Notable Quotes #16: J. Proctor Knott describes the City of Duluth, c. 1871

Hence, as I have said, sir, I was utterly at a loss to determine where the terminus of this great and indispensable road should be, until I accidentally overheard some gentleman the other day mention the name of “Duluth.” Duluth! The word fell upon my ear with peculiar and indescribable charm, like the gentle murmur of a low fountain stealing forth in the midst of roses, or the soft, sweet accents of an angel’s whisper in the bright, joyous dream of sleeping innocence. Duluth! ’Twas the name for which my soul had panted for years, as the hart panteth for the water brooks. But where was Duluth? Never, in all my limited reading, had my vision been gladdened by seeing the celestial word in print. And I felt a profounder humiliation in my ignorance that its dulcet syllables had never before ravished my delighted ear. I was certain the draughtsman of this bill had never heard of it, or it would have been designated as one of the termini of this road. I asked my friends about it, but they knew nothing of it. I rushed to the Library and examined all the maps I could find. I discovered in one of them a delicate, hairlike line, diverging from the Mississippi near a place marked Prescott, which I supposed was intended to represent the river St. Croix, but I could nowhere find Duluth.

Nevertheless, I was confident it existed somewhere, and that its discovery would constitute the crowning glory of the present century, if not of all modern times. I knew it was bound to exist in the very nature of things; that the symmetry and perfection of our planetary system would be incomplete without it, that the elements of material nature would long since have resolved themselves back into original chaos if there had been such a hiatus in creation as would have resulted from leaving out Duluth. In fact, sir, I was overwhelmed with the conviction that Duluth not only existed somewhere, but that wherever it was it was a great and glorious place. I was convinced that the greatest calamity that ever befell the benighted nations of the ancient world was in their having passed away without a knowledge of the actual existence of Duluth; that their fabled Atlantis, never seen save by the hallowed vision of inspired poesy, was, in fact, but another name for Duluth; that the golden orchard of the Hesperides was but a poetical synonym for the beer-gardens in the vicinity of Duluth. I was certain that Herodotus had died a miserable death because in all his travels and with all his geographical research he had never heard of Duluth. I knew that if the immortal spirit of Homer could look down from another heaven than that created by his own celestial genius upon the long lines of pilgrims from every nation of the earth to the gushing fountain of poesy opened by the touch of his magic wand, if he could be permitted to behold the vast assemblage of grand and glorious productions of the lyric art called into being by his own inspired strains, he would weep tears of bitter anguish that instead of lavishing all the stores of his mighty genius upon the fall of Ilion it had not been his more blessed lot to crystallize in deathless song the rising glories of Duluth. Yet, sir, had it not been for this map, kindly furnished me by the Legislature of Minnesota, I might have gone down to my obscure and humble grave in an agony of despair, because I could nowhere find Duluth. Had such been my melancholy fate, I have no doubt that with the last feeble pulsation of my breaking heart, with the last faint exhalation of my fleeting breath, I should have whispered, “Where is Duluth?”

But, thanks to the beneficence of that band of ministering angels who have their bright abodes in the far-off capital of Minnesota, just as the agony of my anxiety was about to culminate in the frenzy of despair, this blessed map was placed in my hands; and as I unfolded it a resplendent scene of ineffable glory opened before me, such as I imagine burst upon the enraptured vision of the wandering peri through the opening gates of paradise. There, there for the first time, my enchanted eye rested upon the ravishing word “Duluth.”

This map, sir, is intended, as it appears from its title, to illustrate the position of Duluth in the United States; but if gentlemen will examine it, I think they will concur with me in the opinion that it is far too modest in its pretensions. It not only illustrates the position of Duluth in the United States, but exhibits its relations with all created things. It even goes further than this. It lifts the shadowy veil of futurity and affords us a view of the golden prospects of Duluth far along the dim vista of ages yet to come.

