December 18, 2020
Pick Your Favorite Holiday Houses
It's your turn to decide the best holiday decorations in Como during our friendly competition. Download the map and addresses, take a stroll or ride, enjoy our community’s creativity, then cast your vote by Wednesday Dec. 30. Rank your top three choices; we'll announce your favorites on New Year's Eve.
It's Our Final Free Food Friday
The Como Community Council and Sanneh Foundation are partnering to deliver free meal boxes today, Friday Dec. 18. The meal boxes are available to Ramsey Country residents dealing with financial hardships because of Covid-19.
The boxes typically provide two meals of six servings each. They contain locally sourced food, including lean proteins, whole grains, fresh produce, and spices.

We’ll distribute the meal boxes in the north parking lot of Niem Phat Buddhist Temple, at Dale and Front. Distribution will be 1:30-3:30 p.m. (while supplies last). We highly recommend reserving a meal box in advance; to do so, please fill out this form before noon Dec. 18.
Give Recognition Where Recognition is Due
Know someone who makes the Como area a better place to live, work or play? Nominate them for the District 10 Neighborhood Honor Roll. The Honor Roll pays tribute to everyday people who make a sustained and lasting impact in our neighborhood or Saint Paul as a whole.

Submit your nomination by email. Tell us who you are nominating and why. Make sure we receive them no later than Thursday Jan. 14. The Como Community Council board then selects three of your nominees at its January board meeting to recognize for 2020.
Taking a Break but Not Going Away
For the next two weeks, District 10 staff will be off duty more than we’ll be on duty. There will be no newsletters on Dec. 25 or Jan. 1 – which is one reason this one is so massive. It may take a while to respond to your phone calls or emails. And we may go on radio silence on social media. Nonetheless:

  • Neighborhood Relations Committee will meet as usual on Tuesday Jan. 5.
  • Land Use Committee will meet as usual on Wednesday Jan. 6. 

Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. As usual, all renters, homeowners, and other District 10 community members are welcome to participate. While pandemic restrictions remain in place, the meetings take place via Zoom conferencing or telephone, rather than in-person. To join, email the District 10 office before 6 p.m. the day of the remote meeting; we'll send you access information.
Give Route 3 a Boost
Metro Transit’s Route 3 is a finalist to join the region’s bus rapid transit network. That upgrade, like the A Line that runs along Snelling, could mean more frequent service, faster travel, and better stops. You can help make sure Route 3 is chosen by taking this survey before Jan. 20. (Route 3 runs along Maryland and Como, among other streets, and connects our neighborhood with both University of Minnesota campuses and Downtown Minneapolis, among other destinations.)

Speaking of Metro Transit: Buses and light rail will run on a reduced schedule this Thursday, Dec. 24. Typically, that means the normal Saturday schedule, though Route 61 will run its usual weekday schedule. Route 3 will run its Saturday schedule, with a few modifications. (Get details) On Christmas and New Year’s Days, buses and trains will run on holiday schedules.
What Parks Have on Their Schedule
Skating rinks: Saint Paul Parks and Recreation expects to begin flooding outdoor ice rinks this week. They expect that the refrigerated rink at North Dale Recreation Center will open by New Year’s Eve. However, because of pandemic restrictions, the indoor warming room at North Dale will not open and skaters are expected to practice physical distancing. Natural ice at North Dale, the broomball rinks at McMurray Field, and hockey and skating rinks at other city parks will depend on the weather. (Because of budget cutbacks, Northwest Como Rec Center will not have a skating pond this season.) Get updates and details

Como Park Ski Center: Public skiing on Mount Como is expected to open next Sunday, Dec. 26. Group lessons that are scheduled for Jan. 4 or later are still on the schedule. However, access and use of the ski chalet is restricted. Rental equipment will be available with a reservation. Get updates and details

Youth activities for winter break: North Dale is one of three recreation centers offering full-day programming on Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 28-30, from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. for pupils in grades 1-5. Cost is $10/day. In addition, 14 rec centers are offering free, half-day Winter Blast activities from 1-4 p.m., also for pupils in grades 1-5, on various combinations of days (including Dec. 23, 28, 29, 30, and 31). Get details
Sign Up Now for Next Year’s Park Permit Lottery
You can sign up until this Monday, Dec. 21, for Saint Paul Parks and Recreation’s annual park permit lottery. Entering the lottery is necessary if you want an early chance to reserve a park picnic shelter, building, or other facility in 2021.

