Archive | July, 2015

Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 040

Photo Memory: Hamline Midway 2015 Spring Festival is huge success

Posted on 07 July 2015 by Calvin


Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 01The Hamline-Midway Spring Festival took place at on the fields behind Hancock Recreation Center on June 16th. There were opportunities for good deed-doing at the festival. On arriving, picnic-goers could bring a non-perishable food item to the Franciscan Brothers of Peace Food Shelf, or give old electronics to Tech Dump, or drop off old shoes with Shoe-Away Hunger. Art making, resource information and eclectic, delicious foods were plentiful. The Festival offered up a great taste of what makes Hamline-Midway such a lively and thriving community.

Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 010Egg Plant Urban Farm Supply brought a real, live chicken to the picnic. They offer classes in raising chickens, honeybees, edible mushrooms and much more at their Selby Avenue Store.





Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 024The St. Paul Police Mounted Patrol Foundation consists of six full-time officers and six horses. They are a regular presence at St. Paul festivals throughout the year. While providing law enforcement, they also educate and interact with the public to build positive community relations.

Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 027People were invited to write a wish for their Hamline-Midway neighborhood on the Community Wishing Pole. Wishes ranged from the practical (more food trucks!) to he whimsical (community music nights).





Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 032Hamline-Midway Elders is the one-stop resource to connect elders, caregivers and neighbors to resources that will help seniors live independently at home.




Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 040The Arthritis Foundation welcomed young and old to interactive games at their booth. Through classes, events, research grants, and advocacy activities, they’re raising awareness and funds to help reduce the pain of arthritis.





Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 042Neighborhood artist Adam Reef showed his hand-painted, leaded glass artwork.

Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 064Human Foosball sponsored by Can Can Wonderland–the next Olympic sport?

Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 080The A La Plancha food truck runs on used vegetable oil from its deep fryer. The biodiesel-powered truck started served up its Guatemalan-inspired cuisine.

And the family-style event brought smiles to everyone who attended!Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 026 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 044 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 047 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 050 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 054 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 058 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 073 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 075 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 082 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 084 Hamline-Midway Spring Picnic 096

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Erik Pearson 11

Make it Here! Many hands at work in Creative Enterprise Zone

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin

Article and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Erik Pearson 02The Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) is one of six newly established cultural and business districts along the Green Line Corridor. It extends from Prospect Park on the west to Prior Ave. on the east, and from Energy Park Dr. on the north to I-94 on the south.

Photo right: The Carleton Artist Lofts between Hampden and Carleton streets in the Creative Enterprise Zone. These subsidized, affordable apartments for people connected to the arts offer many amenities including studio and rehearsal space, a close-knit community and easy access to the Green Line.

At most recent count, according to writer Catherine Reid Day, board chair of the Creative Enterprise Zone, there are more than 500 creative enterprises within its boundaries. Reid Day said, “We are actively working on retaining and attracting light manufacturing and new creative enterprises to the CEZ. Our motto is: make it here!”

Reid Day explained that visioning for the CEZ began more than two decades ago, coming out of conversations between working artists and makers. “This is a cultural and business district that was already well-established,” she said. “The intention now is to maintain what’s already here with artist and maker studios, residences and live-work spaces.”

In 2009, one of the neighborhood anchors, the C&E Building on the corner of Pelham and University, was purchased by developers. It had long been home to floors of artist studios, and the loss of it was a real blow to the local community. People quickly realized that if they didn’t organize, other buildings with the affordable, ample space artists and makers need would soon be slated for re-development.

“We’ve always known that the formal establishment of the CEZ would take the work of many people,” Reid Day said. “All along we’ve partnered successfully with government officials and planners and have enjoyed an especially good relationship with the St. Paul City Council.”

Resident artists, makers and light manufacturers in the neighborhood started the momentum for the CEZ, and with the help of government and finance partners it has become a solid reality.

Erik Pearson 11Erik Pearson of Shipwrecked Studio is a longtime resident of the CEZ. He makes art at his studio in the Dow Building at 2442 University Ave. and then walks home to the Carleton Artist Lofts (CAL) across the street where he lives with his wife, Deanna. They moved to the CAL building in 2006, just a month after it opened.

Photo left: The Superior, WI native named his creative enterprise Shipwrecked Studio. He said, “The big lake just stays with you,” and professes to have a love for all things nautical. In addition to being a talented painter, sculptor, woodworker and sailor, Pearson is a dedicated musician and gigs regularly with his band The Old Smugglers.

Pearson, a painter/muralist, sculptor, and musician, said CA provides subsidized, affordable housing for artists. “I’ve never lived in a place where I’ve known so many people,” he added. “Everyone here is connected to the arts in one way or another: as a working artist, a passionate hobbyist, an arts administrator or what have you. There are about 175 apartments in our three buildings, and we’ve built a strong sense of community.

