Jan. 8, 2021
Free Food Fridays Return in January
The Como Community Council and Sanneh Foundation are partnering to again distribute free meal boxes on Fridays in January. The meal boxes are available to Ramsey Country residents dealing with financial hardships because of Covid-19.
The meal boxes will be distributed in the north parking lot of Niem Phat Buddhist Temple, at Dale and Front, on January 8, 15, 22 and 29.

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. The boxes provide two meals of six servings each. They contain locally sourced food, including lean proteins, whole grains, fresh produce, and spices.
Give Recognition Where Recognition is Due
Know someone who makes the Como Park area a better place to live, work or play? Nominate them for the District 10 Neighborhood Honor Roll. The Honor Roll pays tribute to everyday people who make a sustained and lasting impact in our neighborhood or Saint Paul as a whole.

Submit your nomination by email. Tell us who you are nominating and why. Make sure we receive them no later than this Thursday, Jan. 14. The Como Community Council board then selects three of your nominees to recognize for 2020.
Banfield to Open, Expand Site on Larpenteur
Banfield Pet Hospital plans to expand a veterinary clinic on Larpenteur Ave. just west of Lexington. Banfield has acquired Larpenteur Animal Hospital, 1136 W. Larpenteur; will also lease the building to the west, at 1144 Larpenteur; and will add a vestibule connecting the two buildings, according to David W. Sorenson, the project manager with Colliers, which is doing the construction work for Banfield.

Demolition work already is underway in the west building, Sorenson told District 10’s Land Use Committee on Jan. 6. The company hopes to begin new construction in the 1144 building in February and finish by end of summer. The 1136 building then will be renovated in fall. When finished, the clinic will be more than 8,000 square feet. The project does not require variances or zoning changes.

Banfield has more than 1,000 locations nationwide. The company hopes to maximize the Como site’s proximity to the University of Minnesota’s veterinary school, Sorenson said. The project will include new landscaping, additional lighting, and some parking lot revisions, including the likelihood of eliminating the driveway at Dunlap just south of Larpenteur, Sorenson said. The addition connecting the two buildings will include an elevator to provide accessibility that does not now exist, he said.
Adding Up the Firsts
Jill Miller and her husband, Dan, are the inaugural winners of the Como Community Council’s first Holiday Decoration Celebration. The Millers are Como residents since 2005, but this is their first year putting up lights, a move inspired in part as a way to uplift the neighborhood as the Covid pandemic continues.

The upper level of their house at 985 Chatsworth is new, so Dan -- the builder of the award-winning display -- wanted something that went around the edge of the entire house. Finding a snowman at Menards was tough, but they got the biggest they could find. Combine that with rainbows they already had, and it all adds up to a first-place house!

Jill and Dan planned on celebrating their newfound fame, and undoubtedly the paparazzi that accompanied the award, by scarfing down their prize: cookies from Cookie Cart. Being good neighbors, they even planned on sharing some. (At least that was the plan.) Como residents also selected these displays as the neighborhood’s favorite holiday decorations:

  • 758 Parkview (Elizabeth Bauman)
  • 1675 Victoria (John and Khai Pham)
Rink Rats Have to Start Somewhere
Ice-skating lessons for children begin this week at North Dale Recreation Center, 1414 St. Albans.

  • Ages 3-5: Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. from Jan. 12-Feb. 2 or Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. from Jan. 16-Feb. 6
  • Ages 6-12: on Tuesdays at 4:45 p.m. from Jan. 12-Feb. 2 or Saturdays at 12:15 p.m. from Jan. 16-Feb. 6

The outdoor lessons on the rec center’s refrigerated rink cost $45. You can register online or by calling North Dale at 651-558-2329.
Time to Let Those Garden Dreams Germinate
Como Community Seed Library is organizing two Cyber Seed Crawls this winter, in which local residents can arrange to exchange seeds with each other. The first exchange is next Saturday, Jan. 16, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., but you’ve got to list your offerings by this Thursday, Jan. 14. This “Urban Pollinator Edition” focuses on native plant, perennial, and annual flower seeds. It’s all being arranged on Facebook; get the details. The seed exchange on Feb. 20 focuses on edible plants.

Speaking of seeds: North Dale Recreation Center is scheduling two free, online gardening classes for adults.

