UPDATED 6/13/2013 (at bottom of article) | Will a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant on Snelling cause problems of traffic, noise, and “student bacchanalia?” More than 30 opponents who packed the March 12 Union Park District Council Land Use Committee meeting raised these and other concerns. The restaurant has started construction at the former Cheapo Records storefront at 80 N. Snelling, having received city approval for the site plan and zoning last year. The liquor license application that was before the Land Use Committee is the last remaining hurdle to the planned May opening.Heated discussion at the meeting followed Facebook debate at Citizens for A Better Snelling Avenue, a Facebook group created by Brian Quarstad on February 25. Opponents and advocates of the chain have engaged in conversations on the pages of dueling Facebook groups that have been spirited and cutting at times, featuring personal attacks and controversy over the deletion of posts. Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) representatives at the meeting took questions and responded to proposals by members of Citizens for A Better Snelling Avenue to alleviate the impact of a development that they acknowledge is now inevitable. Key measures included a fence along Ashland to discourage parking on that street, limiting the planned hours of operation (currently until 1 a.m. on weeknights), and furnishing the phone number of an on site manager to nearby residents — a longtime practice of nearby O’Gara’s. The company made some concessions, agreeing to nix a sign facing Ashland, install a soundproofing system and bike racks, and limit smoking areas. Continue Reading
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
St. Paul says it’s serious about local food. “The most livable city in America” recently debuted a new website to highlight its effort to connect local food producers with consumers and inform consumers how they too can become producers.
I did that headline the way the television stations do the blurbs for the evening news. It is a bit misleading but more dramatic than the story. We don’t really know how many vacant homes there are in St. Paul but we do know how many registered vacant buildings there are.
The St. Paul Public Library system will be doing more to help Minnesotans find work and prepare for careers in the coming year even though budget cuts are shortening the hours the libraries will be open to serve the public.
A teachers union filing for mediation is historic in the timeline of teacher labor negotiations. It has not happened in Saint Paul since 1989. Filing for mediation is one of the last steps a union must check off in order to maintain their right to strike. In 1989 the strike was averted by last minute negotiations by the Mayor. It has been since 1946 that the union went on strike. Continue Reading
“I was tired of seeing our youth in the community hopeless, lost without leadership and fatherless.” That could be just about anyone talking about conditions that have gone on in Black communities for what by now feels to many of us like an eternity. It could be just about anyone who gave up hope and walked away, if not finding a way to leave the community then just turning off mentally and emotionally, no longer caring.Instead, exactly the opposite, it’s Minneapolis MAD DADS CEO and President V.J. Smith, explaining why he rolled up his sleeves and stepped to and, in October of 1998, established the Minneapolis Chapter of Men Against Destruction-Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder, Inc. (MAD DADS).V.J. Smith, right, in the streets ‘promoting hope’A mere glimpse at statistics exposes the need for Minneapolis MAD DADS. In 2001, African American males were 32 percent of all prison inmates in Minnesota with 25 percent of all arrests in the state occurring in Minneapolis. Minnesota’s arrest and incarceration rates of Black men and adolescent males have long been disproportionate to such rates of that same demographic in other major cities.In 1989, the National Headquarters and founding chapter of MAD DADS began in Omaha, Nebraska (now moved to Alexandria, Virginia) with 18 men. Since then, the activist community organization has strengthened to number more than 75,000 men, women and children with 60-plus chapters in 17 states.With the passing in September of national president and co-founder Eddie Staton, whose veritable mantra was “You can’t lose sight of the mission,” V.J. Smith was selected to succeed him. It probably surprised very few who know Smith’s work, both with MAD DADS and outside the organization, as an advocate for positive change to empower the community.A long list of civic acknowledgements bestowed on him includes: the 1999 National Crime Prevention Council Award of Excellence; 2001 National MAD DADS of the Year Award; and, presented by Timothy J. Dolan, Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, 2009 Chief’s Award of Merit to MAD DADS — C.O.P.S. Program in gratitude for Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement and the People We Serve.In January of 2010, Smith received Minneapolis’ 8th Ward Community Leader Award. Continue Reading
The election is over. As everyone decompresses the habit of constant analysis flashes back to what happened over the long months of campaigning. Like any process, it’s good to step back at the end and think about what went well, what went wrong, and how it all could have been better.