Archive | November, 2015

HU president discusses residential teardowns and priorities

HU president discusses residential teardowns and priorities

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

A university-community advisory group is being formed to bridge community and HU


New Hamline University President Fayneese Miller is telling campus neighbors and the activist group Historic Hamline Village to work together with her administration on the controversial issues of residential teardowns and campus expansion. But her message to “let it go” got a decidedly mixed reaction from a crowd of more than 125 people Oct. 14 at Hamline Church United Methodist.

With a self-imposed one-year moratorium on demolitions ending soon, many campus neighbors want to know what the new president has planned.

Miller’s message? “We are not ready to demolish a bunch of homes,” she said.

Feat8_14HamlineTearDownPhoto left: The “White House” at Hamline University, torn down as part of a number of properties that were demolished by Hamline University.

That message was welcomed by neighbors who are still unhappy about the sudden demolition several months ago of homes along Hewitt Ave., and the destruction of the White House, the former on-campus president’s home, a Greek Revival mansion. The university has a 2008 master plan that shows the demolition of 27 properties, mainly homes outside of the city-approved campus boundary. The recent loss of homes, as well as a citywide focus against residential teardowns, has galvanized the Historic Hamline Village group.

One focus was 1549 Minnehaha Ave., a home some neighbors want to be saved. Miller said there had been no offers yet on the property. It has been toured by interested parties. University staff has made sure the house is weatherproofed, and work has been done on the home’s exterior, but Miller has made no promises about the property’s future.

Miller repeatedly stressed her responsibilities for looking out for the university’s finances and economic health, noting that Hamline University is not a wealthy school. She defended the decision to tear down the White House by noting that it needed extensive work.

And while emphasizing that she wants to have a clean slate with neighbors and wants to do things differently than preceding administrations, Miller also made it clear that neighborhood preservation isn’t her top priority. Neighbors said they understood that but want it to be a priority. There were also some mixed feelings about being told to “let go” of what has been a hard-fought issue.

Miller also noted that one looming challenge is what to do with the university’s law school facilities when a planned merger with William Mitchell School of Law is completed.

Ward Four Council Member Russ Stark noted that while the request for a fresh start is understood, “The slate isn’t clean because there is history.” Stark said Miller’s attending the meeting was a chance to move forward.

Stark said he is looking for a funding source for a historic survey of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood. A survey could be used in the future if neighbors decide they want to seek conservation district status.

Historic Hamline Village spokespersons Robin Hemenway and Roy Neal reviewed their work over the past several months, restating their goals of saving homes and having a better relationship with the university. They outlined a list of priorities including asking that 1549 Minnehaha be saved and that a new campus master plan be considered.

Neal said that until Miller arrived, Hamline University didn’t see adjacent properties as historic. “They saw them as vacant lots,” he said. Neal, Hemenway and audience members said it’s important that the university considers creative solutions, such as selling back some homes, and using some homes as student houses for students learning a language or wanting to live with others who share their values and lifestyle.

Historic Hamline Village representatives also said they’d like better communications and ways to address what they see as inconsistencies between what the university is doing, and the district council and citywide comprehensive plan. One point repeatedly noted is that the neighborhood and city plans call for the preservation of homes.

Questions and comments from audience members were mixed. Some students spoke for more housing opportunities. Neighbors said they want better communication with the university. Some faculty members also criticized past school actions and said they hope a new administration is bringing positive change.

The group also reviewed an ongoing, citywide campus boundary study that is still being reviewed by the Planning Commission. A current recommendation that would affect the university is that if a lot’s primary structure is torn down within ten years, a college or university cannot add that property to its campus.

The meeting was also used to announce the formation of a university-community advisory group, the Hamline University Neighborhood Advisory Committee or HUNAC. It will include a representative from the University, Historic Hamline Village, HHV, Hamline Church United Methodist, neighbors, Hamline Midway Coalition, and the city.

Neighbors can apply for committee spots as well. Deadline is Nov. 15. Submit applications to Mariah Levison, Minnesota State Officer for Collaboration and Dispute Resolution. Applications may be submitted via email to Mariah.Levison@state.mn.us, or mailed to 1380 Energy Lane, Suite Two, St. Paul, MN 55108. Levison can send applicants a form. Committee members will be announced by Dec. 15.

