Like herding, umm ... It seems that everyone was out for a stroll last weekend, including these families of Canada geese. They were on Grotto, though we're not sure where they were coming from or headed to.
Bird Sightings in Park Soar
Mallards were the most frequently sighted species during the 2019 bird survey. 
There are now far more bird species around Como Lake and the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, according to a just completed, yearlong survey. But it's uncertain how much can be credited to improved habitat.

The new bird survey, carried out by 15 community volunteers from February 2019 through January 2020, counted 109 species around the lake and 80 species in the Woodland. That's a big increase from a similar 2006 survey, which counted 84 species around the lake and 48 species in the Woodlands. Thirty-four of the lake species and 40 of the Woodland species were not spotted at all in 2006. (On the flip side, nine species at the lake and eight species in the Woodland were seen in 2006 but not in 2019.)

Como resident Mike MacDonald, who organized the latest bird survey, said results from 2006 and 2019 can't be compared directly. The areas surveyed were similar, but the latest effort had far more volunteers who recorded sightings over much broader ranges of the day, for example. That, at least in part, could explain the 30 percent increase in species around the lake and 67 percent increase in the Woodland.

But so could improvements in habitat. In the years between the surveys, Como Lake's shoreline was converted almost entirely to native vegetation, which replaced turf grass, rip rap, and invasive plants. The restoration reduced polluted runoff that reached the lake, and cut down on the dominance of harmful wildlife such as geese. The Woodland also underwent extensive work to remove invasive species, to support a more varied plant community, and to create six distinctive areas representing plant communities found in southern Minnesota.

This survey will be one topic talked about at District 10's  Environment Committee meeting. The meeting is this Wednesday, May 13, at 7 p.m. To conform with public health directives restricting public gatherings, this meeting will take place remotely. All renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to participate via video conference or telephone.

Any community member who wants to participate should  email the District 10 office or leave a phone message at 651-644-3889. Staff will send access information.
Como High wants to add a 10-by-12-foot logo, made of perforated brushed aluminum, to its chimney. 
Committee Supports Sign Requests
The Como Community Council's Land Use Committee voted May 6 to:
  • Support variances Como Park Senior High School is seeking for new outdoor signs, part of the school's multi-year renovation. The main variance would allow the school to mount a 10-by-12-foot version of its Cougar logo 60 feet up the chimney, facing the intersection of Rose and Grotto. Existing zoning forbids signs higher than 30 feet above grade. The school also wants to add name and address signs above the main entrance and on the wall facing Rose; combined, those signs exceed the total size allowed in zoning code. None of the signs is lighted. The school's request goes to the city's Board of Zoning Appeals, which holds a hearing on Monday May 18 at 3 p.m. Public comment can be submitted by email before next Friday, May 15, at 2 p.m.
  • Support rezoning of 978 Front Ave. from B2 Community Business to T2 Traditional Neighborhood. The property, at the southwest corner of Front and Chatsworth, now is mixed use -- with a dog-training business on the first floor and residential on the second floor. Como residents Ted Benson and Janet Pope, who own the property, say the rezoning would give them more residential options than they have now. Their request goes to the city's Zoning Committee on Thursday May 21. Public comment on the request can be sent by email before noon that day. 
  • Send a letter of support for the Neighborhood STAR grant application for further improvements of the Brasavola Building, 1053 N. Dale (the northwest corner of Dale and Edgar).
  • Send a letter of support to the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority for $22.5 million in conduit revenue bonds that Hmong College Prep Academy is seeking to add a middle-school building on land it owns at the southwest corner of Pascal and Brewster.
Looking ahead: At its June 3 meeting, the Land Use committee will discuss submitting a formal request to the city to "activate" the existing State Fair parking and vending overlay districts during the annual Back to the 50s event as well.
Got a spark of inspiration?
You've Got Inspiration? We've Got a Plan
Got an artistic idea that can unite and inspire Como residents during the coronavirus pandemic? Now's your last chance

The Como Community Council is calling local artists to submit ideas of a visual or phrase (or combination) that is uplifting, represents our community, and maybe even fun! The council will turn around, turn it into lawn signs and prints, and sell them to raise money for a local organization struggling during these days of Covid. We want to turn this around quickly so, here are the details:
  • Submit your ideas for an image or phrase by this Sunday, May 10.
  • It's got to fit on a standard lawn sign, which means 24-by-18 inches (or vice versa).
  • Email a PDF to the D10 office. It doesn't have to be a final, perfect version. But it should be close enough that we know what we're getting.
D10 board members will make their choice, then work with the artist and local businesses to get the signs into production.

