Herbicide Treatment Will Start on Como Lake
Now that ice is out, herbicide treatments could start any day to begin eradicating the destructive presence of curly-leaf pondweed in Como Lake.

Capitol Region Watershed District will inject fluridone into the lake during two days this month to begin reversing the invasive plant's growth. It's the first of two tactics the watershed district will unleash this spring to fight growing levels of phosphorus, the main culprit in the lake's declining water quality and the main reason for ugly, smelly algae blooms in summer.
  • Learn more about the treatment and the science behind it
Curly-leaf pondweed has outcompeted native plants and now makes up 90 percent of the lake's plants. Unlike native plants, it grows under the ice in winter. The fluridone treatment is timed to attack the plant before it begins reproducing. Over the next several years, the watershed district hopes to reduce curly-leaf pondweed enough to give native plants a fighting chance to rebalance the lake's ecosystem.

In May, the watershed district will inject aluminum sulfate (or "alum") into the lake. This treatment reduces phosphorus by converting it to a dense, stable compound that algae can't use.
Real Ways to Make a Difference Right Now
  • Saint Paul is creating a volunteer force designed to support community members who can't meet their basic needs during the coronavirus pandemic because of their age, mobility issues, limited income, or other factors. Sign up for Neighbors Helping Neighbors
  • Donate Good Stuff, a nonprofit based in Como, has created a resource page that compiles locations where you can donate masks or other safety equipment for local health-care workers. For those of you with craft skills, the page also has instructions on how to make masks and headbands for medical and other front-line workers, where you can get supplies, and how you can connect with others doing the same thing.
  • The Como Community Council still has resources you can download or pick up in person to help you keep track of neighbors on your block or in your apartment building during this period of isolation. We're also still lining up volunteers to create connections between seniors in our neighborhood and the rest of us.
  • Meanwhile, here's our guide to restaurants in (and almost in) District 10 -- and what they can provide while they can't provide a sit-down meal.
A Cheat Sheet of Resources to Get By
It's nearly impossible to keep track of pandemic-related information and resources. Here's a short guide to make your search easier:
  • Minnesota Department of Health devotes an extensive section of its website to the coronavirus. The site includes the latest updates, specific information about Covid-19 symptoms, recommendations for prevention and more, with fliers and videos in a dozen languages. The department also has a public hotline: 651-201-3920; staff answer every day from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has a resource page for workers who need unemployment benefits. DEED also has a resource page for businesses. It includes information on emergency loans, critical business exemptions, unemployment, and other needs. In addition, the federal Paycheck Protection Program now is available, providing forgivable loans for small businesses and nonprofits that keep their workers employed. 
  • The state's Department of Human Services has a one-stop web portal for families who need emergency assistance with cash, food (SNAP), child care, or health insurance. To find out what kinds of assistance you might qualify for, use the Bridge to Benefits screening tool.
  • To find emergency child care -- especially if you work in an "essential" sector -- call the state hotline, 651-297-1304; the Child Care Aware parent line, 1-888-291-9811; or use this interactive map.
  • HomeLine offers confidential legal advice, education, and resources around tenant rights, for free or low cost. For example, even though Gov. Tim Walz has suspended evictions, tenants still need to pay rent or make other arrangements if they can't pay right now. HomeLine offers guidance on how to do that. Call 612-728-5767 or email your questions. (Services are also available in Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.)
  • Because of the massive number of job layoffs, many utilities -- including Xcel Energy and Saint Paul Regional Water Services -- will not disconnect service for the time being if customers are behind on payments.
  • Ramsey County continues to staff its mental health crisis lines 24/7. For adults, call 651-266-7900; for children, call 651-266-7878. Ramsey County also devotes a web portal exclusively to information about accessing county services and facilities during the pandemic.
Ways to Find Food in a Pinch
  • Saint Paul Public Schools' food truck will provide one free meal per child today, Friday April 3, from 11:15-11:45 p.m. outside Como Senior High School, 740 W. Rose.
  • Local chefs staffing the Fare Well Food Truck serve free meals today, Friday April 3, outside Chelsea Heights Elementary School, 1557 Huron. The spring break program serves from noon until meals run out.
  • While schools remain closed (at least through May 4), Saint Paul Public Schools are using bus stops as a way to provide meals to school children. That includes Chelsea Heights, Como, and Crossroads elementary routes on Wednesdays, and Como High and Murray Junior High routes on Thursdays. Or, families can pick up meals Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays from 10-11:30 a.m. outside Como High, 740 W. Rose. Get the details
