Skyline Tower residents demand lights, street signs

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UPDATED 6/15/2011 • The Capital Improvement Budget Committee of St. Paul approved a $154,000 project to add lights, signage, and green space to Skyline Tower as part of their final budget recommendations June 13.

Skyline Tower, a low-income high-rise on St. Anthony Avenue near Interstate Highway 94, houses more than 1,000 mostly immigrant residents, but does not have a sidewalk, lights, or street signs.

Funding for the sidewalk has been approved and is set to begin this summer, said Jessie Lieb, a HECUA intern and Union Park District Council organizer, but the process for approving lights and signs for the street is still a long way from over.

The CIB’s recommendations for the St. Anthony Safe Streets Initiative will be sent to the mayor and city council for approval said John McCarthy, budget analyst for the CIB committee. They will take it up with the rest of the budget in December.

Fifteen residents of Skyline Tower attended a public hearing of the Capital Improvement Budget committee on Monday, June 7, to demand that the city add lighting, safety signage, and green space for their building.

In addition to Lieb, three residents spoke at the hearing in Somali through an interpreter.

“Without the green space or public art, it’s like a factory area,” said resident Hadi Kalif at the meeting. “We want it to be like a residential area, not like a desert.”

They also said that the lack of improvements made their street dangerous.

“It is not safe for our kids,” said Zeinab Ahi Yusef. “The children might want to cross the street, and drivers cannot see the kids because there is not enough light.”

The lack of lighting also attracted crime, Yusef said.

Residents who spoke represented the Skyline Committee Leadership Group, organized by last summer’s HECUA intern for the Union Park District Council.

“We’re really grateful for the sidewalk, but that’s just a first step. There’s no point to the sidewalk without lighting and signs,” Lieb told the committee.    

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Collaborative.

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