Watch for arts and culture events happening here throughout the year, including our art crawl in the spring and fall when we turn our apartments into galleries and art-making spaces.”

Erik Pearson 03Photo right: Pearson with one of his paintings.

Pearson realized from the beginning that he would need a studio space separate from where he lived. Since his early days in the art department at the University of WI in Superior, his hometown, Pearson’s paintings have just gotten bigger and bigger. His largest installation to date has been an exterior mural commissioned by the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center that measured 38 ‘ high and 65’ wide. Pearson uses a 4” brush and loads of scaffolding to produce his stylized characters inspired by German expressionist Max Beckmann, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, and contemporary poster art.

Nicole Fierce of Fierce Design Studio is a glass blower and a brand new resident of the CEZ. Her 3,200 square foot gallery and in-process workspace are located in the Midwest Commercial Building at 2500 University Ave. Fierce searched for the new space for months. A bright green door on Cromwell Ave. opens directly into her gallery and it was this street presence, along with easy access from the Green Line, which sealed the deal.

Fierce Glass 106Photo left: Every glass object is shaped and smoothed with a wad of newspapers. According to Fierce, “The NY Times is best, having the lowest percentage of clay components in the newsprint. The Star Tribune holds up okay, the Pioneer Press falls apart, and the community papers are just too small.“

Fierce has been repurposing her space since she moved in last January. She has gutted rooms, removing dropped ceilings, installed track lighting, skim coated and painted concrete floors and, last but not least, hired three graffiti artists to make the walls shine. Her eye-catching logo, painted on the side of the Midwest Commercial Building says it all: FIERCE GLASS. Beauty born in fire. Never fragile – always classy.

Fierce Glass 111Photo right: Fierce always blows glass with a partner. “It’s like a dance,” she said, “when two people are really in sync with each other. With my best apprentices, we don’t speak in full sentences, just nods, and grunts. We’re working with glass that’s been

heated to 2,200 degrees. We need to be very observant and responsive toward each other.” When her two furnaces are up and running this fall, Fierce plans to roll the garage doors open on Franklin Ave. so people can see what’s going on. She understands as well as anyone how mesmerizing molten glass can be, and she appreciates the “chemistry of interest” when people walk by.

Asked how she became a glass blower, Fierce answered, “I took one class four years ago and was completely hooked. I blew for a year, continued to learn from community glass artists, and then jumped in with everything I had.”

That seems to be the sentiment of many artists and makers working in the CEZ. The beauty of the formalization of the district is that it will foster even more cooperation and shared opportunities for artists, makers, and light manufacturers.

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1538 Englewood 2

Group plans strategy against housing demolition

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin

The group, Historic Hamline Village, hopes to engage the new president at Hamline University


1549 Minnehaha 2Neighbors concerned about Hamline University’s demolition of homes vow to stay involved. Several also want to continue to see what they can do to save 1549 Minnehaha Ave., although there are still questions as to accomplish that. There is frustration with the slow pace of community-university talks and how to save homes from wrecking crews. There are also concerns that the city isn’t doing enough to help the neighborhood.

Photo right: Neighbors still would like to save the historic home at 1549 Minneaha Ave., but are unsure of whether or not it can be accomplished.

More than two dozen neighbors attended an update meeting June 25 at Hamline Church United Methodist. The activists’ group Historic Hamline Village organized the meeting. Neighbors heard information on 1549 Minnehaha as well as efforts to have a historic properties survey completed for the neighborhood.

They also reviewed two upcoming city efforts. One, which will be heard by the St. Paul City Council at 5:30pm Wed., July 15, will set residential design standards for new infill housing in Ward 3. If that standard is expanded citywide, it could affect Hamline Midway and other neighborhoods.

The second effort is a St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) study of campus boundaries and the issue of Hamline University and other schools buying land outside of their city-approved boundaries.

While discussions June 25 were wide-ranging, there was agreement that more public meetings are needed. There was also discussing of getting neighbors involved with anti-residential teardown efforts citywide and efforts such as putting neighborhoods in conservation districts.

There is also eagerness to engage with a new Hamline University president as Fayneese Miller took office July 1.

Demolition of five properties including the former “White House” university president’s residence prompted an uproar last year. Ward Four Council Member Russ Stark’s office stepped in. After a large community meeting in September 2014, neighbors hoped for a process to discuss the issues of demolition and campus expansion. The university also agreed to a one-year moratorium on tear-downs, which expires Oct. 1.