Help Decide How Things Get Done
Saint Paul is seeking applicants to fill three-year terms on the Planning Commission. Applicants definitely are needed from Ward 5, which includes most residents of District 10 who live east of Lexington. The Planning Commission is big-time influential in city decision-making; it vets nearly all aspects of community development, zoning, transportation, and other land uses in the city.

The commission meets every other Friday morning; members also must serve on a committee; those committees also typically meet twice a month. Members do receive a small stipend for their time. Get more details, including what skills and background the commission prefers. Applications are due by next Friday, Jan. 15. Neighborhood issues of note:
  • Orchard Park Recreation Center: City Council votes this Wednesday, Jan. 13, on whether to approve a five-year contract allowing Blackhawks Soccer to have priority use of the park and to continue managing the building and fields. The item is on the consent agenda.
  • 1013 Jameson: City Council votes this Wednesday, Jan. 13, on whether to grant a 180-day extension that would allow the property owner to correct 11 code deficiencies in this vacant house. Otherwise, the building will be demolished by the end of January.
  • Ted’s Recreation: The entertainment, liquor, Sunday liquor, and 2 a.m. closing licenses for this bar at 1084 W. Larpenteur are up for renewal on Jan. 31, 2021. Anyone with concerns should email the Como Community Council or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
  • K&L Sales: The second-hand dealer’s license for this used-car lot at Como and Arona is up for renewal on March 29. Anyone with concerns should email the Como Community Council or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
Survey is One Step Toward Pedestrian Safety
Do you walk? Do you drive? The University of Minnesota’s HumanFIRST Laboratory has a survey evaluating how much you know about pedestrian safety laws and requirements in the state.
Understanding Our Limitations
Gov. Tim Walz has revised statewide coronavirus regulations; most take effect this Monday, Jan. 11. What’s new:

  • Bars and restaurants. Indoor and outdoor dining is allowed up to 50 percent capacity, and up to a maximum of 150 people, with conditions. Carryout and delivery are allowed without restrictions.
  • Gyms, fitness, martial arts, and yoga studios. Can host up to 150 people with restrictions, as long as capacity does not exceed 25 percent. Classes can host up to 9 people with additional conditions.
  • Events and entertainment. Indoor events (including theaters and museums) are allowed for up to 150 people and 25 percent capacity, with additional conditions. Outdoor events are allowed for up to 250 people and 25 percent capacity, with additional conditions. No public gatherings of more than 250 people. For private parties, including wedding and funeral receptions, the overall indoor/outdoor event restrictions apply – unless alcohol is served. Then the general socializing restrictions apply: Indoors, no more than two households and 10 people max; outdoors, no more than three households and 15 people max.
  • Sports and recreation. Practices are allowed now; youth and adult games can begin this Thursday, Jan. 14, with limitations. Indoors, guidelines limit crowds to no more than 150 people and 25 percent capacity; outdoors, limits are crowds of no more than 250 people and 25 percent capacity. Pools and swim parks can open up to 25 percent capacity. Campgrounds and other outdoor facilities are open, but no more than 15 people from three households can gather.

What basically stays the same:
  • General. Wear face coverings in public, practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet with people not in your immediate household, and wash your hands regularly.
  • Grooming. Salons, barber shops, tattoo studios and the like can stay open with limitations.
  • Schools. Elementary schools can reopen on Jan. 18.
  • Work. If you can, you’re supposed to work from home.
  • Worship services. Allowed up to 50 percent capacity.
Give Route 3 a Boost
Metro Transit’s Route 3 is a finalist to join the region’s bus rapid transit network. That upgrade, like the A Line that runs along Snelling, could mean more frequent service, faster travel, and better stops.

To help make sure Route 3 is chosen, take this survey before Jan. 20. (Route 3 runs along Maryland and Como, among other streets, and connects our neighborhood with both University of Minnesota campuses and Downtown Minneapolis, among other destinations.)
Don't Get Caught on the Wrong Side
When the time comes, Saint Paul wants to make it as easy as possible for you to understand where and when you can park if there’s a snow emergency. The city typically declares a snow emergency only after snowfalls of 3 inches or more. To be certain, you can call 651-266-PLOW (651-266-7569). Or:

  • Sign up for a text alert when the city declares a snow emergency; text: STPAUL SNOW to 468311
  • Get an email alert when the city declares a snow emergency
  • Set up a map app on your computer, smartphone, or tablet that will tell you in real time where you can park legally
  • Find out how a snow emergency works in Saint Paul overnight and during the following day
Spread the Word to Neighbors
Public Works is creating a pilot program it calls Snow Emergency Superstars. It is asking city residents to volunteer to notify their neighbors when and where they cannot park during a snow emergency. The city will supply volunteers with portable “No Parking – Snow Emergency Declared” signs. Volunteers can plant the signs on their block, first on night plow routes, then relocate them the next day for day plowing. The hope is that the extra reminder will keep cars out of the way without ticketing and towing, prevent vehicles from being plowed in, and prevent that one spot that freezes over and creates problems for everybody the rest of the winter.