If gentlemen will examine it they will find Duluth not only in the center of the map, but represented in the center of a series of concentric circles one hundred miles apart, and some of them as much as four thousand miles in diameter, embracing alike in their tremendous sweep the fragrant savannas of the sunlit South and the eternal solitudes of snow that mantle the icebound North. How these circles were produced is perhaps one of those primordial mysteries that the most skillful paleologist will never be able to explain. But the fact is, sir, Duluth is preeminently a central place, for I am told by gentlemen who have been so reckless of their own personal safety as to venture away into those awful regions where Duluth is supposed to be that it is so exactly in the center of the visible universe that the sky comes down at precisely the same distance all around it.

I find by reference to this map that Duluth is situated somewhere near the western end of Lake Superior, but as there is no dot or other mark indicating its exact location I am unable to say whether it is actually confined to any particular spot, or whether “it is just lying around there loose.” I really cannot tell whether it is one of those ethereal creations of intellectual frostwork, more intangible than the rose-tinted clouds of a summer sunset; one of those airy exhalations of the speculator’s brain, which I am told are ever flitting in the form of towns and cities along those lines of railroad, built with Government subsidies, luring the unwary settler as the mirage of the desert lures the famishing traveler on, and ever on, until it fades away in the darkening horizon, or whether it is a real, bona fide, substantial city, all “staked off,” with the lots marked with their owners’ names, like that proud commercial metropolis recently discovered on the desirable shores of San Domingo. But, however that may be, I am satisfied Duluth is there, or thereabout, for I see it stated here on this map that it is exactly thirty-nine hundred and ninety miles from Liverpool, though I have no doubt, for the sake of convenience, it will be moved back ten miles, so as to make the distance an even four thousand.

Then, sir, there is the climate of Duluth, unquestionably the most salubrious and delightful to be found anywhere on the Lord’s earth. Now, I have always been under the impression, as I presume other gentlemen have, that in the region around Lake Superior it was cold enough for at least nine months in the year to freeze the smoke-stack off a locomotive. But I see it represented on this map that Duluth is situated exactly halfway between the latitudes of Paris and Venice, so that gentlemen who have inhaled the exhilarating airs of the one or basked in the golden sunlight of the other may see at a glance that Duluth must be a place of untold delights, a terrestrial paradise, fanned by the balmy zephyrs of an eternal spring, clothed in the gorgeous sheen of ever-blooming flowers, and vocal with the silvery melody of nature’s choicest songsters. …

… As to the commercial resources of Duluth, sir, they are simply illimitable and inexhaustible, as is shown by this map. I see it stated here that there is a vast scope of territory, embracing an area of over two million square miles, rich in every element of material wealth and commercial prosperity, all tributary to Duluth. [Points to the map.] Look at it, sir. Here are inexhaustible mines of gold, immeasurable veins of silver, impenetrable depths of boundless forest, vast coal-measures, wide, extended plains of richest pasturage, all, all embraced in this vast territory, which must, in the very nature of things, empty the untold treasures of its commerce into the lap of Duluth.

Look at it sir, do not you see from these broad, brown lines drawn around this immense territory that the enterprising inhabitants of Duluth intend some day to enclose it all in one vast corral, so that its commerce will be bound to go there whether it would or not? And here, sir [still pointing to the map], I find within a convenient distance the Piegan Indians, which, of all the many accessories to the glory of Duluth, I consider by far the most inestimable. For, sir, I have been told that when the small-pox breaks out among the women and children of that famous tribe, as it sometimes does, they afford the finest subjects in the world for the strategical experiments of any enterprising military hero who desires to improve himself in the noble art of war, especially for any valiant lieutenant general whose trenchant blade, Toledo trusty, For want of fighting has grown rusty. And eats into itself for lack Of Somebody to hew and hack.

[From a speech by Kentucky Congressman J. Proctor Knott, 1871. h/t to David for the reference.]

[Duluth harbor, 1870.]


Notable Quotes #15: Gareth Hiebert, aka. Oliver Towne, describes Saint Paul c. 1958

This town is a blend of old and new, both in people and architecture. The quicksand of the rollicking river town of more than a century ago has solidified into a firm foundation of grace and poise.

Out of it all has come a personality called Saint Paul.

