October 2, 2020
Daylight is dwindling, but zinnias are just another example of nature giving us a final blast of color. Photo: Debby Smith
Seeking Neighborhood Fun in a Frightening Time
Covid (boo!) makes it risky to gather as a community and enjoy traditional Halloween. But it doesn’t mean we can’t have Halloween fun. So, as a respite in these scary times, the Como Community Council is encouraging a little friendly neighborhood competition. We challenge you and your neighbors to get together (from a distance, of course) and decorate your street! Get as creative and spooky as you would like. Here’s how it works:
  • Now: Sign up yourself or your street! This can be one house or the entire block. If you live in an apartment building, team up to decorate your windows, entrance, or lawn.
  • Beginning Oct. 19: Check District 10’s website and Facebook page for a map of all the participating houses and streets! Take a stroll or ride, and enjoy our community’s creativity.
  • From Oct. 19-Oct. 28: Vote for the Neighbor’s Choice Award.
  • Friday Oct. 30: We’ll announce winners, reward them with themed cookies, and celebrate them on the D10 website, Facebook page, and in our newsletter. Sign up now
Sunday Series Resumes with Emphasis on Equity
The Como Community Council’s Sunday Series returns this month with an emphasis on topics being explored by the district council’s Anti-Racism Work Group.
  • Next Sunday, Oct. 11: “Equity in Community: Getting Our Language Right.” The guest speaker is Lissa Jones-Lofgren, a long-time presenter in the Twin Cities on the intersection of black history and present-day thought. Among her other activities, Jones-Lofgren is creator of “Urban Agenda” on KMOJ-FM, host of the podcast “Black Market Reads,” and a member of Saint Paul’s Racial Equity Advisory Workgroup.
  • Sunday Oct. 25: Save the date! Details soon…

Sunday Series presentations are free and open to all; they will be online. To take part, register in advance. We’ll send you access information shortly before the presentation.
Land Use, Neighborhood Relations Meet This Week
District 10’s Land Use and Neighborhood Relations committees meet this week. As always, all renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to participate via video or telephone.
  • Land Use meets this Wednesday, Oct. 7. Representatives from Saint Paul Public Works and from Parks and Recreation will answer questions and continue last month’s discussion about East Como Lake Drive. In addition, the group Neighborhoods First! gives a presentation about MnDOT’s “Rethinking I-94” initiative.
  • To avoid conflicts with National Night Out, Neighborhood Relations delays its monthly meeting two days, until this Thursday, Oct. 8. Topics include updates from the community council’s anti-racism group, the upcoming Sunday Series, and the neighborhood Halloween-decorating competition; plus more planning on Thanksgiving meals for seniors and ways to recognize community members doing good things.

Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. Any community member who wants to join the discussion should email the District 10 office. Staff will send access information. Agendas and other relevant documents will be posted as soon as they are available.
Dock & Paddle Shifts into Fall Mode
This is the last weekend for full hours at Dock & Paddle. Beginning this Monday, Oct. 5, the restaurant inside Como Lakeside Pavilion switches to “off-season” hours. In general, it will be closed weekdays, and open Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The weekend of Oct. 23-25, however, the restaurant plans a “Harvest by the Lake” festival. The event promises music, seasonal and festival food, unusual cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages, a hay bale maze for youngsters, and a pumpkin-carving contest. More details in coming weeks.
Way to Go, Everyone!
Como residents came through again in District 10’s Coats for Kids drive last weekend. You donated 57 coats, 19 sets of gloves, 12 scarves, 12 hats, 11 snow pants, 6 ear warmers, 5 sets of hats and gloves, 2 vests, and 2 pairs of boots. We passed them along to the Salvation Army, which expects to pass them along in mid-October to children in need in Como and nearby neighborhoods. 
Is Route 3 the Next BRT Corridor?
Metro Transit is thinking about adding three more bus rapid transit lines, similar to the A Line that runs on Snelling Ave. Among the corridors under consideration: Route 3 along Como and Maryland Aves. Learn more about the BRT selection process, then share your preferences about the 11 “Network Next” corridors being considered. The deadline to take the survey is next Friday, Oct. 9.
No Reason to Curb Your Enthusiasm When Raking Leaves
A couple of things to think about now that leaf-raking season is here.
  • It’s training for the snow shoveling that’s on the way.
  • It’s a chance for us – as a community – to keep Como Lake cleaner.

When we rake leaves, we all do each other a favor if we take the extra step and rake them out of the street and gutter (and alley), too. The reason is simple: By keeping leaves and grass clippings out of the gutter and away from storm sewers, we keep more phosphorus out of our lake and other waterways.

