Last glimmer? Maybe, just maybe, this is the last we'll see of the ice rinks at North Dale Recreation Center. Photo: Debby Smith
Rediscover Forgotten Como History
Photo: Minnesota Historical Society
Forget the 60-degree weather forecast for this Sunday. Transport yourself back to 1917, which arguably was the biggest and best rendition in the Saint Paul Winter Carnival's celebrated history. Organizers lined up epic-scale parades, world-class ski jumping -- and the Red River Derby, a 522-mile dogsled race from Winnipeg to Saint Paul. When that race finished at Como Park, an incredible spectacle unfolded. Among 10,000 viewers, the finish gave rise to an unlikely hero.  
 
This weekend, join local writer Drew M. Ross to hear what happened. "Forgotten Como History" is this week's installment of the Como Community Council's Sunday Series. The free presentation is March 8, from 1-2:30 p.m., in the upstairs Fireside Room at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 1460 Almond. A quick rundown of the rest of this year's lineup (you can get all the details on our website):
  • Next Sunday, March 15: John Moriarty, author of "Field Guide to the Natural World of the Twin Cities," highlights some of his favorite natural places in the metro, Ramsey County, and Como Park. Along the way, you'll learn natural history facts for local plants and animals, and get tips on getting the most out of your own backyard habitats. Bonus: The turtles of Como Lake.
  • 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.
The proposed apartment development, looking northwest.
Bandana  Square Apartments Proposed
A Saint Paul developer is proposing a four-story, 150-unit apartment building atop the existing parking ramp west of the Best Western hotel in Bandana Square. The target move-in date is fall 2021.

Despite the decaying concrete of the parking decks, the ramp is structurally sound enough to support the project without additional pilings or foundation work, says Jim LaValle, principal for TJL Development LLC. The market-rate apartments would be a combination of studios, alcove studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units, none larger than 1,000 square feet, he says. Most would have small balconies. Early designs show a 60-foot-tall, E-shaped building with an outdoor pool and other recreation space on the first floor.

LaValle told District 10's Land Use Committee on March 4 that rents will be "competitive" with other rental communities in Energy Park. The project would provide secure underground parking for tenants, and lease 150 public parking spaces back to the hotel.

The project will seek rezoning from B3 commercial to T3 traditional. It also expects to need a setback variance. LaValle's company currently is involved in The Grove at Snelling and St. Clair, and apartments that replaced Kelly's Depot Bar in Lowertown.
The site plan for Hmong College Prep's expansion. The blue area shows the new middle school.
Hmong Academy Expands Again
Hmong College Prep Academy expects to build a new middle school and outdoor playground beginning this July on land it owns southwest of Brewster and Pascal. A skyway over Brewster would connect the three-story addition to the existing buildings.

The K-12 charter school says current enrollment of 2,350 pupils is about 150 over capacity. The proposed project would expand capacity to 2,400 students, says CEO Paul Yang, and create the outdoor play space the school promised during its last expansion in 2018. The current fence surrounding the site will remain.

The new building will have 42 classrooms and a gymnasium, while related construction will eliminate some classrooms in the current buildings to expand the cafeteria, add more commons space, and expand administrative space. The school expects to seek $22.5 million in tax-exempt conduit revenue bonds from Saint Paul's Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
Community Yoga Returns Sunday 
District 10's next Community Yoga is this Sunday, March 8, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station, 1224 Lexington Parkway N. Community member Meegan Hall leads the sessions, which will be suitable for all levels of skill and experience. Bring a yoga mat or blanket, and wear comfortable clothes. Registration is $5. (Future Community Yoga sessions are on Sundays April 5, May 3, Sept. 13, Oct. 4, and Nov. 8.) 
Join In at Committee Meetings
District 10's Neighborhood Relations Committee meets this Tuesday, March 10. District 10's Environment Committee meets this Wednesday, March 11. 

