Digging Out Your Garage, Attic or Basement?
"Trash or Treasure" opens the Como Community Council's 2020 Sunday Series this weekend with down-to-earth advice on creating a simpler and less cluttered life. Learn how to declutter by curating what you want to keep, where to donate and "do good" with the things you no longer need, discovering unexpected things you can donate, and recognizing things you should never donate.

Your guides are Laura Gilbert (the author and daughter of collector parents made sure the buck -- and hutch -- stopped with her) and Jennifer Victor-Larsen (the founder of Donate Good Stuff loves the massive environmental impact reuse can make and loves connecting people with their community's real needs.

"Trash or Treasure" is this Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Como Park Streetcar Station, 1224 Lexington Parkway N.  Like all Sunday Series events, it is free, runs from 1-2:30 p.m., and includes plenty of time for Q&A. A quick rundown of the rest of this year's lineup (you can get all the details on our website):
  • Next Sunday, March 1: "Minnesota Stories in a Changing Climate." This film from Will Steger's Climate Generation features six stories about how climate change already is changing our state.
  • March 8: Forgotten Como History: The 1917 Winter Carnival's 522-Mile Winnipeg-Como Park Dog Sled Race.
  • March 15: Nature in Your Own "Backyard." With John Moriarty, author of "Field Guide to the Natural World of the Twin Cities."
  • March 22: Old Media in a New Era: A panel discussion on the future of neighborhood news.
  • March 29: In Search of Justice: The Purpose and Promise of Bail Reform and Juvenile Detention Alternatives.
Variance Requests Head to BZA
The Como Community Council board voted unanimously Feb. 18 to encourage the city to approve density and parking variances so developers can convert the former Sholom Home property into rental apartments. The advisory recommendation now goes to the city's Board of Zoning Appeals. The BZA holds a public hearing on the variance requests this Monday, Feb. 24, beginning at 3 p.m. in Room 330 of City Hall, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd.

The community council board supported allowing the developer, Midway Community Group LLC:
  • To build up to 150 apartments in the existing buildings at 1554 Midway Parkway. Without a variance (which is an exception to current zoning), only 82 units can be built.
  • A parking variance of up to 86 spaces under two conditions: the developer a) retains the existing buildings and b) builds at least 80 parking spaces on site.
  • Get more details on the proposed redevelopment
And then: The board also heard a presentation from staff at the city's Department of Planning and Economic Development explaining proposals to allow greater density in multi-family zoning districts. The proposed revisions, Allen Torstenson said, would allow the kinds of traditional development and density that were more common in the city before 1975. A major overhaul of the city's zoning code that year was "much more of a suburban model," he said. "What we're considering is much closer to what we did before 1975."
Energy Park gets repaved and reconfigured this summer.
Open Houses Detail Road Work
Ramsey County intends to  resurface Energy Park Drive  this summer from Lexington west to almost Raymond. Between Lexington and Snelling, plans include restriping for one lane of traffic and an in-street bike lane in each direction. There are no plans to replace medians or designated left-turn bump-outs. West of Snelling, plans call for a typical "4-3 conversion" -- reconfiguring the current of two lanes of traffic in each direction to one vehicle lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and an in-street bike lane in each direction.
Find out more: The county holds an open house to share details and get public comment on the project this Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 4-6 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Conference Room, 1010 Bandana Blvd.

