October 16, 2020
Learn about County’s Use of Hotels as Homes
County Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo gives an update to the Como Community Council board this week about Ramsey County’s efforts to house unsheltered people in hotels and other available indoor facilities (including the Best Western in Bandana Square). Her presentation is this Tuesday, Oct. 20, beginning at 7 p.m. There will be time for questions.

As always, all renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to participate via video conferencing or telephone; to join, email the District 10 office. Staff will send access information. Preliminary agenda
Making a Difference on the Ground
With vegetation thinning out, we’re offering one more chance this season for you, friends, or family to head out for a DIY clean-up of the Como Lake shoreline, bluffs, and woodlands (however you want to define them). You can use your own supplies, or borrow what you need from us, including rakes, grabbers, buckets, trash bags, nitrile and canvas gloves, or safety vests.

If you’re interested, register by this Saturday, Oct. 17. You can pick up what you need that morning, then do your clean-up anytime this week.
Every Neighborhood Has a Story: Let’s Discover Ours Together
Are you good at sharing good stories? Can you take photos that even the people in the picture like? Do you like talking with interesting people?

Then you could be exactly who we are looking for to help unleash our new project: Know Your Como.

At the Como Community Council, we want to highlight neighbors who do things (or who bring the kinds of energy) that make this a better place. We plan to share their stories in our newsletter, on social media, and on our website. The goal of this project is to celebrate and appreciate the large and small contributions of our neighbors, and the diversity that makes Como a special place for all of us.

But first, we need the people who can collect the stories. So, if you can:
  • Interview
  • Write
  • Photograph
  • Draw
  • Bring another creative or practical skill that can bring these neighbors to light…

Email us. We’ll help you assemble a team and turn you loose.
Trying to Have Fun in a Frightening Time
This is the last weekend to sign up for District 10’s Spooky Decoration Celebration. We’re encouraging individuals, entire blocks, or entire apartment buildings to go skull to skull in some friendly competition, get creative, and make your homes as spooky as you can for Halloween.

But get your registration in by this Sunday, Oct. 18. Beginning Monday, we’ll post a map and ask residents to vote for their favorites in three categories: best house, best apartment, and best block or apartment building. The winners of the Neighbors Choice Award get cookies and – more importantly – bragging rights for the whole year. Sign up now
If You Want to Vote from Home, Act Now
If you intend to vote from home in the Nov. 3 election, the League of Women Voters recommends that you request your absentee ballot no later than this Tuesday, Oct. 20. That is two weeks before Election Day, which in theory allows enough time to receive your ballot, fill it out, and return it.

All eligible Minnesota residents who already are registered can vote early, whether you prefer to do that in person or by mail. (However, if you are not already registered, you can’t vote early; you’ve got to wait until Nov. 3 and vote in person.)

Here's a quick, step-by-step guide for Ramsey County residents to navigate this year’s election. It's got information on how to:
  • register (or update your voter registration)
  • vote early in person
  • request a mail ballot, figure out your options for returning your ballot by mail or in person, and even track your ballot
  • find out who is on your ballot
  • find out where to find out other voting information
Kids, Need a Winter Coat? Now’s the Time
A couple of weeks ago, Como residents donated scores of coats and other winter gear for kids. Now the Salvation Army is ready to distribute those donations from you and others. To request clothing for children in your circle, call 651-776-2652. Distribution will be Thursdays and Fridays from 9-11:30 a.m. by appointment only, while supplies last.
A Time and Place for Everything
Yeah, we encourage you to rake leaves. But if you bag your leaves instead of composting them at home, please take your leaves to a Ramsey County yard waste site. Please do not leave them at the neighborhood organics recycling site on Beulah Lane. The site is set up to handle food scraps (and pizza boxes), not yard waste.

What about pumpkins, you ask? Regardless of how many pies, muffins, and other delectables you make with your pumpkins, do not leave them at the Beulah Lane site, either. Instead, take them to a county yard waste site, too. Give pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, etc. a proper burial in a mountain of leaves, not in a food scraps bin. (Don’t forget to take out candles and decorations before you do so.)
Recycle Smart: Keep It Loose
And while we're listing things you shouldn't do: Want to make sure everything in your blue recycling cart actually gets recycled? Then keep it loose. Bagging your cans, bottles, paper, plastic cartons, etc. may make it easier on your end. But bags make it more difficult to sort at the recycling plant.

