Chalk art on sidewalks and driveways. Colorful cutouts in windows. Pinwheels and lawn signs. All over the neighborhood, people are trying to keep us sane -- and even smiling -- during these trying times. Let's remember: What we see depends on where we stand. The strain from working, the strain from not working. The strain from being cooped up a little too much with those we love. The strain from not being able to see or touch those we love at all. Some are risking their health so the rest of us can maintain the basics -- even the luxuries -- of life. Some are risking their health by staying isolated. Some seem to be risking everyone else's health by what they do together. As the days grow longer, our patience may be growing shorter. In the end, however, we're neighbors. To endure as community means living by the wisdom of that old bumper sticker: "Humankind. Be both."
Bad Bike Path in Park is Getting Rebuilt
Some of the worst trail sections in Como Park will be only a memory a week from now.
Saint Paul Parks and Recreation this week expects to rip up and rebuild a bicycle and pedestrian path in Como Regional Park that really needs it. The path stretches roughly two-thirds of a mile from Schiffman Fountain, across Lexington, then along the golf course and up the hill toward Montana.

The portion on the west side of Lexington will be dug up and newly paved. The portion east of Lexington will be dug up and widened to 12 feet; the wider path officially will allow two-way bicycle traffic through that stretch of the park.

This week's project begins implementing recommendations made last year by the Como Community Council's Pathways Project. Those recommendations give the city specific suggestions to improve the condition and function of pedestrian and bicycle paths in the regional park; upgrade signs; create maps, kiosks, and other "wayfinding" tools; and upgrade amenities along paths.

The community council is talking with Parks staff on how to implement more recommendations when the department rebuilds the parking lots outside the Lakeside Pavilion and the golf course. That construction is penciled in for fall 2020 or early 2021.

Elsewhere in the park: To take advantage of Covid-19 shutdowns, Parks and Recreation is replacing the artificial turf at McMurray Field. Reconstruction is expected to last at least through Memorial Day.
District 10 Looks to Expand Voting Options
The Como Community Council board has drafted proposals that would give community members additional ways to vote in District 10 elections, possibly as soon as June. Elections and the district's annual meeting remain on hold because of restrictions on public gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The proposed amendments to the council's bylaws would allow absentee voting for board elections. That could take various forms, including mail ballots, voting electronically, or early voting. The current bylaws permit only in-person voting at a particular time on a particular weeknight at a particular location. Absentee ballots would give community members more options to vote at their convenience. 