Upcoming county road project open houses:
  • Lexington and County Road B2: This intersection in Roseville will be rebuilt in 2022. See initial plans this Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 5-7:30 p.m. in the main lobby of the high school, 1240 W. County Road B2.
  • Larpenteur Ave.: The stretch between Dale and Rice will be resurfaced this summer, and the 4-3 conversion that was a pilot project last summer will become permanent. Get details on Tuesday March 10 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of Washington Technology Magnet School, 1495 Rice St.
Primary Voting Gets Easier This Week
Early voting in Minnesota's March 3 presidential primary elections will be available in person beginning this Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Como Park Streetcar Station and eight other locations in Ramsey County. Any county resident can vote at any location between Feb. 25 and Monday March 2.  Early voting hours at the Streetcar Station, 1224 Lexington Parkway N:
  • This Tuesday-next Friday, Feb. 25-28: noon-6 p.m.
  • Next Saturday, Feb. 29: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Monday March 2: noon-5 p.m.
To vote in the presidential primary, you must select one political party. The Republican and DFL parties both have primary ballots. 
  • Donald J. Trump is the only candidate on the Republican ballot. 
  • The DFL ballot lists 15 candidates (though several already have ended or suspended their campaigns): Michael Bennet, Joseph Biden, Michael R. Bloomberg, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, John K. Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.
Primary day is Tuesday March 3. If you vote then, you must  vote in your home precinct. Polling places are open normal hours March 3: 7 a.m.-8 p.m. This is the first presidential primary in the state in decades; previously, voters expressed their presidential preferences at precinct caucuses. (Those caucuses still take place on Feb. 25 for other political party purposes.) 
TCGIS Launches Transportation Website
Twin Cities German Immersion School is taking another stab at reducing the number of vehicles coming into the neighborhood during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. A new website makes it easier for school parents to sign up for school bus routes or carpooling with families who live near them, to find public transportation options, and to navigate the morning and afternoon traffic maze.

Construction update: The school expects delivery of steel trusses and other load-bearing materials to start this Thursday, Feb. 27, and continue for the next three weeks. Any road closures are likely to be temporary.
Keeping Track of City Paperwork
New this week:
  • Essence Event Center: This new business at 1217 Bandana Blvd. is applying for liquor and entertainment licenses. It intends to focus on wedding receptions and similar events, especially for the Asian community. Concerns about the application should be sent no later than Friday March 27 by email, or in writing to: Legislative Hearing Officer, 310 City Hall, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55102. Questions can be directed to Ross Haddow or Jeff Fischbach at 651-266-8989.
  • Hmong College Prep Academy: The annual license for the school's parking ramp at Snelling and Brewster is up for renewal.
  • Saint Paul Public Works: The license for the department's parking ramp on Dale is up for renewal.
Previously reported:
  • K&L Sales: The secondhand dealer license for this used-car lot at 1523 Como Ave. is up for renewal on March 29. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali.
  • H&M Auto Body: The garage and paint shop licenses for this business at 867 N. Dale are up for renewal on April 18. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 1 Councilmember Dai Thao.
  • Como Park Golf Course and Club House: The liquor, Sunday liquor, and entertainment licences (currently being managed by Cozy's Pub) are up for renewal on April 18. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali.
Yes, You Can Be Judgmental
Chelsea Heights Elementary School is seeking community members to serve as science fair judges on Wednesday March 4. No prior experience is required, they say; they'll give you the criteria you use to judge projects and interview students about their work. If you are available between 9 and 11:30 a.m., sign up here. Plus, you get free lunch (though they don't say from where).
An Idea That's Gaining Traction
Sunny days, cold nights, and lots of melting snow mean we're going to be dealing with lots of icy walks. But don't turn reflexively to salt: If you can't scrape ice away, make it safer for you, passersby, and our waterways by sprinkling sand or -- even better -- poultry grit (also known as traction grit) on the ice instead. A bonus, as the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization points out: you can sweep much of the sand and grit up when the ice goes away.
City Seeks Ideas for Public Projects
Saint Paul now is accepting ideas for projects it can fund through its Capital Improvement Budget. CIB sets aside a total of $1 million over the 2020 and 2021 budget years exclusively for projects suggested by community members. Unlike in past years, ideas from community members will not compete head-to-head with more expensive projects generated by city departments.

