April 9, 2021
12 Candidates Run for District Council Board
Twelve candidates are running for 9 seats in this month's elections to the Como Community Council board. All eligible voters in District 10 can vote in these elections:
  • Chair: Jill Henricksen, Paula Lee Roberts
  • Secretary: Jennifer Nelson
  • At Large (3 seats): Sarah Reuter, Chad Smith, Jennifer Victor-Larsen, Alex Zikmund

Eligible voters in specific parts of the neighborhood can vote for candidates in their sub-district:
  • Sub-District 1 (west of Hamline, between Hoyt and the railroad tracks): Kevin Commerford, Morgan Weinert
  • Sub-District 2 (between Hamline and Victoria, Larpenteur to the railroad tracks): Maggie Zimmerman
  • Sub-District 3 (between Victoria and Dale, Larpenteur to the railroad tracks): Matthew Brown
  • Sub-District 4 (South Como and Energy Park): Benjamin Kowalsky-Grahek

You Can Start Voting Now
District 10 community members can vote from home now through Tuesday April 20. You can vote online, or by returning a paper ballot through the mail. (Because of restrictions on public gatherings, we still can’t schedule in-person voting.)

The first step in voting: Request a ballot. To get your ballot, fill out this application. We’re sending out ballots beginning today, Friday April 9. All ballots must be back at the District 10 office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday April 20.

Who is eligible to vote: Renters, homeowners, and other residents of District 10 who are at least 16 years old can vote. So can representatives from business, nonprofits, or other organizations with a physical presence in District 10.
Invasives Worm Their Way into State
The impact that invasive jumping worms can have on soils in Minnesota -- everything from our home gardens to our North Woods forests -- is the focus of Como Community Council's Environment Committee this week.

The discussion begins this Wednesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. As usual, we invite all renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members to participate. In order to abide by pandemic restrictions on public gatherings, the meetings take place via video conferencing or telephone, rather than in-person. If you want to join the discussion, email the District 10 office before 6 p.m. on the day of the meeting; staff will send you access information. 
Photo: Jumping worms have a smooth clitellum (ring) around their bodies. They also can be iridescent. Credit: Josef Gorres, University of Vermont
When They Say 'Food Scraps' Recycling, They Mean It
Ramsey County is making big changes to what is and what is not accepted at organics recycling sites, including at the District 10 community site on Beulah Lane in Como Park. In short, the sites now accept food scraps only. The change means the following items – which had been acceptable at community composting sites – no longer are allowed:
  • Paper bags
  • Pizza boxes and other food-soiled paper products
  • Egg cartons
  • Paper towels, napkins and tissues
  • “Compostable” carry-out containers, even if they are BPI-certified

All these items now should go in your trash. New signs will be installed in the next few months to reflect the change. See the county’s Food Scraps website for a complete list of what is allowed; scroll down to the “items accepted” link.

Among reasons for the change:
  • Food scraps produce higher-quality compost than mixed organics
  • Food composts more easily
  • The “food scraps only” requirement prepares for the scheduled launch in 2022 of residential pick-up, in which food scraps will be co-collected with trash in durable, compostable bags.
Read Brave Events Examine Immigration
Local immigration attorney Gloria Contreras Edin will present and answer questions about constantly changing U.S. immigration policies, and their impacts on families and communities, as part of the Como Community Council's 2021 Sunday Series. Her presentation is one of two programs in which the district council is a partner in connection with “Children of the Land,” one of the featured books in the Saint Paul Public Library’s Read Brave program. The details:
  • Sunday Series: Contreras Edin's presentation is next Sunday, April 18, at 2:30 p.m. Participation is free through Zoom, but advance registration is required.
  • Read the book: The Como Community Council has 15 copies of the book available to distribute for free (first-come, first-served). Email us and we’ll set one aside while supplies last. Or, read the e-book using the library’s Libby app, or download the audiobook.
  • Author visit: The Saint Anthony Park Branch Library Association is co-sponsoring an online discussion with the author, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, on Thursday April 22 from 7-8 p.m. Participation is free through Zoom, but advance registration is required.
Fairgrounds Will Become Huge Vaccination Site
Beginning this Wednesday, April 14, the Minnesota Department of Health intends to administer 3,000 coronavirus vaccines a day, 7 days a week, for the next 8 weeks at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The vaccines will be free to anyone age 16 or older who lives in one of 38 designated ZIP codes in the Twin Cities. If you live in one of the eligible ZIP codes, including 55103 and 55117, you can sign up for a vaccine appointment through the state’s Vaccine Connector website. Eventually, telephone appointments also will be available.