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Hamline Station concept drawing

Hamline Station: Project for Pride in Living project nears completion

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

Hamline Station concept drawingBy


One of the major redevelopment projects along the Green Line is in full swing: the Hamline Station Apartments at the corner of Hamline and University avenues. Two new buildings, containing 51 and 57 units respectively, are well into construction.

Owned and managed by the Project for Pride in Living (PPL), Hamline Station will have studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments available to qualifying tenants.

According to Paul Williams, President and CEO of PPL, “The four-story buildings will contain what we call work force housing. That means quality housing for ‘worker bees.’ We believe that our location on the Green Line will give tenants unparalleled access to their jobs along this transit corridor.”

“Our vision for this project is to meet the needs of folks with dependable income,” Williams said. “To qualify for tenancy, an individual must show proof of annual income between $17,500-35,000. A family of four must show proof of annual income between $25,000-50,000. The calculation used to define affordability in the case of Hamline Station is that households earn between 30-60% of the area median income.”

Barbara McCormick, Senior Vice President of Housing with Services for PPL, said, “We’ve already had 500-600 inquiries, and we’re just starting to accept written applications at a trailer on-site at Hamline Station. “

“We’re very aware of how many people are interested in living at Hamline Station,” McCormick said. “Our eligibility workers now have to do the hard work of finding the right tenant-fit. Applications are being taken on a first-come, first-serve basis, and people holding Section 8 Housing Vouchers are welcome to apply.”

Across the two buildings, 14 units will be set aside for individuals and families who have recently experienced homelessness. These tenants will continue to receive support services from the Guild Inc. and Clare Housing, who’ve been providing case management to ease the transition to stable housing.

Hamline Station is representative of what is called mixed use design. That means that residential and commercial spaces co-exist. In this case, there will 13,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

According to Williams, “The traffic count at Hamline and University avenues is very high—probably not far behind Snelling and University, which is considered the busiest intersection in the state. Once Hamline Station is fully occupied, the increased residential density should really benefit the local businesses.”

PPL is no stranger to property management. The non-profit organization got its start as an affordable housing developer in 1972, and over the last 43 years has become a robust, multi-service agency. Their mission is to empower lower-income people to achieve self-sufficiency through stable housing, employment training, support services and education.

PPL currently owns and manages some 1,200 rental units across the Twin Cities. Their holdings include a broad mix of housing stock including single family homes, duplexes, and apartment buildings. According to McCormick, “The high impact-high density housing model at Hamline Station guarantees the best quality option. We will be able to pay attention to what our tenants need and want.”

“We believe that this re-development project will be a great fit for the neighborhood,” Williams said. “I bought a used car at the dealership that used to be on this block, and that dealership went out of business years ago. Sometimes re-development gets a bad rap because it’s associated with displacing people. But we aren’t displacing anybody with Hamline Station—we’re welcoming people in.”

Elness Swenson Graham Architects is the firm behind the project design. Based in Minneapolis, ESG recently won national recognition for innovation in urban, residential, mixed-use design, and has earned a reputation for strong leadership in re-development projects.

“Since the ground breaking in late August,” Williams said, “we’ve been basically on track with construction. The $28 million project is expected to be completed in two phases. Move-in for the east building is planned for late December of this year, and move-in for the west building is planned for late February 2016.”

To learn more about units costs and eligibility, visit www.hamlinestation.org or call 651-846-9810.

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Teachers together(1)

From tutor to teacher with a lot of dedication

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

Hamline Kindergarten teacher

Due to some last-minute staffing changes at Hamline Elementary this fall, Hamline was able to hire a familiar face. Liz Casperson was hired as a fourth-grade teacher. Casperson graduated from Hamline University last spring with degrees in Elementary Education, Psychology, and Anthropology. Casperson had served in the tutoringTeachers together(1) program that connects elementary students with college students for all four years of her college career.

