Zoo Won't Charge for Parking
After months of study, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory says it will not implement paid parking anytime soon. Research done by an outside consultant suggests that, if the city charged for parking, frequent visitors would visit less often and spend less when they do visit. That would cost the campus more money than parking revenue would produce.

Changes in visitor behavior would cut revenue from such sources as voluntary admission donations, food and souvenir purchases, tickets to Como Town amusement rides, and fundraising. The bottom line: Paid parking will not be included in the Zoo and Conservatory's 2021 budget, says Michelle Furrer, director of the Zoo and Conservatory.

"Some version of paid parking has been a topic in Como Park for many years," Furrer says. "It was our intent to gather accurate data to inform decisions. The feasibility of this as a revenue source shows it would not be a long-term benefit to the city."
Como Herbicide Treatment Starts Monday
An aquatic herbicide will be administered this Monday, April 13, to begin eradicating the destructive presence of curly-leaf pondweed in Como Lake. Capitol Region Watershed District is overseeing the injection of fluridone into the lake to begin reversing the invasive plant's growth.  A licensed contractor, PLM Lake & Land Management Corp, expects to begin the treatment at 7 a.m. and finish within a few hours.
  • Learn more about the treatment and the science behind it
The proposed project, looking northwest from Energy Park Drive.
Bandana Apartments Clear Hurdle
The Zoning Committee of Saint Paul's Planning Commission is recommending approval of rezoning and a related variance for a  150-unit apartment building proposed in Bandana Square. The four-story project would be built atop the existing parking ramp at 1015 Bandana Blvd., just west of the Best Western hotel.  The project is seeking rezoning from B3 commercial to T3 traditional. Rezoning is required in order for the project to lease 150 parking spaces back to the hotel. 

The Zoning Committee's unanimous recommendations from April 9 go to the full Planning Commission, which is scheduled to meet remotely on Friday May 1. The Planning Commission makes its own recommendation on the rezoning request; the City Council makes a final decision. In addition, the project will need site plan approval in conformance with the zoning and variance decisions.
'Stay at Home': It's 4th and Long
Gov. Tim Walz has extended his emergency "stay at home" order until Monday May 4. The state's new Covid-19 dashboard is an easy place to get details, find Minnesota's latest pandemic statistics, and collect other information and advice. Additional pandemic updates in the past week:
  • To encourage more physical distancing, Saint Paul has closed all city playgrounds, sports courts, and skate parks. Park buildings and programming were shut down weeks ago. Under the new rules, basketball hoops will be removed, tennis courts locked, and multilingual signs posted at playgrounds. Parks themselves, athletic fields, trails, dog parks, and other open spaces and remain open; however, no pickup games, contact sports, or organized teams are allowed. The city says it hopes to gain compliance through persuasive education rather than enforcement. 
  • The federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention now says everyone should wear a cloth face covering in public, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores and on crowded park trails. The Minnesota Department of Health has additional advice and recommendations, including plans and videos on how to make a face mask at home. Treadle Yard Goods, on Hamline south of Grand Ave., is providing sewing kits for those able to make a dozen masks or more.
  • Amid rising reports of discrimination toward Asian-American residents, Minnesota has set up a Discrimination Helpline. The toll-free line, 1-833-454-0148, allows those who experience or witness bias or discrimination to report incidents to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. The helpline is staffed weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Saint Paul's Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity also can investigate complaints about discrimination or harassment -- pandemic related or not -- on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, disability, marital status, family status, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or receiving public assistance. Call 651-266-8966 or email the department.
Saint Paul Opens 'Bridge Fund'
Saint Paul is now accepting applications from families and small businesses for emergency grants through its Bridge Fund. You can apply online until next Sunday, April 19, at 5 p.m.; after the deadline, eligible applicants will be selected through a lottery. The $3.8 million in emergency money provides:
  • Grants of up to $1,000 for eligible city families to make rent or mortgage payments. Requirements include having at least one minor child at home and a family income of 40 percent or less of the Twin Cities median. (That's about $32,000 for two of you, $40,000 for a family of four.)
  • Grants of up to $7,500, which small, for-profit businesses in the city can use to pay five types of immediate expenses.
State helps veterans: The Minnesota Department of Veterans is offering two kinds of one-time, $1,000 grants for Minnesota veterans financially impacted by the pandemic. Veterans can apply online or contact their local county veterans service officer or MDVA field operations representative.
Website Builds Pandemic Resource Guide
District 10's website is compiling a guide to all kinds of additional pandemic resources, including: 
  • How and where to volunteer
  • Hhow and where to get the food you crave or need -- whether it's groceries, a carry-out meal, food for children, or supplies from a food shelf
  • Where to track down unemployment benefits, cash assistance, emergency child care, mental health resources, state and federal business loan programs, and more. 
And we'll keep adding to it.
If You're Getting Cabin Fever
  • Every weekday at 1:30 p.m., Como Zoo and Conservatory streams a zookeeper or gardener talk live on its Facebook page. The presentations are recorded and available later on the Como Live web page. Options include a video tour of the Spring Flower Show in the Conservatory's Sunken Garden. And, if you haven't seen it, zookeepers turned some of their penguins loose in the Sunken Garden as an "enrichment" exercise. The Star Tribune captured what happened.
  • The city's tourism bureau, Visit Saint Paul, has launched a microsite -- Saint Paul From Home -- with virtual tours, unusual looks at city landmarks, activity packs, tours and suggestions of places to explore, and even recordings of live performances and local podcasts.
  • Registration is open for online adult classes through the Community Education division of Saint Paul Public Schools. Options include cooking, foreign languages, art, at-home fitness, business and technology, and more -- including health and wellness! Use promo code "Spring20" to get a 10 percent discount.
What Can We Do Together?
Here at the Como Community Council, we're still taking applications for community members who want to join our board. To get on the ballot, apply no later than this Tuesday, April 14.

