City sidewalks what could possibly go wrong?

Bird Scooter

I walk a lot. At least three miles a day, often closer to five or more miles a day. Many of those miles are in the downtown St. Paul area. I can tell you the sidewalks in St. Paul are a challenge. There are a lot of cement heaves caused by tree roots and actual potholes in many locations. I have tripped more than once and gotten injured more than once.

People walk down the street in downtown St. Paul without ever taking their eyes off of their phones.  Usually, they are moving slow enough so that I can stay out of their way.

In the downtown area, there are places where it is impossible to ride a bike in the street so people ride the green Nice Ride bikes up on the sidewalk.

There are other obstacles too like entire restaurants on the sidewalk leaving a thin walking path right next to the pothole-filled street with no bike lane.

Crossing a street at an intersection is a challenge. I end up yelling and pounding on car hoods to get them to see me. I have been thinking about getting some kind of a flag I can wave.

Now there are electric scooters on the sidewalk. I am told that it isn’t safe to ride them in the streets downtown so they ride on the sidewalk. Apparently, the train tracks and potholes are just too much for them.

What could possibly go wrong with scooters on the same bumpy broken sidewalks where people dine, walk, look at their phones and ride bikes?

Walking can be a good source of exercise. We should be able to safely walk on city sidewalks. How walkable a neighborhood has an impact on property values.

Happy July

Brown-eyed Susans

I plan to spend as much of the month outside as I can. If you enjoy the outdoors and wildflowers go to a park. It is kind of like taking a vacation. I took these photos along the bike trail in Lilydale Regional Park. I also enjoy Battle Creek Regional Park, Phalen Park, and Como Park. Don’t forget Fort Snelling State Park or Crosby Farm Regional Park or Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. These are just a few parks to enjoy this July.

Businesses don’t like it but some residents do

Parking is always a controversial issue in St. Paul and a good way to get people riled up. I live in an area with permit parking. That means we have to have a permit on any vehicle that we want to park on the street. We have guest permits for visitors. If we have a plumber or electrician stop by we either need to provide off-street parking or give them a guest permit.

Permits are &15.00 a year and they get renewed every August. The city of St. Paul website has information on how to get permits and maps of the permit area. The city likes to move pages around so instead of a broken link I am going to suggest using Google and the search string: “St. Paul Permit Parking”.

I have never had anyone say no to buying a house because of permit parking but it is something that home buyers should at least be aware of before they sign. Permit parking areas tend to be near Universities, hospitals, and areas where there are a lot of businesses.

We would not be able to park in front of our house or even on our block if not for permit parking. The system also makes it hard for a business that got some variances and is located on what used to be a city block that was all residential. In general, businesses don’t like permit parking or parking meters.

The streets where there is permit parking changes over time and is expanding. People just don’t want to pay for parking and will park in residential areas and walk.

The rules in the permit areas are not all the same either. In some areas, there is 24 hour a day permit parking and in other areas, it is just during business hours. There are signs on every block.

The important thing for home buyers to understand is that you may need a permit to park in front of your house but getting a permit does not guarantee a parking space.

Permit parking map



A decade since the stack came down

In honor of throwback Thursday I have some pictures of the smokestack demolition. Ten years ago this week the old NSP power plant smokestack on the Mississippi River was taken down. NSP stood for Northern States Power which eventually became Xcel energy.

I lived within sight of that structure for most of my adult life. There was something oddly comforting about seeing those red blinking lights around the tower at night. I still see it sometimes.

The old power plant burned coal. Occasionally wind would hit the coal piles and the coal dust would get into the house. The power plant that replaced it uses natural gas.

smoke stack
NSP Power plant smokestack – May 27, 2008
old NSP plant
NSP Power plant demolition

Trash collection underwhelms

I am a bit skeptical about the citywide trash collection system that is going to be rolled out this year.  Based on past experience with the recycling program I have my doubts.

There are options for trash cart sizes and we chose the smallest but decided to keep weekly pick-up. If there are not a bunch of fees and taxes tacked on to the published service fee we will be paying about $80 dollars a year less for trash removal.

The city sent out postcards so residents can choose their cart size that needs to be returned by June 1st. There was an option to choose your cart size online and when I tried that option it did not work. I wasn’t at all surprised.

If you got a postcard in the mail asking you to choose a trash cart size check the appropriate box and drop it in a mailbox. Postage is pre-paid.

If you do not choose a size one will be chosen for you. With the 35 gallon cart, we have the option of having it picked up every other week with all of the other sized there is weekly pick-up.

The new trash removal program will be implemented in October of this year. By then I should be able to come up with a list of tips and alternatives in case some of us have to go a month or so without trash pick-up.

As I recall we went at least a month without having our Recycling picked up. It seems that the city thought our alley was a paved driveway because that is what it looks like on Google earth.

Some neighbors are already irritated because the new program will not allow for trash cart sharing amount people at different addresses. That means that some people will pay significantly more for trash pick-up.

For more information on the program see “garbage” on the city website.  The link will likely change in a day or two so if you are reading this after May 2108 you may have to search to find the information.

Basics for the garden

Herb garden

I just got these plants at the farmer’s market last weekend and will plant them soon. These are some basics that come in handy for cooking. They are all super easy to grow. I plant them in a little patch of dirt by my back door.

Fron Left to right: Basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, and Lavender. We don’t eat the lavender but I like the way it looks and smells. I also grow a variety of peppers, some cucumbers, and tomatoes and There is rhubarb in the backyard and it gets used for pies and cake.

I freeze parsley at the end of the season and if I have enough basil I make pesto before the first freeze. The rosemary gets dried and used in the winter and so does the lavender. I used to grow dill but it tends to spread all over the place. Mint is also an invasive species. I have chamomile that reseeds itself.

Herbs can be grown in pots but I have plenty of space in the garden. Basil is an easy plant to grow from seeds which is a nice way to grow a larger crop.

If you are new to gardening or a new homeowner or both try these easy to grow garden herbs. I am always amazed at how much food I can grow on my postage stamp sized city lot.