Responses to letters on Dinkytown, Lakeview

A Jan. 22 letter criticizing Doran Companies' student housing properties in Dinkytown, while fair in one respect, was terribly uninformed in another. We respect the right of observers to debate the artistic or aesthetic value of the exterior designs of our properties. However, to refer to the materials used as "penny-pinching" is unfair. Materials such as metal, brick, glass, stone and fiber cement come in many different styles and levels of quality. But just as important as the lasting quality of the material is a commitment to its maintenance. Indeed, unlike with many of the student housing properties near the University of Minnesota, we are a local company that develops, constructs, and continues to own and manage our buildings with an understanding that we have an obligation to ongoing maintenance, not only to keep our buildings fresh, but also to keep them structurally sound.

KELLY DORAN, Bloomington

The writer is the founder of Doran Companies.

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Referring to the Jan. 20 Letter of the Day stating that new homes built on the Lakeview golf site in Orono will not sell at million-dollar prices, one of the writer's reasons was their location in the Westonka School District. Those of us living in this district point with pride to our schools' accomplishments. The 2013 test scores were among the state's best.

Grades four and five were No. 1 in the state in both reading and math.

New owners would be privileged to enroll their children in the Westonka schools.



Nothing inappropriate about early departure

Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman isn't doing a bad thing by retiring 10 months earlier than she would have if she had completed her term (Letter of the Day, Jan. 22). If she had waited longer, the seat could have been vacant for up to six months, similar to when two other commissioners left early. This way, it will be vacant for three months, and the special election will provide a good opportunity to debate issues such as the light-rail controversy.

Also, Dorfman certainly is not leaving for a higher-paying job. Her salary as executive director of St. Stephen's Human Services will go up only $3,000 from her commissioner's salary, to $105,000. She probably could have gotten a CEO job at one of the nonprofits with the unconscionable salaries reported in December by the Star Tribune.

GARY FARLAND, Minneapolis


Metro area needs a modern approach

I appreciate the perspective on streetcars from state Sen. David Osmek and state Rep. Linda Runbeck ("Why the Legislature should put brakes on streetcar dreams," Jan. 18). In further support of their position, there are operational efficiencies and future technologies that should be included in the discussion.

First, Metro Transit has not employed fast boarding and exiting of buses, as it does on light rail. It takes too much time to load buses when passengers are tunneled to one door where they must pay with cash or swipe a card under the scrutiny of the driver. I have lived the last three years in Bratislava, Slovakia, where fast boarding and exiting are the norm. It takes fewer than 30 seconds to allow 20 people to get off and another 20 to get on a bus. Passengers buy tickets or passes in advance of the trip, and spot checkers are employed to assure that the system is not abused.

Second, the planners are not taking into account a future that will include self-driving cars. Major auto manufacturers, along with Google and others, are developing technologies that will allow greater flexibility and performance of cars, trucks, buses and roads. So, rather than building a 21st-century system based on streetcar technology, the Legislature and regional transportation planners should look to others who are promising far more sophisticated and flexible transit solutions.

Bill Fredell, Edina


Yet another misery for air travelers

Gambling at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the profits it may reap for the Metropolitan Airports Commission is not my concern ("MSP may widen gambling," Jan. 20). My concern is the focus on profit over the comfort of passengers as they wait to board flights.

By replacing ample passenger seating and waiting space (on the G Concourse, for example), with iPad-sprouting tables, the commission and airlines have created a cluttered mess for people waiting for flights. Add the attraction of electronic lottery games, and I see the comfort level deteriorating even more.

Isn't it enough that most passengers will be crammed into planes with cramped seating and stuffed overhead bins for the next several hours? Does anybody have any concern for the comfort of travelers who can't avail themselves of the relaxed atmosphere of airline sky clubs?



U.S. intelligence community: an analogy

So the leaders of the U.S. intelligence establishment "believe" that Edward Snowden must have had help from a foreign government. Am I the only one who thinks these folks look more like a group of well-dressed, smug adults standing around a small child in a high chair with scrambled eggs all over their faces and clothes, grousing that the baby must have had adult help?

M.H. DONAHUE, St. Paul