All renters, homeowners, and other community members are welcome to attend and participate. Both committee meetings begin at 7 p.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station, 1224 Lexington Parkway N (which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton). View the preliminary agenda 
These are boundaries for the neighborhood's subdistricts.
Extend Your Circle of Influence
Now's the time to have a bigger say in your neighborhood: The 2020 elections for the District 10 Como Community Council board are April 21. Nine seats are up for election. 

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.

Board seats on the ballot this year are vice chair; treasurer; one representative from each of the neighborhood's four sub-districts; and 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.
  • To get on the ballot, apply no later than Tuesday April 14. Elections take place April 21.
City Council Looks at Rental Protections
New tenant protections will be introduced at the Saint Paul City Council this Wednesday, March 11. Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali is the lead sponsor of the proposed ordinance, which is targeted to take effect Jan. 1, 2021. It sets standards in five areas:
  • Rights and responsibilities: Creates a packet of information outlining rights, responsibilities, and resources for tenants and landlords; the information must be provided when tenants sign a lease.
  • Security deposits: Limits security deposits to one month's rent. Also prohibits requiring tenants to pre-pay more than one month's rent.
  • Tenant screening: Creates uniform guidelines about what can and cannot be used from an applicant's rental, credit, and criminal history.
  • Just cause: Requires landlords to provide just cause if they terminate a lease or refuse to renew a lease.
  • Advance notice: Requires that tenants in buildings classified as "affordable housing" be notified at least 90 days in advance if their building is put up for sale. It also allows tenants to stay in the building at least 90 days after the sale, and requires the new owner to provide relocation assistance to displaced tenants under certain circumstances.
Speaking of affordable housing: The Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing plans advocacy training on tenant issues and a request for $500 million in state bonding for housing. The free training is Thursday March 19 from 5-6:30 p.m. at First Lutheran Church, 463 Maria Ave. on the East Side (near Metro State University). To reserve a spot, email Patti Whitney-Wise.
Learn about First Aid for the Lake
Capitol Region Watershed District holds its final, free public information meeting this weekend to explain treatments it will carry out this spring to improve the water quality of Como Lake. The meeting is this Saturday, March 7, from 1-2:30 p.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station, 1224 Lexington Parkway N. Shortly after ice-out this spring, the watershed district will apply:
  • An herbicide treatment in April that targets curly-leaf pondweed. This invasive plant increases the lake's phosphorus levels and is responsible for much of the obnoxious smell we endure in late summer. See a short video about curly-leaf pondweed.
  • An alum treatment in May. This is designed to lock up phosphorus that's already in the lake, and reduce the severity of algae blooms.
Time is Slipping Away This Weekend
Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday, March 8. That means:
  • Turn your clock ahead one hour
  • We lose an hour overnight
  • Days stay lighter later
Never Been Camping? Try This
Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and Wilderness Inquiry have a great opportunity for city families who have never been camping. You supply the family, they'll supply the gear, and you can give it a try -- indoors.

Urban Family Camping is next weekend: from 6 p.m. Friday March 13 until 10 a.m. Saturday March 14. You'll learn how to pitch a tent, use a kayak, go for a swim, do a bonfire, and enjoy other activities. It all takes place at Oxford Community Center, Lexington and Marshall. Plus, you'll qualify for a free outdoor camping trip this summer. To register, call 651-642-0650.
Fix It Once and For All
Rethos -- a Saint Paul nonprofit dedicated to investing in old buildings -- holds a series of home repair classes this month.
  • This Tuesday, March 10: Taking Care of Business (toilet installation and repair). Minnesota Tool Library, 1620 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, 6-8 p.m. $25
  • Tuesday March 17: Feeling Frayed? Updating Old Electrical. Minnesota Tool Library, 755 N. Prior, Suite 9. 6-8 p.m. $25
  • Wednesday March 18: Home Sweet Home Maintenance 101. Neighborhood HomeWorks, 533 N. Dale, 6-7 p.m. $15
  • Tuesday March 24: Fix It (rewiring switches and fixtures). Minnesota Tool Library, 755 N. Prior, Suite 9. 6-8 p.m. $25
  • Tuesday March 31: If Walls Could Talk (drywall and plaster repair). Minnesota Tool Library, 1620 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, 6-8 p.m. $25
Thoughts Turn to Gardening
Just in time for this weekend's burst of spring, Ramsey County's Master Gardeners have scheduled a bushel full of gardening classes in March and April. 