For folks who aren't right-brained: We're also taking suggestions on where we should donate proceeds. You can email us your recommendation (and the reasons why), also by this Sunday, May 10.
This baby Dall needs a name.
Vote Now -- They Make a Decision Today
Will it be Cyclone, Lightning, or Nimbus? Como Zoo's new Dall's sheep -- born last month -- needs a name. Voting is still open, but hurry: The name will be announced during the Zoo's daily Como Live feed on Facebook today, Friday May 8, sometime after 1:30 p.m.
Still Time to Run for D10 Board
While exact details of elections are being worked out, the filing period remains open for candidates interested in running for the Como Community Council board.

Nine seats are up for election this year. In most of the positions, no incumbent is running, so it's not like you would be trying to throw someone out. Learn more about the positions and how to apply. The new deadline to file: Tuesday May 19.
Yes, You Could Be Appointed
Saint Paul is accepting applications from residents for its new Labor Standards Advisory Committee. The 16 committee members will oversee implementation and development of the city's new minimum wage and earned safe and sick time ordinances.

The labor standards group is among the more than two dozen city committees, commissions, and specialized boards filled by community volunteers. Some require specialized expertise; some are allocated based on ward, legislative district, or other geographic criteria; some require specific demographic representation; some are wide open (though city residents get preference). Typically, members are appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council. The panels usually meet once or twice a month. Some offer stipends. You can get full details -- including how to apply -- by clicking through the list.

Some higher-profile groups that require representation from each neighborhood are among those seeking new members. They include:
  • Capital Improvement Budget Committee: 8 vacancies (including at least one seat from Senate District 66, which covers District 10).
  • Neighborhood STAR: 6 vacancies (including one seat from Ward 1 and one seat from Ward 5)
  • Planning Commission: 7 vacancies (including two seats from Ward 1 and one seat from Ward 4)
Seed Library Finds a Work-Around
The Como Community Seed Library is not letting some bloomin' virus derail its 2020 Garden Kickoff. Instead, the library is arranging safe and socially distanced ways to exchange seeds, plant starts, divided perennials, and garden gear. Plus, there will be garden learning opportunities online throughout the day.

It's all scheduled for next Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Stay tuned for more details on the seed library's Facebook page.
Keeping Track of City Paperwork
  • The City Council votes this Wednesday, May 13, on applications for a liquor license, Sunday liquor license, and entertainment license for the Essence Event Center, a catering and event hall that expects to open at 1217 Bandana Blvd. N.
  • In preparation for seeking Community Development Block Grant funds from the federal government, Saint Paul must submit an environmental review record for each project. Members of the public can file comments about the environmental review by this Thursday, May 14. Send them to: Julie Hostak, Grants Specialist, 1100 City Hall Annex, 25 W. 4th St., Saint Paul, MN 55102 or send an email.
Work Moves Closer on Energy Park Drive
Don't be surprised if you face a slalom course the next few weeks on Energy Park Drive between Lexington and Snelling. The water department is steadily marching east from Raymond, digging up and repairing facilities in preparation for Ramsey County's mill-and-overlay of the street this summer.  Otherwise, n o significant changes on other nearby projects:
  • Como Lake Drive remains closed at least while pandemic restrictions remain in place.
  • Dale Street is a slow go while Ramsey County replaces the bridge over Interstate 94. Most of the most visible work is on the east side of Dale, as the new bridge and retaining walls are being built.
Cut the Risk of Kitchen Fires
More of us are cooking more often than we used to. Some safety tips from the Saint Paul Fire Department:
  • The leading cause of kitchen fires is cooking that's left unattended.
  • Most cooking fires occur on the stovetop.
  • If you are frying, grilling, or broiling food, stay in the kitchen. If you are baking, roasting, boiling, or simmering food, check it regularly and set a timer so you don't forget.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, wooden utensils, towels, packaging) away from the stovetop.
  • If you have an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • Keep a lid nearby to smother a small grease fire. Slide the lid over the pan to smother the flames, turn off the stovetop, and keep the pan covered until it cools.
  • Never throw water on a grease fire. Never try to carry a grease fire out of the kitchen. 
This week's Como community crime update: Criminals targeted southern parts of the neighborhood