Nine seats are up for election; most do not have an incumbent running. Any renter, homeowner, or other resident of District 10, age 16 or older, is eligible to run. So are representatives from a business, institution, or nonprofit in District 10.  Learn more about the roles and responsibilities of board members. Board seats on the ballot are:
  • vice chair
  • treasurer
  • one representative from each of the neighborhood's four sub-districts
  • two representatives from the neighborhood at-large
Those positions serve two-year terms. In addition, there is a special election to serve the one year remaining on a term from Sub-District 4, which essentially is South Como and Energy Park.
Construction Keeps Moving
  • Como Ave.: Road reconstruction is unlikely to begin until after July 4 (at the earliest). But selected tree removal is likely to begin this week from Hamline west to the Raymond/Cleveland intersection. Fifty or so trees must come down before the spring roosting season begins for the northern long-eared bat, which is a federally threatened species.
  • Como Lake Drive: The street on the north side of the lake, which Saint Paul closed April 3 to create more physical distancing space for pedestrians and cyclists, will remain closed until at least May 4.
  • Dale Street: Traffic remains restricted to one lane in each direction between University and Carroll while Ramsey County builds a new bridge over Interstate 94. At least until fall, motorists cannot get from Dale to St. Anthony Ave. north of the freeway or to Concordia Ave. south of the freeway. Nor can they get from St. Anthony and Concordia to Dale. Stretches of St. Anthony and Concordia are converted from one-way to two-way to allow local access to homes, businesses, and schools. Also, Central is cut off east of Dale.
  • Highway 5: Eastbound Highway 5 remains shut down between Interstate 494 and Davern. Also closed are all ramps to and from Highway 5 and Highways 55/62, to and from Highway 5 and Edgecumbe Road, and the ramp from eastbound Highway 5 to Norfolk Ave. This construction is scheduled to last till mid-July; after that, westbound Highway 5 shuts down between the Mississippi River and I-494 through October. (For now, westbound Highway 5 remains open as usual.) The airport has a whole website with advice on how to get around this mess.
  • Interstate 494: If that's not enough, construction begins this weekend nearby on 494. Long-term, westbound 494 will be reduced to two lanes between Dodd Road and Highway 55; that begins this Sunday, April 12, and is expected to last until June 1. Eastbound lanes will be reconfigured to accommodate two-way traffic. To make that possible, northbound Interstate 35E will shrink to one lane between Dodd Road and Highway 62 from 11:30 tonight, Friday April 10, through 6 a.m. this Saturday, April 11; the entrance ramp from Pilot Knob Road to eastbound 494 will close from 8 tonight, Friday April 10, until 8 a.m. this Saturday, April 11; the ramp from westbound 494 to southbound 35E will close at 7 tonight, Friday April 10, and remain closed through May 11; and the ramp from northbound 35E to westbound 494 will close at 11:30 tonight, Friday April 10, and remain closed until June 1.
Discount Available on Compost Bins
Ramsey County residents can get $20 off a compost bin through the Recycling Association of Minnesota. Order online (or call 651-641-4589), then use the promo code "Ramsey" to get yours for $46. The only catch: You've got to pick up your pre-ordered bin on Saturday May 2 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the county's parks department, 2015 Van Dyke St., Maplewood.
National Night Out Delayed
National Night Out is being rescheduled from August to Tuesday, Oct. 6. Blocks can still register their event with the City of Saint Paul. The site includes block party advice and opportunities for those who register early to win special prizes.
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.