Lake Gets Next Round of Treatment Monday
Capitol Region Watershed District shifts into high gear this week as it delivers an alum treatment to slash phosphorus loads and improve water quality in Como Lake.  It's high phosphorus levels -- three times the state standard -- that lead to algae blooms that suffocate the lake. Low oxygen leads to fish kills, strong odors, and green water. Sound familiar?

Beginning this Monday, May 18, a barge injects liquid alum below the surface. As alum settles through the lake, it becomes a floc (you can look that up). The fine particles chemically bind to phosphorus in the water and lock up sediments on the lake bottom. That keeps the phosphorus away from algae. Less phosphorus, less algae. 

Alum is safe for humans, pets and wildlife. There is no need to avoid contact with the water during or after application. Alum -- officially known as aluminum sulfate -- is used frequently to treat drinking water. You an also find it in baking powder and stomach antacids. 

Treatment is expected to take 3-5 days, depending on weather. Crews, storage tanks, and equipment will set up in the Duck Point parking lot beginning this Sunday, May 17. When treatment starts, white furrows will be visible in the water as the alum gets to work. The watershed district says visitors should see improvements in water clarity immediately, and see fewer algae blooms this summer. The treatment is expected to be effective for several years.

The watershed district is posting signs around the lake telling visitors what's going on, but you can find out more here.

Alum is the second tactic being tried this spring to re-balance the lake's ecosystem. In April and again in early May, the watershed district injected fluridone. That aquatic herbicide is intended to eradicate the destructive presence of curly-leaf pondweed. The pondweed is an invasive plant that now dominates the lake's vegetation and is a main internal source of phosphorus.
Absentee Voting Awaits Decision
The Como Community Council board plans to decide this Tuesday, May 19, how to allow absentee voting for 2020 board elections. An advisory committee is recommending a two-week window in June during which community members could vote by mail or by using an online ballot.

Under the draft proposal, eligible community members in District 10 would need to request a ballot. They would receive their choice of a paper ballot by mail, or be sent an email with a secure link to an online ballot.

Eligible voters would have to return the paper ballot or finish voting online by June 16. Under the recommendations, that is the date the board would hold its annual meeting by phone and video conference. There would be no in-person annual meeting and no in-person voting this year.

The ability to vote absentee will allow community members to participate in community elections more on their own timeline. The district council's existing bylaws allow voting only if you show up in person during the annual meeting, which was supposed to take place April 21. However, the board postponed the meeting and elections, in order to comply with Minnesota's ban on public gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Changing voting procedures requires changing the district council's bylaws, which the board also expects to do on May 19. Tuesday's meeting takes place remotely beginning at 7 p.m. All renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to participate via video conferencing or telephone. Members who want access information should email the District 10 office or call 651-644-3889. Preliminary agenda
Time is Running Out to Run
While exact details of elections and absentee voting are being finalized, the filing period remains open for a few more days for candidates interested in running for the Como Community Council board. The deadline to get on the ballot is this Tuesday, May 19.

Nine seats are up for election this year; in most positions, no incumbent is running, so you don't have to worry about trying to throw someone out. Learn more about the positions and how to apply.
Seed Library Bursts with New Options
The Como Community Seed Library is not letting some bloomin' virus derail its 2020 Garden Kickoff this Saturday, May 16. As usual, you still can arrange to exchange seeds, plant starts, divided perennials, or garden gear with other Como residents (just in safe and socially distanced ways).

New this year, in deference to our more remote existence, Ramsey County's Master Gardeners will debut their online, personal diagnostic service. They'll answer your plant and insect questions on Zoom between 3 and 4 p.m. You can join by video conference or by phone: call 651 372-8299; the meeting ID is 991 3985 8313.

Plus, the Seed Library promises Garden Vision -- a lineup of online garden-learning opportunities throughout the day:
  • Como resident, Master Gardener, and Wild Ones member Judi Petkau will talk about transforming her typical urban lawn to a sustainable native garden.
  • Anna McLafferty, of Hothouse Horticulture, will provide inspiration for gardening with kids.
  • Master Gardener and community cultivator Stephanie Hankerson will talk about perennial edibles on an urban site.
  • Artist Karine Rupp-Stanko, aka The Folding Bee, demonstrates a family-friendly art project made with items from around the house and repurposed from the recycling bin.
  • Landscape designer Thomas Rainer shares tips on gardening in a post-wild world.
It's all scheduled for this Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Get all the details, links, and connections on the seed library's Facebook page.
Citywide Drop-Off Cancelled (For Now)
Because of restrictions on public gatherings, Saint Paul is cancelling the Citywide Drop-Off events originally scheduled for June 6 at the State Fairgrounds and June 20 at Washington Technology Magnet School. The Como and North End district councils are working with the city's Public Works Department and vendors to try to reschedule the Fairgrounds event in August or September.