  • Metro Mobility is offering free grocery delivery for certified users who order from a participating grocery store. Call 651-602-1120 to set it up. In addition, the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department has a "help team" that will pick up and deliver prepaid prescription medication, food and groceries. The team is available weekdays from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.-4 p.m. To request the free help, call or text 651-448-3874, or send an email.
  • If you need a food shelf, you can look up resources in or near Como using the interactive map organized by Hunger Solutions Minnesota.
Saint Paul 'Bridge Fund' Expands
Saint Paul's Housing and Redevelopment Authority and seven partnering businesses and foundations have expanded the availability of their new Bridge Fund. The more than $3 million in emergency money provides:
  • Grants of up to $1,000 for eligible city residents 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.) Note: An earlier restriction that limited eligibility to residents who have a child in Saint Paul Public Schools is gone.
  • Grants of up to $7,500, which small businesses in the city can use to pay five types of immediate expenses.
So You Want Fresh Air...
City parks in Saint Paul remain open for general use; that includes playgrounds, basketball courts, and tennis courts (as weather allows). But let's remember to keep a respectful distance, including on playing fields and the lake walking paths, because a lot of people are not happy that a lot of other people don't seem to know what 6 feet means.  That said:
  • Saint Paul Parks and Recreation buildings, classes, and programs are closed through at least May 10 (although Como Park Zoo and Conservatory plan to reopen May 2).
  • The State Fairgrounds are open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, but accessible only through Gate 5 at Snelling and Midway Parkway. All other gates are closed.
  • Playgrounds outside Saint Paul Public Schools are closed.
  • Playgrounds, golf courses, ice arenas, picnic shelters, and bathrooms in Ramsey County parks are closed. But parks and trails themselves are open (with portable toilets and trash cans available).
  • Minnesota state parks, trails, and other public lands are open for day use, such as hiking, biking, boating, and fishing. Bathrooms are open. But campgrounds, visitor and trail centers, and camper cabins and other overnight facilities are closed.
Accessing Resources from the City
  • You can now order and pick up books, magazines, movies, and other materials from five Saint Paul Public Library locations: George Latimer Central, Highland Park, Merriam Park, Rondo, and Sun Ray. Library staff will place your materials outside. 
  • Library card-holders also can access Ancestry.com for free, to research family heritage. Start here. In addition, all children, teens, and adults also can access a wide range of digital tools online -- including e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and homework help. In addition, a daily story time for children streams live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. on the library's Facebook page.
  • Though many city offices are closed to the public, the Department of Safety and Inspections continues to issue permits, conduct investigations, and handle its usual workload. Call 651-266-8989 to make an appointment.
  • The city's Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity continues to 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 status with regard to public assistance. Call 651-266-8966 or email the department.
  • The city has a new phone line available with interpreters to answer questions about coronavirus issues in Hmong, Karen, Oromo, Somali, and Spanish. Call 651-266-6000 or send a request by email.
  • The City Council plans to meet remotely through at least June 16. Residents can tune in online or on local cable Channel 18. They can comment on agenda items in advance by using email or by leaving a voice message at 651-266-6805.
Going On In and Around District 10
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.  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.
We're Still Trying to Get Things Done
Two District 10 committees meet this week, relying on technology rather than gathering face to face.
  • This Tuesday, April 7: Neighborhood Relations Committee. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. online, using Google Hangout. All renters, homeowners, and other community members are welcome to participate by video conference or by phone: call 1-541-972-3023; the meeting PIN is 469 145 264#. We'll post a preliminary agenda as soon as it's available.
  • This Wednesday, April 8: Environment Committee. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. online, using Google Hangout. All renters, homeowners, and other community members are welcome to participate by video conference or by phone: call 1-929-367-8323; the meeting PIN is 890 243 481#. We'll post a preliminary agenda as soon as it's available.
The temporary classroom building at the Job Corps Center.
It's a Building Renovation. Really.
As the Humphrey Job Corps Center on Snelling Ave. continues renovating the inside of its classroom buildings, bringing them up to modern safety standards, and installing a new HVAC system across campus, it is constructing a temporary classroom building on its parking lot along Arlington. That building will allow training to continue once students return.