1538 Englewood 2Photo left: The home at 1538 Englewood is also on the long-range plan for the University to demolish.

But a five-month delay before a university-requested facilitator could step in was one frustration, said Historic Hamline Village member Tom Goldstein. He and others said that while they understand that the University is transitioning to a new administration, neighbors are unhappy with the slow pace of talks.

“We feel there is a disconnect,” Historic Hamline Village member Roy Neal said. Neighbors would like to see Hamline University do what other St. Paul schools have done, such as have a formal neighborhood liaison staff position or even provide funds to improve housing near campus.

Neal said there are two parallel threads of discussion. One is that of neighborhood preservation. The other is community engagement. “We should be working hand in hand with the university to promote the neighborhood,” he said.

Another concern is that while neighbors were told that an 1880s-era home at 1549 Minnehaha Ave. would be sold for $1 or turned over to nonprofit for rehabilitation, they learned that was not a formal offer, but a suggestion. The home is classified by the city as a Category II vacant property and needs a long list of property code violations corrected before it can be sold.

University officials didn’t attend the meeting. Spokesperson Jacqui Getty said the university doesn’t have plans to remove the house in the foreseeable future and that, in November, University trustees will consider a viable offer to purchase and rehab the property. But Goldstein said it’s a great source of frustration that there is no formal offer to transfer house ownership.

In an email, Getty said, “We had purchased the property a few years ago with a plan to remove the house. It is in significant disrepair and was that way when we bought it. Over the past several months, however, we’ve been in discussions with neighbors, some of whom have expressed an interest in coming up with a proposal to purchase the property from the university so they can rehab the house. Our Facilities Committee of the Board of Trustees is willing to consider that, and the committee members will review any such proposals at their November meeting. It is possible that the committee may determine that before they can make any decision about divesting of property that we may need to update our campus master plan. The last time we updated such a plan, it took a year.”

Attendees at the meeting said they also want to see the university reopen discussions of its 2008 master plan. It shows plans to add student housing, parking, classroom space and green space, much in places where 27 structures stand or stood. Some neighbors hoped the University would revisit the issue in light of stagnant university enrollment and the recent law school merger.

Getty said, that the next steps forward, as advised by the facilitators, likely will entail the creation of a neighborhood engagement or advisory group and a community update meeting this fall. She said that the engagement/advisory group would be a good vehicle for ongoing discussion of issues and opportunities that are important to both neighbors and the university. That discussion could include campus master planning. She added that the fall meeting would also be a good opportunity to talk through broader community engagement plans.

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Alex Liuzzi 1 slider

Como author writes book on transgender child

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin


Alex Liuzzi 3The struggles and emotions of Joey, a nine-year-old child who is dealing with the knowledge that she is a girl growing up in a boy’s body, come alive on the pages of Alex Liuzzi’s book, “I Am Here.”

Como area resident Liuzzi said he has been writing since he was 12 and has explored a lot of different styles of writing, but he has found that taking on the voice of a child has helped him reach emotions much more easily.

“They are more raw, without a sense of vagueness behind them,” he said. “You get what the child is feeling immediately, and how they can react to these emotions.”

For this book, published in April, Liuzzi drew on his teaching experience, as well as his experiences in high school and college.

About ten years ago he was teaching at a middle school. “I had a rainbow flag on my door and often allowed very open conversations with my students,” Liuzzi recalled. “Some students felt very discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, so they asked me to start a Gay Straight Alliance with them.”

Liuzzi said these students opened up about the struggles they faced that adults didn’t seem to be helping with or even allowing them to participate in. He said the students in middle school were just starting to face their sexuality, but for many of them it was gender confusion.

“How do they have that conversation with adults, and how do other kids see them?”

Liuzzi said he switched from teaching at a public school to a private Quaker school, which had very open values and conversations with students, with mutual respect for everybody.

“It seemed like things were changing. But then I switched back to teaching in public schools and while there was more openness, there was a little anger from some kids when other kids stepped outside the established norms.”

Liuzzi said he also drew on his experiences during high school and college with the gay community in writing this book and creating some of the characters.

Liuzzi said he started the book with the premise that the core character, Joey, was a child who was confused about her  gender. “But as soon as I started writing, I knew the book would be about more than gender confusion. This child was going to know she was in the wrong body.”

Liuzzi said as he progressed with the book, he let the other characters come in, and the story unfold.

“With some novels I have gone back, and made lots and lots of edits and taken out some of the characters,” Liuzzi explained. “That wasn’t the case with this one.” He said it felt like every character was doing something for the transition in Joey’s life

“There was a purpose for every character, and it doesn’t always happen that way,” Liuzzi continued. “Some characters feel right when they’re coming out, and then I go back and they feel like they’re a waste of space.”

