Stuart Chazin is sorry for speaking out of school.
He sent me an email yesterday apologizing for this quote that capped my last post about the Southwest light-rail project:
“What we all want is the whole thing to die,” he said.
At the time, the head of the Kenilworth Preservation Group said he was speaking on behalf of the various factions of residents who live near the Kenilworth Corridor of Minneapolis. He organized a gathering earlier this month to get everyone on the same page because, he said, “the stronger we are, the better.”
But his comment characterizing a collective death wish for Southwest drew swift reaction from the group LRT Done Right, which assured me it does not want the project to die. LRT Done Right favors a separate light-rail alignment that avoids Kenilworth altogether.
Chazin said he was wrong to speak on behalf of anyone besides his own group and amended his statement to: “I, Stuart Chazin would love to see the whole thing die and never come back but that’s a long shot.”
Finally in the long-running debate over Southwest light-rail, there’s something that St. Louis Park and at least some Minneapolis residents can agree on.
The people who live in the narrowest pinch point of the Kenilworth Corridor are pleading with Minneapolis city officials to stop pushing for a rerouting of freight traffic.
Associations representing townhouses and high-rise condos near the bike trail sent an email yesterday to Mayor Betsy Hodges and City Council members after the officials vehemently objected to a plan to bury Southwest LRT trains in shallow tunnels along the corridor.
But the Cedar Lake Shores Townhome Association and Calhoun Isles Condominium Association say the alternative — diverting the freight traffic to St. Louis Park — would represent “the worst possible outcome.” If the freight trains leave, light-rail trains go in at ground level.
The groups are advocating for the shallow tunnels, “not because we think it is an ideal solution, but because it is the only option presented to date as an alternative to the 16-20 hours daily schedule of 220 light rail trains, running every ten minutes in each direction ‘at grade,’ within feet of our homes,” the email said.
The associations say the uncertainty surrounding the Southwest project has caused some potential home buyers to withdraw their offers.
The email was sent yesterday before Met Council staff unveiled yet another design concept that is also an oxymoron — a “deep shallow tunnel” — intended to appease some critics in Minneapolis.
The condo dwellers represent just one faction of the Kenilworth neighborhood groups, which have differing views on how to resolve the freight-rail impasse that could scuttle the entire $1.55 billion project. The Kenilworth Preservation Group is still calling for a deep-bore tunnel that Metropolitan Council engineers say would cost $330 million. A group called LRT Done Right wants an entirely different light-rail alignment, or moving the freight.
But the groups have reached consensus on one thing, said Stuart Chazin, who heads the Kenilworth Preservation Group.
“What we all want is the whole thing to die,” he said.
UPDATE: I heard from Patty Schmitz of LRT Group, who disputes Chazin’s characterization. “Our group’s position is not that we want the SWLRT to die,” she said.
A friend on Facebook was alarmed when saw a picture of the house Barbara Mays rents from Paul Bertelson, who’s been under scrutiny since a fire at one of the other 38 buildings he manages killed five children.
“I want to know how that property you had pictured in the story was cleared for Section 8 assistance,” wrote Jeffrey Arnold, a St. Paul landlord.
I had the same question, when Mays told me Section 8 had paid her $1,195 rent since she moved to the house in October. In addition to the broken cabinets pictured above, the house had no bathroom door — just a plastic screen that didn’t close properly. I also saw cracked walls, peeling paint and two broken windows.
Section 8 mandates an inspection before it will pay rent. Those inspection records aren’t public under Minnesota state law, but looking at the instructions inspectors follow when approving properties for federal assistance, it’s not clear the problems at Mays’ house would disqualify it.
For instance, when it comes to cabinets, the instructions say:
“If there are some minor defects, check ‘Pass’ and make notes to the right. Possible defects include: marked, dented, or scratched surfaces; broken shelving or cabinet doors; broken drawers or cabinet hardware; limited size relative to family needs.”
The instructions also say the bathroom must be “private,” but doesn’t specify there needs to be a real door. Broken windows are a no-no, but Mays says the glass shattered after she moved in.
The city housing code is stricter than the federal standards, but there are no inspections required before a new tenant moves in. Most properties are inspected just once every eight years, although Mays’ place used to be on a more frequent rotation.
It was one of two Bertelson properties flagged for frequent violations in 2012, and placed on an annual inspection schedule. But as of 2013, it was no longer considered a chronic offender, according to city records.
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I love to understand how stuff works. So when I recently had the opportunity to peek into the world of crime-solving, I jumped at the chance. You can’t help but wonder if all those crime shows on television have it right. How can you possibly solve a complicated murder-mystery in an hour — minus 20 Read more →