The first one starts this weekend: Introduction to Vegetable Gardening runs this Saturday, March 7, and March 14 and 21 from 10-11:30 a.m. at North Dale Recreation Center, 1414 St. Albans. Other topics include advanced vegetable gardening, home composting, pest control, planting for pollinators, and pruning. Costs range from free to $15. 
Check Your Blood Pressure
It's the second week of the month. That means the Como Park Falcon Heights Living at Home Block Nurse Program is providing free blood-pressure screenings in and around the neighborhood:
  • This Monday, March 9: 2:45 p.m., Falcon Heights City Hall, 2077 W. Larpenteur
  • This Tuesday, March 10: 11:30 a.m., Town Square Apartments, 1550 W. Larpenteur
  • This Thursday, March 12: 9:30 a.m., Arbor Pointe Apartments, 635 W. Maryland
  • This Thursday, March 12: 11:30 a.m., Como Park Lutheran Church, 1376 Hoyt
No Need to Go It Alone
Saint Paul library branches are starting Learning Circles -- an opportunity for people to get together and learn something together. The free, 4- to 8-week gatherings are coordinated by facilitators and supported by Peer 2 Peer University. Join an existing circle, start one of your own, or watch a video to find out what it's all about.
Keeping Track of Official Paperwork
New this week:
  • Grand Round North Regional Trail Master Plan: The City Council is expected to adopt the plan at its meeting this Wednesday, March 11, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Gabe's by the Park: The liquor, entertainment, and gambling licenses for this restaurant on Lexington and Energy Park Drive are up for renewal on May 5. (Liquor licenses include patio, Sunday, and 2 a.m. closing.) Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali.
  • Family foster care: Residents at 1472 Como Ave. have applied for a family foster care service provider license. If you have questions or concerns, call Ramsey County Human Services at 651-266-3929.
Previously reported:
  • 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.
  • 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.
Bus Schedules Change March 14
Metro Transit makes route and schedule changes beginning next Saturday, March 14. Local routes affected include Route 3 and Route 61.

Later This Month
  • This Tuesday, March 10: Larpenteur Ave. Repaving, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of Washington Technology Magnet School, 1495 Rice St. Ramsey County holds an open house about this summer's resurfacing and restriping of Larpenteur between Dale and Rice. The 4-3 conversion that was installed as a pilot project last summer will become permanent.
  • Next Sunday, March 15: Deadline to apply to be an outreach ambassador for Saint Paul's CollegeBound program. Apply via email
  • Wednesday March 18: Deadline to apply for Saint Paul's 2020 Neighborhood STAR program, which provides grants and low-interest loans for capital improvement projects. Public sector, private sector, or nonprofit organizations are eligible. Matching funds are required. File by 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday March 18: Public hearing on Saint Paul's 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan and 2020-2021 Action Plan, 5:30 p.m. Third-floor City Council chambers, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd. The plans outline how the city intends to use federal Housing and Urban Development grants.
Bill Targets Catalytic Converter Thefts
State Sen. John Marty, whose district includes Como, introduced legislation this week that says scrap dealers can purchase catalytic converters only from "bona fide" auto repair shops. The legislation ( SF 3898) creates a major barrier for thieves who now can quickly cash in by stealing the expensive pollution-control devices from vehicles, then selling them as scrap.
Visit the Streetcar Station Sunday
The Historic Streetcar Station in Como Park is open this Sunday, March 8, from noon-4 p.m. It is a great chance to learn a little about the long-gone trolley system in the Twin Cities, about the history and visionaries behind Como and the city's overall park system, to pick up organics recycling bags or kitchen starter kits, or just to chat with a District 10 board member who is staffing the day. The Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. (It is open only on the first Sunday of the month through spring.)
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.