Say “no” to UST sports complex
Thank you for the informative piece on the status of the University of Saint Thomas’ move to occupy 23 acres of the Ford site (MyVillager, July 6). The three principal issues raised in the article and the variety of changes required to the Ford Site Master Plan answer any real question the city may have asked. The elimination of 110 affordable housing units, the displacement of a 1.5-acre park and the multiple changes to the master plan all dictate that “no” is the only reasonable answer.
UST may believe a new sports complex is necessary to feed its new Division I ego, but it is neither necessary nor desirable for the city of Saint Paul. Planning Commission chair Luis Rangel Morales is absolutely justified in his frustration after a 10-year public process, one that pitted neighbor against neighbor. It is indeed a “huge change to the plan.”
It does not, however, appear that the city is truly asking whether the sports complex is in the spirit of the master plan. Deep in the article we learn that the city is already “negotiating a change to the development agreement…to ensure that enough tax increment financing is generated” to cover various costs. It sounds like a foregone conclusion with public input mere window dressing, just as it was with organized trash collection, Ayd Mill Road and every other issue the city has faced in the last decade or more.
I call on City Council member Tolbert to publicly oppose this effort. If UST wants a new playground, let it be built across the river and not on the backs of the people of Saint Paul.
James M. Hamilton
Morning on Montreal Avenue
I’m sitting on the porch drinking my morning coffee, watching the traffic zoom by on Montreal Avenue. I do this most mornings while reading the news. I greet the early-morning dog walkers, runners and bicyclists and watch the squirrels run zig-zags across the yard, the median and the street. They do so at perilous risk.
Since construction began down the road at Highland Bridge, traffic on Montreal has zoomed up. Truck traffic, restricted between Snelling and Cleveland avenues, has swelled. Speed limits no longer apply. One would, and often does, swear that it has become a major truck route and a drag strip for cars and motorcycles.
The speed limit here is 25 mph. Truck traffic is “prohibited.” Buses are restricted, but for how long? There is no policing. How can there be when staffing is short and attention is diverted? So we dodge traffic, endure the noise and watch in awe as cars race past, even passing on the right, and construction and commercial vehicles lumber by.
It’s just another quiet morning on Montreal. One can almost hear the birds singing and the breeze blowing through the trees.
Best option for Summit Ave.
I have lived in Saint Paul for over 40 years and have biked all over the city on its bike lanes and off-road bike paths. I have resided on Summit Avenue for over 20 years. I support the idea of converting Summit’s on-street bike lanes to off-road bike trails for the safety and enjoyment of cyclists and pedestrians.
I have experienced many near misses while cycling on Summit. I have also been hit in Saint Paul by a car that ran a red light. I landed on the car’s windshield, luckily with only broken fingers, bruises and abrasions, thanks to a good bike helmet. I do not want to lose any trees on Summit or any other place. NIMBY groups along Summit claim that the off-road bike trail project would necessitate the removal of many trees. That is not true. The bike paths can be made to fit within the current width of the street without affecting the trees or tree roots.
The Summit Avenue Regional Trail Master Plan is a timely opportunity for the reconstruction of a century-old street in vital need of upgrade and repair. Adding one-way, off-road bike paths on either side is the best option for two reasons: safety and ease of construction.
One-way protected bikeways have a better safety record than two-way bike paths where there are a lot of cross streets. This is because bikes are traveling in the same direction as car traffic. On a two-way bike path, bikes traveling in the opposite direction of street traffic may not be noticed.
The city could add the bike paths in stages as funding becomes available for street reconstruction, much as it did on Wheelock Parkway and Como Avenue. The one-way paths could be constructed so that they easily connect with the existing on-street bike lanes until those sections of Summit are also reconstructed.
Let’s get out of our cars, ride our bikes, save our trees and help fight climate change.
City needs to get back to basics
Enough already with the wasteful and dimwitted expenditure of city tax dollars. By the time I was in my 20s, I realized that whenever one acquires anything, one also acquires the cost of maintaining it, something our city doesn’t seem to get. The big riverfront project is in the planning, while our streets are falling apart.
A trip along Warner Road today revealed a multitude of sizable dead trees (in monoculture groups, of course, because the city forestry department still hasn’t caught on that if one plants five different kinds of trees, when the next Brand X tree disease comes along, one will lose only 20 percent of the trees). The trees are dead because they didn’t get regular sluicings from water trucks last year during the drought. So now we get to begin all over again. Meanwhile the forestry people cut down mature ash trees rather than treat them, which is cost-effective and works.
Our mayor has been so generous with hiring a chief resiliency officer and a PR person and three liaisons as intermediaries between him and the City Council. Can’t he communicate and save us the $500,000 in salaries? Two weeks ago, I drove across the Ford Bridge to Minneapolis for the first time in years and I thought I’d left the planet: The streets were in good repair, even the patched ones (not the slap-dash pothole fills we get here). There was a police presence. People were out strolling, biking and walking their dogs, apparently feeling safe enough to do so.
How about if we start trimming the fat, the deadwood dimwits in all departments, and go back to the basics with a moratorium on all new projects for a while? It’s clear we can’t afford the upkeep on what we already have, so let’s stop making cockamamie alterations of streets with bumpouts and other fripperies until we get the city budget back into the hands of competent people who understand that a city budget has to be where the rubber meets the road.
Give women’s sports a chance
In his letter “Pursuing equality in athletics” (MyVillager Inbox, July 6), T.J. Sexton addresses Lindsay Crouse’s New York Times article calling for greater equality between men’s and women’s sports. In his rant, it is clear he did not understand Crouse’s arguments. Crouse wrote, “The joy or beauty of one sport or another is subjective, not an objective truth.” Crouse’s main point was that sports that value masculine strength, like football, are not inherently more exciting or fun to watch than sports that value feminine traits, like gymnastics, and we would do well to give them a chance.
Sexton concludes that there will never be a time when women’s sports receive similar attention as men’s sports, no matter how many chances we give them: “It’s never gonna happen. And the fact that it isn’t ever gonna happen is nobody’s fault.” Unfortunately for Sexton, this is not true. Take women’s volleyball as an example. In 2014, the Big Ten Network reluctantly began to broadcast more women’s volleyball matches. A VP of programming at the network was admittedly surprised when it quickly surged to be the third most watched sport on the network.
The data indicate that when we invest in women’s sports via marketing and broadcasting, the audience will follow.
Make river road safer for all
A recent letter highlighted the dangers on Mississippi River Boulevard associated with bicyclists, walkers and others sharing the combined path where it narrows under the Ford Bridge (“River road to ruin,” MyVillager Inbox, June 22). Because of the limited space, it makes sense to post signs telling bicyclists on the path to walk their bikes under the bridge. I hope that others join me in contacting the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department with suggestions for making Mississippi River Boulevard a safer place for everyone.
No more No Mow May
I believe that No Mow May was a flop. I only noticed two bumblebees on my lawn the entire month. Maybe I saw the same bee twice.
What No Mow May did do is generate more mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are known to be carriers of disease. Do we need to promote another pandemic? I don’t think so.
Next spring, I will likely not participate in No Mow May.
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