What is the city trying to hide?
The Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department is attempting to steamroll a plan to build an off-road bicycle trail down Summit Avenue against the loud protests of its taxpaying citizens. The city asserts that it has extensively engaged the public in this process. Not so. No formal public presentation and public hearing has been held.
Parks and Rec unveiled the 60 percent draft plan for the Summit Avenue Regional Trail on October 27 during a two-hour open house with posters. Design Advisory Committee members expressed concerns that views opposing the city’s preferred designs would not be heard. This has turned out to be true. Comments made on the city’s Engage Saint Paul website disappear, leaving the public questioning whether their comments are even read. The public portal is blind; a citizen cannot view the comments of others.
Initially, the Engage Saint Paul website functions were available to the public, including the ability to ask a question, share an idea, see the ideas posted by others and utilize the “like” button to express support for that idea. After comprehensive research demonstrated that citizen response to the proposed plan showed almost 20 to 1 in opposition, the city closed the public portal.
The city asserts that it has extensively engaged the public in this process and is listening to its citizens. I assert the process has inhibited broad, authentic citizen input. What is the city of Saint Paul trying to hide?
Saint Paul Parks and Recreation director Andy Rodriguez replies: Community engagement for the proposed regional trail on Summit Avenue kicked off in August 2021 with an online survey that was open to the public for over a year. Two public comment tools called “Map Your Comments” and “Share an Idea” were also live on the Engage Saint Paul website during that time.
When these tools were closed as planned in October 2022, the comments became temporarily unpublished. However the complete set of archived comments is available on the website. In addition, a series of in-person community engagement events were held in the fall of 2021, followed by advisory committee meetings, virtual and in-person public engagement sessions, a virtual public information session and an in-person community open house.
The public comment portal for the current 60% draft master plan remains open, and there are several additional opportunities for commentary and reaction coming up, including a public comment period on the 90% draft document, which will be released on February 1. A timeline of additional engagement opportunities and project information can be found on the Engage Saint Paul website at engagestpaul.org/summit.
Whether you have been engaged since the proposed Summit Avenue Regional Trail project was initiated or are new to the process, we welcome and appreciate your feedback.
A better way to return surplus
Regarding the demand of an earlier letter writer that the budget surplus be returned to taxpayers as personal checks, I ask: Do you want to make the recession worse?
High-profile businesses have been laying off employees because interest rates have been climbing because the Federal Reserve is reacting to inflation. Where did the inflation come from? Economists have pointed a finger at President Biden, because he gave a round of stimulus money straight into people’s pockets.
The state budget “surplus” is already going back to taxpayers as services and infrastructure, such as hiring more teachers and repaving horrendous roads. These types of long-term investments will bring a bigger payoff for Minnesotans than a check for one month’s rent or mortgage.
Time to clean House and Senate
I dare you. Go online and read the $1.7 trillion, 4,000-page spending bill our duly elected U.S. representatives and senators enacted recently. They are 535 of the most arrogant, ridiculous, dishonest, corrupt, shameless, vile and embarrassing people in our country.
Forget party affiliation. We have to rid ourselves of each and every one of these parasites. Please vote against every incumbent in the next election. How else can we fire them?
Do write, won’t you?
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