Como Zoo Reopens This Week
Como Zoo welcomes back the public this Wednesday, July 29. (Zoo volunteers and members of Como Friends actually can get a head start this Monday and Tuesday, July 27-28.) Como Town amusement park also reopens July 29.

A lot of things will be different, says Michelle Furrer, director of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Zoo attendance will be limited to 250 at a time. Visitors will have to make reservations. They'll have to follow a designated route, wear masks indoors or out, and maintain social distancing. They'll have to do without any onsite programming and rental equipment. The usual corps of volunteers won't be around to answer questions and provide directions.

But the animals all will be waiting, as they have been since the coronavirus pandemic forced the Zoo to close to the public more than four months ago. "March 16 was a really hard day," Furrer says. "We've had really hard days since. We miss our visitors -- it's why we do what we do. So reopening is scary. But we have a good plan in place."
At least for the first few weeks, the Zoo will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. every day. More details

On a sad note: Dock & Paddle says that after "long deliberations," it will not schedule any summer concerts this year on the Promenade of the Como Lakeside Pavilion. "To ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community, staff and musicians, it isn't feasible to move forward with the concert series," the restaurant said in a statement. "The best thing we can all do right now is to stay safe and help stop the spread of Covid-19." The restaurant itself remains open weekdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m., weekends 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
A Pronto Pup
State Fair Plans a Cavalcade of Food
Most of it won't be on a stick. But if you absolutely can't live without Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies, fried Oreos, Pronto Pups, Mini Donuts, duck bacon wontons, or other fascinating State Fair food -- fear no longer.

The Minnesota State Fair is organizing Food Parade 2020 -- a drive-through feast of 16 State Fair vendors on the Fairgrounds, when the rest of the Fair normally would be going on (but isn't). The Food Parade will happen Thursdays-Sundays Aug. 20-23 and Aug. 27-30, plus a bonus weekend of Sept. 3-7.

Here's the catch: You've got to buy an admission ticket for a particular day and time. Tickets go on sale next Friday, July 31, beginning at 10 a.m. When they're gone, they're gone. Tickets are $20 per carload (plus service fee); there is no advance discount. No pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, buses, or RVs allowed. Any food you buy is extra. Because you're driving, there's no alcohol. And because it's a drive-through, you don't get out of your car.

Most days, entry to the 1.5-mile route starts at 9 a.m. at Hoyt and Snelling. Admission supports the Fair, which estimates it is losing 95 percent of its revenue this year. Here are all the details about the parade, the vendors involved, the food they're serving, what else you'll experience, and the fine print.
Inside Scoop: Masks Become Mandatory
Beginning tomorrow, Saturday July 25, everyone in Minnesota is required to wear a mask or face-covering when inside a business or public space. Fundamentally, the "Mask Up Minnesota" mandate combines with social distancing to greatly reduce the odds of spreading the coronavirus. Many businesses claim the mask mandate will help them stay in business.

There are mask exceptions, especially for children and people with certain medical conditions. There also are additional mandates, including for outdoor workers in certain situations, and for anyone using any form of public transportation. Get the details
Don't Dawdle on Your Scavenger Hunt
If you're doing -- or have done -- our Como Scavenger Hunt, this is the last week to send us your completed forms. All entries will be put into a random drawing for gift cards to restaurants in District 10. The deadline is next Friday, July 31. You've got two choices:
  • Mail your form to: Como Community Council, 1224 Lexington Parkway N, Saint Paul, MN 55103
  • Drop your form in our mailbox: it's near the parking lot of the Historic Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton
There are two hunts: one east of Lexington, one west of Lexington. ( Download the listsSpeaking of our neighborhood:
Let Your Storm Drain Make a Statement
Want to make a visible impact on the water quality of our neighborhood lakes or the Big River? Then help Friends of the Mississippi River stencil storm drains in Saint Paul. It's a project for individuals or groups of up to 20. You can sign out a DIY kit for a week at a time anytime from now through October. All the proper coronavirus precautions are in place.
Learn Lacrosse (or Get Better)
Parks and Recreation is offering three free lacrosse camps for boys and girls, ages 5-11, of any ability. Your options:
  • This Tuesday-Thursday, July 28-30: Jimmy Lee/Oxford Community Center, 270 Lexington Parkway N, 1-3 p.m.
  • Tuesday-Wednesday, Aug. 4-5: McMurray Field, 1155 Jessamine, 1-3 p.m.
  • Tuesday-Wednesday, Aug. 11-12: Sylvan Park, 77 W. Rose, 1-3 p.m.
County opens up a little more: Ramsey County's ice arenas at Aldrich, Highland, Pleasant, and TCO Sports Garden are expanding their availability to youth and adult hockey and figure-skating groups. Up to two groups of 25 skaters each now are allowed on each ice surface. Spectators now are allowed in some situations. Get more information on restrictions, reservations, and procedures.
Help Make Aging in Place a Reality
Ramsey County's Public Health department is seeking community members and providers to join an advisory council to create an age-friendly county. The council will pursue steps so older adults can age in communities where they feel safe (and are!), that encourage engagement and increase connections, have affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and provide supportive features and services. If you want to join (or just find out more), email Julia Wolfe.
A PERC molecule
Opportunities for (Certain) Businesses
Ramsey County businesses can get technical assistance and grants of up to $50,000 to better manage their use of chemicals containing or producing perchloroethylene (PERC) or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Among businesses that could benefit from the Business Pollution Prevention Program are dry cleaners, body shops, print shops, and industrial painters.