At 9 a.m. at Fourth and Wabasha when the Minnesota Mutual Life chimes announce the day's work has begun; and at 5 p.m. when, as you cross the bridges toward home, the chimes ring out a mellow farewell that tolls across the jagged top of the skyline and carry far up and down the valley.

Day or night, the city is my beat. To roam at will, scour and prowl, examine and study, note and report, from the vantage points.

[From the Pioneer Press, 1958, as seen on display in a shop window in 2019.]

[Saint Paul's Seven Corners, 1958.]


Another Dive Down as Timeless Lee's Liquor Lounge Relinquishes

This one is particularly sad, because Lee's was one of the least likely stories of dive bar survival. It lasted in the last place one would think a bar would linger, centered in a vortex of freeway on-ramps, municipal parking lots, homeless shelters, garbage burners, bus garages, and over-built roads on the far west edge of the downtown.

Lee's Liquor Lounge features prominently in the upcoming book that Andy Sturdevant and I are writing about the history of bars and saloons in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and I was dearly hoping that we could host a reading on the stage at Lee's this fall, when the book is scheduled for publication, accompanied of course by some honkytonk country. It's a damn shame that won't happen.

Lee's also featured prominently in my Taxidermy Tour of Minneapolis bike ride, which I daresay might be resurrected soon before the place disappears. Lee's has the metro area's absolutely finest collection of mid-century bar kitsch, including a fine case of Elvii, and amongst the throng is some fifty-year-stuffed animals, including a black bear in a shriner's fez and a perched cougar.

[Highlights from the 2015 taxidermy tour.]

The story of Lee's cannot be told without mentioning Louie Siriam, and nobody will ever tell that story better than Brad Zellar did in his 1997 feature piece for the City Pages [see below]. I'm excerpting it here because it's not online, and please read it. Zellar chronicles one of the most amazing bar stories in Twin Cities history. Siriam started his working life as a kid sweeping up the floor at a South Saint Paul slaughterhouse (imagine the yuck!), and would end up in his later years meticulously cleaning Lee's each and every night until the formica gleamed in the limelight.

The bar's owner claims that parking is the culprit for the closure, but I am chalking this up to the absence of Louie. Never take a great dive for granted, folks. They rarely last.

[Louie's office and mop rack from the basement of Lee's.]

[Excerpts from and photos of Brad's 1997 column below.]

Louie’s foot is not an attractive sight. Horribly stunted with splayed, twisted toes and squashed arch, it is the casualty of years of foot-binding labor--20-hour days, seven days a week, including many long hours behind a floor scrubber in the dead of night. Clean floors are an obsession with Louie, the man who has owned Lee’s since 1976, Seriously clean floors. Waxed gleaming floors. They mean something; represent an ethic, a correct way of doing things.

As Louie likes to say,” the horse that shits the fastest don’t shit for long.”

For more than 20 years Lee’s has been Louie’s bar.

No matter how many hours he worked, nothing he did was going to stop the flight of blue-collar jobs that was taking his best customers and their paychecks out to the suburbs or wherever the hell it was taking them. Street bars like his all over the city were being eradicated. … with 394 wrapped around it like a moat that cut him off from downtown.

For a time Vikings’ great Carl Eller ran a liquor store out of the place that was now Lee’s dance floor. There was a short-lived attempt at a game room as well.

The band Trailer Trash… evolved into a regular weekday Wednesday night gig. “You know, where it’s no big deal to play 200 minutes a night. Where people don’t go to see a band but to dance, to have fun. The band’s job was simply to rock the place…. .. the revamped Trailer Trash … kept right on ripping through their catalog of more than 300 roadhouse and honkytonk staples.

Louie once said, “Nate [the Trailer Trash musician] is very impressive and he puts himself across very well. He’s a real gifted salesman. The whole group is just a bunch of fine young fellows, so clean-cut and likable. … The young folks have such clean good fun, and often they will say thank you as they leave."