Any Saint Paul resident or business who signs up before 4:30 p.m. Dec. 21 will be in the lottery. Entries will be randomly selected to determine who gets first choice for dates and locations. Sign up online or by calling 651-266-6400. Beginning Jan. 5, any Saint Paul resident or business can apply for a permit by calling 651-266-6400 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
On the Outside Looking In
Como Zoo and Conservatory are closed but not in hibernation:

  • Zoo staff count down every day until New Year’s Eve with a different video, including watching zoo animals devour holiday treats and open their presents – all part of their educational enrichment. Follow along (and catch up on what you’ve missed so far.)
  • Garden Safari Gifts, the Zoo and Conservatory’s gift shop, is open daily 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for, of course, gift purchases. (The shop is closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.)
  • The Conservatory’s Holiday Flower Show is off limits to visitors this year, but you can see a photo display of what we’re missing (and try to imagine the fragrance of the Cortez Burgundy and Golden Glo poinsettias).
  • Last but not least, don’t forget Reindeer Cam, the 24/7 reality show featuring the daytime and nocturnal adventures of the Zoo’s Abby, Forest, and Mabel caribou – with occasional guest appearances by the Zoo’s Dahl sheep, Arctic fox, and human keepers.

In what is becoming its own annual tradition, Como Zoo’s penguins get
a tour of the Conservatory’s Holiday Flower Show in the Sunken Garden.
Spread the Word
Public Works is creating a pilot program it calls Snow Emergency Superstars. It is asking you, as city residents, to volunteer to notify your neighbors when and where they cannot park during a snow emergency. The city will supply volunteers with portable “No Parking – Snow Emergency Declared” signs. Volunteers can plant the signs on their block: first on night plow routes, then relocate them the next day for day plowing. The hope is that the extra reminder will keep cars out of the way without ticketing and towing, prevent vehicles from being plowed in, and prevent that one spot that freezes over and creates problems for everybody the rest of the winter.

Don't Get Caught Spinning Your Wheels
If the time ever comes, Saint Paul wants to make it as easy as possible for you to understand where and when you can park if there’s a snow emergency. The city typically declares a snow emergency only after snowfalls of 3 inches or more. To be sure, you can call 651-266-PLOW (651-266-7569). Or:

  • Sign up for a text alert when the city declares a snow emergency; text: STPAUL SNOW to 468311
  • Get an email alert when the city declares a snow emergency
  • Download instructions on how to set up a map app on your computer, smartphone, or tablet that will tell you in real time where you can park legally

Find out how a snow emergency works in Saint Paul overnight and during the following day.
The Fine Wrinkles of Gift Wrapping
They call it tissue "paper." But unlike most other paper, you cannot recycle tissue paper in your blue cart. Same with wrapping "paper" that has foil treatment or glitter. And while we're being Grinchy, let's make it clear: You can't recycle ribbons and bows, either. 

So, a couple of things to keep in mind. When you buy wrapping paper, choose paper that is recyclable. Choose wrap that is made from recycled paper. Better yet, if you actually want to reduce or eliminate the trash impact of decorating your presents, choose a low-waste or no-waste alternative. Instead of wrapping paper:

  • Put your gifts in a reusable fabric bag or paper gift bag.
  • Wrap your gift in colorful cloth, old maps, or the comics section of the newspaper. Or, flatten packing paper and let kids draw on the outside. (Give yourself permission to draw on it, too.)
  • For small items, pinch the end of toilet paper or paper towel tubes, then color them up.
Remember, Recycling is Rescheduled
Because of the Christmas and New Year's holidays, recycling pickup in District 10 is delayed one day the next two weeks. Instead of the usual Friday pickup, Eureka will empty the blue carts on Saturday Dec. 26 and on Saturday Jan. 2.

Trash, too: For residents east of Hamline, Friday trash pickup also is delayed until Saturday. For residents west of Hamline who have Monday trash pickup, nothing changes (unless weather interferes). 
What to Do with That Needle Factory in Your Home
As part of the city's trash contract, Saint Paul residents can dispose of one formerly live holiday tree for free from Jan. 2-15. Here's the catch: The tree must be less than 6 feet tall and weigh less than 20 pounds. If that describes your tree, just put it next to your regular trash. Those trees, like other trash collected in the city, are burned at the county's waste incinerator.

