Letters to the editor

Stay alert near bike paths

I would like to respond to the recent letters regarding safety on the Lake Harriet bike path. I have been a resident of Fulton and have enjoyed the paths around Lake Harriet for more than 20 years.

On July 9, while leisurely bike riding, a father and his young son drifted in front of me as I was passing. This caused me to veer off of the path to avoid the child and resulted in my hitting the pavement.

After a trip to the emergency room and subsequent surgery costing thousands of dollars,
I can now — three weeks later — return to work with restrictions. It could have been much worse.

In the future, I’ll be the person on the bike path announcing in a very loud voice: “Parent, keep your child to the right side.” Or, better yet,  get a tag-a-long (as our family did) until you and your child can ride with safety for all.

Jana Salinger, Fulton

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A proponent of the 43rd & Upton project

I was disappointed in the one-sided reporting represented in Aaron Rupar’s recent article about the Linden Corners project. After giving many inches to opponents of the project, he included just one short quote from a proponent, and a lukewarm one at that.

I am an 18-resident of Linden Hills who lives just three blocks north of the site, and I am strongly in favor of the condo/retail project for both environmental and personal reasons.

First, the environmental reason: Our city and neighborhood needs more density so we can better use mass transit and stop spreading out into the exurbs and rural area surrounding us.

Second, the personal reason: I’m married to a disabled man who badly needs to live in a one-floor unit with elevator and underground parking. I would welcome the chance to have well-designed housing of that nature in our beloved neighborhood. And I  know I’m not alone in that feeling.

In other words, I urge my fellow residents of Linden Hills to consider the future, both the city’s and their own.  

Lynette Lamb, Linden Hills

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Linden Hills memories

My memory of  the 43rd & Upton area goes back over a half of a century.

One of my earliest was getting an ice cream bar from a clown outside of what is now Dunn Bros. It was then a grocery store, a Red Owl I believe, and it was prompting something or another, what did I care they were giving out ice cream.

Across the street in the old co-op building was another grocery, a Super Valu. Around the corner was Hawkinson’s Groceries and up from that was Ralph’s Dairy. The meat market was always where it is now and Hawkinson’s also had an independent meat market in their store.  

Before Famous Dave’s, the space was a Union 76 station and before that a smaller Pure Oil, next to that on Upton was Eckies Station. Eckies was so old school that their car lift was outside — yep oil changes at 30 below or 100 above. The salting of other businesses also included the corner flower shop, a dime store, a drug store, two barber shops and a cozy restaurant called Huber’s

My point is markets change. The area could no longer support many of the businesses as bigger chains drew the business out of the area.  

Free enterprise strives along. A recent letter in the Southwest Journal is surprising as the writer sounds like one must forget free enterprise and prevent change.  

For seven years I was part owner in an antique store in what now is some of the space Creative Kids has. Up the street was The Gazebo — part pet shop, part antique. We coexisted well, each seeking out a specialty. The effect was synergistic, drawing more people that either one would. The antique store ended due to a fire in an upstairs apartment and the water damage below.

While I understand that some are concerned over the thought of two hardware stores in  the 43rd area, attempting to block free enterprise is not the answer. Cooperation at this time could yield a synergism, keeping people shopping in the neighborhood and not headed to the big box stores that do nothing to support the community.

In the several businesses I have run, I’ve always looked for a niche. Perhaps the area could use a serious repair center for small engines and window repair, or whatever but seeking out niches. Change is inevitable. Now is an opportunity to be creative and for two business owners to have a meeting of the minds and not a banging of the heads.

Jon Quirt

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Slow down, cyclists  

I have a problem with bikers around Harriet and Calhoun who speed past me in all their gear, heads down watching their speedometers, going 5–10 miles over the speed limit. They seem to have that “get out of my way” attitude as if I were an obstacle on their race track. The speeders should stick to the commuter trails and let the rest of us leisure bikers enjoy our rides.

Where are the park police when you need them? Apparently, not watching the bike trails on the lakes.

Paul Emmel, Linden Hills

Letters to the editor

Give Settergren’s a chance

As a long time customer of Settergren’s Ace Hardware and committed booster of neighborhood-based businesses, I offer a counterpoint to Jonathon Scott’s letter of outrage at Settergren’s choice to invest in Linden Hills. 

Settergren runs a great business and contributes to its neighborhood in ways that far surpass most. Settergren makes a point to seek out and employ dozens of local teens — providing opportunities sorely lacking for our kids’ generation.

Settergren also provides several family supporting jobs as well — something few neighborhood-based businesses can still do.

Many of us prefer to keep our spending local and avoid shopping in the “big box” stores.  Settergren’s service and stock levels are such they make it unnecessary to leave the neighborhood to shop. Don’t make it so expensive and undesirable to start a local business you drive out the very businesses that will keep our neighborhoods vital. Settergren bought an empty building and are investing in it — to presume the neighborhood council can or should somehow regulate how they compete is deeply misguided. 

Be thankful you have a neighborhood that will draw two competing hardware stores. In fact, congratulations! Few city neighborhoods can. Likewise, if eventually competition leaves only one — one that will keep you and your neighbors from schlepping to a crowded, distant, big box store on a Saturday because the small neighborhood store couldn’t make it — be thankful for that too.

Joel Cannon
Lynnhurst (former Linden Hills resident)

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Why two hardware stores?