[Another quote from a regular]: “You know, just neighborhood drinking. Friday nights we’d get all gussied up and come to Lee’s. In the old days there was a jukebox with a bunch of country oldies, and maybe twice a year this band would come in and play. I think that first Wednesday with Trailer Trash there was just Ed the bartender, me, and a handful of other people. And then all of a sudden it was the place to see and be seen.”


The marriage of band and bar was successful beyond anyone’s imagination, and led to a couple of major renovations designed to open up the room and improve sight lines.

“Because, essentially, Lee’s is a roadhouse. It’s a bona fide honkytonk right in the middle of a city.”


Louie has a favorite word: schmaltzy. He’ll say something’s “almost schmaltzy, “ and that’s the spot-on description of the appeal of Lee’s, with the careful emphasis on almost. There’s certainly an element of nostalgia in the bar’s appeal; the place seems to touch a familiar chord even in people who didn’t grow up in the world of servicemen’s clubs and small-town Saturday night dances… There’s something int he bar’s smoky, paneled 1950s roadhouse authenticity -- with its beer signs, stuffed fish, … that resonates in young urban types who’ve received their notions of Americana from, say, David lynch.


Lee and Sally Triemert had run Lee’s since 1962 and when Lee passed away Sally started looking for a buyer.

“I looked at the place a couple times and I had my second thoughts…" [says Louie] "But Mrs. Triemert gave me a real nice deal and I went ahead and bought the bar. … I found out quick that this is a very tough racket that requires a lot of hard work… Every night I was in here, doing everything. I was janitor, bartender, bouncer, and bookkeeper. Seven days a week I was working 21 hours just to pay the bills…"

The bar was once surrounded by industry: Kemps, Munsingwear, McGarvey coffee, Shopmaster, the Boyer Ford dealership -- and Louie depended on the business of the working men and women who sopped in after work to drink and cash their paychecks. Freeway construction just outside his front door cut him off form downtown and the neighborhoods to the north and disrupted business for years… It was the first of “many isolations… right from the get go this area started going through enormous transitions. The neighborhood’s pretty much been wiped out a couple different times.

“The last time I took a vacation, I got drafted," said Louie

Louie is out on the sidewalk in front of his bar with a brush and a pail, cleaning windows.



Funeral for Saint Paul's Central Park Tomorrow

[Central Park, 1960.]
I'm attached to Saint Paul's Central Park, a late Victorian downtown bourgeois park (like Irvine Park and Lafayette Park) that has been in a vegetative coma since around 1970, trapped atop a parking ramp behind the Centennial Office Building next to the State Capitol.

The park has a storied history that actually connects to a distant ancestor of mine, one of the branch of Lindekes that made it rich working for James J. Hill during the rapid growth of the railroads in the northwest. The park was started as an attempt to create a wealthy enclave at the edge of the walkable downtown core of Saint Paul, but was quickly eclipsed once the streetcar system catalyzed growth and expansion of the city in the 1880s.

[Central Park in its later years.]
The last tiny scrap of the park reminds me of nothing more than the last wedge of bifurcated donut in a box of shared by Minnesotans, continually cut in half again and again until there's nothing left but a gesture. So, too, the old Central Park was gradually eliminated throughout the mid-years of the 20th century, until there's but a scrap of green surrounded by parked cars in all directions, a tiny concrete-encased bit of geometric grass topped by a single tree [chef's kiss!] next to which a dirty pebbled ashtray bears the rusty plaque, "CENTRAL PARK" like a jester's sneer.

[The only commemoration.]
The park is slated for final elimination later this year, like pulling the plug on a elderly lost cause with no hope. Perhaps it's for the best, and the attempt to save a scrap of parkland (part of the original lease agreement for the parking ramp in the first place) was always a bit of a joke. But it still makes me sad, particularly as a connoisseur of parking lot parks.

That's why I'm throwing a "funeral" for the park, based on the funeral vigil for the Uptown Arby's. Compared to the Arby's, hardly anyone noticed or appreciated the last scrap of Central Park. It's basically a postage stamp of grass surrounded by modernist brutalism...

