Reading the Highland Villager #182

[Tired, huddled Villager at the feet of a statue of liberty.]
[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: Nine-year effort to create new park in St. Paul’s Midway area nears fruition
Author: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: An old empty parking lot that used be the pit stop for traveling circuses 80 years ago will probably become a city park soon. People in the neighborhood, especially kids from the next-door high school, are brainstorming what to do with the space. [See my article on this topic from last fall.]  The city owns the land and a non-profit was involved in purchasing it for the yet-unnamed park. [Gordon Parks Park would be fun, but probably won’t happen because it’s confusing.] Article includes history of the years-long community organizing process, quotes from students, East African people who live in the nearby housing tower, and non-profit folks. Quote from one of the East African folks: “This park will mean so much to Skyline residents. Right now to get any real exercise, they have to cross (the ped bridge over 94).”

Headline: Citizen groups debate merits of master plan for Ford site
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Some people think the Ford site is fine. Others think it is too dense. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking (NACATAP). Quote from “too dense” guy: “Drive on Cretin Avenue during rush hour. The traffic is bad now. You end up in a caravan.” Quote from “pro” guy: "What’s planned takes care of a lot of different needs in the area.” [Obvi traffic on Cretin is not going away. Transit is a really cool concept to explore for folks concerned about traffic. I have written about this already if you’re curious. It all boils down to the idea that “too much traffic” is a terrible reason to limit development in a city. "Too much traffic" is not one of Saint Paul's important problems.]

Headline: St. Paul JCC lays groundwork for $13M expansion project
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Jewish Community Center in Highland is expanding. [I sang in musicals at the JCC when I was a kid, and took piano lessons there every week for a decade. The used to have a free Frogger arcade game in the basement, which might have subconsciously prepared me for crossing the street in Highland, now that I think about it.]

Headline: St. Paul rinds funds to grind stumps, replace lost ash trees
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The stumps from the trees that were cut down because of a invasive boring bug [#KSPB] will be removed now thanks to [the couch in the Mayor’s office] the City Council finding some “contingency funds.” Quote from CM Bostrom: “Next year’s budget is going to be tough.” [Spoiler: Saint Paul is broke. We really need to expand the tax base.]

Headline: Committee favors plan for duplexes on vacant Merriam Park corner
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A neighborhood group voted in favor of building two duplexes on a vacant lot. They will be right next to the freeway but will have solar panels. They will have a curb cut even though some neighbors don’t like the idea.

Headline: Century-old Holly Ave. house will receive new lease on life
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A guy with an old house got an approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to renovate part of it.

Headline: St. Paul pedestrian plan moves another stop closer with grant [See what they did there?]
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City got a $50K grant to work on its pedestrian plan. [I’m gonna guess sidewalks will be involved.]

Headline: St. Paul seeks buyer for former fire station on Randolph Ave.
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There’s an abandoned fire station for sale. It’s from 1885.

Headline: Council lays over rezoning request for St. Clair-Snelling lots; High-density zoning will not be reviewed with the rezoning of Snelling south of I-94
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council voted to “lay over” the decision to re-zone some land along Snelling to TN3 (traditional neighborhood 3) zoning. A developer wants to build a building there where some small strip mall-type buildings were located. There is a study going on to do rezoning to TN-zoning all along Snelling here. Quote from one neighbor: "If we can’t do TN3 zoning along Snelling, then where is it appropriate?” [Minneapolis’ South Lyndale Avenue is maybe a good “comp” for Snelling here. See some of the developments there.] Neighbors are concerned about whether the developer lives in Minnesota and neighborhood character.

Headline: City, county unveil plans for reusing reservoir site in Highland
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City is getting rid of a “water reservoir” and might put something else in its place like ice rinks or a field. The reservoir is from 1926. There’s probably not much money to do anything expensive.

Headline: MnDOT workshops envision future of I-94
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The state DOT is going a “process” to create “visioning” for the future of the interstate. [Here’s a vision: lots of cars. See also my appearance in the documentary on this topic.]

Headline: Kayak rental service paddles its way to Hidden Falls Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: You will be able to rent a kayak at one spot on the Mississippi and travel downriver to another spot on the Mississippi and drop it off. [Actually this is cool! Are there Nice Ride stations nearby also? You could kayak one way and bike the other.] It’s called “Paddle Share.”

Headline: For lack of traffic calming, city downgrades bike boulevard
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The bike boulevard in Mac-Grove is so crappy that it got “demoted” from the City bike map. [What an ignominious end to the epic and politically fraught saga of the Jefferson Avenue Bike Boulevard.] Quote from a guy in the neighborhood group: “Bicyclists will choose designated bikeways over alternative routes based on the assumption that bikeways are safer and have less competition with motor vehicles. This is particularly concerning for families with children and inexperienced bicyclists who aren’t prepared for biking in the same lane as fast-moving motor vehicles. By designating the buys Jefferson Avenue corridor as a bikeway without adding traffic calming measures, we may be encouraging bicyclists to take a more dangerous route.” The neighbors would like traffic calming instead but apparently cannot stand the status quote. [The city could fix this with a $100K diverter median at Hamline by the school there, but I am guessing there is no appetite from CM Tolbert to re-open this can of worms, even on behalf of safety. Given how much effort went into this project, this is depressing. Sad!]

Headline: Pilot Knob joins national historic register
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A sacred Dakota site across the river from the airport is now on the National Register of Historic Places. [People should use its Dakota name, which is “oheyawahi”, meaning “a hill much visited.”]

Headline: Early closing sought for disgusting skyway
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A woman who’s father owns a lot of buildings has become really upset about homeless people in the skyways in the evenings. Others are upset about homeless people also. [Seems to me that hiring security guards might be a solution. But honestly, there is no solution to the public/private problem of skyways.] The owner of the building wants to be able to close their skyway at 8pm but the committee that governs the skyway hours does not want to grant that because then everyone will want to do it [and skyways are a network, many of which, in Saint Paul, were built with public dollars]. [It’s complicated.]

Headline: Back to the basics: Grand Old Day returns June 4 with even more squeezed into one day
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Grand Old Day will be only one day this year. [kmx. (comment added by my cat; not sure what it means.)]

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