This book is Liuzzi’s third published novel. His first was “Center of the Universe,” a second person narrative written in a “you do this, you do that” sort of voice. “It’s about a 24-year-old who is going through a life crisis, and it’s a little quirky,” he said. His second novel was called “Over Mud Creek” and is told in the first-person voice of an eight-year-old. His family takes in and fosters a homeless child, and the story is about his interaction with that child and his family.

“That book and the current one are the only two younger voices I have used, of the many books sitting on my shelf that are not published,” Liuzzi said with a smile. “They still need lots of editing.”

Doing the editing is the hardest part of the writing process for Liuzzi. “It’s going back and seeing how I can help say things better, have an order and flow. It’s always felt unnatural.”

He took a class at the Loft 10 years ago that he said was essential in helping him see that editing is a necessary part to make the book readable and not just a voice coming through.

“Writing is the easiest part,” Liuzzi said. “As soon as I get a character that speaks to me, it is the easiest thing in the world. I sit down, and I don’t want to stop. The character becomes very separate from it. It is me making sure their voice is heard vs. me working to write.”

Liuzzi’s first writing experience at 12 was a Halloween story about two characters wanting to push each other down a well. “It was sort of a scary story of how it was going to happen,” he said. “I haven’t read it in a long time, but I think it was pretty horrible. But the teacher read it to the class, and I remember thinking that maybe I could tell stories in that way.”

He wrote short stories for a few years and then started writing poetry in high school. In college, it was back to short stories, and he wrote his first novel when he was 21.

Liuzzi got his undergraduate degree in history and taught social studies for many years. He left teaching to do a Ph.D. in international development. “After finishing half my program, we became pregnant with another child,” he said. “I have two teenagers. Now I stay at home and watch my five-month-old part-time and work at the Minnesota Board of Teachers part-time. So the amount of time for writing has actually shrunk.”

But no matter what he has been doing, Liuzzi has kept writing. “Writing is the one creative expression I have to do,” he said. “I have done other creative things in my life, but they come and go. Writing is some part of me that needs to be released.”

He usually has written at a desk in his bedroom, but a recent move provided him with an office. He writes at night or early in the morning while the rest of the family is asleep. “I can’t write when other people are around or awake,” he noted.

Liuzzi has already started his next novel, a science fiction story about a woman who has lost her father.

Although Liuzzi usually has his characters struggling with some issue, he said he always likes there to be some lightness to his books.

“I’m a happy ending person,” he explained. “When I read or write, I like there to be some sense of hope at the end.”

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Hamline Galtier schools slider

Parents seek solutions to save neighborhood schools

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin

Steady enrollment decline threatens the future of Hamline Elementary or Galtier community schools


Declining enrollment in Hamline Elementary and Galtier Community schools has raised concerns among parents. They gathered June 8 at Hamline Elementary, 1599 Englewood, along with representatives from the St. Paul Public Schools, to discuss the matter.

Expressing satisfaction with the opportunities and offerings of both schools, parents wanted to know how to raise enrollment figures and make sure that one of the schools would not face closure in the next couple of years.
Jessica Kopp, who has a daughter at Hamline Elementary, said that when her daughter started school, every teacher she talked to was inspiring and amazing.

Hamline Galtier schoolsPhoto left: Parents, public school officials, and concerned community residents met June 8 to discuss the continued declining enrollment at Hamline and Galtier schools. It was a brainstorming/working session. (Photo by Jan Willms)

“I know that every day my daughter has come here for the past few years, she has been well taught,” Kopp said. “She’s a smart kid, and she is not being short-changed coming here. She is being challenged. Her teachers recognize her ability and also offer her opportunities in areas she needs to improve. They have taught long enough and have experience and intuition. I can’t imagine a world where my daughter doesn’t get to have an awesome teacher.”

Kopp also praised the Hamline to Hamline collaboration, a partnership between the elementary school and Hamline University. “The University has people and services our kids can access,” she said. She described the 5th-grade class pairing with the college law school, holding a mock trial on campus in which the elementary students play the roles of defense and prosecuting attorneys. The grade schoolers can also use the pool at Hamline University. “It’s like a second campus,” Kopp said.

Kopp commented on the Hamline University students who come over to assist with classes at the elementary school. “These are enthusiastic young people who are patient with the children,” Kopp said. “I have watched how they crouch down and engage with children at their level, helping with schoolwork or comforting them when they have a bad day. You don’t get that at many places.”

Mara Martinson, a Galtier parent of a kindergartner, said she had been a student at Hamline University and had been a part of the Hamline to Hamline collaboration. She said she had initially heard Galtier had gone through changes, and there were concerns with behavior problems and test scores. She added that after starting her child there, she had decided to stay.
“The change in principal and staff could not be better,” Martinson said. “The principal knows every child’s name; he knows my husband’s name and what he likes to do in his spare time.” She said she was happy with the children’s behavior and their support for each other.