The science is simple, too: Phosphorus and other destructive nutrients leach out of leaves when they get wet -- much like a teabag. And the city's curbs, gutters, and storm sewers are really good at washing those nutrients straight into the lake or river. That feeds algae growth, among other things. We’ve all seen, and inhaled, the results. (And, besides, it’s also illegal in Saint Paul to sweep leaves into the street.)
About Getting Rid of Those Leaves...
Once you rake your leaves, you cannot burn them. But you can compost them at home. Or, you can arrange to have your waste hauler take them away. Or, you can take them to a Ramsey County yard waste site. Here are tips on how to avoid the lines that sometimes result this time of year at the county sites:
  • Avoid being there when the site opens.
  • Go during the week. If you must go on a weekend, Saturday mornings from 9:15-10:30 a.m. can be less busy.
  • Avoid weekends when the weather is warm and dry.
  • Instead, go during cold or rainy weather -- or when the Vikings are playing.
  • Drive farther and use the Battle Creek site; it usually is less busy than the Pierce Butler site that’s closest to Como.

Sites are open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (That means they're closed Tuesdays and Thursdays.)

While we’re on the subject: The Como Community food scraps recycling site on Beulah Lane is just that: for food scraps only. The site does not accept leaves, or pumpkins, or dead plants, or garden residue; please take those to Pierce Butler or a different county yard waste site.
Some Libraries Will Let You In
Saint Paul Public Library is operating “Library Express” at 12 locations, including Rice Street, Rondo, and Saint Anthony Park. It’s a step beyond curbside service: You can’t sit around, but you can go inside to check out books, DVDs, movies, and more; pick up items you have on hold; return items; or use copy, scan, fax, and print services. Get all the details
Don't Recycle Toys. Reuse Them.
Children’s toys – large or small – are difficult, or even impossible, to recycle. One reason: They often contain more than one material, such as plastic, metal, textiles, or batteries. Bottom line: Don’t put them in your blue recycling cart. Instead, if they are still usable:
  • Give them away to your friends, relatives, or neighbors.
  • Hold a garage sale, or post them online (such as Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace or a neighborhood group, or Craigslist).
  • Donate them to a second-hand store (such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, Bridging, or Arc’s Value Village). For sporting goods, try an equipment reseller such as Play it Again Sports, Way to Go Sports, or Instant Replay. 
Sites Offer Free Covid Testing
Free Covid testing is available:
  • Every Saturday in October from 1-6 p.m. at Aldrich Arena, 1850 White Bear Ave., Maplewood. Registration begins each week on the preceding Monday.
  • Thursday-Friday, Oct. 15-16, from 2-6 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church, 711 Bradley St. Register
  • Thursday-Friday, Oct. 29-30, from 2-6 p.m. at United Church of God in Christ, 277 N. Lafayette Frontage Road. Register

Testing is available whether or not you have symptoms. No insurance is needed. Advance registration is strongly encouraged to reserve a spot and minimize wait times. 
Hey Seniors, Don't Just Sit There
Senior Strolls are returning to Como Zoo and Conservatory. The monthly strolls carve out an hour to visit the animals and indoor gardens before regular visitors arrive. They are scheduled from 9-10 a.m. on Tuesdays Oct. 20, Nov. 17, and Dec. 15. Advance registration and Covid safety practices are required.

Also, Parks and Recreation and the Como Park Falcon Heights Block Nurse Program offer a free class on Meditation and Gentle Movement every Thursday through Nov. 19. The class runs 10:30-11:10 a.m. using Zoom. No previous experience is necessary. Register here