The classroom building is not a makeshift hospital for Covid-19 patients, as some worried callers are suggesting.
Construction Ramps Up
  • Dale Street/Interstate 94: Ramsey County demolishes the east portion of the Dale Street bridge over I-94 this weekend. But the impact extends much farther than that: MnDOT is closing all of I-94 in both directions between Highway 280 and I-35E. The shutdown of the freeway (and all ramps in between) begins tonight, Friday April 3, at 10 o'clock. Lanes and ramps could remain closed as long as 5 a.m. Monday, April 6. The marked detour will use Highway 280, Highway 36 and I-35E.
    Meanwhile, Dale itself remains restricted to one lane in each direction between University and Carroll. 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 now two-way to allow local access to homes, businesses, and schools. Also, Central is cut off east of Dale.
  • East Como Blvd.: Saint Paul has issued the contract, so restriping east of the lake between Nagasaki and the Maryland/Wheelock intersection could happen any time. The project adds bike lanes in each direction, designated turn lanes in some locations, and restripes vehicle lanes to conform with the existing lane configuration north and south of the two-block stretch. See the details
  • Highway 5: Not that anybody's going to MSP anymore, but MnDOT starts a summerlong construction project this week that will make getting to and from the airport as much fun as flying economy itself. Beginning this Wednesday, April 8, eastbound Highway 5 shuts 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 and I-494. (For now, westbound Highway 5 remains open as usual.) The airport has a whole website with advice on how to get around this mess.
  • Churchill Gardens: The city intends to dig up part of the west rain garden beginning this Monday, April 6, to improve stormwater drainage. The goal is to prevent flooding that occurs -- especially on Churchill near Horton -- during heavy rain and spring melt. A new, perforated sewer pipe will be installed to connect the storm drains on the east and west sides of the garden to the city sewer system.
  • Snelling Ave.: Falcon Heights is relining sewers between Hoyt and Larpenteur beginning this Monday, April 6. Expect smells, noise, and some traffic restrictions through April 17.
Questions about Property Valuation? Act Now
If you're a property owner, Ramsey County's annual property valuation notices and tax statements should have arrived in your mail this past week. Don't overlook this: The taxable market value in the notice is what they use to determine what you'll owe in property taxes in 2021. But now is the time to question or appeal your market value.

To appeal your valuation through an "open book meeting," call the Assessor's Office at 651-266-2131 this Monday, April 6, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., or this Tuesday, April 7, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Learn more
Business Licenses Up for Renewal
New this week:
  • Foxtrot Burger Spot: The liquor and patio licenses for this restaurant at 1341 Pascal are up for renewal on June 1. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 4 Councilmember Mitra Jalali.
  • Como Lakeside Pavilion: The liquor, entertainment, and patio licenses (currently being managed by Spring CafĂ©) are up for renewal on June 4. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 5 Councilmember Amy Brendmoen.
  • Pope Automotive: The garage license for this auto repair shop at 991 Front is up for renewal on June 13. Anyone who has concerns should contact the office of Ward 5 Councilmember Amy Brendmoen.
Previously reported:
  • 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 licenses (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.
  • 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.
Hearings Focus on Bandana Square
  • This Thursday, April 9: Saint Paul Zoning Committee, 3:30 p.m. Pacific Ramp LLC is seeking rezoning to build a 150-unit apartment building atop the current parking ramp at 1015 Bandana Blvd. The project requires rezoning from B3 to T3, and a variance on the maximum setback allowed in T3 zoning. To listen in on the meeting, call 651-267-3988, 651-266-5758, or 651-266-5767. The meeting code is 8446127#.
  • Next Monday, April 13: Board of Zoning Appeals, 10 a.m. The board takes up the application by Essence Event Center, 1217 Bandana Blvd., for liquor and entertainment licenses. To listen in on the meeting, call 651-267-3988, 651-266-5758, or 651-266-5767. The meeting code is 8446127#.
Don't Set Yourself Up
With the persistently brazen muggings of pedestrians on or near the walking paths around Como Lake, Saint Paul Police crime prevention specialist Patty Lammers offers this advice:
  • Don't walk distracted. Keep your phone in your pocket, and don't use head phones or ear buds. That gives you a better chance of seeing or hearing if someone approaches you.
  • Walk with a dog or a friend, especially if it's at dawn or dusk.
  • Walk only on paths and sidewalks that are well lit. Don't take shortcuts.
  • Have a personal safety alarm on your key chain. It is a small device that emits a piercing sound when you pull the pin. Do not carry pepper spray or a taser, which can easily be turned against you.
  • Watch for suspicious behavior, such as people peering into parked cars, trying to get into multiple cars, or sitting in cars without license plates. Stolen cars have been a common link in many attacks across the city.
If you have questions, email Patty or her colleague.

FYI: Saint Paul Police headquarters buildings are closed to the public until at least April 13.
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.