While I empathize with the letter writer in support of Bayer’s Hardware, a clearer economic understanding might bring a less emotional response to what is happening in Linden Hills.

For 90 years Bayer has enjoyed fulfilling the needs of the Linden Hills community.  During this time the market actions of residents have allowed Bayer to be profitable and enjoy longevity. No one has decided to try and improve upon what Bayer has been doing — until now.

The natural changes that occur over 90 years have introduced a broader choice in many markets and the same is true for hardware. Often the local shopkeeper cannot stock the same inventory selection that even a slightly larger operation would be capable of. Over time the disparity becomes great enough to where an entrepreneurial mind decides to enter the market.

There is risk involved in starting up against an established business. The capital outlay will be much greater and the debt most likely higher than Bayers. This forces the new venture to focus on efficiency and profitability. It also should be a wakeup call to Bayer that he may need to find new ways to reach his customer base and adapt to the changing market conditions either in selection, price or other offerings.

The emotional response is to protect the existing. In some cases the existing is merely a zombie of a company plodding along. In others it is a thriving business. And while many do not like competition, it is competition that ultimately forces the production of better widgets, processes and solutions for the market. The tendency is to protect the one at the expense of the many. There is a desire to embalm the nostalgic feeling of the local corner store. Competition forces efficiency and product selection that will allow a store to remain viable. The many gift shops along Xerxes prove that very point. They all serve a market and offer products that can coexist profitably on that one block. 

The reality is the competing store may be larger and may be able to employ more workers. It may offer an alternate selection of product that the community wants. No one knows until it is created and allowed to try to earn a profit. The community through its spending action will decide what stays and what cannot survive.

The old businesses in the photos in the Cafe 28 building (formerly Mpls Fire Station 28) say it all. Where is The Upton now? And what about Crib Diaper Service? Even the public-funded firehouse succumbs to the market of the day and transforms into an architect firm and cafe. This building, once a cost to the city, is now a profit center to those that work there, the building owner, and the city via taxation, not to mention the community that votes with their dollars and time.

Ninety years is a great run for any business and I’m sure the potential is there for Bayers to go another 90. But they may have to adapt to the changing market in order to do so.

A community can voice its vote very simply. It doesn’t need anti-competitive conventions, picketing or slander.  These things do more to hinder economic growth than the failure or success of individual businesses. All it has to do is choose where to spend. Ideally both business adapt and survive.

Pete Christensen

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Racial disparities in water safety training a shame

I was devastated to learn of the drowning of a Minneapolis teen on July 19. Our city is known as the City of Lakes, but I believe we must hang our heads low, as we have not dealt with the responsibilities that come with the title.

Minneapolis beaches reinstalled floating docks on their lakes. It is justified to want to attract patrons to beaches. But how can the city bring residents back to the water without first teaching them how to swim? I am a 21-year-old resident of Minneapolis. I swim for local teams and swam varsity for Southwest High. I now enjoy a collegiate swimming career, and compete in international Paralympic meets. As a disabled swimmer who uses a wheelchair, I stand by the belief that anyone can swim. The disparities in the city make my beliefs sound unrealistic. The highest drowning rates in the city are in the Phillips neighborhood, with a 98 percent poverty and minority rate. African Americans drown at three times the rate of whites. Swim instruction is received based on zip code or income, leaving many residents unable to learn to swim and enjoy the lakes that our state flaunts. The African American boy drowned trying to retrieve the dock on Wirth Lake. The same day as the tragedy, the Legislature cut $2.1 million in funding for Minneapolis Swims, an organization working to save the Phillips Pool. The pool will be the city’s only indoor public pool, offering swim lessons regardless of economic status.

Without funding, the 15,000 Minnesotans that the pool would serve are told by their Legislature that their safety in the water isn’t a priority. Floating docks are great, but the payoff won’t occur until city residents that want to enjoy our beaches and lakes is trained in basic water safety, then swimming. Until then, any other aquatic investment just furthers the disparities for minority swimmers in the City of Lakes that could have horrific consequences. We need look no further than the heartbreaking loss of a young life on July 19 to prove that.

Claire Forrest
Lynnhurst

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Perplexed by tickets, towing

My name is Jeff Spencer and I live on the 2500 block of Garfield Avenue South. On Saturday, July 23, the City of Minneapolis Traffic Control Department began ticketing and towing cars that were less than 5 feet from the driveway curb of houses on the street.

If this is a law, that is fine. However, why does the city suddenly begin enforcing it, without prior warning? A ticket would suffice, but having the cars towed when they are not blocking any driveway is very unfair.  

I was not towed but numerous neighbors told me that they had to pay more than $130 to get their cars back. The street is close to businesses on Lyndale and also has a high apartment/condo population so parking spaces on the street are sometimes hard to come by.

If this law is going to be enforced, the city needs to provide signage on the street noting the rules or paint the curbs to let residents know where parking is allowed.

As a resident and a property owner who pays more than $4,000 a year in property taxes to the city, I find the practice of suddenly enforcing laws that were never enforced before very troubling. One of the neighbors who was towed asked why the cars were being towed and the truck driver replied that the city needs to raise revenue. He said he was going down Garfield all the way to the city line towing. I hope this is not what Minneapolis has come to. Surely, there are more just ways raise revenues for the city.

Jeff Spencer
Whittier