Both activities are for residents age 55 or older.
Why Let Fall Go to Waste?
Ramsey County Master Gardeners are bursting with practical advice on making the most of your gardens and lawn this season. Topics include:
Photo: Mother Earth News
Yes, You Can Vote Now
Early voting is available for the Nov. 3 elections. All eligible Minnesota residents can vote early, whether you prefer in person or by mail. Unlike in the old days, you don't need a reason (or to make up an excuse) to vote early. Here's a quick, step-by-step guide. It's got information on how to:
  • Register (or update your voter registration)
  • Vote early in person
  • Request a mail ballot, figure out your options for returning your ballot by mail or in person, and even track your ballot
  • Find out who is on your ballot
  • Find out even more voting information
The Latest Dirt
  • Como Ave.: The intersection of Como and Hamline is open again (though not finished). Como remains closed from Hamline west to Arona. Breda, Albany, and Almond are barricaded at Hamline and at Arona in an attempt to prevent cut-through traffic. Como is open in each direction between Arona and Snelling. West of Snelling, westbound Como is shut down to Caithlin, though the first layer of asphalt is visible. An eastbound lane remains open from Caithlin to Snelling. From Caithlin to the Cleveland/Raymond intersection, the street remains restricted to one lane in each direction. 
  • On the city's western border, Como remains closed at Brompton. That means detouring to Larpenteur or Energy Park Drive if you need to get to Highway 280.
  • Dale St.: The county road remains restricted to one lane in each direction between University and Carroll, as reconstruction of the bridge over Interstate 94 continues (you can now see the new bridge in place). Ramps to and from I-94 are closed. Access from Dale to some nearby east-west streets is cut off.
  • Energy Park Drive: The mill-and-overlay is full speed ahead from Lexington west toward Raymond. Traffic is restricted to one lane in each direction and generally not smooth-going. Repaving is starting at the west end of the project and moving east. Final striping won’t take place until at least 10 days after paving is done.
  • Larpenteur Ave.: Work is wrapping up on the permanent conversion of Larpenteur from 4 lanes to 3 between Dale Street and Interstate 35E. Lanes are open, though final striping and detail work is still going on.
On Deck at City Hall
New this week:
  • Dock & Paddle: City Council votes this Wednesday, Oct. 7, to reduce the required payments the restaurant makes as part of its lease at Como Lakeside Pavilion. The proposal reduces the restaurant's commission payment from 10 percent to 6 percent for the 12 months ending March 31, 2021, and eliminates any minimum payment to the city for the same 12 months; the existing language requires a $100,000 minimum payment. The proposal also allows the restaurant to reduce or eliminate the hours it is open between now and March 31. The proposal, which is recommended by the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, is part of the council’s consent agenda.
  • Como Winter Sports: City Council votes this Wednesday, Oct. 7, to lease snow-making equipment for downhill skiing and snowboarding at Como Regional Park. The five-year, $59,000 contract is supported in part by an $8,000 donation from the Como Snowsports Booster Club. The proposed lease is part of the council’s consent agenda.
  • Heritage Preservation Commission: The commission takes public comment this Tuesday, Oct. 6, beginning at 4:30 p.m. on how historic designation of neighborhoods can promote bias and exclusion. To participate, call 612-315-7905; the meeting ID is 449 108 365#.
  • Carter’s BP: The gas station license for this convenience store at 623 Como Ave. is up for renewal on Dec. 29. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
  • 1013 Jameson St.: The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections has declared this vacant building a nuisance. The owner has until Oct. 24 to correct 11 code deficiencies or risk demolition.   
  • Parks and Recreation Commission: The commission is seeking applicants for three-year terms; members are appointed by the mayor. The commission meets monthly on the second Thursday evening. To apply, click the commission link in the left column.

It’s still not too late:
Things to Do Inside and Out
  • This Tuesday, Oct. 6: National Night Out. A dozen blocks in Como are getting together to celebrate. Download the city’s participant guide or get other information if you want to have a spur-of-the-moment, socially distanced event of your own.
  • This Tuesday, Oct. 6: "Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Gloom of Pandemic: Safe Voting from Home in 2020," 7-8 p.m. The League of Women Voters Saint Paul hosts a panel presentation via Zoom in which election officials discuss voting by mail, absentee ballots, and other details of this November's elections. Free. Register in advance
  • Thursday Oct. 15: The second half of property tax payments are due in Ramsey County. You can pay online, or pay the old-fashioned way by mail, in person, or at a drop box.
Fairgrounds Remain Off Limits
  • Staging of the Minnesota State Fair Fall Food Parade means the Fairgrounds are closed to the public (including walkers and cyclists) through at least Monday Oct. 12. The drive-thru food parade (which is sold out) runs this weekend (Oct. 1-4) and next weekend (Oct. 8-11) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Vehicles will enter at the Snelling and Hoyt gate.
  • Also, in the parking lots south of Como Ave., the city and county are running snow-plow training through next Friday, Oct. 9. That means you'll also see drivers getting "real world" training on the streets of Como.
Workshops Keep Yourself, Your Home Safer
Saint Paul Police are offering two crime prevention workshops this month. The online workshops are free, but you must register in advance.
  • Personal safety: How to keep safe at home, on the street, and at work. Monday Oct. 19, 6-7 p.m.
  • Preventing burglary: Changes you can make in locks, doors, lighting, fencing, landscaping, and more to keep your home safer. Wednesday Oct. 21, 6-7 p.m.

This week's Como community crime update: Theft, burglary, and vandalism – interrupted by occasional gunshots
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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 volunteer Board of Directors who are elected directly by members of the community. As a district council, we work to improve and enjoy life where we live. We provide the glue behind neighborhood action, and combine the voices of renters, homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits who want to accomplish things.