Pit stop: Two finches take a break during one of the snowfalls that helped set a February record for the Twin Cities.
D 10 Appeals Commission's Vote on TCGIS
District 10 has filed an appeal to the City Council, challenging the results of a Feb. 8 vote by the city's Planning Commission.  The commission's vote allows automatic approval of zoning variances and a site plan that Twin Cities German Immersion School needs for its proposed building addition. However, two weeks after the Planning Commission's vote, it remains unclear which variances and which version of a site plan would take effect automatically in March.
 
The district council's appeal says the Planning Commission's decision could allow variances and a site plan that do not conform with zoning requirements. District 10 claims the Planning Commission abdicated its oversight responsibilities and failed its fundamental role. The City Council is scheduled to take up the District 10 appeal -- and earlier appeals by the preservation group Save Historic St. Andrews -- on March 6.

The district council's appeal does not oppose zoning variances the school needs on parking, building height, and lot coverage. Instead, the appeal seeks to make sure the site plan that takes effect -- and the variances the site plan includes -- are valid. T he district council says the Planning Commission's Feb. 8 decision wipes out weeks of work, research, expense, discussions, and agreement by city professional staff, the school, and the community to come up with a site plan that mitigates detrimental impacts of the school's growth on traffic flow, pedestrian safety, and playground noise.

District 10 board chair Ryan Flynn says an appeal is "the best way to ensure that the process is open, accurate, and fair."
Lancer Catering Buys Out Spring Café
Lancer Catering has purchased Spring Café from owner Matty O'Reilly and will take over management of the restaurant inside Como Park's Lakeside Pavilion immediately. Lancer assumes full responsibility for the remaining four years of Spring Café's contract with the city, says Susie Odegard, special services manager for Saint Paul Parks and Recreation.

Lancer currently operates Zobota Café and Zooper Foods at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. But Odegard says park visitors should not presume that Lancer simply will duplicate those menus in the Pavilion. "They also do high-level catering and have a whole other line of business that features good, quality, fresh food," Odegard says. [District 10 was unable to talk with Lancer management before this newsletter published.]

"They understand they have to perform what the contract requires," Odegard says. "We're going to work through it, but I expect a smooth transition." Lancer is also familiar with the studies and community input that preceded Spring Café's opening in April 2018, Odegard says.

O'Reilly, who is traveling overseas, would not comment on selling Spring Café. But he told District 10 in an email that the sale will not affect Delicata Pizza and Gelato, the Como neighborhood restaurant on Pascal St. that he also owns. Read more 
Como HS Seeks Opinions on Sports Upgrades
Como High School's athletic department holds a community meeting this Monday, Feb. 25, about the potential of adding amenities to its refurbished athletic field on Rose Ave. The upgraded, $1 million turf field opened in fall 2017, replacing a run-down grass field. Advocates have talked about giving the school a true "home field" by adding such things as bleachers, a speaker system, a concession stand, and a press box. Those additions -- moving the field from "tier 2" to "tier 1" status -- would allow the school to host more football, soccer, track, and other events.

Details: The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 in the new "Cougar Forum" of the school, 740 W. Rose. (Go in the front door and follow the signs.) The agenda includes formal presentations and small-group discussions.
Photo: Debby Smith
Let's Try This Again
After getting snowed out last week, District 10's Pathways work group will try again this Wednesday to present ideas on making it easier to get around Como Regional Park while walking, biking, rolling, or using some other form of non-motorized transit.  The work group took the advice from more than 550 park users and turned it into a set of recommendations on how to improve paths, signs, and navigation in the park. Now they are looking for your feedback on those draft recommendations

Details: Drop in this Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 6-8 p.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. There will be an open house opportunity to review the recommendations from 6-6:30 p.m., followed by a presentation and question time at 6:30 p.m. If you can't attend on Wednesday, they'll do it again on Saturday March 9 at 2 p.m.
D10 Board Backs Dog Park Idea
The Como Community Council board voted Feb. 19 to ask Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and the Metropolitan Council to establish a temporary, off-leash exercise area for dogs in Como Regional Park -- as a pilot project toward building a permanent dog park. The pilot project is proposed for an area just east of Hamline Ave. known as Audubon Woods.

The district council created a resident work group in March 2018 to investigate the feasibility of an off-leash area. Members of Girl Scout Troop 55397 made a formal presentation to the council's Land Use Committee on Feb. 12, which recommended their proposal for the dog park. Park supporters still need to work out funding, additional logistics, community outreach, and authorization from Parks and Recreation and Met Council before building the park. 