“My personal experience has been nothing but positive,” Martinson added, “and my daughter has shown a lot of growth in the last three years.” The Galtier Community School parent said she grew up in a small town, and the Midway offers that same small-town feeling. “I want urban, but also the experience of my kids’ riding bikes down to their friends’ houses,” something that goes along with a community school.

“I can’t say enough about my experience at Galtier and what it means to my daughter,” Martinson said.

Jackie Turner, chief engagement officer for St. Paul Public Schools, told the parents at the meeting that she was excited about the opportunity to collaborate with them on a solution.

“No decisions have been made about Hamline or Galtier,” she assured them. “We do know we have some realities to face, but it is an opportunity for us at the grassroots level.”

She described Hamline and Galtier as looking different in the school year of 2012-13. “Hamline was a district-wide magnet, and so was Galtier,” she said. “That meant that families from all over the district could choose to come to Hamline or Galtier.” She described Galtier as a technology magnet and Hamline as a language academy. She said Hamline had 550 students at the time. In 2013-14, Jie Ming, the Mandarin Immersion Academy, and Hamline were located at the Hamline school, with 490 students. She said that in 2014-15, Hamline Elementary was down to 291 students, excluding pre-K.

They project 250 students for the Hamline community school for the coming school year.

“The enrollment has steadily declined over the past three years,” she noted, “for no particular purpose, just different types of programming.”

Turner said the school district is looking all over the city at different growth patterns. The elementary population is growing on the east side, with a little bit of a bump in the Highland and Groveland areas. She said the most significant growth is on the east side, and they will need a new middle school. ”We don’t always have the right buildings in the right places,” she stated.

Turner said more numbers of kindergartners are needed at Hamline Elementary, enough so that two classes could be formed.

“If we can have some commitment from parents, we might be able to work hard and get a second section of kindergarten,” Turner noted. “We’re going to be as flexible and open as you want us to be.”

She said the district will be surveying parents to find out why they may have left St. Paul public schools.

Talking in small groups, parents attending the meeting June 8 came up with some ideas to promote their community schools. Getting the word out about the Hamline to Hamline collaboration was a top recommendation. Another was getting prospective families together to visit the school and feel more comfortable with it.

Some said that as parents, they were excited about having an art and music curriculum in the school.

Being proactive and marketing Hamline and Galtier was also emphasized. Suggestions were made to have a table at the Fair in conjunction with Hamline University, and to be a presence at community events.

“We need to have a show of force and a show of love for our community schools,” one parent stressed.

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Orange Crush 3

Local team Orange Crush measures success in teamwork

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin

Orange Crush 3It’s baseball season, and if you’ve driven by Toni Stone Stadium (1221 Marshall Ave.), it’s likely you’ll see the bright orange jerseys of the Orange Crush baseball team.

Photo left: Tommy Freberg gets a “hi-five” from Coach Matt Dehne after a successful inning.

Orange Crush is a 14-Under baseball team playing for the St. Paul RBI program and also participating in various baseball tournaments. Coached by Matt Dehne, Todd Johnson, and Jim King, the team has been together for several years, and often enjoys success in their tournaments.

Orange Crush 1The boys developed their love of baseball by playing for the Midway Ball program in St Paul. They love playing together, particularly when the focus is more about developing the player and ensuring all the members play every game, instead of the number of wins on record.

Photo right: Photo right: Tommy Freberg, Midway resident and Como Park High School student receives coaching advice from Head Coach Matt Dehne.

“When the coaches focus on the subs on the bench, then we know the team will be successful,” commented Maureen Freberg, mother of player Tommy Freberg. “A team can only be as strong as the back-up players. I love when this team makes every player feel they are an integral part of the success of the team.”

Orange Crush 2Photo left: Midway resident, Tommy Freberg and the Orange Crush team, receiving last-minute advice from Billy Peterson, before traveling to Omaha for a tournament.

The team has received support over the years from Billy Peterson, loyal baseball enthusiast and volunteer for the St. Paul Municipal Athletics. Peterson maintains the Midway baseball field and Dunning Toni Stone Stadium. The team met with Peterson for encouragement just before traveling to Omaha for the Battle of Omaha baseball tournament. The team placed fourth in the tournament, and recently placed first in the PHDbaseball University Classic wood bat tournament.

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Development Roundup

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin

Zoning changes approved
Changes to zoning in mixed-use corridors in Hamline Midway neighborhood won St. Paul City Council approval June 24. Approval follows a public hearing, at which one person testified. Earlier this year the plan won a recommendation of approval from the St. Paul Planning Commission.

