After an uproar last year over crime and filth in the St. Paul skyways led to new city rules on their operation, officials say they aren’t hearing many complaints from downtown business owners and residents.
“It’s actually been remarkable, the drop-off in calls and e-mails we’ve been receiving,” said Council Member Rebecca Noecker, whose ward includes downtown. “This winter has just been radio silence.”
To deal with the slew of complaints last year, the city formed a Skyway Vitality Work Group, co-chaired by Noecker and then-deputy Mayor Kristin Beckmann. The goal was to fix the security and maintenance problems, then move on to making the skyways more vibrant, Noecker said.
In September, the council approved an ordinance that shortened skyway hours, created a “code of conduct” for visitors and required downtown business owners with skyway access to implement city-approved security plans.
The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections is in the process of collecting and reviewing the safety plans, and is also installing skyway maps and signs outlining the code of conduct, said department spokesman Robert Humphrey.
Meanwhile, Noecker and others are exploring other skyway improvements, from public art to events for kids.
“Now that we have a better handle on the security situation, I think we can move forward with some of the other issues,” said Andy Flamm, Skyway Governance Advisory Committee chairman.
Noecker said she wants to streamline the application process for events in the skyways, which are privately owned.
Flamm said he’d like to see more signage, including signs showing how long specific skyway doors are open. Visitors face a challenge year-round getting locked out of skyways, he said, but that could be a bigger problem this weekend, when some bars will be open until 4 a.m. but most skyways will close at midnight.
“We do get people on a regular basis complaining that there’s no way to know which doors are going to be open late into the evening,” Flamm said.