Residents of our historic neighborhood have warmly welcomed newcomers since before Minneapolis was a city. Many of those newcomers were the ancestors of families that today are a mainstay of Our Lady of Lourdes Church. We are proud of this rich history — just as we are proud of the resurgence of our diverse neighborhood and the development that drives it. Still, the city has adopted clear land-use controls to balance new development with the preservation of the St. Anthony Falls Historic District and the contributing structures and spaces that represent the original fabric of this vibrant neighborhood (“Embrace change like Nye’s site proposal,” March 30).

A developer now proposes a 29-story tower with 189 apartments on one-half acre of land — threatening this careful balance by transforming the Nye’s site into one of the most densely populated apartment sites in the city. In fact, the density and the height of the current proposal are four times that allowed by the city’s zoning code.

Not only would the project seriously diminish the visual presence of the church as a landmark, but it threatens the very foundation on which the church sits — putting its structural integrity and irreplaceable contents at risk. Over 30 years ago, the construction of Riverplace and a city garage nearly brought the roof of the church down, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, the scars of which are still visible today. Residents of the neighborhood have petitioned the city to conduct an environmental assessment worksheet to determine the risk, including the potential for irreparable harm to this neighborhood — a neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places.

We know something will be built on the Nye’s site. Let’s make sure that its scale fits the historic district guidelines and fully complies with land-use and zoning controls.

Al Hofstede and Ralph Strangis, Minneapolis

The writers are trustees of Our Lady of Lourdes Church. Hofstede was mayor of Minneapolis in 1974-75 and 1978-79.

WAGES

$8.68 median for restaurant servers is specific — and real

To be sternly “corrected” by a March 27 letter writer who makes two mistakes in a quotation of just five words is a surreal experience, but I’ll limit my response to the grossest, most misleading error.

Dismissing our $8.68 median wage for restaurant servers as hopelessly inaccurate, the letter writer says she learned from someone at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (where we got the number) that it’s impossible to separate tipped workers from other low-wage workers in the hospitality industry. But no one who’s spent any time on DEED’s website (let alone a DEED employee) would ever say something so demonstrably wrong.

Our $8.68 median wage is from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) data that are compiled by DEED for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since the OES data were compiled by occupation, not by industry, the $8.68 median refers only to waiters and waitresses. No other restaurant occupations are included.

For readers who’d like to see the OES wage data for themselves, here’s a link: http://tinyurl.com/po3bxz5.

Kris Jacobs, executive director, JOBS NOW Coalition

 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

From Hobby Lobby to Indiana

It is surprising that no major pundit has established a link between the Indiana’s religious-freedom law and the irrational U.S. Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision. Political science students will probably use the terms “slippery slope” and “Pandora’s box” linking these issues when studying the Supreme Court and how it can negatively affect this nation’s temperament. The partisan nature of the current SCOTUS underscores one of the most important aspects of who is elected president — that is, appointments to our highest court. It is somewhat mystifying that this same court agreed to hear arguments about the use of the term “state” in the Affordable Care Act.

James Stathopoulos, Burnsville

• • •

The biggest shame about Indiana passing a law that gives business owners the right to refuse service is that there needs to be a law.

James M. Becker, Lakeville

 

GERMANWINGS CRASH

Perspective on mental health

While the Germanwings crash in France was unfortunate, it is important to remember that a majority of those with mental health issues are good people who, with the right medications and treatment, can work and live very normal lives.

Kristine Murray, Minneapolis