Collecting everything in a plastic bag is the worst. But even throwing recyclables in a paper bag makes it hard to separate items. The sad result? What you intend to recycle could end up in the incinerator.
Mayor Leads Conversations about Looking Forward
Mayor Melvin Carter wraps up his series of “Forward Together” virtual community conversations with six sessions this week. The free one-hour sessions, held remotely via Microsoft Teams, are open to the public to provide “feedback and input about community needs in 2021.” You must register in advance. The remaining schedule:
  • This Wednesday, Oct. 21: 5-6 p.m. or 6-7 p.m.
  • This Thursday, Oct. 22: 10-11 a.m.
  • Next Friday, Oct. 23: 9-10 a.m.
  • Next Saturday, Oct. 24: 10-11 a.m. or 11 a.m.-noon
Photo by Scott Takushi
City Creating Robotics Competition for Kids
Saint Paul is forming a robotics league in 2021 for students in 5th-8th grades. Teams will meet Thursdays from 6:30-8 p.m.; build days will be on the weekend. No experience is required; participation is free through the Minnesota STEM Partnership. (The partnership is also creating a league for high school students.) Register here
Finding the Same Language on Equity
The Como Community Council’s Sunday Series continues next Sunday, Oct. 25, with the free presentation “Our Justice System and Race Equity.” The district council’s Anti-Racism Work Group welcomes Richard McLemore II.

McLemore is a Circle Keeper with Saint Paul’s “ETHOS” diversion program, was director of Ujamaa Place (a culturally-specific organization focused on young black men in the criminal justice system), and is a board member for We Are All Criminals and the Dispute Resolution Center. Among other restorative justice activities, he leads workshops on mental and emotional healing for practitioners at state and federal prisons, juvenile facilities, and county jails across the nation. And that's not the beginning of the story.

McLemore’s online presentation is Oct. 25 from 1-2:30 p.m. To take part, register in advance; we’ll send you access information shortly beforehand.

  • Did you play hooky during last Sunday’s presentation by Lissa Jones-Lofgren, “Equity in Community: Getting Our Language Right”? View a recording on your own time.
More Businesses Can Seek Covid Grants
Saint Paul is setting aside more federal pandemic-relief money to support three distinct groups of businesses: those that provide support services to small businesses; live music venues and movie theaters; and food halls. In general, the funds can reimburse businesses for rent or mortgage payments, utilities, payroll, and some employee benefits incurred between March 1 and Sept. 30. But hurry: Applications are due by this Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 5 p.m.

(In addition, the city is allocating more money to small businesses that applied in spring for a Bridge Fund grant, but didn’t get one, and to arts and cultural organizations that applied this fall for a Cultural STAR operating grant, but didn’t get one or didn’t get enough. Recipients will be selected from previous applicants.)
The Latest Dirt
  • Como Ave.: Pascal is supposed to re-open between Como and Albany this Monday, Oct. 19. Otherwise, it’s more of the same. Como remains closed from Hamline west to Arona. Breda, Albany, and Almond remain barricaded at Hamline and at Arona in an attempt to prevent cut-through traffic. West of Arona, one lane of Como is open in each direction, though construction continues to Raymond.
  • On the city's western border, Como remains closed at Brompton. That means detouring to Larpenteur or Energy Park Drive if you need to get to Highway 280. However, expect even more asphalt to make an appearance this week.
  • Dale St.: More pavement and sidewalks go in this week, but the county road remains restricted to one lane in each direction between University and Carroll, as reconstruction of the bridge over Interstate 94 continues. Ramps to and from I-94 are closed, but lanes on I-94 are back to full capacity. Access from Dale to some nearby east-west streets is cut off.
  • Energy Park Drive: Final striping – which reconfigures vehicle and bicycle lanes – is scheduled for this week.
Fairgrounds are Open to Stroll or Roll
The Minnesota State Fairgrounds again are open for walkers and cyclists during daylight hours. You can walk or ride in through the main gate at Snelling and Midway Parkway/Dan Patch, and at the gates at Hoyt, Larpenteur, or the university Transit Way. Vehicles can use only the main gate. There is no through traffic, but you can park.

