Why Dale Street can’t have nice things

Surely Ramsey County and some of the people it serves can come to an agreement over a once trash-strewn lot that neighbors have turned into an urban garden. It’s just a garden, after all.

The Pioneer Press’ Fred Melo writes today about the efforts of Metric Giles, of the Community Stabilization Project, who planted a garden where the Rock of Ages Missionary Baptist Church once stood on Dale Street. It was demolished by St. Paul in 2009.

It has, apparently, become the Garden of Passive Aggression. Ramsey County responded by putting up “no trespassing” signs, urging people to call the cops if anyone approached the zucchini.

The land was tax forfeited to the state, which appointed Ramsey County to maintain it.

“It even gets people walking by to pick up trash,” Giles told Melo. “When you see something nice, you want to complement it. This is the best upkeep of the lot since we moved in. From a place of aesthetics, I think it looks pretty good.”

What’s the problem? Just what you might think — liability. It’s safer for the county to have a trashy dump on the site than people who have signed a waiver of liability. Melo says the county is putting up signs around other tax-forfeited properties too.

“I don’t really think it has anything to do with the garden,” Linda Ji, an attorney for the church, which is suing the county over the demolition. “I think it has to do with the lawsuit we’re involved in right now. I don’t think the county is happy that the community members went to the church for permission to do the garden.”

“We don’t do them very often,” John Siqveland, a spokesman for the county said. “We do not have a policy for long-term uses of unsold properties once they come into our possession.”