The board plans to vote on the amendments May 19. (You can read more details and email comments if you'd like.)  At its April 21 meeting, the board also:
  • Created an ad-hoc committee that will examine the logistics, advantages, and disadvantages of conducting board elections using different forms of absentee voting. The committee will make recommendations in May on how elections should take place in 2020.
  • Reopened the filing period for candidates for the board. Nine seats will be up for election once voting is scheduled. If you are interested in running, learn more here.
  • Drafted another amendment to the bylaws that would allow District 10's annual meeting to take place remotely, if necessary, rather than in person.
  • Adopted policies for continuing to conduct district council meetings remotely while restrictions on public gatherings exist.
  • Cancelled the annual Ice Cream Social, which was scheduled for July 10, with hopes of holding a similar community event in autumn.
  • Adopted a resolution condemning the overt and subtle racism, xenophobia, harassment, and discrimination manifesting itself since the Covid-19 outbreak, especially acts and threats targeting people of color and neighbors of Asian heritage.
This Year, We Call the Shots
This would be the weekend for the annual Citywide Spring Cleanup. Because of pandemic restrictions, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation is cancelling community-based projects. Instead, they're encouraging DIY cleanup anytime this month. Some easy steps to follow:
  • Use your own trash bags; don't forget to use gloves.
  • Select a local park, trail, boulevard, alley, or curbside.
  • Pick up trash (of course, maintain at least a 6-foot distance from anyone you don't live with).
  • Don't ignore micro-trash (such as cigarette butts and plastic, which are a real hazard to wildlife). And definitely don't ignore those Pioneer Press and Star Tribune advertising supplements that litter the neighborhood.
  • Recycle what you can; dispose of the rest in your home trash cart. Or, place your trash bag next to a park trash bin.
  • Share your cleanup photos on social media using the hashtag #CitywideCleanup.
Sign Up Now for a Community Garden Plot
District 10's Community Garden has space available for this growing season. If you are interested in a plot, email our office. New applications are handled on a first-come, first-served basis; District 10 residents get preference. The garden is at Almond and Asbury, just east of Snelling. The annual fee is $25. Plots vary in size from roughly 200-250 square feet.
We Keep Track So You Don't Have To
Pandemic-related updates in the neighborhood, city, and beyond:
  • Ramsey County is extending the deadline to pay property taxes until July 15 for taxpayers who are financially impacted by the pandemic. Other property owners are urged to pay their first-half installment by the usual May 15 deadline; that helps maintain cash flow for the county, city, and school district. Check if your property qualifies
  • Federal Economic Impact Payment checks are being deposited automatically into bank accounts, loaded onto cash cards, or mailed to eligible taxpayers who filed federal tax returns for either 2019 or 2018. The checks provide $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples, and $500 for each qualifying child. However, if you did not (or were not required to) file a tax return, you must register to receive your check. Prepare+Prosper, a local nonprofit, can help with this and other tax paperwork; call 651-287-0187 or send an email. If you expect to get your check automatically, but have questions, this IRS page might help.
  • If your income has taken a hit because of the economic crash, home ownership advisors at the local nonprofit NeighborWorks Home Partners can provide guidance and explore options to help you protect your home and open communication with whoever holds your mortgage. Foreclosure intervention services are confidential and free
  • With schools in "distance learning" mode for the rest of this academic year, Saint Paul Public Schools now are providing home delivery of meals -- instead of bus stop pickups -- for every enrolled pupil, age 18 or younger, who qualifies for a free or reduced-price lunch. The meal boxes provide 10 meals per week per child. Families who are not eligible for free or reduced-price meals can participate by self-enrolling. All the information is here. In addition, the school district continues to drop off meal boxes (while supplies last) every Friday from 10 a.m.-noon at four schools, including Chelsea Heights Elementary, 1557 Huron.
  • The Saint Paul Fire Department is participating in Gov. Tim Walz's statewide homemade mask drive this Saturday, April 25, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The location closest to District 10 is Station 22, 225 Front Ave; there will be a staffed, drive-through collection site on Marion St. (A drop box, but no staff, will be available at Station 23, 1926 Como Ave.) Firefighters then will deliver donated masks to communities most at risk from Covid-19, including local congregate living facilities.  
  • If you can't get your act together in time for Saturday, there are plenty of locations that will take donated masks and other supplies at any time. Find one here
  • Minneapolis and Saint Paul have closed the southbound lane of East River Parkway/Mississippi River Boulevard from Franklin Ave. south to Ford Parkway. That lane is now open only to pedestrians and bicyclists. Motor vehicles can travel only one way northbound. (West River Parkway in Minneapolis is open only to southbound motor vehicles.) Closer to home, Como Lake Drive remains closed until at least May 4.
  • Saint Paul has opened the Como, Phalen, and Highland National golf courses -- with lots of restrictions. Among them: There are no cart or equipment rentals, tee times must be booked online, clubhouses and pro shops are closed, restaurants are closed, and there are no bunker rakes (in case you would ever need one). Here are the details
  • Looking for a good place for outdoor social distancing -- or for distinct "distance learning" for you and your family? Don't forget about the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom. Using QR codes on 27 numbered posts, you can access historical and natural resource information simply by scanning with a mobile device.
  • More than 5,200 families and 2,100 small businesses applied for grants through Saint Paul's Bridge Fund .  The fund has enough money for only about 20 percent of the requests -- roughly 1,200 families and 370 businesses, who were selected through lottery. The city now is verifying eligibility before sending checks. In the meantime, the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation continues to accept donations through a  GiveMN fundto increase the number of grants the program can provide.
As always, the state's Covid-19 dashboard is an easy place to get reliable details, find Minnesota's latest pandemic statistics, and collect or link to other information and advice during these "stay at home" days. 
Website Builds Pandemic Resource Guide
District 10's website continues to compile a guide to all kinds of pandemic resources. We can't list everything, but we can try to save you some time. Resources include: 
  • How and where to volunteer or otherwise do good deeds
  • How 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, rental advice, and more
  • How to tap into the online resources of local libraries, the Zoo and Conservatory, and other public institutions
You're Running Out of Time
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 next Saturday, May 2, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the county's parks department, 2015 Van Dyke St., Maplewood. That means you better get your order in soon.
Construction News This Week
Saint Paul now says Como Ave. will not be rebuilt between Hamline and Snelling this year. The city and Ramsey County still intend to rebuild Como between Snelling and the Raymond/Cleveland intersection in fall 2020 (presumably after the State Fair). But the stretch east of Snelling, including the Como Ave. Trail that goes with it, is now put off until 2021. Meanwhile, n ot that we're travelling anywhere, but:
  • Interstate 94/494/694: All four exit and entrance ramps at this East Metro interchange close at noon today, Friday April 24. I-94 shuts down entirely in both directions beginning at 7:00 tonight, Friday April 24, until roughly 5 a.m. this Monday, April 27. All the ramps are supposed to open by 5 a.m. Monday, too -- except the ramps from eastbound 94 to northbound 694 and from northbound 494 to westbound 94. Those two ramps are off limits until September. Nearby roads also are sucked into the construction.
No changes on other nearby projects:
Local Crime Rises During Lockdown
In the first month of the state's "stay at home" restrictions, reported crime in District 10 actually is up from the same period a year ago. In 2020, between March 15 and April 15, Saint Paul Police recorded 78 crimes in District 10; that's up from 67 cases in 2019.

All kinds of factors -- including significantly different weather -- put asterisks on direct comparisons. Nonetheless, reported crimes are up in almost every category over the same one-month period. Examples:
  • Robberies were up from 2 in 2019 to 4 in 2020
  • Domestic assaults were up from 2 to 5
  • Auto thefts doubled from 5 to 10
  • Reports of vandalism were up from 6 to 10
  • Verified reports of shots fired were up from 1 to 4
Burglaries and attempted burglaries were up slightly, from 8 to 10. But among reported burglaries,  those that involved forced entry skyrocketed from 1 in 2019 to 8 in 2020. The two areas where crime was down in 2020: narcotics arrests, down from 8 to 5; and thefts not related to vehicles, down from 17 to 11.
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.