In the meantime, Saint Paul residents can get rid of some of their junk using the "bulky item" feature of their trash collection. Or, take items directly to a waste transfer station.
Taking It Slow
Saint Paul (and that other city) are reducing speed limits on many city-owned streets. That includes a new 20 mph limit on residential streets, and 25 mph on city-owned arterials.

To promote the change, residents can get a "20 is Plenty" sign for their front yard, side yard, or window. The Como Community Council will distribute the free signs in District 10 while supplies last. To reserve yours, just fill out this form. We'll contact you when Public Works has everything ready to go (probably in a few weeks).
Extend Yard Work Beyond Your Yard
The Adopt-A-Drain program and TPT have created a short video explaining the benefits of clearing our storm drains and gutters of leaves, grass clippings, and other debris. It takes 90 seconds -- go!
They're on Cloud Nine
In case you did not tune in, Nimbus was the overwhelming favorite in public voting for the name of the Dall's sheep born at Como Zoo April 25. Meanwhile, another Dall's sheet was born May 4; the zoo skipped the formalities and just named him Skywalker.
Keeping Track of Barricades
Como Boulevard West: Paving is supposed to finish up today, Friday May 15, on the portion of the one-way loop north of Horton Ave. It was closed while contractors fixed a sagging sanitary sewer line (which was still under warranty!).

Energy Park Drive: Look for a slalom course the next few weeks between Snelling and Lexington. The water department is steadily marching east, digging up and repairing hydrant connections and other facilities in preparation for Ramsey County's mill-and-overlay of the street this summer. 
Keeping Track of City Decisions
  • Today, Friday May 15, is the deadline to comment on the City of Saint Paul's Stormwater Permit Annual Report and Stormwater Management Program, 4 p.m. Email comments to Pat Murphy.
  • Como Park Senior High School is seeking zoning variances for new outdoor signs that are part of the school's multi-year renovation. The school's request goes to the city's Board of Zoning Appeals this Monday, May 18, at 3 p.m. You can submit comments by email before 2 p.m. today, Friday May 15. On Monday, you can view the BZA hearing online or listen in by phone: call 651-266-5758; the meeting ID is 90111238.
  • The City Council this week considers the request to rezone 1015 Bandana Blvd. from B3 general business to T3 traditional neighborhood. The rezoning would accommodate a proposal to build a 152-unit apartment building atop the existing parking ramp. Comments must be submitted by noon this Tuesday, May 19. Comments can be sent by email or by leaving a voice message at 651-266-6805. The council meets this Wednesday, May 20, at 3:30 p.m.; you can watch proceedings online.
  • A request to rezone 978 Front Ave. goes to the city's Zoning Committee this Thursday, May 21, at 3:30 p.m. The property's owners, Ted Benson and Janet Pope, are seeking to rezone the lot from B2 community business to T2 traditional neighborhood. The property, at the southwest corner of Front and Chatsworth, now is mixed use. The rezoning, in general, would allow a much wider range of residential uses than current zoning allows. You can submit comments on the request by email before noon May 21. To listen into the committee hearing, call 651-266-5758; the meeting ID is 12045672#.
  • City Council has delayed the public hearing on its proposed rental protections ordinance. It is now on the agenda for June 10 at 10 a.m.
Previously reported:
  • Foxtrot Burger Spot: The liquor and patio licenses for this restaurant at 1341 Pascal are up for renewal on June 1. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali.
  • Como Lakeside Pavilion: The liquor, entertainment, and patio licenses (currently being managed by Spring CafĂ©) are up for renewal on June 4. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 5 Councilmember Amy Brendmoen.
  • Pope Automotive: The garage license for this auto repair shop at 991 Front is up for renewal on June 13. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 5 Councilmember Amy Brendmoen.
  • Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: The liquor and Sunday liquor licenses are up for renewal on July 23. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali.
  • D&L Food and Gas: The gas station license for this business at 626 W. Larpenteur is up for renewal on July 28. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 5 Councilmember Amy Brendmoen.
Pandemic Resource Rundown
Coronavirus-related updates in the neighborhood, city, and beyond:
What Changes, What Doesn't
As Minnesota shifts from a "stay home" to a "stay safe" mindset this Monday, May 18, some things are changing. These include: We officially can hang out with more people -- if we keep it to groups of 10 or less. More businesses can open -- if they have a legitimate social distancing plan and keep their spaces below 50 percent capacity. We can do more things outdoors -- as long as we keep a few meters apart. We can take advantage of cheap gasoline -- as long as we don't wander too far from home.