But still. Someone should commemorate the park, which was began in the early 1880s and hosted the first ever Saint Paul Ice Palace, as well as countless kids playing, promenades, high school student hangout sessions, and who knows what else throughout its 130 year life. It was eventually eclipsed by State Government, and fell victim to the unstoppable bulldozer of progress, but I appreciated it and its connection to a forgotten past, when Capitol Heights was a wealthy enclave looking down on the gritty, diverse, and booming city of Saint Paul.

See you there!

[Bike tag.]

What: Funeral service for Central Park
When: 5:45 pm, for about a half hour
Why: Because it's almost not there
Where: Go to the stairs by the parking ramp off MLK Boulevard, between Cedar Street and Central Park East (!)
Who: Anyone

[More Central Park photos below.]

[Central park at lower right, c. 1955.]


Reading the Highland Villager #232

[A Villager on a chair.]
[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 Council is posed to OK Ryan's change to Ford site plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council seems like to [did] approve the changes to the Ford Site zoning that were requested by the Ryan Cos. developer. Article includes list of them. CM Tolbert quoted saying "the amendments are very reasonable." CM Thao "praised the company." CM Prince is quoted saying "to suggest this is anything other than our shared values is a mistake." Article does quote some people who were opposed to the changes, including one guy who said that "increasing parking increases driving to the site." [That is true.] 

Headline: Stadium traffic plan is a work in progress; City staff to monitor MN United's April 13 opener for ways to improve plan
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The soccer field will open [did open] and people will get there [got there] somehow. There is a plan but it will be "tweaked" and revised over time. There is a parking app. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. You cannot park on yards or grass. Some company with a dot com address is putting up fliers in the neighborhood. You can tailgate at the State Fair.

Headline: Potholed Ayd Mill Rd. will get new surface
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city seems poised to spend $3.5M to put new asphalt on the 1.5-mile long city-owned freeway spur.   Article mentions that "one person even posted a version of the video game Oregon Trial to describe the streets rough condition." [Well, that aggression cannot stand.] In 2007, "reconstruction of the road was ballparked at $44M. [Well given that highway construction costs have been increasing at higher than the rate of inflation, that amount would be at least $54M today, and probably much more than that. My guess is that the mill and overlay might last 10 years but that's about it.] Article mentions John Ayd. 

Headline: Rezoning of 770 Grand opens door to Treats
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council voted to allow an empty hair salon to become a tea shop that also sells ice cream. CM Prince is quoted: "I heard the owner promise he has no intention of demolishing the building or of expanding the building with one of those really ugly additions." [I honestly do not know what she is talking about here.] The street has zoning from the 1980s [that frankly is kind of weird and out-of-date. At the Zoning Committee hearing, the son of the owner of the Grand Ole Creamery, who were the only people to testify against this proposal, admitted that it was simply because the new store was going to sell ice cream and they did not want the competition. In short, it became clear that the pearl clutching about the BC zoning was simply a facade to keep ice cream away from their store]. Quote from former CM Thune: "you'll kill the golden goose that is Grand by plucking it one pinfeather at at time. [Has Thune noticed any of the changes to the street in the last few years?]

Headline: St. Paul's home values climb 7.8% on average
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Housing prices are going up. [That is a lot.] Some neighborhoods are seeing increases higher than others. [Please note that this increase is NOT because of lots of market rate apartment construction. In fact, there is not a great deal of that in Saint Paul, and it is concentrated in very few places.]

Headline: City hearings set on $600,000 in unpaid trash bills
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Some people are not paying their trash bills for various reasons. There is an organized group called "St. Paul Trash." [Are they more organized than the trash system was a few years ago? If so, that is ironic.] Out of the original eleven trash companies that began the organized system, only seven remain. [IMO Saint Paul made a mistake by agreeing to work with all these small companies in the first place, when they were not operating in good faith from the very beginning.]

Headline: St. Paul prepares to assess damage left by spring flood
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version:  The river is high, because of all the water in it. Some things might be damaged. Streets are closed. It takes a while to clean up stuff.

Headline: Hearing set on St. Paul's 20-year plan for land use along river
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There is a plan for how to fit the city's land use along the river. It's part of the Comp Plan, but is sort of separate because its regulated by the DNR and Federal parks agency. There are a few points of conflict, like the Ford Site, where height might be an issue.