Photo left: Liz Casperson (right) and Barb Hvidhyld planning next week’s lessons. Casperson has been mentored by Hvidhyld. Hvidhyld has been able to give tips…but she reports that Casperson has taught her some new ideas too. (Photo submitted)

“I saw how Hamline tutors impact lives,” Casperson said. “I worked with kindergarten, first and ELL students. I know I made a difference in their learning. It is also what interested me in education as a major.”

Carol Schjei, the kindergarten teacher who hosted Casperson for all four years, said “I could not operate without my Hamline tutors. I honestly do not know how teachers at other schools could meet the needs of all the students without these extra hands. We can be a very academic kindergarten due to the extra help….but also can get work done promptly so we can have recess and play. Five-year- olds love to play board games with a grown up. The tutors are just another teacher in the kids’ eyes. School goes better with lots of teachers caring about your needs.”

Schjei was the one who encouraged the principal to call Casperson and interview her for the job. Truthfully, it is helpful for a new hire to an SPPS position to have an “in”—for Casperson, tutoring at the school was her in.

Casperson has been mentored by Barb Hvidhyld since workshop week began. Hvidhyld has been able to give tips…but she reports that Casperson has taught her some new ideas too. She commented how Casperson puts in long hours, shows she cares and is very interested in making the jump from just being the tutor to being the person in charge of learning in the classroom.

At Hamline Elementary, all the children start the year by explaining their Hopes and Dreams. Casperson had her dream come true. She walked across the street for four years and received tutor pay. Now she is a professional beginning what everyone hopes is a long career with the Hamline community as a classroom teacher.

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Election: In with the new, in with the old

Election: In with the new, in with the old

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

Four new school board winners will make up majority; council incumbents stay


The results are in, and St. Paul voters made it known that they want to see a completely new slate on the school board.  The four candidates who were selected to run with the backing of Caucus for Change, a movement supported by the St. Paul Federation of Teachers and comprised mostly of parents and teachers, easily won Tuesday’s election. The four winners also had the blessings of the city DFL endorsement.

Mary VanderwertMary Vanderwert (left), 64, was the leader with 17,777 votes that translated to 20.27 percent of the votes in a 10-candidate race.   She had stated that her 25-year career in early childhood education, both in the classroom and in administration, would be unique to the school board.

Zuki EllisComing in at second with 15,290 votes or 17.44 percent was Zuki Ellis (right), 41, a parent trainer for St. Paul Federation of Teachers’ Parent Teacher Home Visit Project.  Ellis had said that she hoped to leverage her community ties in working with educators, students and families to keep the district communicating better with the community. That lack of communication was one of the major faults the Caucus for Change cited against the present school board.

Jon SchumacherWith 14,652 votes, at 16.71 percent, Jon Schumacher (left), 63, came in third. He has been the executive director of the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation since 1999. He called on his experience serving on school site councils and committees, his experience with board management, mediation and community building to strengthen his position as a school board member.

Steve MarcheseSteve Marchese (right), 48, a Pro Bono Director at the Minnesota State Bar Association, was the fourth candidate elected with 14,524 (16.56 percent) of the votes. Marchese emphasized the need for a more inclusive, transparent and effective district, one with clear goals, objectives and strategies for improving achievement.

The incumbent in the race, Keith Hardy, 52, had decided to run even though he was not endorsed by the DFL. Hardy, who has been the only African-American on the board for the past eight years, said he helped create the racial equity policy and anti-bullying policy in the school district and cited his practice of observing learning and authentically listening to principals, students, teachers and staff.

But that was not enough for voters who seemed to be in an anti-incumbent mood, and Hardy earned 8,548 votes, or 9.75 percent, to come in fifth in the election.

Following him were Linda Freeman, at 5,914 votes (6.74 per cent); Greg Copeland, 4,468 votes (5.10 percent); Scott Raskiewicz, 2,810 votes (3.20 percent); and Aaron Benner, who had dropped out of the race but received 2,660 votes, or 3.03 percent.  Rashad Turner had staged a write-in campaign, but it was not determined how many of the 1,047 (1.19 percent) write-in votes were for him.

