Good cause, bad tax – Twin Cities

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Good cause, bad tax

I read with great interest Benita Warns’ SPARK letter in Sunday’s Opinion section. I paraphrase part of his text.

This “Saint Paul ready for kindergarten” is a great idea, but not at the expense of ANOTHER property tax increase. When the canvassers did not receive the signatures required to be put on the ballot, they decided to try to submit it to the city council to vote on it disregarding the proper channels which have already failed .

City Council will be pressured to add SPARK to the electoral ballot.

I’m a former St. Paul resident who basically had my house priced out due to insane property tax jumps. I had attended a city council meeting a few years ago to inquire about the reasons for the tax increases. The result was that there was nothing they could do to prevent the tax increases. Oh good? This is why we voted for you to represent all the citizens of Saint-Paul.

I sat next to an elderly woman, clearly on a fixed income, who was in tears. She cried and said she would have to leave her house for life because of these raises, and she had no idea where she could go.

At the end of this meeting, one of the council members approached to try to comfort her. I was disgusted by his worthless and frankly insulting rhetoric towards this poor woman.

I agree with Mrs. Warns: add sales tax for this free child care and don’t vote for this proposed property tax increase.

Susan Mikutowski, West St. Paul

Riot Psychology

Many years ago, in a psychology course at U of M, we touched briefly (far too briefly) on “rioter psychology”.

A point that should be taught again in higher grades is that some studies show that around 80% of rioters are unaware of the real “facts” that caused the riot, but instead are involved for fun. It’s an “event” they don’t want to miss. That 80% get carried away with excitement or want to flaunt their macho by starting a fire or breaking a window or showing their support for equally ignorant friends important to their acceptance and gaining popularity.

Some rioters, when tried in court for their part, admitted they had no idea why they were involved.

Perhaps being made aware of the above would make some people think twice about joining a riot.

Thomas Strobel, White Bear Township

Make Summit Ave. safer and better

The Summit Avenue redesign is an opportunity to make Summit Avenue a safer place for people of all ages to walk, bike, run and relax.

The proposal transforms heavily used bike lanes into off-street bike lanes and adds raised pedestrian and bike crossings, life-saving basic safety upgrades, while preserving Summit’s much-loved wide sidewalks. By making it safer to cycle and walk along Summit Avenue, we will help reduce car use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Off-street bike lanes would have a curb and a grassy buffer protecting people from swerving cars, car doors opening unexpectedly, and trucks parking in the bike right-of-way. In the process, the distance pedestrians must travel to cross Summit Avenue will be reduced.

Regular pedestrian crossings descend to street level via curbs. Raised crosswalks add a marked wide bump that rises to the height of the sidewalk and which cars cross, like a sidewalk width speed bump. Dropped, i.e. raised, crosswalks encourage cars to slow down at these intersections and eliminate the formation of snow and ice in sidewalk gutters at crosswalks, the scourge of parents with strollers, wheelchair users and winter walkers. Pedestrian crossings for bike paths and sidewalks will facilitate snow removal and crossing the Summit in winter for everyone.

Additionally, making the summit safer will result in little additional cost to taxpayers. Summit Avenue from Lexington to Victoria is slated for complete reconstruction in 2023. Gradually, this will happen along the rest of Summit in the coming years. Since the street is going to be rebuilt anyway, the cost of adding bike lanes and a curb where there was a bike lane is comparable to the cost of rebuilding the bike lane, while making the street safer for everyone.

Unfortunately, some people believe that these basic safety improvements pose a risk to their street. “Save Our Street” signs are prolific on the front yards of Summit Avenue. If you go to their website, SaveSummitAve.org’s priorities are “the protection of Summit Avenue, its mature trees, its parking (and) existing bike lanes across the street.”

Trees are an iconic part of Summit Avenue, so the proposal does not include cutting them down. There is already space in the existing Summit Avenue footprint. No green space needs to be paved to add bike lanes, and some of the plans currently on offer increase unpaved green space. Additionally, the Tree Coalition could require that if trees are accidentally damaged as part of the Summit Avenue redevelopment, the city must use project funding to purchase and plant mature trees.

Regarding parking, the city has so far released two draft proposals. In the version with a two-way bike path, no parking is removed from Summit Avenue. In the other version, with one-way bike lanes, parking is removed from one side of the street east of Lexington Parkway. At most, there would be a 25% reduction in parking on Summit Avenue, on a street where almost all residents have large driveways.

People have died and been seriously injured in our existing bike lanes. These deaths and injuries could have been largely avoided if there was a sidewalk and more space between moving cars and bikes. Replacing existing bike lanes with off-street bike lanes will reduce the risk of people being injured while biking on Summit Avenue.

Meridith Richmond, St. Paul

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