The 3 percent solution
The new 3 percent maximum rent increase imposed on landlords by the city of Saint Paul (Villager, June 23) means only one thing: continuous 3 percent increases every year, guaranteed, whether justified or not. And those 3 percent increases every year will really add up.
Vacating street will shift traffic
Thank you for publishing reporter Jane McClure’s thoughtful article about Our Lady of Peace’s proposal to vacate part of Saint Anthony Avenue for a parking lot (Villager, June 23). I live a block away, on the corner of Cleveland and Roblyn avenues. The partial closure of Saint Anthony would result in traffic being rerouted to Roblyn Avenue and other neighborhood streets, creating more hazards for a neighborhood already plagued by cut-through traffic and speeders.
At a recent meeting of the Union Park Traffic Mitigation Group, I learned that one of the reasons Our Lady of Peace wants Saint Anthony Avenue vacated is to make it safer for their employees who park there. The consequence of their proposed solution would, however, make their neighbors’ streets less safe.
I sincerely hope Our Lady of Peace will abandon their current proposal and instead work with their neighbors to develop a solution that benefits everyone.
UPDC vote was shortsighted
At the Union Park District Council Transportation Committee meeting on June 14, a promising discussion developed on much-needed traffic calming solutions for the neighborhood bounded by Saint Anthony, Cleveland, Marshall and Cretin avenues. Unfortunately, this discussion was quashed by a regressive and reactionary vote to oppose a street vacation request by Our Lady of Peace.
Brought up during the meeting was the issue of cut-through traffic that goes too fast on the residential streets between Cretin and Cleveland and creates safety concerns for residents of the neighborhood and the 50 or more employees of Our Lady of Peace. The meeting was primarily focused on speculative concerns about the vacation of Saint Anthony Avenue increasing traffic on adjacent residential streets. However, committee members balked when asked about a traffic study to help validate these concerns. The motion to oppose the Our Lady of Peace plan swiftly ended a much-needed conversation by the committee about how this neighborhood could best protect all of the people who live and work there from cars being driven at reckless speeds.
Prior to the meeting, the committee went to great lengths to distribute informational flyers to nearby homes. It was unclear whether the committee similarly sought feedback from the employees of Our Lady of Peace who regularly park on Saint Anthony. If residents have concerns about speeding vehicles, one can safely assume the employees of Our Lady of Peace also have concerns about speeding vehicles.
This neighborhood sorely needs to address the existing traffic problems. The Our Lady of Peace plan at least offers a tangible solution to increase the safety for their employees. Local residents and the UDPC should commit to studying the problem and developing solutions.
Sibley name change was muffed
I write this as a proud Sibley High School alumna and District 197 parent. Change is always hard, and while I am sad to see my high school renamed, I realize it is a change we must accept. But School District 197 has failed its community by choosing Two Rivers as the new name for the high school (Villager, June 9 and July 7).
District administrators need to stop moving forward with this new name until proper community input is heard. They created a flawed name-change process with parameters that were not followed, all during a global pandemic. Community members (their taxpayers), and students especially, deserve better.
The name-change committee put forth a survey with five options for new names, and 4,182 members of the community participated in the survey. From the survey results, the top three names were brought to the District 197 School Board for recommendation. It would stand to reason that the board would choose the front runner in the survey, but they did not. There was little to no public discussion, debate or review of the survey results by the School Board.
The School Board’s blatant disregard for a name that had broad community support (West Heights High School) is dysfunctional. As a district, we will face the negative ramifications of this disregard for years to come. The School Board is missing the obvious and needs to try again.
Erasing legacy of Henry Sibley
School District 197’s decision to change the name of Henry Sibley High School provides an opportunity for an interesting discussion of Sibley’s legacy and a reckoning of sorts (Villager, June 9 and July 7).
Henry Sibley arrived at Mendota in 1834 at the age of 25—24 years before Minnesota achieved statehood. He established a business relationship and personal friendships with the Dakota, learning their language along the way. He spent the winter of 1840 hunting with them. It was during this time that he experienced the most intimate of human relationships with a Mdewakanton woman, Red Blanket Woman, and the following August she bore a daughter, Helen Hastings Sibley. Within a few years, Henry Sibley and Sarah Steele were married, Red Blanket Woman died and Helen Sibley was baptized Catholic and taken away to live in a Christian household. Although Sibley financed her care, she was never accepted into the Sibley family.
Erasing the Sibley name from the high school is most likely driven by Sibley’s reaction to the Dakota War of 1862, long after his ties to the native population withered. The contradiction in Sibley’s life, going from close kinship with the Dakota to his efforts to see their execution is unfathomable. History is filled with facts often difficult to reconcile.
To eliminate the Sibley name from the high school and change it to something anodyne removes his dreadful legacy, but it also could serve to absolve future generations from the responsibility to instruct students on the ugly facts of cultural conflict. If the school name were changed to Helen Hastings Sibley High School or Sibley/Red Blanket Woman High School, the cultural history critical to understanding who we are as Minnesotans would not be lost.
Band-Aid of affordable housing
I have read the last several Villager newspapers, and I am disgusted that every other article speaks of “affordable housing.” The city of Saint Paul would do so much better if it stopped focusing on housing and started focusing on bringing jobs back to the city. If people can work, they can afford to live. Solve the problem. Stop putting on Band-Aids.
Resist density agenda in MH
The city of Mendota Heights is a largely residential community, almost completely built out. Many of the city’s residents equate its residential character and parks with livability and quality of life. This raises the question as to why the city’s Planning Commission and City Council seem bound and determined to undermine the appealing nature of our city. A recent example is the approval by both bodies to revise the city’s R1 zoning to allow accessory structures of up to 2,400 square feet and 18 feet in height on lots of five acres or more. Residents with lots of this size can now build another small house on their property or an additional five- or six-car garage.
The three City Council members who supported the R1 zoning revision are John Mazzitello, Joel Paper and Mayor Stephanie Levine. Zoning codes governing property use represent a primary means for defining a city’s character. Now that the lot use protection offered by R1 zoning has been undermined, it is reasonable to ask if R-zoned lots (15,000 square feet or less) will be next in their sights.
Unlike neighboring suburbs to the east, south and west, Mendota Heights has a long tradition of rejecting a density development agenda. I call on every resident of the city who treasures its special character to resist this insidious agenda and make their wishes known to the Planning Commission and City Council.
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