A lot of things are not changing: On a personal level, it means we have to keep washing our hands often, stay at least 6 feet apart in public, wear a mask, stay home whenever we can, be aware of who our most vulnerable neighbors are, and get tested if we're sick (see details below). On a community level, it means churches, schools, restaurants, bars, hair salons, barbers, gyms, theaters, and sports stadiums still are basically off limits.

Returning to work: The state's Department of Employment and Economic Development has extensive FAQs for businesses and workers about what is required, what is allowed, and what is not. In short:
  • All workers who are able to work from home should continue to work from home.
  • Businesses that reopen must follow all federal, state, and occupational safety standards to create a safe and healthful environment for workers and customers.
  • Workers cannot be fired, laid off, or face other retaliation for raising safety and health concerns, for refusing to work under conditions they reasonably believe put them as risk for Covid-19, for participating in concerted activities addressing workplace safety and health issues, for filing a safety or health complaint, or for participating in an OSHA investigation.
Get more information: The state's Covid-19 portal 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 pandemic days. Also, District 10's website has all kinds of local pandemic resources (though, to be honest, we're having a hard time keeping it up to date).
Photo: Mayo Clinic
Virus Testing Available in More Places
The Minnesota Department of Health says anyone with Covid-19 symptoms now can get tested. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or a loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include GI issues such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.  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.; weekends 9 a.m.-5 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
  • M Health Fairview Saint Paul Clinic, 1690 W. University, Suite 570 (by appointment only): weekdays 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 
  • Minnesota Community Care, 424 Dorothy Day Place, weekdays 9:15-11 a.m. 651-793-2219
  • Minnesota Community Care, 895 E. 7th St. (by appointment only): Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. 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
What Else is New
  • MNsure: The state health insurance program has special enrollment periods for residents who are losing private insurance through their employer, or who are wrestling with a drop in household income and are newly eligible for advanced premium tax credits. In the first case, you've got to show that you lost qualifying health coverage in the past 60 days or that you will lose coverage in the next 60 days. In the second case, you've got to act within 60 days of your drop in income and show that you had qualifying insurance for at least part of the preceding 60 days.
  • Ramsey County: The county's Emergency Assistance (EA) and Emergency General Assistance (EGA) programs can help patch the hole the pandemic has put in the budget of qualifying adults. Emergency Assistance helps pregnant women and adults with children; Emergency General Assistance helps adults without children. For answers about eligibility, call 651-266-4884. Residents who are not currently receiving public assistance can apply online. Residents currently receiving public assistance should call their caseworker for a short application: 651-266-4444.
  • The county also holds its final two online "town halls" to answer pandemic-related questions from residents. The events run 4-5 p.m. using Zoom. The dates and topics:
    • This Monday, May 18: Community Corrections response and services
    • This Tuesday, May 19: Housing stability
  • Ramsey County Library: Cardholders can get free access to up to 10 movies, documentaries, or TV series each month through the streaming service Kanopy. Look for the link in the Digital Library section of the library's website .
  • Saint Paul: The city is outlining how it intends to spend about $6.1 million in new federal funding in response to the pandemic, and reallocate up to 12 percent of existing funding. Public comments on the "substantial amendment" to its Consolidated Plan are being taken until this Tuesday, May 19. Comments can be made by phone at 651-266-8545, sent by email, or sent by mail if they are postmarked by Tuesday.
  • Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber, SCORE Saint Paul, the city, the county, and a bunch of other organizations are creating Pay It Forward , a business mentor program to help local businesses stay afloat. Volunteers with financial and business experience will become "economic first responders," helping local business owners navigate Covid-19 relief opportunities. The Chamber's website has more information about volunteering or signing up for guidance.
  • Saint Paul Parks and Recreation: The start of registration for youth fall sports is pushed back from June 1 to July 1.
  • Saint Paul Public Library: A lot of musicians are doing watch parties from home; local songwriter Lucy Michelle is doing hers every Friday in partnership with the library. The first one is today, Friday May 15, at 4:30 p.m. on Facebook.
  • Saint Paul Regional Water Service: The utility is extending its ban on water shut-offs for 60 more days. That means they won't shut off your water for not paying your bill until at least mid-July. 
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.