Adding insult to injury on Central Corridor / Headlines – January 6, 2010


The St. Paul city council will vote at its January 6 meeting (5:30 p.m., City Hall) on a proposal to impose $2.9 million in additional property tax assessments on business owners along University Avenue to pay to make the street look better after the Central Corridor LRT trains arrive. The University Avenue Business Association is adamant in opposing the assessment as one more blow to business owners already facing permanent loss of on-street parking, years of construction disruption, and other negative impacts expected from LRT.

Finance and Commerce quotes University Avenue business owner (and UABA member) Jack McCann:

McCann is bracing for assessments of close to $40,000 on his property, which calculates to – as he put it – about $8,000 for every tree he would get.
“They are cutting my sidewalk down to 9.5 feet. Parking is gone,” he said. “And then they come up with an assessment to put in a bench and some trees.”

In a letter to city and county officials, UABA wrote:

The light rail project is on course to begin major construction in 2010.  The project must take into serious account the negative impacts construction will have on businesses.  UABA agrees with Mayor Coleman’s statement that not one business or one job should be lost due to the light rail construction.  Small businesses are the backbone of Saint Paul’s major corridor, providing jobs, goods, services, tax revenues, and a unique identity that will be essential to the success of the light rail project.  Unfortunately, we are already hearing that some businesses will have to relocate or close due to the proposed loss of on-street parking and / or the impacts of light rail construction.  UABA, with its 200+ members and thousands of employees, represents the collective voice of small businesses along University Avenue and sees itself as an important player in helping small businesses along the Avenue.

As stated in UABA’s Streetscape Resolution, we are looking for a City and County resolution requiring the creation of a plan to replace, where needed, the on-street parking spaces along University Avenue, the creation of a plan to establish and fund a Business Support Fund, and a maximum property assessment of $2 million.  In addition, UABA requests your detailed business mitigation plan to address parking issues, a business support fund, and business preparation for light rail and timely updates on your work as it relates to your plan.  To date, UABA acknowledges the City of Saint Paul’s efforts to fund $2 million for parking solutions and a decrease of $1million for property assessments in the City Streetscape Proposal.  Is that the extent of the City’s business mitigation plan?  What is Ramsey County doing for business mitigation?

Headlines – January 6, 2010

• About 400 Hmong gathered Monday night in St. Paul to protest the deportation of 4,500 Hmong refugees from Thailand to demand international monitoring of what happens to them in Laos. (Star Tribune)

• Flu shots for everyone are finally here, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. MDH recommends that everyone get vaccinated against “regular” seasonal flu and H1N1. How to find a shot? Start by calling your own doctor or clinic. After that – try Minute Clinics, drug stores, grocery stores, Target, ask your neighbor, ask your mother …

• The UN has halted food aid to about a million people in southern Somalia because of attacks on aid workers and Al Shabab demands that no women be allowed to serve on food aid teams. (NPR, BBC)

• Susan Gaertner joined Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza in saying she will run in a DFL primary. (MinnPost) That certainly lessens the importance of the party’s caucuses (coming up on February 2) and of the entire party endorsing process.