October 9, 2020
Speaking the Same Language on Equity
The Como Community Council’s Sunday Series returns this weekend with the free presentation “Equity in Community: Getting Our Language Right.” The guest speaker is Lissa Jones-Lofgren, a long-time presenter in the Twin Cities on the intersection of black history and present-day thought. Among other activities, Jones-Lofgren is creator of “Urban Agenda” on KMOJ-FM, host of the podcast “Black Market Reads,” and a member of Saint Paul’s Racial Equity Advisory Workgroup.
Her online presentation runs this Sunday, Oct. 11, from 1-2:30 p.m. To take part, register in advance; we’ll send you access information shortly beforehand.

Looking ahead: On Oct. 25, the district council’s Anti-Racism Work Group welcomes Richard McLemore II. His topic: “Our Justice System and Race Equity.”
Encouraging Neighborhood Fun in a Frightening Time
Have you signed up your home or street yet 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 their homes as spooky as they can for Halloween. Beginning Oct. 19, we’ll 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 gets cookies and – more importantly – bragging rights for the whole year. Sign up now
Who’s Really Living in Those Sky Rises?
District 10’s Environment Committee meets this Wednesday, Oct. 14. Topics include a research update about the Pollinator Sky Rises that are installed in Como Park, the University of Minnesota campuses, and Phalen Park.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. 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

Coming up: County Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo gives an update to the Como Community Council board on Tuesday Oct. 20 about Ramsey County’s efforts to house unsheltered people in hotels (including the Best Western in Bandana Square) and other available indoor facilities. The presentation begins at 7 p.m.
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 before next Saturday, Oct. 11. You can pick up what you need that morning, then do your clean-up anytime in the following week.
At Least One Thing is Normal This Year
Next weekend is MEA Weekend. For those of you not blowing out of town, Parks and Recreation is offering special activities next Thursday-Friday, Oct. 15-16, to entertain primary-grade children when there’s no class. Get details or register
  • A half-day of free activities for children in grades 1-5 is offered from 1-5 p.m. each day at Frogtown Community Center, Langford Park, and 11 other locations.
  • A full day of activities for children in grades 1-5 is offered for $10 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day at North Dale and three other locations.
  • S’More Fun Childcare, for children in kindergarten to grade 5, runs 7 a.m.-6 p.m. each day at two locations. Cost is $40.
Does Your Definition of ‘Family’ Match the City’s?
Saint Paul is looking at redefining “family” in the city’s zoning code. Three options are under consideration, with different combinations of how many legally-related adults and unrelated adults could constitute a single household. The intent, in theory, is to better accommodate multi-generational families, extended families, and families sharing living space in order to afford housing.

You can get more details or express your preference and comments in advance. The Planning Commission has scheduled an official public hearing for Nov. 13.
Fires Can Cause a Neighborly Chill
Colder weather and earlier nights make it more tempting to build a backyard fire. Just remember: smoke from recreational fires can bother neighbors -- and be a health risk, especially to elderly residents, young children, and those with asthma or chronic health issues. Recreational fires are legal in the City of Saint Paul, if they meet certain conditions. Conditions include:
  • Fires can be no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high. Fires larger than that require a burn permit.
  • You cannot burn garbage, paper products, leaves, grass clipping, plastics, treated lumber, or construction lumber in a backyard fire.
  • Fires must be at least 25 feet from any building or from any combustible material, unless they are in an approved container. Fires in an approved container must be at least 15 feet from a building or combustible material.
  • You must stay with a fire until it completely burns out or you extinguish it. There must be a way to extinguish a fire, and someone present who knows how to do it.
Burning green or wet wood, or burning leaves or other illegal material, produces more smoke and noxious fumes. If your fire does this, it's considered a public nuisance; that means the fire department could put it out for you.
You can still promote the new, lower residential speed limits in Saint Paul with a "20 is Plenty" sign for your front yard, side yard, or window. The Como Community Council is distributing the free signs in District 10 while supplies last. To reserve yours, fill out this form
You can still order our "Como Kindness" lawn signs. Suggested donation is $15. After we cover costs, proceeds go to the Como Park block nurse program, which works to handle the health-care and everyday needs of neighborhood seniors. Order yours here
State Wants Your Advice About Climate Change
The state’s Climate Change Subcabinet is seeking citizen input on the approaches and priorities it should pursue to address resiliency, a transition to clean energy, and changes that are manifesting as warmer winters, warmer nights, and more precipitation with heavier downpours. One place to share your thoughts: this survey.
You Can Also Give Advice to the City
Earlier this year, after a series of presentations and discussions, the Como Community Council urged the City of Saint Paul to weigh in officially with the state Public Utilities Commission on Xcel Energy’s plans for generating electricity over the next 15 years. In part, board members urged the city to urge the state to deny Xcel's request to build a new gas power plant, and instead invest more in renewable energy and storage technology. (Legally, the city grants Xcel’s parent company franchise rights to provide electricity in the city.)