Paradoxically, residents who live in ZIP code 55108 – which includes the Fairgrounds and neighborhoods next to it – are not eligible through this vaccine program. That’s because this vaccine supply, which comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is focused on communities that have a high social vulnerability index. The index is one way the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is identifying traditionally underserved residents.

The vulnerability index measures socioeconomic factors including income, poverty and employment levels, housing conditions, household composition, racial and language characteristics, and access to transportation. As part of the equity emphasis, additional vaccine doses will be administered through community health clinics in neighborhoods with a high vulnerability index.
More Coronavirus Resources
If you live in 55108, or want to get a vaccine somewhere other than at the Fairgrounds:
  • Use the state’s Vaccine Locator, which is a searchable map and database that identifies pharmacies, clinics, and other vaccine providers.
  • Contact your health-care provider or employer.
  • Sign up for the state's Vaccine Connector. Once you register, the online tool notifies you when there are vaccines available nearby, and how to schedule a vaccine appointment. 

Meanwhile, new cases of Covid-19 are rising again. if you think you’ve been exposed:
  • Order a free saliva test for Covid-19, which you can administer at home.
  • Get tested nearby – or anywhere in the state. Free saliva testing is available at Roy Wilkins Auditorium; enter at 175 Kellogg Blvd. The site is open seven days a week: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends. Register in advance 
Recycle Smart: Keep Electronics, Batteries Out of Your Cart
Batteries and electronics do not belong in city recycling carts. Batteries are especially dangerous: They can start fires at sorting facilities. To properly dispose of these items:

Household batteries: They don’t belong in residential recycling or garbage collection carts. Instead, drop them off at a Ramsey County Hazardous Waste collection site, following these guidelines. Or take them to a business that recycles batteries.

Larger electronics (such as TVs, computer monitors and computer towers): These can be collected as a “bulky item” through Saint Paul trash collection. Contact your garbage hauler to schedule a pickup.

Other electronic items: Items with batteries that you cannot remove – such as certain cell phones, e-cigarettes, and electronic toothbrushes – should be taken to an electronics recycler such as Tech Dump, 860 Vandalia St. (there usually is a fee).
Pelicans Sweep into Our Neighborhood
Spring street sweeping is scheduled today, Friday April 9, in much of District 10 north and east of the lake. Expect more in the days ahead. Track when your block is scheduled. Remember:
  • Keep an eye out for the temporary “no parking” signs. On sweeping days, parking is banned from 8 a.m. until the signs are yanked.
  • Keep garbage and recycling carts off the street if it is a sweeping day; place them on your lawn or driveway instead.
  • Do not, do not, do not sweep leaves, thatch, or other yard waste into the street. It is illegal, and property owners can be ticketed. The city’s street sweepers are not intended to pick up large piles of leaves and debris. Excessive debris in the street slows down the pace and quality of work.
A Chance to Ambush Litter on April 24
The 35th annual Citywide Spring Cleanup takes place on Saturday April 24 from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Como Lakeside Pavilion and 20 other locations in Saint Paul. The Como Community Council will help the Parks and Recreation Department hand out supplies so individuals, families, and groups can coordinate to pick up litter around the neighborhood.

The event is outdoors, but public health guidelines – including masks and physical distancing – will be observed. Pre-registration is required
Get $20 Off a Compost Bin
Ramsey County residents can get a plastic, backyard compost bin for the discounted price of $46, while supplies last. You’ll have to pick up your bin May 1 in Maplewood. Get the details
We're Still Handing Out Food on Fridays
The Como Community Council and Sanneh Foundation will continue to distribute free food boxes today, Friday April 9, and every Friday afternoon this month. The food boxes are available to Ramsey County residents dealing with financial hardships because of Covid-19. 

Details: The fresh food boxes will be available in the north parking lot of Niem Phat Buddhist Temple, at Dale and Front. Distribution will be 1:30-3:30 p.m. (or until supplies run out). Reservations are highly recommended; to reserve your box, fill out this form before noon on distribution day. The boxes typically include fresh meat, dairy, and produce, plus gallons of milk.

