March 5, 2021
They look
so innocent, don't they?
Nile Fellows spotted this raccoon catching some rays in Como Park. 
Community Matters More Than Ever
Here’s your chance to have a bigger voice in your neighborhood: Nine seats are up for election in April to the District 10 Como Community Council board. (Most do not have an incumbent running, so you don’t even have to worry about throwing someone out!) Apply here

Any community member in District 10, age 16 or older, is eligible to run. The board is volunteers like you, elected by neighbors like you. Simple truth: We do better as a community when the board reflects the full strength of Como: renters, homeowners, local institutions, businesses, and neighbors of all kinds – regardless of color, age, ethnicity, income, gender, faith, or how deep your roots are in the neighborhood or in Saint Paul. To put it another way, we welcome a diversity of opinions, experiences, and backgrounds.

As spelled out in rules that govern the community council, board seats up for election this year are:
  • Chair
  • Secretary
  • One representative each from the neighborhood's four sub-districts
  • Three representatives from the neighborhood at-large

These positions serve two-year terms, through April 2023. To get on the ballot, apply now. The application page has more details about the roles and opportunities of board members. The filing deadline is Sunday April 4. Voting ends April 20.
Request Your Ballot Now
Once again this year, District 10 community members will be able to vote from home in the April board elections for the Como Community Council. You'll be able to vote online, or by returning a paper ballot through the mail. (Because of restrictions on public gatherings, we still can’t schedule in-person voting.)

The first step in voting is to request a ballot. To get your ballot, fill out this registration form. We’ll send ballots beginning Friday April 9. (We'll have candidate information available on Monday April 5.)

Who is eligible to vote: Renters, homeowners, and other residents of District 10 who are at least 16 years old can vote. So can representatives from business, nonprofits, or other organizations with a physical presence in District 10.
Big News on the Restaurant Front
Connie’s Creamy Cone plans to reopen for the season next Saturday, March 13. Connie’s, for the uninitiated, is at Dale and Maryland.

Dock & Paddle expects to reopen in the Como Lakeside Pavilion on Friday March 19. The restaurant initially will open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, then expand its days and hours in April. Craft beers will be half-price on opening weekend.

Last but not least, Bole Ethiopian Cuisine – whose Midway location was burned down by rioters last May – expects to open its new Como location on March 16, in the old Fox Trot etc. space. Assuming all the inspectors sign off, Bole will offer carry-out for the first week or so, before opening inside dining. “It’s an exciting adventure,” says Lelna Desta, the business consultant working with owners Solomon Hailie and Rekik Abaineh. “We’re super geeked – and anxious. We can’t wait to see the place buzzing.” Learn more about Bole’s journey (and food!)
Photo: Stone, wood, and bright colors transform the dining space Bole is taking over. 
This Ain't Texas, Right?
The potential impact on consumers and climate from Xcel Energy’s proposed 15-year power-generating plans is the focus of the Como Community Council's Environment Committee this week. Annie Falk, director of the Minnesota Citizens Utility Board, will evaluate the utility’s draft Integrated Resource Plan from the perspective of residential customers.

The Environment meeting begins at 7 p.m. As usual, all renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to participate. In order to abide by pandemic restrictions on public gatherings, the meeting takes place via video conferencing or telephone, rather than in-person.  If you want to join the discussion, email the District 10 office before 6 p.m. on the day of the meeting; staff will send you access information.
Help Restock the (Food) Shelf
Como Park Lutheran Church hosts a drive-through food drive this Sunday, March 7. Donations will help restock Keystone Community Services. You can bring non-perishables, cash or checks (payable to Keystone Community Services) to the church parking lot at Hoyt and Hamline from 12:30-2:30 p.m.
We're Still Handing Out Food
The Como Community Council and Sanneh Foundation will continue to distribute free food boxes today, Friday March 5, and every Friday afternoon at least through April. The food boxes are available to Ramsey County residents dealing with financial hardships because of Covid-19. 

Details: The fresh food boxes will be available in the north parking lot of Niem Phat Buddhist Temple, at Dale and Front. Distribution will be 1:30-3:30 p.m. (or until supplies run out). Reservations are highly recommended; to reserve your box, fill out this form before noon on distribution day. The boxes typically include fresh meat, dairy, and produce.
No Rinky-Dink Endeavor
It’s mostly a memory now, but a tiny, homemade skating rink on Como Lake made a big difference this winter. Meet one of the neighbors responsible for making it happen. It’s the latest installment of “Know Your Como,” an ever-expanding list of people (or would you call them characters?) who make this neighborhood such a fascinating place to live.
Get the Early Results
Herbicide to battle curly-leaf pondweed. Alum to battle excessive phosphorus. Rebuilding parts of the golf course to get better control of stormwater and other urban runoff. The Capitol Region Watershed District didn’t hold back last summer as it continues trying to improve water quality in Como Lake. Now it’s time for results.

Watershed district staff will reveal what early data and other observations say about what kinds of differences the tactics are making. Plus, they’ll share what’s in store for the lake this year, and answer all the questions they can handle.