The intent is to change zoning to promote long-term redevelopment as denser, mixed-use corridors. Current property uses will not have to change and can continue indefinitely.

Property owners were notified of the changes, and there was little public comment. Only one neighborhood resident, Benita Warns, has testified on the plan at City Council and Planning Commission public hearings.

She has asked that Thomas between Hamline and Pascal St. be rezoned from two-family residential to single-family residential, saying that was discussed several years ago in the community. City staff has countered that such a rezoning would make several duplexes in that area nonconforming and recommended against the change.

In December 2013, the Planning Commission passed a resolution initiating the District 11 Hamline Midway Mixed-Use Corridors 40-Acre Zoning Study. The resolution called for a study area defined as including all blocks with street frontage on Snelling and Hamline avenues between University Ave. and Pierce Butler Rte., and all blocks with street frontage on Thomas and Minnehaha avenues between Hamline and Snelling avenues. Almost a year later the commission released its findings.

Some properties along Snelling, from Pierce Butler Rte. to Sherburne Ave., will be rezoned from various commercial and residential uses to a traditional neighborhoods designation. Along Hamline Ave., properties near Minnehaha, Van Buren and Thomas avenues will be rezoned for traditional neighborhoods use.

Along Minnehaha, the Hamline Midway Branch Library, and former Knox Presbyterian Church will be rezoned. The rezoning of the library is not intended to change its use, according to city staff, but to create a contiguous zoning parcel. Another parcel rezoned for traditional neighborhoods use is the former Samaritan Hospital site, now an office and parking ramp complex, on Thomas.

To see maps and read a city staff report of the zoning changes, go to http://stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=5545

Skyline_TowerMore funds for Skyline Tower
Skyline Tower’s improvement project has gotten a needed boost. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), voted unanimously June 10 to approve a deferred $750,000 loan for the high-rise building at 1247 St. Anthony Ave.

The loan will be part of a larger funding package to rehabilitate the building, which provides housing for low-income families. The 504-unit building opened in 1971 and offers efficiency, one, and two-bedroom units. Most of the units are Section 8 housing. The building also includes staff offices and community gathering/common areas.

Skyline is the largest single HUD-subsidized building in Minnesota. Its original owner, Sentinel Management, sold the property in 1999 to CommonBond Communities. CommonBond addressed some immediate building maintenance needs after the purchase but has plans to do more work. In 2010, CommonBond refinanced the first mortgage debt through the use of a refinancing program to reduce the interest rate of its first mortgage. The capital needs assessment completed as part of the refinance identified some immediate items to be completed within 36 months. That timeline has passed so work needs to be done to keep the building from going into default with HUD.

One big need for the high-rise is to replace all windows, replace all plumbing/riser supply valves and waste and vent piping. The HRA action would allocate $750,000 of federal Community Development Block Grant funds toward the project.

Total project cost, which is being covered by number of sources, is $12.7 million.

Saxon site gets funding
An area project is among those that will be helped as the Metropolitan Council June 23 awarded more than $3.5 million in brownfield cleanup grants as part of the Livable Communities program. The funding helps create jobs, clean up land for redevelopment, increase tax base, produce affordable and market rate housing, and promote other public and private investment in the region. The council approved 16 grants to five metro area communities. The awards will help clean up 22 acres, create or retain more than 900 jobs, increase the net tax base by more than $2.8 million, help to produce and preserve 800 affordable homes, and encourage more than $338 million in private investment.

“These grants provide a remarkable return on investment and serve as a critical redevelopment tool,” said Council Chair Adam Duininck. “The funding leverages an additional investment of both public and private dollars, and the projects support job creation, increase the tax base, create housing opportunities, and promote a more livable environment.”

In addition to grants for contamination investigation and polluted site cleanup, this round of grants includes just under $200,000 in awards for a new pilot category of grants. These grants encourage development on sites in areas of concentrated poverty that show potential for job creation. One went toward work at the former Saxon Ford site on University Ave. in Frogtown. The city received $22,500 to help fund environmental site assessments and a hazardous materials abatement plan at a one-acre site on University Ave. that included both residential and commercial uses. A portion of the site once housed a gas station and was used more recently for detailing new cars.

The Council received 24 applications this funding round, requesting more than $7 million.

Ground broken for project
Ground was broken June 23 for a long-awaited housing project at 2700 University Ave. The $54 million mixed-use building will include commercial space and housing. It is being developed by Flaherty & Collins.

The six-story building will have 248 apartments, 3,000 square feet of main floor retail space and two levels of underground parking. It will include a saltwater swimming pool and a cyber café.