Meanwhile, training for city and county snowplow drivers is over; now it’s time for MnDOT plow drivers. They will use the parking lots south of Como and in the Midway through Nov. 6.
We Read the Paperwork So You Don’t Have To
City Council gets its first official look this Wednesday, Oct. 21, at proposed trash collection fees for 2021. Overall, the rates would be higher than in 2020, but lower than in 2019. However, you have to do math to figure that out, because the ordinance language doesn’t include county and state environmental charges; those charges boost what we pay by 37.75 percent. There will be a public hearing on the proposed rates in November. For now, here's a peek at the rates (per unit per month; our calculations include the additional county and state charges):
  • Small cart, every other week: $19.74 (up from $19.20 now, down from $20.28 in 2019)
  • Small cart, every week: $23.01 (up from $22.43 now, down from $23.44 in 2019)
  • Medium cart, every week: $31.62 (up from $31.03 now, down from $32.02 in 2019)
  • Large cart, every week: $33.74 (up from $33.15 now, down from $34.15 in 2019)
Consolidated Plan: The city is amending its 2019 and 2020 Consolidated Plan Annual Action Plans, which outline how Saint Paul addresses housing and community development needs using funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The proposed amendments increase  administrative funding and reduce project funding by $262,208.70 in the 2019 plan and by $284,395.80 in the 2020 plan. You might be able to find details on the city web page (though nothing was obvious when we sent this newsletter). The public comment period runs this Sunday-Thursday, Oct. 18-22. For questions or comments, contact Julie Hostak by email or phone: 651-266-8545.
Meanwhile, there's still time to have your say on these items:
Things Worth Knowing About
  • This Tuesday, Oct. 20: Senior Stroll, Como Zoo and Conservatory, 9-10 a.m. Advance registration and Covid safety practices are required. Free. Also scheduled for Tuesdays Nov. 17 and Dec. 15.
  • Next Friday, Oct. 23: 100-Year Kickoff, 5-7 p.m. Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Pascal at Albany. The congregation begins celebrating its first century with a family-friendly community event including the Taqueria El Victor food truck, hot apple cider, fire pits, free t-shirts, and more.
  • Next Friday-Sunday, Oct. 23-25: Dock & Paddle’s “Harvest by the Lake” festival. The event promises music, seasonal and festival food, unusual cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages, a hay bale maze for youngsters, and a pumpkin-carving contest. Hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. each day. Admission is $5 for teens and adults, $3.50 for children 12 or younger (admission includes a beverage or dessert). Reservations are encouraged; you can get tickets at the restaurant or online (which adds a service fee).
  • Next Saturday, October 24: Free Covid testing, 1-6 p.m. Aldrich Arena, 1850 White Bear Ave., Maplewood. Repeats on Oct. 31. Registration begins this Monday, Oct. 19.
  • Thursday-Friday, Oct. 29-30: Free Covid testing, 2-6 p.m. United Church of God in Christ, 277 N. Lafayette Frontage Road. Register
  • Friday Oct. 30: Halloween Hi, 6-7 p.m. Northwest Como Rec Center, 1550 N. Hamline. A walk-by trick-or-treat opportunity (and a chance to “say hi” to rec center staff). Wear a mask, get a treat. Register in advance
  • Sunday Nov. 1: Open enrollment begins for MNsure; however, you can compare plan options now, based on where you live.
Workshops Keep Yourself, Your Home Safer
Saint Paul Police are offering two crime prevention workshops this week online:
  • Personal safety: How to keep yourself safe at home, on the street, and at work. Monday Oct. 19, 6-7 p.m.
  • Preventing burglary: Changes you can make in locks, doors, lighting, fencing, landscaping and more to keep your home safer. Wednesday Oct. 21, 6-7 p.m.
The workshops are free, but you must register in advance.
Spread the word
You are receiving this email because you expressed interest in District 10 activities.

District 10 is one of Saint Paul's 17 citizen participation districts. The District 10 Como Community Council is a nonprofit organization, governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who are elected directly by members of the community. As a district council, we work to improve and enjoy life where we live. We provide the glue behind neighborhood action, and combine the voices of renters, homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits who want to accomplish things.