Better option for new housing

Opening the latest edition of the Villager, I was struck by the juxtaposition of stories on two housing projects on page 4. While both projects add housing and increase density, the development on the Ford site shows yet another one of those bland, tedious, stubby mid-rise buildings that seem to be popping up all over Saint Paul. These buildings loom over adjacent properties and consume entire lots.

The article below it refers to a creative, “missing middle” project in the Uppertown neighborhood off West Seventh Street. These multi-family units are compatible in scale to single-family homes and demonstrate that there are indeed better options for new housing. These multi-family units have been used by cities to increase density while maintaining livability with porches, plenty of windows and even gardens. As a former New Yorker, I can think of wonderful examples of brownstone-type buildings that line city streets, allowing for density while giving residents a place that feels like home.

There are examples of these brownstone-type buildings in Saint Paul. You may have never noticed them because they blend right into the surrounding neighborhood. The price per square foot to build them may even be less than another McMonster apartment building. So why do we persist in building the McMonsters when there are more attractive options to increase density while maintaining the charm of our city?

Jenna Ward

Preserve our parking paradise

It is idealistic but a bit misguided to think that eliminating parking will eliminate a parking problem or solve transit issues (“City considers eliminating the requirements for off-street parking,” Villager, May 26). People should be able to park by their homes, unload groceries near their door, have friends come and visit, etc., without having to pave their yards. Visit the dense portions of any large U.S. city—New York, Boston, Chicago, etc.—and ask residents there if what we now have is something they would like. Visiting a family member in Boston a few years back, we had to park seven-plus blocks away and were told that we got a good spot.

Planning for one off-street parking space per apartment is not unreasonable in a city with regular snow emergencies. While some renters may not have a car, others may have two, or have guests who have a car.

The pandemic that we are emerging from has brought back the realization that Uber and Lyft type services have their limits, as does Metro Transit. Google tells me that I can drive to my doctor’s office in about 18 minutes, but that riding there on Metro Transit could take up to 11 hours and 45 minutes. Improving mass transit is a good goal, but personal transportation is still needed for people who do not commute along major transit corridors.


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Many of us who are old enough remember that the lack of downtown parking helped fuel the development of regional shopping malls in the 1960s and ’70s along with suburban sprawl. We should not be eager to relearn those lessons. Density and development can be spread over wider areas, improving quality of life and access to goods and services in many neighborhoods and business districts. It does not need to be concentrated in hot economic zones. And we should not be in a rush to throw away advantages we have in search of problems that other cities face.

Philip Jacobs

Lessons from the school year

If I had to sum up the last school year in one word, it would be “revealing.” The lessons I’ve learned from COVID-19 are emphasizing a flexible learning model, mastering protocols to mitigate the spread of disease, and having patience to allow reliable data to drive decision-making.

In retrospect, COVID-19 only revealed systemic inequities that have been existing in the Saint Paul Public Schools for decades. These include language barriers for English as a second language learners, predictable student outcomes based on race and lack of a reciprocal communication system among students, parents, families, teachers and administrators to report on the progress of learning models.

Going into the fall, I intend to learn from COVID-19 and focus on identifying actionable data to drive decision-making. I want to promote a more effective and rapid reciprocal communication system. I want to promote learning programs and curricula such as language immersion and ethnic studies at home and school. I want to listen to and learn from families, students and educators throughout the city. You are welcome to write to me at

Jim Vue, Member
Saint Paul School Board

A governor ought to be humble

The first time I heard Dr. Scott Jensen speak was at a 2019 Medical Freedom Rally where to everyone’s surprise the then- Minnesota state senator openly admitted that “doctors get it wrong all the time.” In that moment, my hope was restored in both the medical system and our representation at the state Capitol.

Imagine going to a physician who prioritized his ego over his patient’s health. Maybe some of you have experienced this. If a treatment isn’t working, or the wrong diagnosis is given, the worst thing a physician could do is gaslight his patient instead of admitting he got it wrong. That would fly in the face of every doctor’s ultimate vocation to do no harm, and the patient would suffer greatly because of it. If the doctor just admits he took the wrong course and corrects his mistake, the trust and health of the patient can be restored.

The checks and balances essential to our republic were meant to protect us from the virus from which Minnesota now finds itself suffering—the totalitarian rule of a governor who is desperate to maintain the appearance of control even if it injures the health of his state. When we have a leader who possesses the humility to admit when he is wrong and works with his peers to find a better solution, then we can correct our course. When we have a leader who refuses to admit his folly, and blocks any dissenting voices, then we lose all hope of recovery.