Now, a citizens’ advocacy group -- Saint Paul 350 – is asking Saint Paul residents individually to sign a pledge card making the same request to the City Council. The state is taking public comment on Xcel’s Integrated Resources Plan until Jan. 15, 2021.
Watershed District Could Fund Your Idea
Capitol Region Watershed District is accepting applications for its 2021 Partner Grant and Stewardship Grant programs. The programs help individuals, homeowners, businesses, schools, and community organizations carry out educational initiatives, or actual projects that improve water quality or fight stormwater pollution. 
  • Partner Grants range from $1,000-$20,000; the application deadline is Nov. 1.
  • Stewardship Grants range from $300-$40,000; applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
Absolutely, You Can Vote Now
Early voting is still available for the Nov. 3 elections. All eligible Minnesota residents can vote early, whether in person or by mail. Unlike in the old days, you don't need a reason (or to make up an excuse) to vote early. Here's a quick, step-by-step guide. 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 even more voting information
The Latest Dirt
Como Ave.: Progress is clearly visible: East of Arona, sidewalks are in, grading is in place for the new bike trail, and curbs are taking shape on the street. West of Arona, Como is open in both directions, though construction continues to Raymond. Arona is expected to remain closed between Como and Albany this weekend, then reopen on Monday, Oct. 12. When that happens, Pascal will close between Como and Albany, roughly for a week. Otherwise, it’s status quo: 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.
On the city's western border, Como remains closed at Brompton. If you need to get to Highway 280, that means detouring to Larpenteur or Energy Park Drive. However, expect 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. Access from Dale to some nearby east-west streets is cut off.

Energy Park Drive: Paving is complete from Churchill west toward Raymond. Minimal striping is in place now; final striping – which reconfigures vehicle and bicycle lanes – is scheduled for the week of Oct. 19.

Larpenteur Ave.: Final striping is scheduled for this week, which will officially convert Larpenteur from 4 lanes to 3 between Dale Street and Interstate 35E.

Maryland Ave.: Lane restrictions should end today as water main work ends between Dale and Rice. 
On Deck at City Hall
Lancer Catering: City Council votes this Wednesday, Oct. 14, on an amended contract that reduces contractual payments Lancer owes the city for Como Town and for food service in the Zoo and Conservatory. The change would:
  • reduce food commissions by 5% across the board through March 31, 2021. Current commission payments range from 10% to 20%, depending on their source and time of year. New commission rates would range from 5%-15%.
  • reduce minimum payments due between September 1, 2020-July 1, 2021 from $170,000 to $85,000
The proposal is on the consent agenda.

Redistricting: Also on Wednesday, City Council holds a public hearing on standards for redrawing ward boundaries to reflect 2020 census results. To submit comments, send an email or leave a voice mail at 651-266-6805. File your comment before noon this Tuesday, Oct. 13.

It’s still not too late:
Things Worth Knowing About
  • Today, Friday Oct. 9: Last day to take Metro Transit’s survey on whether to add bus rapid transit service to Route 3 on Como/Maryland Aves. or 10 other corridors.
  • This Thursday-Friday, Oct. 15-16: Free Covid testing, 2-6 p.m. New Hope Baptist Church, 711 Bradley St. Register
  • This Thursday, Oct. 15: The second half of property tax payments are due in Ramsey County. You can pay online, or pay the old-fashioned way by mail, in person, or at a drop box.
  • Next Saturday, October 17: Free Covid testing, 1-6 p.m. Aldrich Arena, 1850 White Bear Ave., Maplewood. Repeats on Oct. 24 and 31. Registration begins this Monday, Oct. 12.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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
Fairgrounds Are Still Off Limits
Staging for the Minnesota State Fair Fall Food Parade means the Fairgrounds remain closed to the public (including walkers and cyclists), probably until this Thursday, Oct. 15. After that, only the main gate at Snelling and Dan Patch/Midway will be open. There will be no "through traffic" for drivers.

The last day of the drive-thru food parade (which is sold out) is this Sunday, Oct. 11. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Vehicles will enter at the Snelling and Hoyt gate.
Workshops Keep Yourself, Your Home Safer
Saint Paul Police are offering two crime prevention workshops this month. The online workshops are free, but you must register in advance.
  • Personal safety: How to keep 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.

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.