City Council results
In the City Council races in the Monitor’s readership areas, the incumbents prevailed. Ward 1 saw Dai Thao, 40, running for re-election, earning 2,503 votes or 84.19 percent. His opponent, Trahern Crews, received 416 votes for 13.99 percent.  The number of votes for write-in candidate Mohamed Said was not available, but there was a total of 54 votes for write-ins, which was 1.82 percent.

Dai ThaoThao, who had earlier been elected as the first Hmong-American council member when he replaced Melvin Carter III, said during his two-year experience he had focused on social justice, affordable housing, road and pedestrian safety, parks and green spaces.
Crews, a spokesman for Black Lives Matter in St. Paul, had also been promoting social justice issues.

Russ StarkIn Ward 4, incumbent Russ Stark, 42, won re-election with 3,293 votes (61.36 percent).  His opponent, Tom Goldstein, 58, a lawyer by training, got 2,039 votes (37.99 percent). Write-in votes were 35 (.65 percent).

Stark noted among his accomplishments support of the Green Line high-quality streetscape and maintaining high-quality services despite flat or shrinking budgets.  Goldstein had taken an opposite view, criticizing Stark for doing little to prevent the light rail from harming existing businesses along University Ave.

Amy BrendmoenAmy Brendmoen, 45, succeeded in her re-election bid in Ward 5, with 2,202 votes at 56.23 percent. David Glass received 1.485 votes for 37.92 percent, and David Sullivan-Nightengale, 41, had 215 votes for 5.49 percent. Write-ins accounted for 14 votes (.36 percent).

Brendmoen stressed her accessibility to the community, ability to get a district council boundary change, increase of services and programming at the Como Lakeside Pavilion and increase in jobs were among the strengths she brought to the table.

Glass, who had been in a dispute with Brendmoen over his former restaurant in Como Park, stressed the fact that residents felt they had been left out of the city’s decision-making process.  He expressed concern about the lack of equipment in recreation centers and advocated holding neighborhood meetings.

Sullivan-Nightengale, a safety engineer, had raised concerns about safety issues in the neighborhood and the city.

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Como Ultimate Team

News from Como Park High

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

Compiled by Eric Erickson, Social Studies Teacher

• The Academy of Finance (AOF) held its second annual Career Fair at school on Oct. 20.  Over 50 professionals came to spend the morning speaking with the 218 AOF students in small group settings.  Many ELL students also participated in the Career Fair, with many students being exposed to opportunities in finance, business and technology they were not aware of previously.  It was a successful event enjoyed by both the adults who shared their experiences, and the students who are creating paths toward higher education and employment.

• French College in the Schools (CIS) students from Como Park went to the University of Minnesota Field Day last month.  They spent the day with 350 fellow French students from around the Twin Cities interviewing professionals who use French in their careers, Francophone U of M staff and professors, and U of M students.  They also participated in a “French Fun Facts” scavenger hunt across the campus.  Madame Patricia Teefy said, “a great, enriching experience was had by all.”

• Keith Eicher has added another prestigious award to accompany his National Merit Scholarship Finalist status.  Keith was recently named a finalist for the National QuestBridge Scholarship.  This is a scholarship for high achieving, low-income students that provides students with full ride tuition, room/board, and books.  Only a select few in the country are deemed finalists for this scholarship.  Keith’s competitive application has been submitted as he continues onto next steps in the finalist round.

• The fall musical “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was performed on the evenings of Nov. 5-6 in the Como Auditorium.  The cast and choir also performed a dress rehearsal for Murray students that took a field trip to Como to see the production.  Leading roles were played by seniors Angel Khang and Erianna Jiles, juniors Madeline Moody, and Chimeng Lor, and sophomores Kou Lee, Anthony Phelps and Heather Rogers.

• The annual Close Up trip to Washington D.C. is slated for the first week of March, but fundraising is already in full swing.  Students from AP Government classes will be bagging groceries for customers at the Roseville Cub Foods on Larpenteur from 4-8pm on Tue., Nov. 24 before Thanksgiving.  Cub customers generously support the effort of the students with donations that help defray the expense of the educational adventure.  Three other full days of grocery bagging for the Close Up students are also scheduled for December during winter break.