Headline: West 7th Federation may expand board of directors with three seats for renters
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The neighborhood group along West 7th Street is going to require renters to be on the board, probably. [This should be mandatory for every group in the city. It's hugely important that these organizations not be de facto homeowners associations.] Head of the group is quoted as saying: "We're looking at ways to get more participation and more diverse participation." [Know your bylaws was the golden rule of Lyndon Johnson.] Article explains the by-laws and the "sub-areas." [That is very into the weeds.] 

Headline: Commission supports plan to use Summit-U church as event center
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: An old church on Dayton Avenue might become an event center [and adult day-care and childcare facility, which weirdly the article does not mention]. The old church was deigned by Cass Gilbert. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.


Sidewalk Poetry #61: Uptown, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Even though it’s May & the ice cream truck
parked outside my apartment is somehow certain,
I have a hard time believing winter is somehow,
all of a sudden, over — the worst one of my life,
the woman at the bank tells me. Though I’d like to be,
it’s impossible to be prepared for everything.
Even the mundane hum of my phone catches me
off guard today. Every voice that says my name
is a voice I don’t think I could possibly leave
(it’s unfair to not ask for the things you need)
even though I think about it often, even though
leaving is a train headed somewhere I’d probably hate.
Crossing Lyndale to meet a friend for coffee
I have to maneuver around a hearse that pulled too far
into the crosswalk. It’s empty. Perhaps spring is here.
Perhaps it will all be worth it. Even though I knew
even then it was worth it, staying, I mean.
Even now, there is someone, somehow, waiting for me.

[Lyndale and Lake.]


Signs of the Times #153


[Door. Downtown Minneapolis.]

 Do not touch

[Fence. San Diego, CA.]


[Tree. San Diego, CA.]


[Window. Downtown Saint Paul.]


[Door. Hamline-Midway, Saint Paul.]


[Door. Downtown Saint Paul.]


[Parking lot. Minnehaha Avenue, Saint Paul.]

44.9261ºN 93.4044ºW

[Metal railing. Hopkins.]


My Comments on the Ford Site Zoning Amendments

Here are my comments on the proposed amendments to the Ford Site zoning and master plan. The City Council public hearing is this evening.

The Mississippi riverfront is what makes the Ford Site truly special, and twice now the Planning Commission has tried to ensure that there is more density and access to the river road and the parkland along it. For some of you, the highly symbolic zoning for single-family homes along the best land at the Ford site might not seem like a big deal. After we’re talking about only 35 homes. But I believe that those homes would not be the right symbol to represent the future of Saint Paul, and we should insist on a better vision for the important seam between the riverfront parks and the new community. 
During the long, trying, and intense debates over the Ford site master plan, the consistent verdict supported by both the City Council and the Mayor was to create a community that valued inclusiveness, equity, and balance. My worry is that some of the proposed changes to the Ford site zoning will lead to a community that is less equitable and more segregated. Two changes that are in the Ryan amendments seem to move toward that outcome. The first is removing connections between the east and west sides of the site, with the affordable housing and greater density on one side, and wealthier part of the community on the other. We need a more connected and seamless neighborhood, and that is especially true when thinking about the river. 
The second is the single-family zoning, a type of housing which is abundant in the city and does not fit the changing needs of our metro population. During the Commission’s public hearing, Ryan spokespeople stated that single-family homes along the river are not needed economically but were included because of community pressure. This is the most valuable land on the site, and there are a dozen ways to develop it and make a more-than-healthy profit. By insisting on an antiquated housing model, I worry Saint Paul will repeat some of the mistakes that Minneapolis made as it developed its downtown riverfront land in the 1990s. If you walk around the North Loop or northeast riverfronts today, you find single-family homes with fenced-in yards, built in ways that make the public land along the Mississippi seem like private space. These kinds of designs are not welcoming or inclusive and I predict that, as in Minneapolis, people in the Highland community will quickly come to see the new buildings as planning mistakes.  
The City Council should stick to its well-thought-out vision for the Ford site and not change zoning along the site’s most valuable land. In fact, ideally we would build even more housing along the river, as was passed by the Commission in our original 2017 amendment. The riverfront is the link between the community and the Mississippi River, and we should insist that this key part of the site reflects our city’s values.  I urge the Council to be careful about which of the Ryan amendments we choose to support, and which we do not, and create a community that will reflect Saint Paul’s more equitable future.

