For a fairer, more stable Midway
I live four blocks from Major League Soccer’s Allianz Field. It’s a beautiful structure—futuristic, sleek, much more pleasant than some of the stadiums across the river.
I can’t help but think about the relatively humble beginnings of this area of the Midway, at least since I’ve been living in Saint Paul. Rainbow Foods, Midway Pro Bowl, Big Top Liquors and Perkins were my favorites. I remember it being a little rough around the edges, but full of great people. It was a great, diverse and cheap place to eat, shop and hang out.
Midway is now moving in a different direction. Luxurious high-rise apartments are being built next to Allianz Field. Property values are shooting up. Two large department and grocery stores have vacated the area, and whatever replaces them will likely have a more upscale feel.
I love this area, and I’m excited to see what the future holds. One can’t help but notice, however, the contrast of other recent nearby developments. Four blocks away in Hamline Park, tents line the basketball court. South of I-94, more tents occupy a vacant lot. A burned-out strip mall is a reminder that several local businesses were recently evicted from the area with little help from the landlord.
Minnesota United soccer team owner Bill McGuire’s estimated net worth is $999 million. Poverty in the area is at 16.9 percent and likely rising. Unemployment is at 5.1 percent and likely rising. Almost half of the renters are cost-burdened.
While I love the soccer team, it’s fair to ask McGuire to help out residents going through hard times as a gesture of goodwill. I suggest McGuire pay it forward, further the equitable development of this city, and donate $2 million to the Saint Paul Housing Trust Fund to build and retain affordable housing and provide housing assistance for those in need.
If he does, I’m sure the investment would more than pay for itself. A fairer Saint Paul is a safer Saint Paul, a more stable Saint Paul. And a more stable Saint Paul is a better business climate for a man like McGuire. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too.
When are we going to make an attempt for sanity in this country? The holiday season advertisements and music start Thanksgiving Day so that what used to be the least commercial holiday of the year is now fruitcakeville. I’m grateful that I can no longer allot money to no-longer-free television, as it spares me the onslaught of commercials for junk that neither I nor anyone else truly needs.
Then the packages begin to arrive at the door, so that one cannot have a peaceful moment to finish any endeavor. I received so many things this year that went directly from the front door to the charity box after its packaging was broken down and hauled to the recycling bin.
I have sympathy for the Jewish, Muslim and other-oriented people in this country. They must feel beat over the head by Christmas, including nonstop Christian music, even on Minnesota Public Radio, even when it’s Advent. Then on Christmas night at midnight—done.
As I write this, still in the season of Christmas, which runs through Twelfth Night on January 6, there’s nothing…. Nothing except the glitter-covered Christmas cards and their foil-lined envelopes and gift wrap and ribbon—all non-recyclable. So much for remembering the planet in the celebration.
A school, not a statement
I am absolutely incensed that the District 197 School Board dropped the name of my high school, Henry Sibley.
An article in the StarTribune cited 200 emails and an article in the Pioneer Press cited 1,300 emails with concerns over the school name. That seems like a very small sample to make a radical change. There are thousands of students who have passed through Henry Sibley over the years. Did the School Board ask them?
I feel as if I have lost my high school forever. The name Henry Sibley was not a political statement in my time there, but a place and time in this community’s history. If the name change is truly what is decided, in future elections I will never vote for the School Board members who approved this. In addition, I will never attend or support the high school with whatever new name they dream up. I have supported numerous school district special bonding issues and tax increases, but never again. This is not my school anymore.
I felt bad when the Saint Paul School Board forced the name change of Linwood-Monroe School and the old Monroe High School. There are still a lot of people who live in that area who cling to their old high school as part of their community regardless of politics.
Monroe, Sibley, even FDR were our elected officials, but certainly not saints. Each of them had many flaws.
Dennis G. Hoye
Sobering review of city streets
Former Governor Jesse Ventura once said that the streets of Saint Paul must have been designed by drunken Irishmen. He was right. Near Assumption Church in downtown Saint Paul there’s a street sign on a single pole that reads 9th Street, Saint Joseph’s Lane and Exchange Street. All three streets end at that intersection. A reconfiguration would help. The short stretch of 9th Street could become a natural extension of Exchange Street. Saint Joseph’s Lane could be renamed Xcel Energy Street. The only street sign you would need is Exchange Street. That’s if you need any sign at all.
I think I just sobered up.
Downtown Saint Paul
Runaway train at Ford site
A runaway train of variance requests is barreling toward the Highland Bridge development on the former site of the Ford Plant. It seems that master developer Ryan Companies and the city of Saint Paul are driving the train of ever-increasing height variances to maximize density and profit at the expense of neighborhood livability.
Remember when Ryan and the city committed to the Ford Site Zoning and Public Realm Master Plan in 2017, proclaiming it the best? If it was so good then, why have they been requesting and receiving building height and open space variances since construction started?
The latest is the height variance for a 95-foot decorative tower in an area with a 65-foot height limit. Ryan and the city are not following their own agreed-upon zoning plan. Friends of the Mississippi opposes this variance, and Neighbors for a Livable Saint Paul has filed legal action to force the city to follow its own zoning rules.
Taxpayers could be doling out up to $275 million in tax increment financing for this development on the Ford site. If you are outraged about where this train is heading, please contact Ryan Companies, the city administration and your City Council member to voice your opposition.
Taxpayers left holding the bag
Usually, news that a lender stood to lose $435 billion on $1.37 trillion of loans would be pretty shocking, but not when the lender is the U.S. taxpayer. And you can bet this first estimate of the student loan losses will prove to be rosy.
Delve into Highland’s history
Intrigue, mystery, warm memories, cold facts and conjecture—we are discovering all of these as part of the Highland Heritage Project’s research into Highland Park’s history. We have interviewed residents who have provided critical information for us. They have recommended other folks to interview. It turns out, Highland residents have done amazing things and have participated deeply in the formation of this unique neighborhood.
Highland Heritage Project team members are committed to carrying out this research funded by a Minnesota Historical Society legacy grant. But there is lots more to discover, lots more people to interview, and we want to share the fun. If you have recommendations for people to interview (even yourself) or would like to participate in the project as a volunteer, contact us by email at email@example.com.
A Zoom program on the houses of worship in Highland Park is also available at youtu.be/hgQk6eVzC2M.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or submit it via our website at myvillager.com/editorial.
COMMENTS TERMS OF SERVICE
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.