A new Thanksgiving tradition

For the last 50-plus years I have been the official Thanksgiving dinner host for our extended family. I cleaned, shopped, chopped, prepped, cooked and baked for four days. This year there was no gathering. We ordered our Thanksgiving meal as takeout from Highland Cafe in the Highland Shopping Center. Our local family members did the same. The meals were fabulous. Every dish I usually made was there and a big choice of pies as well. A new tradition is born.

Kathryn Bennett
Highland Park

Only fools rush in

It seems almost every proposed construction project involves a variance request, if not two or three. Remember, we don’t have to say “yes” to the first person who asks us to dance.

Please hesitate before approving yet another height variance at 485 S. Snelling Ave., on the southwest corner of Snelling and Randolph avenues (Villager, November 25). Also, think hard about the description of the first floor of the proposed building: parking, rental office, fitness center. No retail? There are building designs that can enhance rather than detract from that corner. Highland Park and Macalester-Groveland should stand up and demand a better design that can still be profitable to the builder.

I will miss the gas station at Snelling and Randolph. It offers free tire air, specialized fuel for small engines, and competition for Speedway and BP. And you can see the sky above the station. Thank you for that.

Kristen O’Brien
Highland Park

Cut the city budget with care

Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s city budget for 2021 must cut his number of cabinet members down to seven members. With seven City Council members, he should be able to get along with seven cabinet members.


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The city’s Public Works budget must receive adequate funds for the safety of vehicles and pedestrians, including winter plowing, salting and sanding streets and such summer street maintenance repairs as pothole patching and street sweeping. The Police Department budget must receive adequate funds for the safety of the people and their property. The Fire Department budget must receive adequate funds in order for emergency responders to get to a burning issue in a timely manner.

The Saint Paul Public Library’s deepest projected budget cuts must be restored due to increasing unemployment from COVID-19. With thousands of Saint Paul residents unemployed, many have likely needed to disconnect their internet service, including parents of school-age children now unable to do distance learning.

The city’s Parks and Recreation budget must be adequately funded to continue with emerald ash borer tree removals and replacements and provide places to exercise. Community centers have exercise equipment in their buildings that need to be used. We’re all less active when orders are given to stay home. More people have gained weight, and obesity is now a health pandemic.

Hopefully, the mayor and City Council will seriously rethink their proposed budget cuts to the departments of Public Works, Police, Fire, Parks and Recreation and Public Library for the benefit of citizens.

Sue Shetka

A note to MH’s new mayor

Congratulations to Stephanie Levine on her election as mayor of Mendota Heights.

Levine promised that as mayor she will be visible and accessible. Yet within two weeks of her election, she asked the City Council to delay her swearing in because she would be on vacation.

During her campaign, she identified priorities to plan, preserve, protect and promote Mendota Heights. She also targeted a need for a healthy environment, sustainability and revenue for the city. Every one of these issues is already identified in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan for the city. This raises the question as to whether her priorities differ in any significant way from those already built into the planning process for the next two decades.

As a member of the District 197 School Board, Levine supported a series of decisions contrary to the best interests of Mendota Heights residents. In particular, she endorsed siting the new Sibley High School stadium immediately adjacent to the residents north of Warrior Drive. When the stadium was in use, she inappropriately insisted that stadium users have the right to park on Warrior Drive even though there was plenty of parking on school property. Noise pollution from the new stadium will compromise the quality of life of Warrior Drive residents for the indefinite future. And despite the pandemic, Levine supported sending staff and students back into enclosed school environments while convening virtual meetings of the School Board.

It strikes me as hypocrisy for Levine to invoke the above values to defend decisions that undermine the interests of residents and then have us believe that she will rely on the same values to provide inspirational leadership as mayor in defense of these same interests.

Mendota Heights stands alone among first-tier Twin Cities suburbs in that it is primarily residential and largely built out with low density and limited commercial development. In her campaign literature, Levine rightly refers to the city’s unique character. Here are some policies I suggest she support to sustain the city’s character:

1) Oppose high-density residential projects.

2) Do not pander to developers.

3) Variance applications merit skepticism.

4) Fiercely defend our lot-size ordinance.

5) Nurture our Southwest Business Park, since its commercial success is vital to our city.

Thomas Smith
Mendota Heights

Brazen machinations

If President Trump manages to wheedle a second term in office by overturning the legal election, I cannot help mentally channeling the alternative reality in the second installment of the Back to the Future trilogy when Bif is in charge.

Mary Therese Nelson
Highland Park

A welcome rant

I think it’s pretty fair to say that 2020 has been a rough year for us Villager readers. Between COVID-19, the lockdowns and grueling economic conditions, 2020 has been a year with few notable highlights.

So it was with much delight that I opened up to the monthly Kathleen Deming rant to discover that she was once again complaining about organized trash collection (Villager Inbox, November 25). It brought me back to the halcyon days of yesteryear when the residents of this great city ignored such rabble-rousing and voted overwhelmingly in favor of city-run garbage collection.

Thank you, Kathleen, for bringing a singular tear of joy to this wizened face. May next year bring better times for all.

April King

The Villager welcomes letters to the editor and longer guest editorials. To be considered for publication, all commentary must be signed, indicate the neighborhood in which the writer lives and provide a phone number for verification purposes. You may your send your commentary to the Villager, 757 S. Snelling Ave., Saint Paul, MN 55116; email it to letters@myvillager.com; or submit it via our website at myvillager.com/editorial.


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