See more on this topic here and here.


Reading the Highland Villager #231

[Villagers at Cecil's.]
[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: MN United’s home opener on April 13 will test city’s traffic management plan; officials are urging. Fans to ride, bike, walk, skip — just don’t drive
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The first home soccer game at the new stadium is going to happen soon. There is a transportation plan, but nobody knows how realistic it is. A Saint Paul Police Officer is quoted saying “We don’t want you to drive by yourself, because its going to be a miserable experience if you do.” Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. Some homeowners want to let cars park on their yards. [The Saint Paul version of the Portlandia solution to a problem: “park a car on it.”]

Headline: Lunds & Byerlys unveils plan for Grand grocery; market would occupy first floor of five-story apartment building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A former chain clothing store / mall on Grand Avenue might become a grocery store and apartments. It would have about 70 apartments above a grocery, along with 200 parking spots. It might or might not include the Brasa site. Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking.

Headline: Federation favors Island Station apartments
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The site of a former brick power plant by the river might be developed into apartments. Neighbors are not that concerned, except for one person who thinks “it’s ridiculous [to develop apartments with high rents that price people out].” [Fun fact: if you don’t build new apartments, people also get priced out.] There might be a small park by the site that would allow people to get to he river.

Headline: St. Paul considers charitable gambling changes; goal is to direct more proceeds to minority, low-income children
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City might change how it regulates pull tabs to try and boost the amount of the funds that to go low-income groups. The Council is tweaking exactly how that works. 10% of pull tab profits go to these charities that have to qualify by showing that they serve kids from needy neighborhoods.

Headline: St. Paul dealers emergency as it braces for major spring flooding; streets, parks closed as rapid snowmelt keeps Mississippi River rising
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The river is high. Roads by the river are closed. [Traffic is still fine though.] “One bright spot with the snowmelt is that as of noon st. Paul lifted its one-sided parking ban on residential streets.” [The many seasons of traffic parking continue. The cosmic ballet goes on.]

Headline: CDH expansion plan features new entrance, gathering space; efforts to improve security, energy use also are underway
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Cretin-Derham Hall, a private Catholic high school, is getting a new doorway. “Conduit revenue bonds” that the City helps provide might be part of it. There will be a new piano.

Headline: HDC committee supports two-story addition for Urban Academy campus

Short short version: A charter school in Highland is getting a new building area that will be two stories tall.”We’re full,” said the school superintendent. [Keep in mind that charter schools generally perpetuate inequality.]

Headline: Hearings set on Ford site plan changes
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be public hearings to hear from the public about the proposed changes to the Ford site. The Planning Commission passed some but not all of the amendments, especially about commercial parking, street configuration, and the proposal to built 35 single-family homes along the river. [The desire for a millionaire district flies in the face of the equity talk that dominated the actual public engagement and long debate over the Ford plans. Clinging to this symbolically, even though it is not economically necessary for the developer, seems like some sort of strange fetish. Not to mention that large single-family homes are increasingly unnecessary given the shrinking household sizes in the Twin Cities. The City should be firm about this, and CM Tolbert unnecessarily carrying water for the Ryan Company is disappointing. During both Ford Site public processes, the Planning Commission has asked the City for more equity along the river. Both times, so far, the more equitable plan has been shot down, with little rationale or logic behind it. Maybe this time will turn out differently, but I doubt it. It’s too bad because I hate to see the Ford Site get off on the wrong foot, and an exclusive, unnecessary district of single-family mansions is surely the wrong foot.]

Headline: $120,000 in unpaid trash bill reviewed
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Some people have not paid their trash bills. The City is trying to figure out what to do.