Trail would destroy Summit

My grievance is in response to the trees that will be destroyed as a consequence of the city of Saint Paul’s plan to build the Summit Avenue Regional Trail. I am in full disagreement with the proposed off-road bike and pedestrian trail. Do any of the council members who will be making this decision live on Summit? Do they know how it will affect the neighborhood? Or is this about spending money because they have a budget? We’re talking about 4.5 miles—4.5 beautiful, historic miles, a place where you can step out and get a little nature in an urban setting.

Along Summit a pothole will reveal the bricks that lie beneath the pavement. I bet if the bricks were still exposed along Summit, this would not be happening. But the bricks are not what bring people to Summit. It is the history, the houses, spending time among the trees. No matter the season, it is a space where we spend time with our families, with our dogs or alone. There are squirrels, rabbits, birds, wild plants, foliage, flowers and more. What the city is proposing would destroy the trees. It would destroy history and a community.

I walk Summit Avenue every day with my dog. There are many people with dogs who enjoy this area. It is the reason so many have purchased homes in this area. My condo does not have a yard. I am one house away from Summit, where my dog has a big area in which to play. Many dogs walk by my condo on their way to that grassy oasis for a little puppy playtime.

The Save Our Street signs you see along Summit ignite thoughts and emotions of 4.5 miles of possible change in how we live every day. Summit’s trees provide shade for children walking home from school. Day-care babies play every day under the trees to keep cool from the hot sun. I see college students studying, an old man reading and two lovers lying under the shade. These few miles of Summit are deeply rooted in how we live day to day.

Just because we can does not mean we should. I do not think the city understands the magnitude of change that they are proposing.

Cynthia Rapacz
Summit Hill

Vote ‘no’ on UST sports complex

What a travesty! In a long-established, quiet residential  area, welcome to loud noise, lights and intrusive traffic at varying hours. Land planned for senior housing and businesses that would provide air, open space and taxes is swallowed up. Planned, decent living arrangements are swept away to accommodate a private university that would forever pay no taxes to our city.

Why can’t the University of Saint Thomas be sensitive to communities? Ryan Companies wants an immediate return on its investment. Who doesn’t? But real estate can turn very quickly. Surely, it can adjust its plans.

High traffic volume belongs in commercial or semi-commercial areas. Vote “no” to a sports complex at Highland Bridge.

Dorothy Lipschultz
Highland Park

New barriers on river road

Representatives of Paster Properties met with Saint Paul officials and a large group of Highland Park residents on September 14. The meeting took place after Paster had been granted provisional approval for a new 93-unit apartment building in the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area.

It would be unfair to stereotype these concerned Highland residents as NIMBYS. Their contributions to the meeting were eloquent, well reasoned and caring. Instead of complainting, they asked for a more moderate 35-foot building height to preserve a natural neighborhood environment. But even the stand of semi-mature trees requested by homeowners as privacy between the new building and an old and cherished residential community was rejected.

The height of a boundary wall between the new and existing neighbors was debated. A barrier of 6 feet or 7 feet? This represents a tragic divide for taxpaying citizens of Highland Park. City Council member Chris Tolbert accurately identified this when he explained that all 93 luxury high-end apartments were needed to address a lucrative up-market rental trend that affords millennials and retirees a newly prefabricated lifestyle in a scenic neighborhood.

There are no assurances that this current market trend will be permanent. However, the permanent traffic and the new 50-foot barrier for bald eagles will decrease the eagles’ ability to procreate.  The 50-foot building and 7-foot wall will divide human residents of the area. Let’s advocate for a more community conscious and greener development at 706 S. Mississippi River Blvd.

Deborah Katz
Highland Park

Mayor’s budget is out of touch

It’s too bad we can’t recall Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter in this November’s election. We’ll have to wait two more years to do so. His recent proposal to increase the city tax levy by 15.34 percent for 2023 (MyVillager, August 31) is out of touch with reality. We property taxpayers do not have endlessly deep pockets. To have a $781.5 million budget with a debt service of $49.2 million means that we’re already living on a borrowed 6.2 percent. What rate of interest is that costing?

The mayor does not need two more staff members. He’s already hired five staffers who cost the citizens $500,000 per year. Why hire more librarians when library hours have been cut back so much? We need to bring back the 25 cents per day overdue charge on library materials. This cost does not unduly affect the poor; they can read the date on the library slip as well as anybody else, and that money is a source of income for our libraries.

And the recent court ruling exempting nonprofit organizations that own property from street maintenance costs puts more of a strain on private property owners. The city should shame such institutions into paying their fare share of what it costs to maintain city services—perhaps by painting their curbs in day-glow orange. I’d gladly send in $10 for the cost of two cans of spray paint.

In the meantime, I think we nix any new city services until we can pay the upkeep on what we already have. Then in the next election we give this mayor the heave-ho and elect someone who understands a bottom line.

Kathleen Deming

A plea for new trees

As a longtime Saint Paul resident, I have been shaken by the devastation of the city’s clear-cutting of trees. While bad for property values and livability, it is devastating to our efforts to combat climate change.