You can join the online discussion this Thursday, March 11, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Join by video (using the GoTo Meeting interface) or by phone at 224-502-3412; the access code is 194 728 621#.
Photo: Are algae blooms on Como Lake a thing of the past?
Whad’ya Think About Metro Transit’s Plans?
Next Friday, March 12, is the deadline to comment on Metro Transit’s proposed changes on Route 3 bus service. Overall, the “Better Bus Routes” initiative is designed to reduce travel time and increase schedule reliability. Tactics to achieve that include eliminating more than two dozen bus stops along the 3A and 3B in Como. The initiative also would add concrete pads for better accessibility at a handful of stops in Como, and make significant route adjustments outside of Como.

Metro Transit program manager Michael Mechtenberg gave an overview of the proposals and answered questions during the Como Community Council’s Land Use meeting on March 3.

Schedule changes coming: Metro Transit plans quarterly schedule changes beginning next Saturday, March 13. These include Route 61.
City Looks Into New Kind of Citation
The mayor’s office is exploring amending the city charter to give Saint Paul the ability to issue “administrative citations” for violations of some city ordinances. The citations would be an alternative to criminal citations.

Administrative citations could be used in situations such as unauthorized water or fire hydrant use; failure to abide by construction permit requirements; or businesses violating city minimum wage, earned sick and safe time, liquor, tobacco, or automotive requirements. Two information and feedback sessions are scheduled (using Microsoft Teams) over the next week or so:
  • This Wednesday, March 10, at 8 a.m. Register
  • Next Monday, March 15, at 6 p.m. Register

We have a celebrity in our midst: City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday to declare March 5 "Daniel Edgerton Day in the City of Saint Paul." Edgerton, a Como resident for more than 30 years, recently finished serving nine years on the city’s Planning Commission (the maximum allowed by law), currently serves on the Como Community Council, and has done (and continues to do) a range of volunteer and community activities. We think he gets a plaque out of the deal.  

Would a park by any other name …? Saint Paul is seeking names for the four city parks that will be part of the Highland Bridge development at the old Ford site. The deadline for ideas is next Friday, March 12.

Community Development Block Grants: Saint Paul is accepting applications from community organizations for federal CDBG funding. The program typically supports housing, economic development, and quality-of-life projects focused on low- and moderate-income residents. The deadline is Friday March 19 at 5 p.m.

Neighborhood STAR grants: Saint Paul is also accepting applications for loans and grants under the city’s Neighborhood STAR program. Funding comes from a portion of sales taxes collected in the city. Grants are available to public, private, and nonprofit organizations for “permanent” physical projects with an expected life of at least seven years. The neighborhood-based projects can include housing and commercial rehabilitation, economic development investments, streetscape or parks projects, and creative placemaking. Typically, a minimum 50-50 dollar match is required. Applications are due by Wednesday March 24 at 4 p.m.

Neighborhood issues of note:
  • 978 Barrett: The resident has applied for a backyard chicken permit. Typically, these receive routine administrative approval.
  • 982 Como Ave.: The property owner has applied for a short-term rental license. Typically, these receive routine administrative approval.
  • K&L Sales: The second-hand dealer’s license for this used-car lot at Como and Arona is up for renewal on March 29. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • H&M Auto Body: The auto repair and paint shop licenses for this body shop at 867 Dale are up for renewal on April 18. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 1 Council Member Dai Thao.
  • Como Park Golf Course: The liquor, Sunday liquor, and entertainment licenses are up for renewal on April 18. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • Gabe’s By The Park: The liquor, Sunday liquor, entertainment, 2 a.m. closing, patio, and gambling licenses for the restaurant at Lexington and Energy Park Drive are up for renewal on May 5. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
Wondering About Your Vaccine?
Here’s a handy guideline of when Minnesota expects to have coronavirus vaccinations available for different groups of state residents.
Coronavirus Testing Still Available
Here’s a rundown of testing options if you think you were exposed to coronavirus:

Home testing. The state is partnering with Vault Medical Services to provide free saliva test kits that you can use at home.

Every day. Free saliva testing at Roy Wilkins Auditorium; enter at 175 Kellogg Blvd. The site is open seven days a week: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends. Register in advance (Free saliva testing is also available at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and other sites in the state.)

Ongoing. To find additional, private testing in Saint Paul or nearby, use the state Department of Health's interactive map. These locations include Allina Health’s clinics in Bandana Square. Sites are a mix of community clinics, health system clinics, and pharmacies. They might not be free, and they might offer testing only in certain situations.
Police Provide Business Advice about ‘Civil Unrest’
Saint Paul Police continue to hold what they’ve labeled “civil unrest” workshops for businesses. The free, hourlong, online sessions will include:

  • A timeline of expected protests, demonstrations, and marches in the city, including those related to the trial of former Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd. (The first trial is scheduled to begin this Monday, March 8.)
  • An overview of plans to protect people, property, and free speech throughout spring and summer.
  • Practical steps businesses can take to protect employees and operations during unrest.
  • An opportunity to sign up for a free premise security survey.
  • Q&A.

Workshops are scheduled for March 11, 16, 18, and 25. Register in advance; you'll get an invitation afterward.

Spread the word
You are receiving this email because you expressed interest in District 10 activities.

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.