Dilemma of Summit Ave. trail

It must be a great conundrum for tree-loving bicyclists to have historic Summit Avenue reconfigured for their noncarbon-footprint agenda. On the one hand, the cyclists want more shared space for their two-wheeled transporters. On the other hand, they don’t want to destroy hundreds of the oxygen-generating trees lining their peddle-path from the banks of the mighty Mississippi to the streets of downtown Saint Paul.

I’m glad my bike was stolen a few years ago, so I can spare myself of this dilemma.

Mark Kirchner
Highland Park

Living the dream

Regarding “The expansion and contraction of the American dream” (MyVillager Inbox, October 26):

The housing of today and the housing of old reflect the capitalist society we live in. Housing doesn’t get built unless the workers, the property owners and the developers get paid. Sometimes public funding is given to the developers and the owners and in theory the housing prices are lower. Sometimes private funders and bosses cheat the workers out of fair wages and in theory are held accountable. Sometimes renters lose the most and in theory policies are passed to lessen the impact.

Most new architecture does reflect the current time. The so-called 5-over-1 multifamily and mixed-use buildings are an example of modern materials, methods and building codes. The cladding functions to improve efficiency and safety. Homes are designed for the reality of an increasing number of households and fewer people per home. Policies that allow more multifamily homes also reflect current ideas. You shouldn’t need to qualify for a $500,000 mortgage to live in a high-amenity neighborhood. In a climate crisis, it’s untenable to force people to live unsustainably in either unaffordable, low-density urban neighborhoods or on the exurban fringe.

I lived in a 1940s Highland Park apartment building that had a fire. My apartment was less than 500 square feet. There was no sprinkler system, no fire-rated walls or doors, no central alarm. My neighbors shouted to wake me up and get me out at 2 a.m. But at least the building is pleasing to look at.

 

house ad

 

B. Frank
Highland Park

City could tighten its belt, too

How many of us are cheerfully digging into our thin wallets and blithely spending money we don’t have on fripperies? I’m not. But Saint Paul and Ramsey County go merrily along raising property taxes and other fees by staggering amounts to fund things we’d best sit on, think about some more and wait until we aren’t paying for debt service at 6-plus percent.

MyVillager reported a short while back on a City Council public hearing which none of the public attended. No wonder. From what I saw when I attended, I figured, why waste my time? None of them is listening anyway. By the time they take their seats in the council chambers, their minds have already been made up. We taxpayers have more productive things to do with our time than to express our views and not have them listened to.

Mayor Carter needs to pare back his staff to what it was when he first took office and work a little harder. If we all have to tighten our belts, so does he. Ditto, the City Council. We’ve got to think smarter. A bus-driver friend recently told me about a place where the sidewalks were being widened, eliminating parking and making the street a narrow two lanes. Anybody see thousands of walkers out on any section of the city’s sidewalks?

New sidewalk pavers ought to be made 4 inches narrower. That would save money on concrete and provide more rain catchment. The bumpouts at city corners cost a lot to put in but really serve no purpose. I’ve lived 52 years at my address, yet my street has never been taken completely out and repaved with concrete, which is more ecological than all the tar-based macadam. This means that the city is refurbishing less than 2 percent of its streets each year. I suggest we quit building more of anything until we can maintain what we’ve got.

We are in dire need of tree replanting in a thoughtful manner—five different species on each street, assuring that if a new blight comes along it won’t take out more than 20 percent of our trees.

We need to think of people on low Social Security incomes, as some cities have done, and freeze their property taxes for as long as they’re living in their home. It would also make sense to offer residents a chance to opt-out of trash collection if they share a trash cart with a neighbor. People with little income do little spending and produce little trash.

Kathleen Deming
Macalester-Groveland

Do write, won’t you?

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