by Frances Edstrom
The city and Mayor Miller, citing economic reasons, have aborted the recreation referendum, suspended plans for redesigning Levee Park, and now put the skids on the all-encompassing arena planning. This has all been done unilaterally, without consulting their own appointed committees of volunteers who put many hours and much energy into civic planning for nothing in return.
I’m not sure who thinks up ways to spend money down at City Hall. It’s a well-guarded secret. They say they know that they are going to have to make a few economies, what with the state budget woes and Gov. Pawlenty’s plan for a balanced budget. Here’s a cost-saving idea, in case anyone at City Hall is interested. I read that the city wants to build a “bike boulevard” on Seventh St. from Vila St. to Huff St. In order to do that, they want to take away parking on Seventh St. (We have a parking problem around campus, don’t we, that yet another volunteer committee is just now addressing?)
Maybe the planners at City Hall forgot about it, but we already have a bike route from Vila St. to Huff St. Most of us call it the Bike Path. It doesn’t necessitate one-way streets or take away parking and I can tell you from personal experience it works really well.
And something else I’ve noticed. Bikers use the sidewalks all the time, and with those great new curb cuts, it’s a real slick way to get from here to there. There’s no reason to think it won’t continue working just fine. Doesn’t seem to be a law against it, and it won’t take away parking space.
Time to put the bike boulevard idea on ice, before some committee is appointed to “study” that, too.
If there are any stray dollars around after the city pays for the $300,000 aquatic center slide, maybe a little something could be done before summer on the fenced crater where the Wilkie Steamboat Center used to sit. How about a couple of live alligators in there. Chomp! That would be a draw. Could even be a moneymaker.
Who can hate a Christmas tree?
“I hate these human holidays!” said the dog-who-must-not-be-written-about with a huge sigh and a groan.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, not really listening very closely, as I was trying to remember where I hid all the Christmas presents.
“I’m eight years old now, and still, every year in December I have to be tested,” he wailed, pacing up and down in front of the Christmas tree, which this year has returned to its place in the living room. A trial period in the family room had produced too many ornaments straying mysteriously from the tree branches to the far reaches of the room.
I put down my list, looked at him, and asked, “What on earth are you talking about? You are making no sense at all.”
“This thing!” he said, nodding towards the tree. “Why do you do this to me?”
“The Christmas tree?” I asked, puzzled.
“I call it the Final Exam,” he said.
“And why is that?” I asked.
“How long have I been toilet trained?” he asked, and then answered, “At least seven and five-sixth years! You’d think by now it would just be a given. I haven’t peed on the floor since two weeks after you brought me home! I am probably the most fastidious dog you could ask for in the toileting department.”
“This is all true,” I agreed. “I don’t even have to carry a plastic bag when we go on walks. I’m very proud of you.”
“Then, why the tree?” he demanded.
“I am not getting the connection,” I said. “It’s Christmas. We have a tree.”
“Would you give a bottle of wine to an alcoholic? Or offer a doughnut to someone on a diet? No, that would be cruel. You even make me leave the house when someone with allergies comes to visit. Yet, you force me to live in the same house with a tree for weeks every year. It’s just perverse!”
“You mean you…” I began.
“No, no, of course not!” he said. “But I am tempted every hour of every day. What’s wrong with an artificial tree? At least it wouldn’t have that enticing aroma.”
“We could see…”
“I’m getting old! I deserve a little respect around here! I shouldn’t have to live with such mental torture. I’m putting an ad in the paper…faithful housebroken poodle free to good non-Christmas tree home,” he warned.
“Be careful what you wish for,” I muttered under my breath. “Well, the harm’s done this year,” I said. “Why don’t you just stay in the family room where you are supposed to?” I asked.
He ignored me, having worked himself into a lather.
“Just don’t be surprised if anything happens to that tree,” he said threateningly.
“I guess I’ll just forget about that big bag of doggie treats,” I said.
“All right! All right! Lock me away in the family room!” he barked. “And another thing. Why does it take so many sticks of butter softening on the kitchen counter to make cookies? It’s torture, I tell you! Isn’t there a law?”