For a better legacy on Grand
The developers of a proposed five-story apartment building at 695 Grand Ave. are trying to sell the project as a “legacy to the neighborhood.” A legacy can be good or it can be harmful. A good legacy would be to build a new restaurant facility using the same footprint as the old building with underground parking for guests. Then put a park over the rest of the land with trees, flowers and picnic benches.
The restaurateurs who own 695 Grand Ave. can do whatever they politically can with the property, but let’s not call it a legacy. Overcrowding, parking and traffic congestion, faulty design, lack of light and excessive use of land—that’s what the developers will leave us.
I believe this building will be approved though the infinite wisdom of the City Council and mayor. Let’s make it more appealing to the people of Summit Hill by making the apartments all condos, enforcing the three-story height limit and providing adequate parking for residents. There will be more real estate taxes collected from condos than rental units. And now, when longtime Summit Hill residents choose to downsize, they’re forced to move out of the area because there aren’t any places to buy with 1,500-2,500 square feet of space.
Lloyd A. Froelich
Sidewalks—for safety’s sake
It was a great blessing when the city of Saint Paul installed sidewalks on Hartford Avenue in our neighborhood. We no longer fear for our safety when walking on this street. It can be busy with school buses and delivery vehicles, leaving little room to walk on the street. Our neighbors bought their house this year specifically because the neighborhood has good walking options. There is a steady stream of adults, children and pets enjoying the beauty of walking in our part of Highland.
We love to walk to the Highland Park picnic shelter and across the charming pedestrian bridge over Montreal Avenue via Edgcumbe Road, except for the fact that there are no sidewalks for much of the route. Like Hartford, this street is frequented by cars and delivery vehicles unimpeded by stop signs, making us fear for our safety.
While I love trees as much as anyone, I value public safety more highly. Trees don’t last forever, and the ones on Hartford don’t appear to have suffered within the tight constraints of the new sidewalks. With the wide expanse of boulevards and median on Edgcumbe Road, it seems a small risk for the increased livability of the city.
Sign is a step in wrong direction
Good grief. Another Highland Bridge variance, this time for a 35-by-35-foot sign atop a building (MyVillager, June 23). This is almost as large as the Twins sign at Target Field! Highland Bridge has been presented as a complement to the single-family housing in the surrounding area. A good fit. A part of the community. We would like to see the development continue to try to minimize its impact on the area. The sign request is a blatant move in the opposite direction.
Kurt and Barb Klussendorf
What’s missing at Ford site
Have you noticed the traffic backups in Highland Village recently? It is only going to get worse, as evidenced by the vision of the fully built-out Highland Bridge development (MyVillager, July 7). All that you can see are blocks and blocks of multifamily housing. From the earliest planning meetings that I attended, the city of Saint Paul has done nothing but discourage single-family homes, in spite of the fact that their presence makes Highland Park one of the best neighborhoods in the city.
Why have zoning ordinances?
The Saint Paul Planning Commission’s Zoning Committee voted on July 1 to approve a request to rezone the property at 695 Grand Ave. to allow a developer to construct a five-story building. Compared to the existing zoning, the proposed structure will be 67 percent taller, have a 22 percent larger footprint and fail to transition, as required, to the adjacent lower-density residential districts. Concerns about the negative impacts on the neighborhood are being overrun by the drive to expand financial gains.
Public comments on this proposed development were 10 to 1 against (480 to 42), to no avail. The zoning code is supposed to protect neighborhoods from the efforts of greedy developers who take value from the surrounding area to maximize their profits. What is our recourse when neighborhood councils and public officials fail to represent the interests of the area?
Gary R. Todd
Progress is for the future
The houses and apartment buildings surrounding Summit and Grand avenues were built when Saint Paul was a small city. As the old saying goes, you cannot create more land, so the only way you can grow is by building upwards. Grand Avenue has to grow with the expectations of future generations of citizens, not the current generation.
Railroaded in District 197
The greatest railroad job in the history of Northern Dakota County has been completed in the name-changing of Henry Sibley High School (MyVillager, July 7). The most important part of this process was done early and conveniently during the COVID-19 pandemic. The District 197 School Board hid behind the camera—a gutless move—and hand-picked the naming committee. The public got to fill out an online survey of potential new names. In filling out the survey, you didn’t have to be connected to District 197 in any way. You could even vote more than once.