Pandemic Resource Rundown
Coronavirus-related updates in the neighborhood, city, and beyond:
  • The Sheridan Story distributes free food today, Friday May 8, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in Roseville's Unity Park, 1716 Marion St. The distribution includes bags for specific ethnic preferences or needs.
  • Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is opening some basketball and tennis courts through a pilot program designed to safely reintroduce amenities at local parks. This includes the tennis courts at North Dale Recreation Center. Staff known as the Rec Engagement Crew will educate and encourage park visitors to practice social distancing and other recommended public health directives. 
  • Ramsey County is hosting six online "town halls" to answer questions from residents. The events happen each day from 4-5 p.m. using Zoom. The dates and topics:
    • This Monday, May 11: Emergency assistance 
    • This Tuesday, May 12: Mental health, crisis, and emotional services for children and adults 
    • This Wednesday, May 13: Veterans assistance and health care 
    • This Thursday, May 14: Public health services 
    • Monday, May 18: Community Corrections response and services
    • Tuesday, May 19: Housing stability
  • Saint Paul is expanding its volunteer force, designed to support community members who can't meet their basic needs during the coronavirus pandemic because of their age, mobility issues, limited income, or other factors. Find out more about Neighbors Helping Neighbors, or just sign up now.
  • The Medical Reserve Corps of Ramsey County also is seeking volunteers to serve a variety of roles; they'll provide training.
  • The Saint Paul Public Library continues to add resources while buildings are closed. These include the Open Lab line (651-212-5390) for home technology help; free resources for business planning, market research, and finding grants for nonprofits; and phone support from a licensed social worker weekdays from 1-4 p.m. -- call 651-300-9305 or send an email.
  • The Minnesota Department of Health's hotline now operates daily from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903. 
  • As always, the state's Covid-19 dashboard is an easy place to get big picture and up-to-date details, find Minnesota's latest pandemic statistics, and collect or link to oodles of other information and advice during these "stay at home" days.
How You're Supposed to Use Disinfectants
Want to make sure you are cleaning safely and effectively? Follow these guidelines from Ramsey County Environmental Health:
  • Start by cleaning surfaces with a detergent or soap and water. Then use the disinfectant.
  • Do not mix cleaning products; that can create dangerous fumes.
  • Do not ingest cleaners or disinfectants. They are dangerous, potentially even deadly.
  • Use proper protection when cleaning; that includes wearing "rubber" gloves.
  • Make sure the room is well-ventilated. Open a window or turn on a fan first.
  • Do not clean when children are nearby.
  • Place cleaning wipes in the trash, not the toilet. They can clog your toilet and sewer lines.
  • Store cleaners and disinfectants in their original container, so you know what it is and how to use it.
  • Keep all chemical products out of reach of young children.
Photo: Mayo Clinic
Coronavirus Test Sites Expand
As Minnesota scales up the availability of Covid-19 testing, nearby sites include:
  • Allina Health, 4194 Lexington Ave. N, Shoreview (by appointment only): weekdays 8 a.m.-4 p.m. 651-483-5461
  • HealthPartners, 205 S. Wabasha (by appointment only): weekdays 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; weekends 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 952-967-5584
  • Minnesota Community Care, 424 Dorothy Day Place, weekdays 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. 651-793-2219
  • Minnesota Community Care, 895 E. 7th St. (by appointment only): Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, noon-4 p.m.; Wednesdays-Thursdays, noon-8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 a.m.-noon. 651-602-7500
  • Open Cities Health Center, 916 Rice: Mondays and Wednesdays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 651-290-9200
  • Open Cities Health Center, 409 N. Dunlap: weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 651-290-9200
Website Builds Pandemic Resource Guide
District 10's website continues to compile a guide to all kinds of local pandemic resources. We can't list everything, but we can try to save you time. Resources include: 
  • How and where to volunteer or otherwise do good deeds locally
  • How and where to get food you need (or crave) -- whether it's groceries, a carry-out meal, food for children, or supplies from a food shelf
  • Where to track down unemployment benefits, cash assistance, emergency child care, mental health resources, state and federal business loan programs, rental advice, and more
  • How to tap into the online resources of local libraries, the Zoo and Conservatory, and other public institutions
Spread the Word
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 Board of Directors who are elected by members of the community. The Council's mission is to inform, educate, and connect the neighborhood to increase community pride and confidence. 
You are receiving this email because you expressed interest in District 10 activities.