The site has been eyed for several years for redevelopment because of its proximity to Green Line light rail. Wellington Management had plans to build there several years ago, but those plans stalled in an economic downturn. The site is being sold to the new developers based in Indianapolis.

Most of the apartment units will be market rate, although about 50 will be reserved for people who earn 50 percent or less of the area median income.

The project has drawn on a number of financing options. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), voted unanimously in May to approve issuance of conduit housing revenue bonds in a maximum amount of $9 million for the project at 2700 University Ave.

Developer Flaherty and Collins plans a mixed-use project on a 1.8-acre vacant site, with 198 market rate housing units, 50 affordable housing units and 3,000 square feet of retail space.

With conduit bonds, the city serves as a pass-through source of financing. Such financing doesn’t affect the city’s credit rating.

In October 2014, the City Council and HRA approved a tax increment financing (TIF) district for the site. The project will receive $8.3 million in TIF, as well as up to $1 million in HOME funds. The project also has about $1.9 million in financing through a Metropolitan Council Livable Communities grant.

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Costa Rica students

Como Park High School news

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin

Summer internships, teacher training, travel and more


• The Academy of Finance (AOF) at Como Park High School continues to successfully place students in summer internships.

Twenty AOF students began full-time internships this summer at employers including 3M, Ameriprise Financial, St. Jude Medical, Health East, and several other corporate partners.

Additionally, 45 Como students received positions with St. Paul community-based organizations through Right Track, which provides youth career development and professional skills training.

• Como teachers recently participated in the Carleton College AP Summer Institute.
The College Board requires that trained and audited instructors teach Advanced Placement courses.

Carleton’s nationally renowned summer institute provides training for both new and experienced AP teachers.

Completing the June Institute were Lindsey Lowther in Chemistry, Dylan Adair in Environmental Science, Lisa Griffin in European History, Eric Erickson in Comparative Government and Politics, and Liz Paone in World History.

Como Park provides a complete and comprehensive AP program featuring 23 College Board courses.

Como Marine Corps JROTC• 42 Como Park MCJROTC cadets traveled east in mid-June to explore national landmarks, museums and historical sites in the quest to value citizenship as responsible, informed and patriotic Americans.

Photo right: Como Park MCJROTC cadets traveled across the country from June 14-20. The cadets are pictured with the Marine One Presidential Helicopter at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. (Photo by Erwin Photography)

An aggressive itinerary included the Adler Planetarium and Willis Tower in Chicago, and Gettysburg National Battlefield, Arlington Cemetery, Mount Vernon, the Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and Virginia Beach out east.

At Marine Corps Base Quantico, the cadets toured the hangar and aircraft of Marine One (Presidential Helicopters), officer candidate school, and the martial arts instructor-training site. The cadets lodged at the group campground in Prince William Forest.
The entire trip only cost cadets $300 which included meals, museum fees, bus transportation and billeting.

The tour’s final night concluded with viewing the President’s Marine Corps Concert Band, Drum and Bugle Corps, and Silent Drill team at Marine Barracks Washington’s evening parade.

Costa Rica studentsPhoto left: Como Spanish students planted a garden with local children in Costa Rica, as part of their home stay program from June 24-July 1.

• Advanced Spanish students traveled to Costa Rica from June 24-July 1 under the leadership of Spanish teacher Kirsten Peterson. Students Mackenzie Olson,
Ella Rouillard, Betsy Woodis, Ella Calatayud, and Elianna Weirsma stayed with Costa Rican families to maximize the cross-cultural exchange. In addition to working with children, highlights included visiting an organic pineapple plantation and zip lining over the Sarapiqui River.

• As previously reported in the Monitor, Como junior Trevon Clay qualified for the State Meet in multiple events. He made the most of his moments on the big stage. After blazing through the preliminary races at Hamline University, Clay became a State Champion, crossing the finish line first in the 110 Meter Hurdles. Clay also added a bronze medal, finishing third in the 300 Meter Hurdles. Clay represented Como with great pride at the top of the podium, culminating an amazing year on the track.

• Como Boys Soccer players and Coach Jonah Fields are leading 70 of the community’s youngest players this summer in the “Soccer Stars” program.
The program is offered in Como Park’s West Picnic Grounds, in coordination with St. Paul Parks and Rec. The program gives local high school players an opportunity to connect with kids ages 4-11.
Miles Whitcomb, an 8-year-old, said, “it’s cool because Como Park has a really good team, and that helps me because I have really good people teaching me.”
Como Soccer players like Kevin Yao enjoy sharing their skills with the children of the Como Park community. “I didn’t get opportunity to learn soccer when I was so young, and I love playing with the kids,” says Kevin, a junior at Como.