The district was to publish the results of the survey, but I have yet to find those results. Then, with the crowning moment in District 197’s history at hand, the School Board could only muster a vote of 5-1 on the new name. You would think that after the 7-0 vote last December to change the high school’s name because of the so-called character flaws of Henry Sibley, all seven members of the School Board could show up to vote and stand united behind this mess.
The School Board members and backers have had their say. Now we will see what the general community has to say. Three board members are up for election in November. Then we will get a real sense of where the community stands on the high school renaming issue.
Dennis G. Hoye
Bar for namesakes is set too high
I decry the headlong movement to rename schools, infrastructure and whatever because they were originally named for people who do not meet the standards of today’s political correctness. The namesakes were people of their times, not of ours, and not one of them was a saint.
Do we rename anything named after John F. Kennedy and extinguish the eternal flame burning at his grave in Arlington National Cemetery because he was a womanizer? Even Saint Augustine wouldn’t pass the sainthood test if we considered the early part of his life.
To me, Lake Calhoun is still Lake Calhoun and Ramsey School will always be Ramsey School. If we can’t name a school after the first territorial governor of Minnesota, despite his serious failings, maybe our standards are set way too high for mere human beings to attain.
Intuition of the average driver
A guest editorial on the city of Saint Paul’s new, lower speed limits (MyVillager Viewpoint, June 23) gives far too little credit to the average driver. The letter poses the idea that people are liable to drive 20 mph even in a 45 mph zone unless or until they are notified that they may do otherwise.
I reject this idea on its face. The average driver recognizes that there is a difference between Hamline Avenue and Syndicate Street. The average driver does not do 20 mph on Snelling Avenue before they finally see a sign, and certainly not on Ayd Mill Road.
I admire the letter writer’s fastidious concern for safety and consistency. However, I would also like to assure the general public that the average driver has a more intuitive grasp of traffic laws.
Poor climate for learning
Congrats to the Saint Paul Public Schools’ Class of 2033 who just finished what for many was their first year of school and did so in the face of numerous challenges. The Class of 2033 faced near constant changes in learning platforms. Many faced food insecurity, housing instability or the loss of a loved one. All of them faced some level of family stress. In spite of it, they pushed forward and made it through.
While I would like to think the worst challenges are behind us, I know that is not true. In particular, when we look at the planet’s current path regarding climate change, we know those challenges will likely worsen. Without bold and aggressive action to address our changing climate, food insecurity will worsen, housing instability will increase, health conditions will deteriorate and extreme weather will disrupt learning.
The only positive to this bleak outlook is that it could still change. To make that outlook brighter, the Class of 2033 needs the adults in their lives to demand climate justice. One solution available to the school district is to embrace community solar gardens on school facilities. I encourage you to make your voices heard. Sign the Saint Paul Federation of Educators’ petition for SPPS Solar and speak to district administrators and Saint Paul School Board members about this and other climate actions. Time is short, and the class of 2033 can’t wait for us any longer.
Editor’s note: The writer works as a social worker in the Saint Paul Public Schools and is a member of the Saint Paul Federation of Educators.
Thanks, Immanuel Lutheran
I’m in Boy Scouts, and we go on a lot of camping trips. We store the equipment we need like tents, coolers, etc., at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Before the coronavirus, we held most of our meetings at the church. While we couldn’t meet at the church during the pandemic, we could get our equipment and have fun camping outside. I would like to thank Immanuel Lutheran for being such gracious hosts for me and the rest of Troop 9090.
Taking aim at gun violence
Liberals decry the large numbers of people who are shot and killed by handguns. Conservatives decry the large numbers of violent scum bags who are running loose shooting and killing large numbers of people with handguns. The difference between these two perceptions is much more than semantics.
Keep up the good work
When I signed on as a founder’s-level member of MyVillager last year, I thought I was making a contribution. Today, I happily renewed my status, although now it is a subscription because the value has been there.
Thanks for the good work, and keep it up.
Do write, won’t you?
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