COMMUNITY VOICES | You really don’t want to meet the Dicks at Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America

I’m not one to cry. Truth is, I rarely cry, but during a visit to Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America I was literally reduced to tears! The bartender was abusive, abrasive, and mean as HELL. I wasn’t sure why he was in a bad mood, but later found out that it is their “niche” to be mean as spitfire. Were they really trained to treat people like this, to the point of harassment? Continue Reading

A more livable Snelling Avenue and managing change

With light rail service set to begin by mid-2014 and the development of jobs and housing along University Avenue well underway, more and more community conversations in Ward 4 are beginning to be focused on the future of Snelling Avenue. In 2012, the City and community members partnered with MNDOT to create a plan for making Snelling between Selby Avenue and the northern city limits a more multi-modal street, to provide better facilities for transit riders, pedestrians, and (in some areas) bicyclists, to be able to share the Avenue more safely and efficiently with cars and trucks. The Metropolitan Council plans to introduce a new type of bus service on Snelling in the next few years (sometimes referred to as Rapid Bus or Arterial Bus Rapid Transit), with the goal of providing a faster, higher-amenity service on an already well-used transit route. Within the next several years, MNDOT also plans to rebuild the aging Snelling Avenue bridge deck over I-94. Continue Reading

ST. PAUL NOTES | Noise and flowers in Desnoyer Park

Over in Minneapolis, Marcy Holmes residents have succeeded in stopping construction of a freeway sound wall in their neighborhood, but it took quite a fight to do so. In St. Paul, some Desnoyer Park residents want a sound wall to minimize noise from I-94 west of Pelham Avenue, but MnDOT says it’s not going to happen. In 2011, a sound wall was built east of Pelham, and planting along the wall is set to begin this fall. What’s the difference?FULL DISCLOSURE: The writer is a resident of Desnoyer Park.East of PelhamA noise barrier was built on St. Continue Reading

St. Paul plans bike-friendly improvements to Marshall Avenue

In an effort to become more biker-friendly, St. Paul plans to add safer biking lanes along Marshall Avenue that will connect to other major bike routes. Scheduling of the project depends on funding, but St. Paul Department of Public Works Sustainable Transportation Engineer and Planner, Reuben Collins said that it could be completed by 2016.“While we can appreciate a bit of healthy competition with our neighbors to the west, the Twin Cities as a whole has far more to gain when we perceive ourselves to be collaborators rather than competitor,” Collins said. “Part of the reason Marshall Avenue is such a critical corridor is because it is one of only a few connections across the Mississippi River that facilitates interaction between residents and businesses across municipal boundaries.”Marshall Avenue was recognized as a bicycle alternative to University Avenue, and as an important connecting commuter route for bikers by the City’s 2010 Bike Walk Central Corridor Action Plan study. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | East Side of St. Paul is ‘out of sight, out of mind’ until a serious incident happens

In recent weeks, a devastating incident occurred on the Eastside of St. Paul where several teens allegedly beat a passerby until he was unconscious. This is a circumstance that no person should have to endure. One of the notable pieces of information that has surfaced is the fact that the passerby was white and the teens were African American. Although some within the broader community argue that the attack was based on race, the reality is that in light of the circumstances under which the attack occurred, the victim could arguably have been any individual who was within the vicinity of the young people in question. Actually, a similar severe beating of an innocent Black man, Edwin Daniel, by five young Somali men occurred on the Eastside just a few years prior to this most recent incident.The factors that contribute to these types of horrific episodes, including shootings by young people against other young people, may revolve around underlying issues at the intersection of race and poverty that are pervasive on the East Side of St. Continue Reading

Many landlords take active role in St. Paul’s Union Park neighborhood

Densely populated with rental properties, St. Paul’s Union Park neighborhood is often home to clashes between homeowners, tenants, and landlords. Some landlords have taken an active role in the neighborhood, and many residents see the involvement as important in defusing tensions.“When I moved into my home,” Union Park resident Carole Chabries says, “one of the first people to knock on my door was the landlord of the property next door. He gave me his name and number and said to contact him if the kids next door gave us any trouble.”Chabries’ experience is not unique. “One of my properties is almost right next door,” landlord Teri Breton says, “These are my neighbors, too, and I want to make sure we have a good and safe environment.”Landlord and twenty-year resident of Union Park, Ken Fowlds takes a similar approach with his properties, “I live on a block where I’m surrounded by student rentals so I am aware of the pitfalls. Continue Reading

Saint Paul’s Union Park still coming to terms with student housing ordinance

Bordering the University of St. Thomas campus, Union Park has sometimes been defined as a “UST neighborhood,” but that could change due to the recently passed Saint Paul student housing ordinance. Going into effect last June, the student housing ordinance requires that any new student rentals within a certain area must be at least 150 feet away from other rentals.“When I moved into my house in 1984, the local colleges were assets to the neighborhood,” resident Carrie Daklin said. “St. Kate’s and Macalester still are, but recently it just feels like St. Thomas has overrun us.” A St. Continue Reading

NAMI helps people living with mental illness confront profound challenges

People who struggle with mental illness continue to face barriers at every turn, according to Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Minnesota. “The current health care system for children and adults living with mental illnesses continues to this day to discriminate against people needing mental health treatment and supports to achieve wellness and recovery.”Abderholden explains that, “If mental health treatment is covered under private insurance, what is covered is variable.” She adds that, “Few private plans cover the model mental health benefit set which is included under MA (Medical Assistance) and MinnesotaCare.” Furthermore, it is not yet clear how components of the Affordable Health Care Act designed to ensure equity and parity will be implemented.Curious to learn more about NAMI and how health care reform and changes in Medical Assistance may impact people with mental illnesses? Want to take action on policies that impact the rights of those living with mental illness? Join the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota (NAMI Minnesota) and Twin Cities Media Alliance this Saturday, Sept. 8, at 1:00 p.m., to find out what you can do. You’ll also discover how to use new media tools, especially Twitter, to connect and advocate more effectively. Continue Reading

Mark Mallman gets aboard the Choo Choo Bob express, courtesy of Northern Outpost

Toy trains have a venerable history in children’s TV programming, from the train serving Mr. Rogers’s Land of Make-Believe to the anthropomorphic engines seen on Thomas the Tank Engine. Choo Choo Bob’s, the beloved toy train store on Marshall Avenue’s “Treat Street,” now produces its own kids’ show, and the whiz kids at Northern Outpost recently turned Mark Mallman’s train-centric song “Get Snappy” into a music video starring several bright-eyed youngsters dancing around Choo Choo Bob’s domain. Continue Reading