In other action Feb. 19, the District 10 board also:
  • Endorsed the City of Saint Paul's proposed "to go" packaging ordinance.
  • Rejected a motion to support a proposed city ordinance that would ban the sale of tobacco products in Saint Paul to anyone younger than age 21.
No Shortage of Meetings This Week
District 10's Environment Committee meets this Wednesday. Members will begin detailed planning for Como Lake clean-up ventures (utilizing the financial support of a Capitol Region Watershed District grant), a July pollinator-friendly garden tour in the neighborhood, and other community-driven ideas and suggestions for activities this year.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at District 10's office in the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. All renters, homeowners, and other community members are welcome to attend and participate. Preliminary agenda 

Speaking of meetings:
  • District 10 facilitates a neighborhood meeting this Monday with Pao Yang, the chief operating officer of Hmong College Prep Academy. The meeting is Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. in the basement of Delicata Pizza, 1341 Pascal.
  • If you are interested in a plot this summer in District 10's community garden, join an informational meeting this Tuesday, Feb. 26. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in District 10's office in the Como Park Streetcar Station. (The garden is at Almond and Asbury, just east of Snelling.)
Photo: Annie Huidekoper
Dust Off Those Binoculars
District 10's Environment Committee is organizing a yearlong bird survey in Como Park beginning March 1. Birders who are serious, just beginning, or somewhere in between are welcome to participate. Start by signing up here. You'll commit to visiting the lake or the Woodland Outdoor Classroom at least once a month, and recording what you see, using the eBird tracking system.
Ready to Get Rid of Cabin Fever?
District 10's next Community Yoga is next Sunday, March 3, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station. The session will be suitable for all levels of skill and experience. Bring a yoga mat or blanket and wear comfortable clothes. The class is limited to 25 participants. Registration is just $5, which benefits the Como Community Council. 
Winter Ales and More at the Fairgrounds 
  • Winter Beer Dabbler: This Saturday, Feb. 23, Midway. Hours: 3-6:30 p.m. Admission: $50 in advance, $60 at the gate.
Don't Miss Out 
  • Today, Friday Feb. 22: Deadline to apply for a Saint Paul Cultural STAR grant: 4 p.m. Grants provide 1:1 matching funds for arts and cultural projects within the city.
  • This Saturday, Feb. 23: "Imagine Our City" conversation with Mayor Melvin Carter, 1-2:30 p.m. Plum's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, 480 S. Snelling.
  • This Saturday, Feb. 23: Como Apres Ski Season Dinner, 6-9:30 p.m. Como Park Ski Chalet, 1431 Lexington Parkway N. Tickets: $65. Fundraiser for Como Park Snowsports Booster Club.
  • This Sunday, Feb. 24: Snowball fight between the mayors, City Council members, and staff of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, 1 p.m. McMurray Fields, Wynne Ave. in Como Regional Park.
  • This Sunday, Feb. 24: Music Under Glass features Lucy Michelle, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Free
  • This Wednesday, Feb. 27: Twin Cities German Immersion School Carnival of Cultures, 6-8 p.m.
  • This Thursday, Feb. 28: Deadline for youth and young adults ages 14-24 to apply for Saint Paul's Right Track summer internship program. The opportunities are for applicants from low-income households or who face employment barriers. Most internships begin June 20 and run 6-9 weeks.
  • This Thursday, Feb. 28: Como Friends' Bouquets fundraiser, 7-9:30 p.m. Zoo and Conservatory Visitors Center. $65
  • Next Friday, March 1: Deadline to file a pre-application for state and regional brownfield and pre-development grants.
  • Next Sunday, March 3: Como Park Lutheran Church's Organ Concert Series, 4-5 p.m., 1376 W. Hoyt. Featured musician: Kathy Handford, of Lawrence University. Free
  • Thursday March 21: Deadline to submit a 2019 Neighborhood STAR application. The City of Saint Paul program provides low-interest loans and grants for neighborhood and local business projects.
Read the Signs Correctly
Saint Paul Police are hosting a presentation of the Top Secret Project -- a free seminar from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that teaches parents and others how to recognize behaviors that hide in plain sight but suggest drug or alcohol abuse. The seminar is Wednesday March 13, from 6:30-8 p.m., at Western District headquarter, 389 N. Hamline. Seating is limited; to reserve a spot, email Patty Lammers or call her at 266-5455.
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.