.] The 1965 fountain was designed by Alonzo Hauser. Peanuts statues appeared in 2002. [Please make them go away. Please I beg you.]

Headline: Car2Go shrinks St. Paul service area after low vehicle usage; City Council majority says partial car-sharing service is still better than none
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council approved a smaller area for a car share company on a 4-3 vote. CMs Bostrom, Tolbert, and Thao voted against. CM Bostrom quote: "I remember the song and dance; it seems like a gigantic bait-and-switch." [Kind of operatic, no?] Nobody seems really happy about it. Quote from car2go guy: "All is not necessarily lost." [Also a good candidate for city motto. The Latin translation would be "ly omnia non est necesse perierat." Let's get it on the flag! See also my more lewd blogpost on this subject.]

Headline: New signals, other upgrades in store to make Grand stretch safer
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A part of Grand Avenue where people trying to walk or bike keep getting injured and killed is receiving some money from the Feds and City to add upgraded countdown timers and audible pedestrian signals, and "blue confirmation lights" to the traffic signals. [OK, so after someone gets killed by a red-light-running driver, now it'll be slightly easier to press charges. What a relief.] Curb extensions or a median island will be installed at Syndicate, along with "continental style crosswalk markings." [Who doesn't like a continental breakfast!] Also at Dunlap, Oxford, Chatsworth, and Milton more bumpouts or a median, plus the crosswalks. [These are great ideas BTW, long overdue. We might see the end of the pedestrian surrender flags once and for all.]

Headline: Highland firehouse addition expected to close service gap
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: They're expanding Fire Station 19 to the tune of $3.4M. "The frequency of the coverage gap continues to grow as calls for fire and emergency medical services (EMS) increase." [Actually, fires are decreasing; the vast majority of calls are for EMS, which do NOT require large ladder trucks. See this chart.] One CIB committee member is upset about how much CIB money is going to fire stations, and would like to find other sources of revenue. [See also this article on that topic.]

Headline: City strives to inform more folks about snow emergencies; Public Works spreads the word about snowplowing and parking bans through websites and social media in 11 different languages
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: If you park on the street, you have to move your car when it snows a lot.

Headline: St. Paul stores oppose effort to limit sale of flavored tobacco
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Stores make money selling smokes to kids. The city wants to ban it. [I believe this ban passed easily.]

Headline: SHA committee to consider licenses for new Lexington
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A fancy restaurant that's been closed for years might re-open. They need a liquor license, and want to have a rooftop patio, which will be required to close by 10 pm. Also a "noise impact analysis." [This is where I went to dinner for my high school prom AND my grandma's funeral dinner. Norm Coleman used to hang out here all the time and smoke cigars at the wood-paneled bar through his gapped teeth.]

Headline: St. Paul considers higher fee, other permit parking changes
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city might raise the amount people pay for their annual fee in parking restricted areas from $10 to $15. It hasn't been raised since 1980. [With inflation, $10 in 1980 would be about $30 today, so...] There will be a public hearing.

Headline: St. Paul offers cardboard box drop-off site for the holidays
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: You can take that stack of boxes to the police parking lot.

Headline: St. Paul limits races to relieve residents of Upper Landing
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city will not permit as many marathons and stuff so that people can drive around more by the river. Quote from resident that "events create an insane situation for residents." Even better: "We want to see a vibrant neighborhood, but we don't want or need this chaotic vitality with mobs of people, security, barriers, guard rails, and porta-potties." [Ew.]

Headline: Commission reviews permit for CVS drive-through service on Grand Ave.; Committee recommends the permit be denied for pedestrian safety reasons
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Plans to turn a soon-to-be-abandoned Whole Foods on Grand Avenue into a CVS store with a drive-thru right along the sidewalk were voted down in the Zoning Committee. [They were also shot down in the full Planning Commission meeting, which I am a part of, by unanimous vote.] There were concerns about the interactions between motorists and pedestrians. There are city zoning rules that restrict how close a drive-thru can be to a residence.

Headline: Preschool, day care proposed for site of Hague Ave. church
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city might tear down a church and build a Spanish Immersion preschool. The church is 100 years old, but is difficult to re-use. Neighborhood group person calls the new plan a "boring rectangle." [Hey that's shape-ist.]

Headline: Greening of the Green Line; More parks envisioned along University
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be three new or improved parks along the Green Line area. Iris Park [see also here], Dickerman Park [about which I remain skeptical because of its very odd shape and placement in the median boulevard; see also here], and the park slated for near Gordon Parks high school. [Perhaps they will call it "Parks Park," which will be very confusing.]

Personal note: I have begun listening to Opera while reading the Highland Villager. The drama is much more palpable that way. This time was Rigoletto, still the only opera I have actually seen live (at the Met!). Che sinistro! Che bello!

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