It's snack time for this black swallowtail. Photo: Nile Fellows
Opening the Discussion on Closing the Road
Finding out what you think about making East Como Lake Drive permanently off limits to motor vehicles will be the main topic this Wednesday, Sept. 2, at District 10's Land Use Committee meeting. The one-way street north of the lake has been closed since April 3; that gives pedestrians and cyclists more space to socially distance during the pandemic. The city intends to remove the barricades after Labor Day; however, some neighborhood residents are suggesting that the road stay closed for good.

District 10's Neighborhood Relations Committee meets the night before, on Tuesday Sept. 1. Among discussion at that meeting: Finalizing guidelines for philanthropic projects with potential community partners, and finalizing a committee values statement.

How to participate: All renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to take part in one or both meetings via video conference or telephone. To join, email the Como Community Council office; staff will send access information. Preliminary agendas
Another Chance to Do It Yourself
Once again, the Como Community Council is supplying DIY kits so you can pull trash from the water or shoreline of Como Lake on your own schedule. (Sorry, we still can't risk getting together to do it as a community.) There's even a little something extra for you when you finish.

For this season's do-it-yourself version of our Como Lake Clean-Up, we've got two options. (Either way, sign up here.)
  • Do it all on your own: Use your own household tools and supplies.
  • Let us provide the gear: We have gloves, bags, advice on how to clean up effectively, plus buckets, grabbers and rakes, too. We even have a limited number of vouchers you can use to rent a canoe or two-person kayak from Wheel Fun Rentals on or before Labor Day. 
You can pick up the gear this Saturday, Aug. 29, between 9 a.m. and noon at the District 10 office in the Como Park Streetcar Station, 1224 Lexington Parkway N. Do the clean up on your timeline between now and Sept. 12. Then we'll make arrangements with you to return the tools.
Renovation of 883 Front is well under way
Coffee Shop in Line for STAR Funds
The proposed Sacred Grounds Community Coffee Shop, on Front and Milton, is one of 20 projects expected to receive Neighborhood STAR funding when the City Council votes this Wednesday, Sept. 2.

The funding -- a $37,500 grant and a $37,500 loan -- would help the 28-seat coffee shop finish construction of the retail space and adjacent patio at 883 Front. A $75,000 match is required. The refurbished building most recently housed a Buddhist temple; it started as Fireside Corner (which evolved into Fireside Hearth & Home).

Neighborhood STAR money finances capital improvements for economic development in city neighborhoods. Money comes from the city's half-cent sales tax. 
Rec Centers Open Kids' Programs
Registration is open for Saint Paul Parks and Recreation's Rec Check, S'more Fun, and Recreation for Preschoolers programs.
  • Rec Check runs weekdays from 2-6 p.m., for pupils in kindergarten through 5th grade, at 17 recreation centers, including North Dale, 1414 St. Albans. Activities begin Sept. 14. Register online, or call North Dale weekdays from noon-3 p.m. to sign up. Rec Check is free, but you must register for the specific days your child will attend.
  • S'More Fun is a childcare program available weekdays from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. for pupils in kindergarten through 5th grade. It's available at four locations, including Northwest Como Recreation Center, 1550 Hamline. Cost is $40 per day, plus a one-time registration fee of $35 per family. To register, contact Kari Rohman by email or by phone at 651-487-5625. 
  • Open slots for Recreation for Preschoolers are available only at Edgcumbe Recreation Center, 320 Griggs St. Sessions begin the week of Sept 14: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-11:30 a.m., for 3-year-olds; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9-11:30 a.m. for 3- and 4-year-olds; and Mondays through Thursdays, 1-4 p.m., for 4- and 5-year-olds. Fees vary. To register, contact Katie Hemsworth by email or by phone at 651-695-3734.
Library Opens Up a Little More
Saint Paul Public Library's next phase of re-opening is Library Express. Beginning this Monday, Aug. 31, six neighborhood branches will be open a couple of days a week with limited services: picking up books on hold; checking out books, music or DVDs; or using copy, fax, scan, and print services.
The six branches are Hayden Heights, Highland Park, Merriam Park, Rice Street, Saint Anthony Park, and Sun Ray. Additional branches will open after Labor Day. In the meantime:
  • Contactless pickup is still available for items you request from the George Latimer Central, Hamline Midway, and Rondo libraries. 
  • Internet computer access is available by appointment at the Hayden Heights, Rice Street, and Riverview locations; call 651-266-7000 or get more information online.
  • Ramsey County Workforce Solutions has Career Labs open for job seekers at Dayton's Bluff, Rice Street, Rondo, and Sun Ray. For an appointment, call 651-793-1699. 
On the topic of libraries: Mayor Melvin Carter live-streams his presentation of the 2021 library budget today, Friday Aug. 28, at 1 p.m.
State Assistance Has Monday Deadline
More than 20,000 Minnesotans who receive food or cash assistance must renew their eligibility by this Monday, Aug. 31, to ensure they continue receiving benefits in September.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture denied Minnesota a waiver extension, which means all residents who receive support through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) need to "recertify" their eligibility in order to hang onto that support. Recertification includes providing proof of any changes, such as a decrease in income, an increase in housing costs, or a change in the number of members in their household.