Projects must improve public space that is owned by the city or one of its agencies and that is available for public use. The improvement should last at least 10 years. This year, special emphasis is being given to projects that enhance public safety. Share an idea

Ideas are being accepted through Wednesday March 4. After that, city staff will assess the ideas for feasibility. Eligible projects will be forwarded to district councils (which have an opportunity to evaluate ideas in their neighborhoods) and to the citywide CIB Committee (which makes final recommendations to the mayor).

Learn more about CIB online, or by attending a workshop this Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 6-7 p.m. at Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice St.
This Weekend at the Fairgrounds
  • Winter Beer Dabbler: This Saturday, Feb. 22, Midway and Warner Coliseum. Hours: 2-6:30 p.m. In addition to more than 600 beer and food samples, expect freestyle snowmobiling, live and recorded music, vendors, a laser show, fire pits, and a cannon. Admission: $70. Traffic is restricted through the Fairgrounds all weekend.
  • Twin Cities Regional Science Fairs: Next Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-29, Warner Coliseum. Open to the public Feb. 29 from 8-10 a.m. Free spectator admission.
Music Under Glass Features Annie Mack
This Sunday's Music Under Glass concert at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory features the soul and blues of Annie Mack . Her free performance is 4:30-6:30 p.m. Feb. 23. The stage is in the Sunken Garden but speakers pipe the music far and wide. You can purchase beer, wine, and snacks. 

In the Next Couple of Weeks
  • This Saturday, Feb. 22: Fix-It Clinic, noon-3 p.m. Rice Street Library, 1011 Rice St. Free.
  • This Sunday, Feb. 23: Winter Organ Concert Series, featuring Laura Edman, adjunct instructor of music at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 4 p.m. Como Park Lutheran Church, 1376 Hoyt. Free
  • This Thursday, Feb. 27: Como Friends' Bouquets Fund-Raiser, 7:30-9 p.m. Zoo and Conservatory Visitors Center. $75.
  • Next Friday, Feb. 28: Deadline to apply for 2020 Cultural STAR grants. The program supports arts and cultural activities, including capital and programming projects.
  • Next Saturday, Feb. 29: Deadline to submit nominations for Saint Paul's Business Awards.
  • Next Saturday, Feb. 29: Deadline to apply for Saint Paul's Right Track summer employment program, for residents ages 14-24 who live in cost-burdened households or who have a barrier to employment.
  • Next Saturday, Feb. 29: Phalen Freeze Fest, 1-4 p.m. Phalen Park Lakeside Activities Center. Ice fishing, fire-building, campfire cooking, snow-shoeing, stories, arts, crafts, and more. Free.
  • Monday March 2: Capitol Region Watershed District discusses alum and herbicide treatments it plans this spring for Como Lake, 6-7:30 p.m. Third-floor Waterfall Room of the Como Lakeside Pavilion, 1360 Lexington Parkway N.
  • Saturday March 7: Capitol Region Watershed District discusses alum and herbicide treatments it plans this spring for Como Lake, 1-2:30 p.m. Como Park Streetcar Station, 1224 Lexington Parkway N.
Police Offer Info on Predatory Offenders
Saint Paul Police hold a community notification meeting about Level III predatory offenders this Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 6-7 p.m. at Western District police headquarters, 389 N. Hamline. 

The discussion includes Newton Wyatt Henderson, who has re-registered to live in the 1000 block of Avon (between Orchard and Hatch). Henderson, a 38-year-old white male, was released from prison in 2012 after being convicted of sexual crimes and kidnapping in 1997 involving a 17-year-old girl he did not know. He is not wanted by police; however, Henderson is classified as a Level III predatory offender because of his potential to re-offend based on his previous behavior. Police cannot direct where previous offenders live, work, or go to school, but police routinely notify communities when registered offenders change addresses. Also this week:
  • The department's Community Outreach and Stabilization Unit holds a community meeting to discuss mental health resources available through the unit and partner organizations. The free session is this Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 6:30-8 p.m. at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, 270 N. Kent.
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.