If your tree is bigger than that, you can treat it as a "bulky item." Depending on your level of service, that may be free, too. Call your hauler to arrange a pickup.

Or, dispose of the tree (and wreaths and garland and spruce tips) in an environmentally suitable way yourself. One possibility: Take them to a Ramsey County yard waste site, where trees are mulched for use by District Energy. This time of year, yard waste sites are open Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Or, just leave your tree in your yard for the winter, where it will provide shelter for wildlife.
And the Toll Continues
Saint Paul’s Forestry Department plans to remove about 20 ash trees from boulevards in District 10 in 2021, part of the more than 2,600 trees that will be cut down citywide because they are infested with emerald ash borer. On the hit list this year are about 10 trees along Parkview west of North Dale Recreation Center, and about 10 trees on Pascal between Hoyt and Nebraska.

Removal will take place sometime this winter; property owners will be notified if a tree on their boulevard is on the list. Stumps from trees cut down in 2021 will be treated with the herbicide Pathfinder II RTU, but stumps not be removed until at least April 2022. Replacement trees will not be planted until 2023.

Meanwhile, the city continues to treat more than 100 ash trees in District 10 to try to save them from the infestation. Learn more about the city’s structural ash tree removal program, or see an interactive map of the status of remaining boulevard ash trees.
No Need to Hold Your Breath Waiting
Saint Paul Public Works updated its five-year plan for street projects – and it looks like things will be quiet in District 10 for a few years. The closest project on the horizon is the long-delayed reconstruction of residential streets in the Wheelock/Grotto area, which is penciled in for 2025 (and 2026, they tell us). The work would include complete road reconstruction, curb and gutter (including where it does not exist now), and upgrades of sewer, sidewalk, streetlights, and boulevards.
Blocks in the project include:

  • Alameda from Maryland to Wheelock
  • Avon from Wheelock to Lakeview
  • Cottage from Grotto to Avon
  • East Como Blvd. from Victoria to Arlington
  • Folsom from Wheelock to Ivy
  • Ivy from Grotto to the lake
  • Lakeview from Victoria to the lake
  • Orange from Folsom to Osage
  • Osage from Victoria to Ivy
  • Parkview from St. Albans to Avon and from Victoria to the lake
  • St. Albans from Maryland to Orange and from Cottage to Arlington
Understanding Our Limitations
Gov. Tim Walz has issued revised coronavirus regulations beginning at midnight tonight, Friday Dec. 18, and lasting at least through mid-January. A summary:
  • Bars and restaurants. No indoor dining or drinking; outdoor service is allowed with limitations. Carryout and delivery allowed. (Here's when and where you can grab a meal to go from Como-area restaurants while they struggle with pandemic shutdowns.)
  • Businesses in general, including retail. Open, though staff are supposed to work from home if they can.
  • Events. No indoor events or entertainment. Outdoor events are allowed for up to 100 people and 25 percent capacity, with additional limitations. No public gatherings of more than 250 people.
  • Grooming. Salons, barber shops, tattoo studios and the like can stay open with limitations.
  • Gyms, fitness, martial arts, and yoga studios. Can open at 25 percent capacity and additional limitations.
  • Schools. Elementary schools can reopen on Jan. 18.
  • Socializing. Indoors, no more than two households and 10 people max. Outdoors, no more than three households and 15 people max.
  • Sports and recreation. Indoor facilities at outdoor recreation sites remain closed. Campgrounds and other outdoor facilities can open, but no more than 15 people from three households can gather. Pools and swim parks remain closed. Practices for youth and adult activities can resume Jan. 4. No games.
  • Worship services. Allowed, but receptions and other gatherings connected to ceremonies are not allowed. 
Where, When to Get a Coronavirus Test if You Need One
With cases of Covid-19 still at risky levels, the state and county continue to operate free testing sites.