To keep recertification dates in sync, Minnesota is requiring renewal forms for all the state's cash assistance programs. These include Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), General Assistance (GA), Housing Support, and Minnesota Supplemental Aid.

To renew, current SNAP and MFIP recipients must complete the Combined Application Form or 6-Month Report. (Recipients should have received the proper form in the mail, but we know how that's going these days.) This information sheet has more details.
It's Your Chance to Be a Candidate
Live in South Como or Energy Park? Want to have more influence in your neighborhood? Here's your chance: Run in next month's special election to fill a vacancy on the District 10 Como Community Council board.

Community members in Sub-District 4 can file as a candidate until Monday Sept. 7. (The boundaries for Sub-District 4 are Dale on the east, Snelling on the west, and the two sets of BNSF railroad tracks on the north and south.) The winning candidate will serve until April 2021, filling the seat being left vacant by Bob Jacobson, who is moving out of District 10.
Request a Ballot for Board Election
Community members in South Como and Energy Park now can request a ballot for the special election in Sub-District 4. Residents can vote absentee in two ways:
  • Vote online by requesting a ballot before noon on Tuesday Sept. 15. We'll email you a secure link to your ballot. You must vote no later than Sept. 15 at 5 p.m.
  • Vote through the mail using a paper ballot. To make sure there's enough turnaround time, you must request a paper ballot no later than 8 a.m. Tuesday Sept. 8. We will mail you a ballot with a return envelope; the District 10 office must receive your paper ballot no later than Tuesday Sept. 15 at 5 p.m.
Ballots will be sent beginning Sept. 8.