I reached out to the mayor’s office this spring to encourage the city to require that all developers in Saint Paul commit to maintaining the health of newly planted trees for three years. Every effort should also be made to plant native trees that are compatible with our climate and wildlife and pollinator needs. If a tree is going to die, it usually does so in the first three years. Unfortunately, I have heard nothing from the mayor’s office on this request, so I am reaching out to the community to encourage support of the idea.

Residents need look no further than the Highland Bridge project to see a significant number of newly planted trees either dead or dying. They were planted during drought years and never cared for. This is especially troubling in the face of Ryan Companies’ claims that more than 1,000 trees will be planted throughout Highland Bridge. If the new trees don’t survive, Ryan’s claims are false and it should not have access to taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Teresa Morrow

Vote Maczko for MH mayor

Mendota Heights citizens appeared at City Council meetings last year opposing the approval of two new apartment buildings in the Plaza at Dodd Road and Highway 62. The city’s seven-member Planning Commission, after extensive examination of both proposals over several months, voted 6-1 and 5-2 against these apartment projects, which exceeded by over 100 units the number ordinarily permitted in this high-density zoning district. Only the developer, the property owner and one citizen spoke in favor of these projects before the City Council or Planning Commission. Nevertheless, Mayor Stephanie Levine and council members John Mazzitello and Joel Paper ignored citizens’ concerns as well as the overwhelming opposition of the commission charged with studying the proposals and approved both apartment projects.

The above information is background for my support this fall of John Maczko for mayor of Mendota Heights. John, unlike our current mayor, has lived his entire life in Mendota Heights, attended public schools here, raised his family here, and understands how this city has become one of the most desirable places to live in the metro area. He has served as a member of the city’s Volunteer Fire Department and as its chief for 32 years. His employment in the city of Saint Paul’s Public Works Department for over 30 years has provided him with an understanding of how city government works. He understands the importance of being sensitive to the concerns of fellow citizens and the recommendations of commissions established to provide analysis to city governing bodies.

John has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the University of Saint Thomas. He has completed courses in the Latimer Leadership Program at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the Penn State Executive Management Program. He is the best qualified candidate for mayor of Mendota Heights. I urge Mendota Heights voters to support him.

Bernard P. Friel
Mendota Heights

Pig’s Eye Lake is transformed

There’s new land being created on Saint Paul’s East Side. It’s not a volcano spewing out lava into the sea. It’s an Army Corps of Engineers project creating multiple islands in the 628-acre Pigs Eye Lake. There one can see a huge pipe disgorging a slurry of dredge sand and water that is being molded into seven ever-increasing islands by bulldozers and other heavy equipment. The islands will stabilize shorelines, help restore wetlands and improve wildlife habitat.

Pigs Eye Lake is part of Saint Paul’s Pigs Eye Regional Park (or Battle Creek Regional Park depending on what source you use). If you are a careful driver, you can motor all the way into the park off Child’s Road. Even from the park’s southern shore on Pigs Eye Lake, the island work is a long way off. For a better view, take Highway 61 to Lower Afton Road and then turn south on Point Douglas Road. Within a short distance, you’ll find safe spots to pull over and view the project.

I bird-watch around there frequently and a week ago was pleased to see around 800 ring-billed gulls strung out in a long line on the island’s growing shoreline, along with double-crested cormorants and scattered Canada geese. A modest number of barn swallows are always flitting over the lake in their aerial acrobatics, catching insects in the air and on the water’s surface. The occasional bald eagle and great blue heron also grace the lake.

Herons have a lively rookery on the lake’s far southern reaches. Their rookery also hosts great egrets. Come migration season, the lake fills up with a plethora of waterfowl, warblers and shorebirds. When the island project ends in fall 2025, it will be a sight to behold.

Bob Brereton

Democrats ought to take stock

For those who remember President John F. Kennedy, do you ever wonder what happened to the JFK Democrats? The Kennedy administration (1961-63) was in the midst of a young post-World War II generation that had been raised with more affluence and education and rejected the wars and policies of the previous generation. They ushered in a rebellious and idealistic liberalism to create social change.

The 1960s did change many things in our society. The Democrat Party has also changed drastically since JFK. In his book, Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left, Ronald Radosh explains how the Democrat Party became infiltrated with communists and socialists that created the leftist political culture we see today.

Communism and socialism just didn’t go away during or after the Cold War. It infiltrated the Democrat Party. That’s why we see the extreme behaviors and actions of today’s Democrats. They are driven by socialists and communists and a “squad” of ideologues. This cabal of contingencies isn’t good for our nation and could ultimately change America forever.

JFK Democrats, of which there are fewer and fewer today, need to decide if they believe in the new far-left direction their party has taken, or if they should create a new branch of the Democrat Party—or even a new party—that maintains the principles Democrats used to stand for.

Gary Hukriede
White Bear Lake

Do write, won’t you?

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