Planning the Twin Cities' regional green future is exactly what the Metropolitan Council was invented for 56 years ago, to control and channel development, preserve green space and increase overall density and cost-effectiveness of municipal services from sewer and water and transport to parks. Increased housing density is part of the solution to the greener zero-carbon future all of us require, along with solar and wind-powered electrified transport, heating and cooling. But to halt that plan at the Minneapolis city limits and not, for example, the MUSA line or beyond, is literally shortsighted and counterproductive, as families can move 100 feet across Minneapolis city limits into another development zone. It is as if the planners who developed Minneapolis' 2040 Plan had never crossed France Avenue, not to mention the Interstate 494/694 freeway corridor, to see the explosion of housing options there.
Not to mention, higher-density housing is already well underway throughout Minneapolis — witness the booming North Loop, Northeast, the Lake Street corridor, the University of Minnesota area, the burgeoning high-rise node at Bde Maka Ska, and the upcoming transformation of downtown commercial high-rises into housing. There is no shortage of new and existing density options along corridors where density already makes sense.
The Twin Cities metropolitan area is, along with Atlanta, the least dense in the country. The reason: no natural barriers to development that affect seaboard and mountain cities. The green future of our state, country and planet requires comprehensive solutions as the fossil-fueled era ends. The design of the Metropolitan Council to control regional development is exactly the planning structure needed for the green development job, not shortsighted, ad hoc local plans.
James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis
The writer is a former editorial writer for the Star Tribune.
I read the two opposing opinion pieces about the Minneapolis 2040 Plan published in the Star Tribune on Wednesday with interest. I suppose, like many people who read them both, I was in full agreement with one of them, considerably less so with the other. Here is what informed my response:
My wife and I lived in Minneapolis for 35 years and raised our two kids there in the '80s, '90s and early 2000s. There were many reasons why we chose Minneapolis, and a big one was the abundance of relatively safe, relatively clean neighborhoods filled with older, affordable single-family homes. Those neighborhoods are no longer as safe, nor as clean as they were. And if the 2040ists have their way, they'll lose many of those older homes. Will that mean that folks will simply go along with the new normal and move into apartments in the new highly dense neighborhoods? Sure, some will. But what about all those young families looking for a nice home of their own with a little bit of yard and a tree or two overhead? Make no mistake, many if not most of them will choose the suburbs. That process is already underway and will likely accelerate if single-family housing stock is lost in the city.
A city without families is a city without children, and it is a sad and lonely place. Minneapolis needs to wake up to that reality and make retaining and adding to the population of families a top priority. The 2040 Plan is not the way forward.
Dan Beck, Lake Elmo
From store to landfill
The recent Star Tribune article about the number of tennis balls that annually end up in landfills due to their inability to be recycled gave me pause to consider how many other items are destined for the same fate ("Tennis tackles problem of 330M balls in landfills yearly," Sept. 10). Here's a random list of items for consideration: umbrellas, toothbrushes, spatulas, paintbrushes, shoes, ball caps, stuffed toys, garden rakes, brooms, lawn chairs, permanent markers, dishes, rubber bands, printer ink cartridges, paper clips, drop cloths, tarps. The list could go on and on. Consider for a moment that most all of the products one sees on a walk through any Costco, Sam's Club, Home Depot, Lowe's, Menards and the like will eventually end up buried in the ground or incinerated into the air. A sobering thought, indeed. Oh, we all make some level of effort to recycle items such as glass, metal, aluminum and paper — but even those efforts pull only a fraction of the trash stream headed for a landfill or garbage burner ("MPCA has a bold plan for metro waste," editorial, Sept. 9).
On a recent trip to Paris, my wife and I were struck by the fact that garbage collection near our hotel was a twice-daily occurrence. Near the iconic Eiffel Tower, street vendors selling the miniature Eiffel Towers with their battery-powered twinkly lights that mimic the real thing discarded the spent button batteries on the ground next to their makeshift drop cloth vendor "stands." And in the Seine, the amount of man-made debris accumulating along the edges of the river walls was considerable. Unfortunately, Paris is not at all unique in this regard, as I'm confident every major city in the world has similar stories.
While I try to remain hopeful that the collective intelligence of the world's population will, eventually, cipher a solution to this ever-growing trash problem, the voice of my lesser angels whispers that all our efforts to reuse, repurpose and recycle amount to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!
David Fernelius, Crystal
For the love of Trump
In "GOP takes 1st step to impeach president" (Sept. 13), we are introduced to the latest attempt by Republican leaders to mollify former President Donald Trump and his supporters by attempting to create a false equivalence in behavior with President Joe Biden. Anticipate that their "very serious allegations" against Biden will seriously expand in seriousness as they continue to uncover even more serious allegations right up to the next election.
Peter Rainville, Minneapolis
Maybe we can shine more light on "GOP takes 1st step to impeach president." From the Aug. 17 MaddowBlog on MSNBC: "[Florida] Rep. Matt Gaetz participated in a Twitter Space earlier this week ... and explained the entire [GOP] strategy, out loud, with unexpected candor. As the New Republic summarized, 'Representative Matt Gaetz said the quiet part out loud. Republicans don't have enough evidence to impeach and convict Joe Biden. They just want to make him look bad enough that he loses the 2024 election.'"
Who was it who said, "If I cannot rise to your level, then surely I will drag you down to mine"?
Nadja Reubenova, Minneapolis
Librarians are on the front lines
It is great news that Carver County upheld inclusive books on shelves! I hope the county also increases support for librarians ("Controversial book will stay on Carver Co. library shelves," Sept. 13).
Last week I was at my local story time and catching up with my librarian. Apparently, my librarian had a very challenging summer. A group of people decided to live outside the library and a lot of conflict and challenges occurred. My librarian encouraged me to Google "librarian PTSD" and shared that the lack of county supportive services like security trained in de-escalation, an on-site social worker and adequate sanitation has really impacted her and her co-workers' quality of life. She also said that she is on the receiving end of book ban threats. I can imagine that Carver County librarians may now be the front-line responders to community members who disagree with the board's vote. I hope the board finds ways to continue to support librarians to do their work.
Kian Glenn, Minneapolis
I think Wednesday's most important news was buried on page B3 instead of getting front-page coverage, and that was the Carver County Library Board's unanimous rejection of a request to remove a controversial book. Our freedom of speech is fundamental, and there are too many stories in this country about banning books or authors or ideas.
Paul Uhler, Minnetonka