Villager Inbox

Ford plan promises a fulfilling life for all

I am a lifelong resident of Saint Paul and an apartment renter in Highland Park, and I am thoroughly disgusted by the statements made by Charles Hathaway, Kate Hunt and Jean Hoppe in their guest editorial in the August 19 Villager regarding the progress at Highland Bridge (old Ford site). The apartments in our building, and I dare say the many other apartment buildings that are abundant in our community, are filled with hard-working, engaged and contributing neighbors of all ages, races, national origins and religious beliefs who add immensely to the vitality of our community. Contrary to the assertions made in their commentary, we renters are living a perfectly healthy and fulfilling existence.

In their desperation to derail the progress being made at Highland Bridge, Mr. Hathaway, Ms. Hunt and Ms. Hoppe imply that those of us who live in small “real estate footprints” are a sign of a “dystopian future” even leading to the spread of epidemics. This is stupid, of course, which even the writers seem to realize, since they admit that the higher-density rental housing actually means that “everything would be efficient…heating, cooling and electricity would be minimized…and more efficient public transportation” would be utilized. Oh, the horror.

I am excited that work at Highland Bridge is underway. The plans look terrific, and I applaud the mix of housing types that will be included. I can’t wait to stroll the paths, support the new businesses and meet friends at the brew pubs that will soon be built in our newest family-friendly community. And as the thousands of homes at Highland Bridge are built and new residents arrive, I look forward to welcoming them all, renters and homeowners alike, to our neighborhood.

I hope that in due course Mr. Hathaway, Ms. Hunt and Ms. Hoppe will do the same.

Stephen Seidel
Highland Park

Placing football above the planet

The University of Saint Thomas teaches that global warming is real and is man-made. It accepts the science behind global warming. UST Professor John Abraham, a leading climate scientist, has worked with the United Nations on global warming issues. Why on earth would those in charge at the university join the Pioneer League for football and go against everything that the school teaches?

UST’s opponents in the Pioneer League reside in San Diego, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa. The environmental footprint from joining such a league is off the charts. UST has an Office of Sustainability. How is this much traveling sustainable? Round trip to San Diego is 4,000 miles.


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UST needs to walk the talk, to set a better example, to put the planet above football.

Frank Erickson
Standish, Minneapolis

Police presence and crime

Letter writer Barry Randall makes the claim that “in the aftermath of the protests and riots in late May and early June, Minneapolis police have reduced their patrol presence in the city. Not surprisingly, crime has risen” (Villager Inbox, July 22). This is demonstrably false. The police presence has not been reduced in Minneapolis. The exact same amount of officers are on patrol, and the police budget has not been reduced for 2020 but actually increased by $8 million, indicating that increased police funding has a negative correlation with crime rates.

Carter McCoy
Summit Hill

Editor’s note: According to Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Police Department patrols for responding to 911 calls continue to be fully staffed.

Ford plan was a good compromise

Charles Hathaway, Kate Hunt and Jean Hoppe have written their own Utopian ideal for the Ford site, denigrating the existing plan in ways too numerous to count (Villager Viewpoint, August 19).  They claim that “homeownership, a family-friendly setting and a thriving middle class were not part of the city’s vision” and found it “particularly jarring that the plan for the Ford site should be predicated on the assumption of a dystopian future without a middle class.”

Underlying these remarks is the arrogant belief that their vision of the world is the only acceptable version, that only their vision is family-friendly and can foster a thriving middle class. This simply is not true. These beliefs are no more than the authors’ value judgments, judgments that would reserve this vast space for people like themselves who are able to afford the luxury of a single-family home in one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods.

They obviously remain unsatisfied with the process that resulted in the current plan and the plan itself.  The plan for the Ford site was never intended to be for the sole benefit of the Highland area but for the benefit of the city as a whole.  The latter concern is completely absent from the authors’ vision for the land. They may see the plan as dystopian. I see it as a compromise that, like every compromise, has its faults but reflects the needs and desires of the majority of the wider community. 

James M. Hamilton

An agenda we all can agree on

Is it possible that the biggest political question mark in our country right now is not the November election? Could it be instead the question of what will come afterwards? And could it be that our biggest national challenge at present is finding ways to avert what could well amount to social and political upheaval? Is there anything that we the people, regardless of political persuasion, can do to reduce this potential clash?

If ever there was a time for respectful conversation, for active listening, for trust in the underlying compassion of the large majority of Americans, this would seem to be the time. If ever there was a time to exercise gentleness as an antidote to bitterness, empathy and kind-heartedness as an antidote to strife, this would seem to be it.

In doing so, it might be possible to come up with a public agenda that all Americans could agree on, an agenda that might include health and well-being for everyone in our country, free education to help people get the jobs they want, an insistence on clean water everywhere and steps to help save the planet for our grandchildren. Is there a way that we could begin to listen to one another with respect, perhaps work together on such an agenda and, just maybe avoid a deeply painful crisis?

And where might we have that conversation? It could be in our faith communities. It could be at our dinner tables. It could be in our union hall or child care collective or mom’s group. It could be when we gather—with masks and physical distancing, of course—for coffee or to watch a ball game.

For inspiration, visit

Marcia Avner
Highland Park

Editor’s note: The letter was signed by six others from Minnesota and Vermont, supporters of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

The Villager welcomes letters to the editor and longer guest editorials. To be considered for publication, however, all commentary must be signed, indicate the neighborhood in which the writer lives and provide a phone number for verification purposes. You may send your commentary to the Villager at 757 S. Snelling Ave., email it to or submit it on our website at


The Villager welcomes comments from readers. Please include your full name and the neighborhood in which you live. Be respectful of others and stay on topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment we deem to be profane, rude, insulting or hateful. Comments will be reviewed before being published.

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