Did your insurance do the job? The Minnesota Department of Commerce has an anonymous survey for businesses affected by looting, vandalism, and rioting that followed the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd. The department is seeking specific examples, especially of being uninsured or underinsured.
What Como between Hamline and Arona is supposed to become.
Reality of Construction Hits
No doubt about it: Reconstruction of Como Ave. is underway. So are the headaches that go with it.  From Hamline to Arona, Como is completely torn up and off limits. (Residents who live on Como in the construction zone are supposed to be able to get to their driveways from Pascal or Albert.) From Arona west to the Raymond/Cleveland intersection, crews intend to keep one lane open in each direction.

Officially, traffic from Como is being detoured along Hamline, Midway Parkway, and Snelling. But as residents of Almond, Albany, Breda, and Wynne can tell you, plenty of drivers think it's a short cut to zip down those residential streets instead. The district council continues to work with neighbors and different city departments to install barricades, increase speed enforcement, and otherwise try to deter cut-through traffic on streets that can't handle it.

The 3A bus is rerouted along the official detour. There is no official bicycle detour; unofficially, we recommend Hamline, Midway Parkway, Dan Patch through the Fairgrounds, and either the University of Minnesota Transitway or the combination of Commonwealth/Cleveland.

Work on Como, which includes building the Como Avenue Trail for bicyclists and pedestrians, is expected to last through October.
Keeping Track of Other Traffic Hassles
  • Ayd Mill Road: This week is your last chance to experience the distinctive washboard rattle of this ever-controversial road. Next Saturday, Aug. 1, Ayd Mill closes for four months of construction that will remake the recessed road, add a bicycle and pedestrian trail, and undoubtedly give people something completely different to grumble about.
  • Como Ave.: At the western city border, Como is closed at Hunting Valley Road (west of Highway 280) for complete reconstruction. Future phases will move east; the entire project is expected to last through October.
  • Como Golf Course: A time-lapse camera helps you track Capitol Region Watershed District's stormwater management project on Holes 3, 7, and 11.
  • Dale St.: Reconstruction of the bridge over Interstate 94 has shifted -- literally -- to Phase 2. Traffic now slides over to the newly paved east side of Dale. A new, wider sidewalk is open. This weekend, the west side of the old bridge gets torn down. That will shut down I-94 in both directions all weekend between Highway 280 and I-35E. The freeway and all ramps in that stretch close from 10:00 tonight, Friday July 24, until 5 a.m. this Monday, July 27. Otherwise, Dale remains restricted to one lane in each direction between University and Carroll. Central, Fuller, and Aurora are cut off west of Dale. Ramps to and from I-94 are closed. At least until fall, motorists also cannot get from Dale to St. Anthony Ave. or from Dale to Concordia Ave. That also means they can't get from St. Anthony or Concordia to Dale.
  • Energy Park Drive: It's once again a slalom course between Lexington and Snelling, as preparation work continues for Ramsey County's mill-and-overlay later this summer. This week, crews are working on utility access tunnels.
  • Interstate 94: In addition to the shutdown in Saint Paul, MnDOT closes the freeway in both directions at the I-94/I-494/I-694 interchange beginning at 8:00 tonight, Friday July 24. All four loop ramps in the interchange also will close. Things are supposed to reopen by 5 a.m. this Monday, July 27.
Put It on Your Calendar
  • Today, Friday July 24: Utility Bill Clinic, 11 a.m. Experts from the Citizens Utility Board hold free telephone consultations, review your utility bills, and give advice on saving money by reducing the energy you use at home. Appointments are necessary. This will be offered again this Wednesday, July 29, at 9 a.m., and next Friday, July 31, at 11 a.m.
  • This Monday, July 27: Public hearing on Metropolitan Council's "2040 Transportation Policy Plan: 2020 Update," 4 p.m. Register to comment during the Transportation Committee's online meeting. If that time doesn't work for you, comment any time before 5 p.m. Friday Aug. 10.
  • This Tuesday, July 28: Ramsey County Master Gardeners online workshop, "Herb Gardening," 6:30-8 p.m. Free.
  • Next Friday, July 31: Deadline to apply for Minnesota's temporary Pandemic EBT benefit. If you have children ages 5-18 who receive free or reduced-price meals at school, you may be eligible for up to $325 per child to purchase groceries this summer.
  • Monday Aug. 3: Como Snowsports Golf Scramble. Fund-raiser for the local booster club. Tee times at Como Golf begin at 12:30 p.m. $110 per person.
Updates from City Hall
  • Residential parking permits: Saint Paul will resume selling residential parking permits in August and resume enforcement beginning Sept. 1. However, Area 29 (along Hamline and other streets west of Como Zoo and Conservatory) is a seasonal permit valid only through Sept. 30. So, residents will not have to buy permits in 2020. Instead, they should receive a letter from the city this week asking how many permits they want, free of charge, with instructions on how to order them.

Previously reported:

  • D&L Food and Gas: The gas station license for this business at 626 W. Larpenteur is up for renewal this Tuesday, July 28. Anyone who has concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Councilmember Amy Brendmoen.
  • Half-Time Rec: The liquor, gambling, and entertainment licenses for this bar and restaurant at 1013 Front are up for renewal on Aug. 21. Anyone who has concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Councilmember Amy Brendmoen.
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.