It should be no surprise, then, that this last year’s revolving door of arrogance, moving goal posts and failed treatments by one man has brought us to this brokenness. The only person Governor Tim Walz is protecting by extending his emergency powers is himself. As a result, we have endured a year of collective abuse and gaslighting of an entire state, where most have been so dehumanized that they actually believe their freedom is nothing more than a selfish inconvenience to “the greater good.”

Minnesota cannot survive another year of one man’s refusal to admit his errors, let alone four more years. The only way for us to move forward and heal is to fire the bad physician and bring in the good one—the one who understands the importance of serving individuals rather than sacrificing them in an attempt to save face. The one who will restore our constitutional representation instead of continuing this dangerous dictatorship. The best course of action is to put Dr. Scott Jensen in the governor’s office. He reflects everything that is good about Minnesota—critical thinking, fearlessness, transparency and above all, the humility to do no harm.

Megan Thom

Yes, let’s stop Line 3

Two men who worship at the Quaker meeting house on Grand Avenue went up north to oppose Line 3, the tar sands pipeline destroying woodland and wetland and threatening wild rice beds. These friends got arrested. One is in his 70s, and the other is in his 30s. At my encouragement, they gave their testimony to our congregation about being arrested to protect the land and water from pollution.

Since the fall day when I joined Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light at a rally outside the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in Saint Paul, I have displayed a Stop Line 3 lawn sign in my yard. On June 10, I am volunteering at the big rally taking place at Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis to demonstrate solidarity with the indigenous women who lead the fight against Line 3. The health of Minnesota’s beautiful, watery environment is precious to me. Thus, I support the indigenous women who show us the way to unite against short-term profiteering.

Convincing Governor Walz or President Biden to terminate construction on Line 3 is a gain against short-term profiteering, a win toward ending fossil-fuel dependence, a brake on the climate change threatening everyone. May we transform business as usual into widespread sustainable business. Let’s guarantee that northern Minnesota’s wild rice beds will remain intact, unharmed and able to nourish future generations.

Diane J. Peterson
Como Park

A double standard for death

Should your boss make you get vaccinated? Wouldn’t it make more sense if your boss had the power to stop you from driving your car to work?

A new study by a team of U.S. and U.K. scientists published in Environmental Research says fossil fuel pollution kills 8.7 million people annually. So where are the bodies? We see all those pictures of people who have died of COVID, and COVID has killed only 2.5 million worldwide. How can close to 9 million dead from air pollution every year not be overloading the system? Why are there no articles or photos about this? It is disturbing that there is not one iota of concern for 9 million preventable deaths.

Frank Erickson
Standish, Minneapolis

Be wary of big government

Why would my federal government send me a tax bill and, when I pay it, take part of my money and send it to a spooky virus laboratory in Wuhan, China? It’s a simple question, for sure. But, for sure, my federal government will never answer it. Why? Well, my government has no idea why it sent part of my taxes to the China lab. Probably, my government sent money to the China lab because some guy at that lab asked some bureaucrat in my federal government to do so. And now our president and his cohorts want to make our federal government bigger. A lot bigger.

I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

T.J. Sexton
Highland Park

Daydreaming of development

When big-box stores vacate, only other big-box stores move in, say real estate gurus. What will happen when Lunds & Byerlys moves from the Highland Village Center to Highland Bridge? How about the U.S. Postal Service’s Elway Station moving to a more centralized location? I’d like to see a new Perkins Restaurant across from Baker’s Square on Ford Parkway, and a new Barnes & Noble at Highland Bridge.

Steven Hubbell
Downtown Saint Paul

Happy trails to you

I am an 8th-grader at Highland Park Middle School. I love camping, and I hope you will, too.

Camping can be a great experience, with memories that last a lifetime. You can see friends and family and do outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, stargazing and more. Even the worst camping trips can make good memories to laugh over. However, they are not pain-free. Setting up a tent in pouring rain can be torture. And bring a medical kit in case you have an accident.

There can be many ways for your camping trip to turn out, but the positives always outweigh the negatives. I hope to see you on the trail!

Christopher Staba
Highland Park

Do write

The Villager welcomes letters to the editor and longer guest editorials. All commentary must be signed, indicate the neighborhood in which the writer lives and include a phone number for verification purposes. Please send your commentary to the Villager, 241 S. Cleveland Ave., Suite V, Saint Paul, MN 55105; email it to; or submit it via our website at


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