What to Do with That Needle Factory
As part of the city's trash contract, Saint Paul residents can dispose of one formerly live holiday tree for free until next Friday, Jan. 15. Here's the catch: The tree must be less than 6 feet tall and weigh less than 20 pounds. If that describes your tree, just put it next to your regular trash. Those trees, like other trash collected in the city, are burned at the county's waste incinerator.

If your tree is bigger than that, you can treat is as a "bulky item." Depending on your level of service, that may be free, too. Call your hauler to arrange a pickup; you can find your hauler's phone number at the bottom of the bulky item web page.

Or, dispose of the tree in an environmentally suitable way yourself. The best option: Take it to a Ramsey County yard waste site, where trees are mulched for use by District Energy. This time of year, yard waste sites are open Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Note: To minimize the spread of the invasive insect elongate hemlock scale, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture urges residents not to store their tree, wreaths, boughs or other holiday greenery in their yard for the winter.

Don’t forget the lights: Now through Jan. 22, you can recycle old holiday lights (or electric cords and telephone cords, too) at any Saint Paul Public Library location; just drop them in the “Holiday Light Recycling” bin.
Where, When to Get a Coronavirus Test if You Need One
With cases of Covid-19 still at dangerous levels, the state and county continue to operate free testing sites.

When to get tested: If you have symptoms, get tested right away. If you are exposed to someone with Covid, wait five days after you are exposed before taking a test; that allows for more-accurate test results. Other advice on testing

Symptoms of Covid-19: 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.

If you test positive, are sick, and not hospitalized, you should quarantine at home to make sure you do not spread the virus farther. Quarantine until all three of these things are true, according to the Minnesota Department of Health: 1. You feel better. 2. It has been at least 10 days since you first felt sick. 3. You have not had a fever for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers. A rundown of testing options:

  • Home testing. The state is partnering with Vault Medical Services to provide free saliva test kits that residents can use at home.
  • Ongoing. Free saliva testing at Roy Wilkins Auditorium; enter at 175 Kellogg Blvd. The site is open seven days a week: noon-7 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends. Register in advance (Free saliva testing is also available at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and 10 other sites in the state.)
  • To find additional testing locations in Saint Paul or nearby, use the state Department of Health's interactive map. These locations (including Allina Health’s clinics in Bandana Square) are a mix of community clinics, health system clinics, and pharmacies. They might not be free, and they might offer testing only in certain situations.
Clear Your Calendar
  • This Monday, Jan. 11: Neighborhood Lift begins accepting applications for prospective homeowners in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The program provides up to $15,000 to cover down payment and closing costs. Eligible households must have incomes below $77,840 and meet other requirements.
  • This Monday, Jan. 11: Deadline to apply for the Neighborhoods Now training program through the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. The free training focuses on more effective community organizing and justice work; it is open to residents regardless of their experience or skill level. The course takes place remotely Feb. 22-26. Apply here
  • Tuesday Feb. 2: In-person yoga for adults begins at North Dale Rec Center, 1414 N. St. Albans. The session runs 10:30-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays through Feb. 23. $20
Your Name Helps Generate Power
Last year, after a series of presentations and discussions with community members, the Como Community Council Board urged the City of Saint Paul to weigh in officially with the state’s Public Utilities Commission on Xcel Energy’s plans for generating electricity over the next 15 years. In part, the board 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.)

As part of the campaign, 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 Feb. 11.
Police Line Up Crime Prevention Classes
Saint Paul Police are scheduling two crime prevention classes online in later this month. Registration is open now. 

  • Burglary Prevention, Wednesday Jan. 20, 6 p.m. Covers the basics of locks, lighting, landscaping, fencing and more. Register
  • Crime Prevention 101, Wednesday Jan. 27, 6 p.m. Covers when to call the police, what to expect when you call, how calls are prioritized, getting crime statistics, and more. Register

This week's Como community crime update: The year did not end quietly
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.