Free food for pets, too: The Animal Humane Society will provide a month’s worth of dry Purina Dog Chow or Purina Cat Chow on Sundays April 11 and May 9 in Golden Valley, and Sundays April 25 and May 23 at its new Saint Paul location, 1159 University Ave. W. Find out more, including how to register in advance.
Also on the Calendar
  • This Monday, April 12: The Como Community Council’s Anti-Racism Work Group is pursuing a public art project that will examine the historic and continuing challenges of racially restrictive covenants that exist on property deeds in much of the neighborhood. If you want to help shape the project, join the online discussion at 7 p.m. Email the District 10 office; we’ll get you access information.
  • This Monday, April 12: Registration for youth summer camps and classes opens for North Dale, Northwest Como, and the city’s 25 other rec centers.
  • Ongoing: The University of Minnesota and JustUs Health are leading a survey seeking to identify the health needs of state residents age 50 or older who identify as LGBTQ.
Fewer Parking Lots in the Future?
Saint Paul is considering proposals that would reduce or eliminate off-street parking requirements in many situations. You can learn more at a webinar this Thursday, April 15, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. (it will be repeated on Tuesday April 20 from noon-1 p.m.) Register In addition, the Planning Commission holds a public hearing on the proposals on Friday April 30 at 8:30 a.m.

Neighborhood topics of note:
  • 1053 N. Dale: The Como Community Council’s Land Use Committee and Saint Paul’s Zoning Committee both are recommending the request to rezone the property at Dale and Edgar from R4 single-family to T2 traditional neighborhood. The recommendations go to the city’s Planning Commission next Friday, April 16, before heading to City Council. T2 allows a range of residential and commercial uses that are not allowed in residential districts. Potential uses include a multiple-family residential dwelling, or businesses such as general retail stores, specialty services, offices, and professional studios. Other types of businesses could be allowed with a conditional-use permit. The building currently houses offices. It was built in 1962, which predates the city’s existing zoning code, and is considered a legally nonconforming use. 
  • H&M Auto Body: The auto repair and paint shop licenses for this body shop at 867 Dale are up for renewal on April 18. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 1 Council Member Dai Thao.
  • Como Park Golf Course: The liquor, Sunday liquor, and entertainment licenses are up for renewal on April 18. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • Gabe’s By The Park: The liquor, Sunday liquor, entertainment, 2 a.m. closing, patio, and gambling licenses for the restaurant at Lexington and Energy Park Drive are up for renewal on May 5. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • Como Lakeside Pavilion: The liquor, Sunday liquor, outdoor liquor, and entertainment licenses for the restaurant now known as Dock & Paddle are up for renewal on June 4. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
  • Pope Automotive: The auto repair shop license for this business at 991 Front is up for renewal on June 13. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.

Coming up:
  • The mayor’s Community First Public Safety Commission plans two town halls (online) to collect public feedback about its yet-to-be-revealed draft recommendations for responding to what are now non-emergency police calls. The town halls are this Wednesday, April 14, from 7-9 p.m., and next Saturday, April 17, from 2-4 p.m.
  • The city is accepting new submissions from Saint Paul residents for the next round of sidewalk poetry. Up to 8 winners will be selected. The deadline for inspiration is April 25.
  • Comments on Saint Paul’s Homeless Services Zoning Study must be submitted in writing by Sunday May 2 at 5 p.m. Find details here

Don’t miss your chance:
  • The Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission holds a youth town hall on Thursday April 22 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The virtual event will explain how citizen complaints about police conduct are filed and handled, and invite youth participation and ideas about improving the process The event is free but advance registration is required.
  • The Saint Paul City Council is accepting applications to its Legislative Advisory Committee on Reparations. The committee will meet from July 2021 through June 2022 and set the groundwork for establishing a permanent reparations commission. Members will receive a stipend of $50 per meeting. The last day to apply is Friday April 30.
  • Saint Paul’s Truth-in-Sale of Housing Board has vacancies in six specific positions: legal, financial, architectural or engineering, building contractor, real estate, and general public. Board members meet quarterly and serve three-year terms. Learn more or apply
The Week Ahead on the Fairgrounds
USA Gymnastics Levels 3-5 Minnesota State Championship: This Friday-Sunday, April 9-11, Warner Coliseum. Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Admission: adults $15, students $10 (with masking and physical distancing required). 

Coronavirus vaccine distribution takes place every day beginning this Wednesday, April 14 (see the story above). Otherwise, public access is allowed at the main gate (Snelling at Dan Patch/Midway Parkway). Pedestrians and cyclists also can get in at the north end (through the Larpenteur and Hoyt gates) and at the west end (near the university Transit Way).
Streets -- and Crosswalks -- Are Not Feeling So Safe
An epidemic of fatal hit-and-run accidents, reduced staffing, DWI and distracted driving, street racing, and the usual tasks of speed and parking enforcement are making it a challenging time for the police department’s Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Unit. Commander Sheila Lambie spelled it out this week for the District 10 Land Use Committee – including how she, too, was rear-ended at 60 mph. Watch the video of her discussion with the committee.
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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.