• The “Fall Athletics” season begins on Aug. 17, three weeks before the first day of school.
Several Como teams and coaches are conducting voluntary workouts during June and July, in the summer waiver period.

Fall sports at Como include Soccer and Football for boys, Volleyball, Soccer, Tennis and Swimming for girls, and Cross Country running for both genders.

All students interested in a sport are welcome and encouraged to participate. More information is available at comosr.spps.org

• Save the date! An all school open house is planned for Thur., Sept. 3, 5-7pm. All incoming 9th graders and families are invited to meet Como staff, get class information, and see Como’s facilities and opportunities. Returning students and families are also invited to get oriented for the new school year and reconnect with Como staff and families.

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Local student wins national history award

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin

Jillian Brenner, Grade 7 at Murray Middle School, qualified for the National History Day competition; Leadership & Legacy in History with an exhibit entitled “Thrust the Warlords Back. . .The Torpedo Squadron Eight at Midway.”

Brenner competed and won four different levels of history day competition. The first round was at Murray, then on to the Saint Paul Public Schools Regional competition, State History Day followed to earn the highly coveted National History Day position. Brenner entered the Junior Individual Exhibit category. She researched, wrote and created a stand-alone exhibit detailing the Torpedo Eight’s actions at the Midway Battle in the Pacific Front during World War II.

Two entries from each category advance to Nationals. Two. In a state where over 50,000 students work on a history day project. It Is a very high honor to qualify, and Brenner put in hundreds of hours to get to Nationals.

Jillian reworked her exhibit between each level of competition. Reworking new research into her project and creativity adjusting her exhibit to capture attention while telling the story of the Torpedo Eight Squadron’s actions. This unit of aircraft attacked the Japanese aircraft carriers and although only one of the men survived the attack, they pulled the Japanese planes down from defending the skies high above the Japanese carriers which opened the skies for the next wave of American planes. Midway was a turning point battle and after Midway, the USA was winning more battles than it was losing, which meant we were pushing or thrusting the warlords back to Tokyo.

At Nationals, Jillian was chosen for the Salute to Courage Award and a trip to the WWII Museum in New Orleans. The Museum is planning an opening of The Campaigns of Courage, and Brenner will research a Minnesotan who served in the Pacific campaign, similar to the men of the Torpedo Squadron Eight.

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Trevon Clay

State 110-meter hurdles champ Clay looks for more

Posted on 06 July 2015 by Calvin

Trevon ClayTrevon Clay already has his sights set on bigger things for next year’s track season with Como Park.

Why not? He already has one state title.

Photo left: Trevon Clay took home a state title in the 110-meter hurdles, and third in the 300 hurdles, at the Class AA state track meet this year. (Photo by Matthew Davis)

Clay won the 110-meter hurdles at last month’s Class AA state track at Hamline University. He clocked 14.45 seconds in the finals and dropped five hundredths of a second from his preliminary time of 14.50. He won the event by 0.06 seconds.

“It was very, very exciting especially running against these guys,” Clay said.

Moreover, Clay won the event in a senior-heavy field – seven seniors and two juniors for the finals. The only junior beside Clay, Jacob Johnson of Owatonna, finished fourth at 14.82.

“I was pretty nervous at first,” Clay said about the 110. “Then, it went away. I got very excited because I’m in the state finals with all these good hurdlers.”

In the 300 hurdles, Clay could see many of the same quality hurdlers again next year. Clay took third in the event, which had only five seniors among the nine entrants.

Juniors include second-place Clayton Johnson from Hastings, who had a 38.17 prelim time and a 38.20 in the finals. Clay stuck close to Johnson in the prelims at 38.21, but the Cougars hurdler’s time dropped to 38.58 in the finals.

“I’m pretty tired,” Clay said after the event. “I left it all out on the track.”

Overall, Clay made big strides after not making out of prelims in either hurdles event the year before. He wants to keep doing more in his senior season ahead.

“I got a lot better this year,” Clay said. “A lot of hard work; a lot of dedication to get where I am today.”

The Como junior became the third hurdler from the school to win a state title and the first since 1994.

“It means a lot just to be the only one from my school, and I got here to the state finals,” Clay said.

Clay also hopes to get more teammates to state next year. With Clay alone, the Cougars finished in a three-way tie for 13th among the 59 teams represented by scoring 20 points.
As a team, the Cougars took fourth in the St. Paul City Conference this past spring with Clay winning titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles along with the long jump.

Como finished seventh in the Section 4AA meet in late May, but sophomore Innocent Myrwwaash showed some state meet potential in addition to Clay’s strong showing.

Myrwwaash just missed state in the 1600 at 4:24.8 for third place, less than four seconds back of second. He also took fourth in the 3200 and missed state by less than eleven seconds.

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