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Now Why is St. Paul Coming After This Nice Old Lady’s Rock Garden?

Plus sham Spam, fish stores, and transit turnstiles in today's Flyover news roundup.

3:27 PM CST on November 27, 2023

Eric Prouzet via Unsplash|

OK, you caught us—this stone bench is in Spain. Click through to the Pioneer Press to see the yard in question.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

St. Paul's Stone Boulevard Garden at Risk

Iris Logan's Sherburne Avenue yard is unlike just about any other you'll see in St. Paul, filled with rocks and stones the 70-year-old former sharecropper has artfully arranged over the course of three decades. But we're not reading about Logan's "stone tapestry" in Frederick Melo's story for the Pioneer Press just because it's a unique piece of St. Paul's urban scenery. The yard has also caught the attention of the city's Department of Safety and Inspections. The DSI issued her a issued a written notice saying that at a legislative hearing on December 6, an officer will address City Council to recommend she get until December 22 to clean up the boulevard: planters, cans, stones, bench, and all. Happy holidays! I mean, c'mon, St. Paul. Surely you have bigger things to worry about? Logan tells Melo she's "never had a complaint,” and neighbors seem to agree. In early November, a petition in supporting Logan garnered 150 signatures “in just a few hours,” according to Justin Lewandowski, a community organizer with the Hamline-Midway Coalition.

Ann's Sham Spam Ham Canned

In Uptown, the transformation from Sooki & Mimi's to Kim's is complete. Chef and restaurateur Ann Kim's new Korean-American concept debuted earlier this month with a menu that includes bibimbap, stir-fried bulgogi, and—as we Spam fans noted with some excitement—a few Spam dishes. Except, as Megan Ryan and Brooks Johnson report for the Star Tribune, they aren't actually Spam dishes. The house-made Spam in Kim's kimchi fried rice and Spam 'n' cheese "sammie" is just that—house-made—and days after Kim's debuted, the folks at Hormel came calling. "We did not get an official cease and desist letter. It was an inquiry email asking if we were using the official Spam product," Rachael Crew, a spokeswoman with Kim's Vestalia Hospitality group, said in a statement to the Strib. "Based on Hormel's email, we knew it would come next." They've "proactively" given the ingredient a new name; if you stop by the new restaurant, notice it's now "Ann's Ham."

Step Inside Rivershore Aquariums

Richfield's World of Fish was a goshdarn south metro institution, and when it closed last year after nearly 50 years even those of us who've never owned a single goldfish or guppy felt the sting. Good news! A group of former employees are carrying on the fishy legacy at Rivershore Aquariums, which opened in Minneapolis's Windom neighborhood last year. Southwest Voices' Anna Koenning caught up with co-owner Derek Wetmore, who explained that Rivershore's fish are all from nearby wholesalers and local breeders. That means they have a better survival rate than fish shipped in from elsewhere, Wetmore also share his journey from hobby fish keeper and journalism student to aquarium store owner—“the classic journalist turned fish store owner,” he quips.

The Case Against Public Transit Turnstiles

Turnstile—not just the name of a very good Baltimore-based hardcore band! These spinning public transit gates, used in subway systems like those in NYC, have also been pitched as the answer to some of Metro Transit's light rail woes. In mid-November, when the Star Tribune's editorial board came together to bring readers a "special report" on saving the light rail, the installation of fare gates as a “force multiplier” for policing was chief among the board's recommendations for the beleaguered transit system. "The ultimate goal should be to enclose every station—even street-level stations—to restrict access to those who have paid fares," they concluded, admitting that this would be "a dramatic step."

Not so fast, says columnist Bill Lindeke in MinnPost today. For one, he writes, it would be "pretty much technically impossible." Our light rail system, with its low-floor, low-impact platforms, is different from those in St. Louis, which the Strib cites as the test case for fare gates. Weather, snow removal, ADA accessibility—all of these factors would be more challenging to address in a high-floor system, and costly to implement. Lindeke says it'd be more affordable and more beneficial to social order to spend that money and effort on fare-checking on trains and platforms. The light rail has become essentially free in St. Paul, he notes, a problem more easily solved with the presence of an authority figure, not big fences and fancy gates.

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