Reading the Highland Villager #177

[A Villager at the Spot.]
[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.]  

[Note: This one is two weeks old. Apologies. Latest issue should be coming soon.] 

Headline: City Council plans to split charges for street maintenance between property tax and assessments
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Because of legal issues with its “right-of-way” fees, the city is going to fill a $32 million budget hole with a mix of assessments and money from the general fund. They will have to cut about $10M from the budget because of the change in funding. There was a lawsuit by MPR and some downtown churches that started this entire budget mess. Article includes a history of these assessments, which date back to Mayor Randy Kelly. [Of Ayd Mill Road fame.] The city might try to get non-profits to voluntarily help fund city roads. [Saint Paul is not a wealthy city, in other words, and is struggling to pay for basic stuff. It’s one reason why we need to think more strategically about redevelopment and city investment priorities, IMO. In other words, we desperately need projects like the Ford site, West Side Flats, and Snelling/University to pan out. They would really increase the tax base.]

Headline: St. Paul revises draft plan for future of Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There was a meeting about the former truck factory in the Highland area of Saint Paul. City plans had recently reduced the number of planned units in the area by about 20%. [Bad idea, especially if the retained units will have more parking. The number of people does not equal the number of cars. There’s a lot of different traffic outcomes depending on the details of the housing and transportation designs.] Neighbors are concerned about traffic and density. There will be more meetings, large and small. There is a grassroots group that wants to keep buildings lower than 5 stories and to make sure a quarter of the site is “open space.” Some people like housing for old people.  Some people want single-family homes. The new plan revisions call for widening Ford Parkway to add a bike lane or path. [We do need access to Ford and the bridge, but if there’s no bike lane on the bridge, it’s a bit silly. Why not do a 4-3 conversion on Ford Parkway and 46th Street? It’s certainly a possibility we should consider.] Planners and other advocates like the plan as it was. Quote from an architect professor: “that work [to build bike and walking infrastructure] should start now.” [It’s a shame to see the best plan Saint Paul has ever come up with get watered down because of a few hundred signatures and a website about a mythical village.]

Headline: Riverview PAC pushes for more study of bus rapid transit; Move to delay decision on preferred alternative
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The policy advisory committee voted to delay a decision on a transit option in order to study more bus rapid transit routes that would go near Fort Snelling. Quote from one of the planners from the County: “The slower a project is, the harder it is to get riders on it.” [My sense is that the additional months and options here are a simply delay tactic. I highly doubt the ridership numbers will turn up anything. I personally wish they would more closely study more options involving mixed and hybrid rail combinations along the existing routes. Having a fuller sense of what the different ridership and cost variations might be using various route and mode options along the existing options. These are by far the most likely to actual qualify for federal funding, should that funding actually exist in the future.] CMs Tolbert and Noecker wanted the additional study to take place. A decision will likely come in late fall.

Headline: City approves new medians to calm traffic on Snelling Avenue
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: MnDOT is going to install medians on a busy street to make it easier to cross the street. Most people seem to like it except for a guy who owns a funeral home. Quote from him: “I just don’t think there are that many pedestrians who cross Snelling.” [Where have I heard this before?] CM Tolbert responds: “Snelling is a huge barrier in the neighborhood. Cars get to flying along there very fast. It’s scary to sprint across Snelling, let along walk.” [See also this history of the topic.] the medians will have grass, not mulch, and an extra opening for Funeral processions. [Conveniently located should you get hit by a car trying to cross the street.]

Headline: Developer proposes six-story apartment at Snelling-Carrol
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A developer wants to build an apartment building on a lot that currently holds a vacant lot, a parking lot, and a one-story commercial building with a billboard on top. Neighbors were concerned about parking, and that the project did not have mixed-use retail on the ground floor. [The ground floor will be a the exterior of a parking ramp, like many of these blank walls.]

Headline: Laurel Ave. lot eyed for rowhouse
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Someone wants to build three rowhouses on a vacant lot. Neighbors are concerned about the loss of trees and parking.

Headline: Work to begin soon on Adams expansion
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An elementary school got approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals to expand. Neighbors were concerned about parking, traffic, and the loss of open space.

1 comment:

Adam said...

There is no way that Ford Parkway needs to be wider.