Who can vote: All residents age 16 or older who live in Sub-District 4 are eligible to vote. So are authorized representatives from a business or nonprofit organization with a physical location in Sub-District 4. (The boundaries for Sub-District 4 are Dale on the east, Snelling on the west, and the two sets of BNSF railroad tracks on the north and south.)
What's Going On in City Hall
  • 2021 Budget Hearing: City Council's Budget Committee holds an open session this Thursday, Sept. 3, at 6 p.m. so community members can weigh in on Mayor Melvin Carter's proposed 2021 budget. For a chance to comment at the remote meeting, sign up here. You can watch the meeting live by clicking on the video feed online or tuning in to Cable Channel 18. To learn more about the mayor's proposed budget, read the summary or dig into it line by line.
  • Youth Commission: Applications are due by this Monday, Aug. 31, for high school youth interested in serving as a representative from District 10 or at-large. Get more information, then apply here.
  • Climate Justice Advisory Board: Applications are due by this Monday, Aug. 31, for city residents who want to serve on this new board. Members will include representatives from each ward and two youth positions. The board expects to meet 4-12 times a year; members serve two-year terms. Read about the board, then have patience while you follow the links to apply. 
  • Zoning revisions: City Council holds a public hearing this Wednesday, Sept. 2, on proposed revisions that allow more density in the city's multi-family zoning districts. If you've got an opinion, email your comments no later than noon this Tuesday, Sept. 1.
  • Capital Investment Budget: Six proposed projects in District 10 remain in the running in the city's 2020-21 funding cycle. The CIB board meets this Monday, Aug. 31, for a final review of the three dozen proposals competing for $1 million that's available. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 14; final recommendations are supposed to go to the mayor by Sept. 30. Proposed projects in District 10:
    • A marked crosswalk outside Como By the Lake apartments, 901 East Como Blvd.
    • Informational kiosks and trail improvements in Como Regional Park
    • Security cameras and other safety features along the lake's bicycle and pedestrian paths
    • A dog park in Como Regional Park
    • Exterior signs for Northwest Como Recreation Center
    • Snow-making equipment for a 5K loop of Nordic skiing on the Como golf course
  • Hmong College Prep Academy: On Aug. 26, City Council approved $36 million in conduit bonds, through the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority, to help finance construction of a new middle school building and other facilities on the charter school's Brewster St. campus. About $19.2 million is for the new construction; the remainder refinances existing bonds the school took out in 2012. The school also is receiving $7 million in conduit bonds through the city's Port Authority.
  • Duke's Car and Towing: The license for this auto repair garage at 977 Front is up for renewal on Oct. 18. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
Bicycle, Pedestrian Counts Will Go On
Saint Paul Public Works no longer is organizing its annual bicycle and pedestrian count. So, the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition intends to do it instead. Counts are scheduled for Tuesday-Thursday, Sept. 8-10, at roughly 40 locations around the city. Most counts will be from 4-6 p.m. If you are interested in a shift: Email the coalition. Include the day(s) you are available and which part(s) of the city you are willing to count.
Does This Work? MnDOT Wants to Know
MnDOT is developing a Pedestrian Safety Education Campaign. The statewide effort will promote safe driving and walking in order to reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths. The department wants reactions to messages it has developed so far. Take the 10-minute survey; results will influence how the final advertising turns out. 
Opportunities of All Sorts
  • This Saturday, Aug. 29: Ramsey County gives away free masks on a first-come, first-served basis (five masks per family) from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in the parking lot of Oxford Community Center, 270 Lexington Parkway N. Donations of unused masks will be accepted; free food also will be available.
  • Through this Sunday, Aug. 30: Minnesota State Fair Food Parade, opens 9 a.m. each day. Cars are being steered through the gate at Hoyt and Snelling. It all happens again next Thursday-Monday Sept. 3-7. Reservations are sold out. The Fairgrounds otherwise are closed to the public through Thursday Sept. 10.
  • This Tuesday, Sept. 2: Free online training for the upcoming Ramsey County Mapping Prejudice project, which will research and document covenants that bar people who are not "white" from owning land and property in the county. 7-8 p.m.
  • Tuesday Sept. 8: Public hearing on 2021 water rates and fees proposed by Saint Paul Regional Water Services, 5 p.m. The hearing will be virtual, but details on how to participate have not been released. The utility plans to raise rates by 11 cents per unit in Saint Paul in 2021. There are no proposed changes in base fees or surcharges.
  • Tuesday Sept. 8: District 10 Environment Committee, 7 p.m. All renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to take part in one or both meetings via video conference or telephone. To join, email the Como Community Council office; staff will send access information.
  • Saturday Sept. 26: Saint Paul Parks and Recreation's Seed Squad invites volunteers to harvest native seeds from the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom, 3-5 p.m. Space is limited; sign up in advance.
Adding to the Traffic Runarounds
New this week:
  • Energy Park Drive: Ramsey County's repaving and restriping begins this Monday, Aug. 31, starting at the intersection of Front and Churchill west toward Raymond. Despite lane restrictions, travel will remain open in both directions. This week's work will focus on utility and sewer covers; the actual milling and resurfacing of pavement begins after Labor Day.
Otherwise, it's pretty much as it has been:
  • Como Ave.: In our neighborhood, Como is still dug up and shut down completely from Hamline west to Arona. Public Works has barricaded the east and west ends of Breda, Albany, and Almond, in an attempt to prevent cut-through traffic that refuses to use the official Midway Parkway detour.
    Como itself remains open in each direction between Arona and Snelling. West of Snelling, westbound Como is shut down to Caithlin. An eastbound lane remains open from Caithlin to Snelling. From Caithlin to the Cleveland/Raymond intersection, the street runs one lane in each direction.
    On the city's western border, Como is closed at Brompton. That means access to Highway 280 from Como Ave. is cut off. So is access to Eustis St., which is the closest alternative to get on 280 (using the Larpenteur Ave. ramps). So, getting on 280 now means taking Raymond south to Energy Park Drive or Cleveland north to Larpenteur. 
  • Dale St.: 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 the Uni-Dale Mall and to some nearby east-west streets is cut off.
  • Larpenteur Ave.: Work continues on the permanent conversion of Larpenteur from 4 lanes to 3 between Dale Street and Interstate 35E. In some stretches, traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction. 
Civilian Review Panel Answers Allegations
Saint Paul's Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Committee has released its final report for civilian complaints filed against city police officers in 2019. The committee, which operates independently out of the Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity in the mayor's office:
  • Reviewed 44 cases involving 88 allegations against 72 officers
  • Sustained 21 of the allegations
  • Exonerated officers in 17 allegations, and found 34 allegations unfounded
  • Recommended 8 terminations, 1 suspension, 2 written reprimands, 6 verbal reprimands, retraining in 3 cases, and supervisory counsel in 1 case
The report says the police chief did not follow the committee's recommendations in 7 cases, but does not provide details. Read the full report
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.