Villager Inbox

Open space sacrificed at Ford

The Saint Paul City Council voted 6-1 on July 22 to approve zoning variances for development at Highland Bridge (former Ford site) that were previously denied by the Saint Paul Board of Zoning Appeals. The variances requested by Ryan Companies increase density and decrease open space. The Highland District Council formally supported these variances.

Over the years, neighbors expressed a preference for redevelopment on the Ford site that are human scale and complement the surrounding neighborhoods. Instead, the city and Ryan Companies push to find new ways to expand density and sacrifice public open space. For example, the city and Ryan redefined “open space” to avoid needing another variance to the master plan. The new definition allows private property like rooftop decks and apartment balconies to be counted toward the total open space zoning requirement.

The City Council received 175 comments opposing the zoning variances and eight comments in support, including Ryan Companies and the Highland District Council. I ask the Highland District Council, the city of Saint Paul and Ryan Companies, can we reimagine a place where buildings are at a human scale with plenty of open space, parks and nature? Can we create a place where people will thrive on its beauty? When will you listen to the people that you serve?

Kate M. Hunt
Highland Park

   

Wisdom of city’s namesake

Regarding “Great city needs a new name” (Villager Inbox, July 22):

Our city already has a great name. Those who don’t know the historical figure of Saint Paul have missed some wonderful information about what he contributed to the world—namely, the crucial lines in his letter to the church in Galatia, which needed a bit of wise reprimanding to calm their divisiveness. Saint Paul reminded them: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one.”

As Saint Paul saw it, all people were unified into one body “in Christ Jesus.” You can object to that clarification (which is dear to Christians), but the unity itself is what so many of us have been pointing to lately. Unity is the reason for Black Lives Matter. Unity is the reason for questioning binary designations of human persons. Unity is the goal that calls us to care about our neighbors and keep them healthy by wearing masks. All things are connected, the Buddha tells us. Everything we do affects everyone else, because distinctions (e.g., race is a social construct) are damaging. Saint Paul knew that.

 

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I love living in a city named for someone who had that kind of wisdom. And just to be clear, calling someone a saint (at least for many of us Christians) doesn’t mean anything more than we are loved by God. There’s unity in that.

Melinda Quivik
Summit-University

Loving Saint Paul as Saint Paul

Letter writer Chris Bredehoft should move to the city across the river if he or she is uncomfortable living in a city named after a saint (“Great city needs a new name,” Villager Inbox, July 22). Then he or she can lobby residents of that “progressive” city to change the name of the county since it is named after Father Hennepin, another Christian.

Beautiful cities need beautiful names, and going back to Saint Paul’s previous name of Pig’s Eye doesn’t do it justice. I love Saint Paul as Saint Paul and wish “progressives” would move back to the West Coast or at least live west of the Mississippi.

Marr I. Renne
Summit Hill

You’ve got to be kidding

Was the letter from Chris Bredehoft (“Great city needs a new name,” Villager Inbox, July 22) written with tongue in cheek? Would someone really seriously suggest renaming the city of Saint Paul? When have people become so thin-skinned that the mention of something that does not fall in line with the beliefs, outlook or thought processes of others offends them?

We are all products of our history—family, state and country. History is not always perfect, but it is what happened. Is Chris Bredehoft ready to start to change every city with a religious name? Saint Louis, Saint Augustine, Santa Fe, San Juan? Cities were named after saints because many of the people there had fled from places with religious oppression. Our country was founded on religious freedom.

If the writer is truly offended, maybe a move to a city with a less offensive name is in order. Maybe Snowflake Village or Never Never Land.

Joan Barrett
Macalester-Groveland

Stop polluting the planet

I see trash everywhere I go: plastic bags, plastic bottles, McDonald’s wrappers, etc. I wish I could stop it with a snap of my fingers, but I can’t. That’s why I speak up, and I encourage others to do the same. Now, in this pandemic, we have started to wear masks in public places, but across the globe, in China they’re already accustomed to wearing masks because of all the air pollution. Do we want that to happen here?

We need to stop buying pre-packaged items at the grocery store, toys wrapped in plastic, items made of plastic or Styrofoam that you can only use once. Don’t go to restaurants that use Styrofoam for carryout containers. Every single piece of Styrofoam cannot be recycled. If we threw out two pieces of Styrofoam every day, that adds up to 730 pieces of Styrofoam each year. Let’s protect our environment, communities, cities, states, countries, continents and entire globe from pollution by recycling and reusing as much as we can.

Beatrice Cosgrove, Age 10
West End

Police are human too

Letter writer Kate Vichich offered a very negative view of Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell’s comments about the way police were treated during the recent civil unrest (“Discomfort for the privileged,” Villager Inbox, July 22). His use of the word “dehumanizing” left her bitterly angry.

Given all that happened in neighborhoods throughout the metro, the way the police were treated by the press and the protesters, and the protections afforded those who caused the riots, arson, and looting, Chief Axtell’s comments have merit.

The burden of proof lies with Kate Vichich. She must make the case that the “peaceful” protesters should not be held accountable for what they did and for the long-term damage they caused. She should be willing to explain how “the discomfort of those who are suffering” has been alleviated in the aftermath of what has happened to their neighborhoods.

I doubt that she can.

Stephen Miller
Merriam Park

Put a price on carbon emissions

I enjoyed reading about Eric Holthaus’ hopeful book dealing with climate change (Villager, July 8) and look forward to reading it. I’m happy that the city of Saint Paul has plans to conserve energy and transition to sustainable energy sources, but we need a national plan as well. So, yes, as Eric says, we need to have neighborhood conversations, and one of the things we need to talk about is pushing for action at the national level.

A simple but comprehensive first step would be to put a price on carbon, specifically a carbon fee and dividend, which puts a price on all carbon-based energy sources and rebates 100 percent of the revenue to Americans in the form of a monthly dividend. This would encourage energy conservation across the board, make wind and solar more competitive, and cushion regular people from higher energy costs. It would be a big first step in a transition that needs to gain momentum soon.

Cathy Ruther
Macalester-Groveland

Do write, won’t you?

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