When to get tested: If you have symptoms, get tested right away. If you are exposed to someone with Covid, wait five days after you are exposed; that allows for more-accurate test results. But quarantine in the meantime. Other advice on testing

Symptoms of Covid-19: Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or a loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include GI issues such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If you test positive and are not in the hospital, you should quarantine at home to make sure you do not spread the virus farther. Quarantine until all three of these things are true, according to the Minnesota Department of Health: You feel better. It has been at least 10 days since you first felt sick. You have not had a fever for at least 24 hours, without relying on medicine that lowers fevers. A rundown of testing options:

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

Ongoing: Free saliva testing at Roy Wilkins Auditorium; enter at 175 Kellogg Blvd. The site is open seven days a week: noon-7 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends. However, testing will not take place Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. Register in advance (Free saliva testing is also available at Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and other locations in the state.)

  • Today, Friday Dec. 18, noon-6 p.m. Nasal swab testing at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 285 N. Dale. Register
  • This Saturday, Dec. 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Drive-thru nasal swab testing at State Fairgrounds' Compeer Arena (enter at Como and Canfield). Appointment required.

Additional testing locations: Use the state Department of Health's interactive map. These locations in Saint Paul and elsewhere 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.
Blackhawks Seek New Contract for Orchard Rec Center
The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission recommended Dec. 17 that the city enter a new five-year contract with the Blackhawks soccer organization to operate Orchard Recreation Center. The agreement gives the Blackhawks priority use of the building and fields, but does require the Blackhawks to:
  • Provide public access to restrooms whenever the building is open
  • Provide public access to the fields whenever the soccer club is not using them
  • Provide public access to meeting rooms during regular park hours whenever the soccer club is not using them
  • Post regular park hours
City Council has final say on the contract’s ratification, likely in January.
It’s not too late to have your say: 
  • 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.
  • Best Western Plus Como Park: The liquor licenses for this hotel in Bandana Square are up for renewal on Jan. 3. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali.
  • Ted’s Recreation: The entertainment, liquor, Sunday liquor, and 2 a.m. closing licenses for this bar at 1084 W. Larpenteur are up for renewal on Jan. 31. Anyone with concerns should email District 10 or contact the office of Ward 5 Council Member Amy Brendmoen.
Clear Your Calendars
  • Today, Friday Dec. 18: Deadline to apply for Ramsey County’s Landlord Assistance program, which provides one-time grants to landlords for up to $20,000 per rental unit to compensate for tenants' missed rent payments or unpaid fees in 2020 because of Covid-19.
  • Monday Jan. 11: Neighborhood Lift begins accepting applications for prospective homeowners in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The program provides up to $15,000 to cover down payment and closing costs. Eligible households must have incomes below $77,840 and meet other requirements.
  • Monday Jan. 11: Deadline to apply for the Neighborhoods Now training program through the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. The free training focuses on more effective community organizing and justice work; it is open to residents regardless of their experience or skill level. The course takes place remotely Feb. 22-26. Apply here
  • Saturday Jan. 16: Como Community Seed Library is organizing a Cyber Seed Crawl: Urban Pollinator Edition, where local residents can exchange native plant, perennial, and annual flower seeds with each other. It’s all being arranged on Facebook; get the details.
Fairgrounds Still Have a Glow About Them
The State Fairgrounds' Glow Holiday Festival runs every evening through Sunday Jan. 3. The drive-through event features a one-mile loop of more than 1 million holiday lights, icicle and art installations, a giant gingerbread house and, of course, a State Fair food court.

Entry slots run Sundays-Thursdays from 4:30-9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 4:30-10 p.m. Vehicles will enter at Gate 14, at Como and Canfield on the west end of the Fairgrounds. Admission is $46 per vehicle (plus $7.14 in taxes and fees). Tickets are for a specific day and time slot. On most nights, $2 of every ticket goes to a different charity.

  • The festival means the Fairgrounds are closed to walkers, runners, cyclists and other everyday users until Jan. 10.
Police Line Up Crime Prevention Classes 
Saint Paul Police are scheduling two crime prevention classes online in January. Registration is open now. 

  • Burglary Prevention, Wednesday Jan. 20, 6 p.m. Covers the basics of locks, lighting, landscaping, fencing and more. Register
  • Crime Prevention 101, Wednesday Jan. 27, 6 p.m. Covers when to call the police, what to expect when you call, how calls are prioritized, getting crime statistics, and more. Register

This week's Como community crime update: There’s a reason police urge you not to leave valuable visible in your vehicle.
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.