Como Section 4A Champions• For the fourth consecutive year, the Como Boys’ Soccer Team won the Section Championship and qualified for the State Tournament.  After a very challenging regular season, the team persevered through the Section 4A Tournament to claim a berth in State.  The Cougars knocked off the #1 seed Mahtomedi in the semi-finals before proceeding to dominate Mounds Park Academy in a 3-0 victory in the championship game.

Entering the State Tournament with a record of 9-6-5, the Cougars were unseeded and placed in the bracket against #2 seed Orono, who entered the tournament with a record of 19-1.  Snow covered the field for the game on Oct. 28, but Como played tremendously before eventually falling in overtime by a score of 2-1.  Coach Jonah Fields said the team going to State was “a special reward for their hard work and determination.” (see photo)

• The brother and sister cross country running duo of Innocent Murwanashyaka and Florence Uwajenza are the St. Paul City Champions, each crossing the finish line first in their respective races at the Como Golf Course on Oct. 20.  Senior captain Mary Miles finished in 2nd place, while senior Geleto Roba finished 6th on the boys’ side.  Innocent followed up his City Championship on Oct. 28 with a 3rd place finish in the Section Meet, qualifying for the State Meet at St. Olaf College on Nov. 7.

• Como’s Volleyball team won the St. Paul City title for the 2nd time in 3 years.  The Lady Cougars wrapped up the conference crown at home in the Como Gym on Oct. 22 with a 3-0 win over Central.  The team posted an overall record of 19-6 (11-1 in the conference), before falling to Holy Angles in the section tournament.

Como Ultimate Team• Como’s Ultimate Frisbee Team once again traveled to Winnipeg, Canada during MEA weekend to participate in the annual “Hold Back The Snow” tournament.  This unique tournament is co-ed, with boys and girls playing on the field at the same time, against international competition.  The Como Ultimate players stayed with host families in Winnipeg, building international relationships with peers from the St. John’s Ravenscourt School.  Como’s longtime Ultimate Frisbee advisor and coach Ross Savage describes the tournament as “spirited, fun, and sportsmanlike.” Seventeen student-athletes on the team experienced that spirit last month, as have hundreds of Como alumni who also played the role of international ambassadors through their dedication to Ultimate Frisbee. (see photo)

• Give to the Max Day is Nov. 12!  Please consider an online donation to the Como Booster Club now and help support the extracurricular activities, athletics and clubs that expand student opportunities and experiences at Como.  Last year the Booster Club provided supplemental support to the school’s diverse cultural clubs, athletic teams, art and music programs and sponsored the following activities: Homecoming, Taste of Como, and the Senior All Night Party.

To donate, please go to https://givemn.org/organization/comoparkboosterclub
Donations of $100 or more received on or before November 12th will be entered into a drawing to win a Power Cougar Jacket and other great prizes. Your donation, large or small, directly benefits Como students.

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Explore theater, science, literature, movies, yoga, and more at the library

Explore theater, science, literature, movies, yoga, and more at the library

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

IOC_LibraryThe Hamline Midway Library will be featuring a wide array of activities in November and December, giving library patrons opportunities to explore theater, science, literature, movies, yoga, and more.

The library features Preschool Storytime on Fridays from 10:30-11am, with upcoming storytimes on Nov. 13, 20, 27, and Dec. 4 and 11. Storytimes feature stories, songs, puppets, and more. Preschool storytimes teach social skills, listening comprehension, letter and number recognition, and vocabulary. Enjoy time with your child while building a foundation for reading success. Children of all activity levels are welcome.

The Hamline Midway Elders hosts Seated Chair Yoga on Thur., Nov. 12 and 19, 10:30-11:30am. Chair yoga focuses on a range of movement, alignment, stretching, strengthening, awareness, breathing, and relaxation. All movement is done while seated or standing using the chair for balance. Taught by Nancy Giguere. This is a free event co-sponsored by Hamline Midway Library and Hamline Midway Elders. Contact Tom at tom@hmelders.org or 651-209-6542 for more information.

Second Saturday Science Club happens on Sat., Nov. 14 from 1:30-3pm, and this month the theme is BIG and tiny. Peter Hoh and Jackie Lannin guide children (ages 6 and up) and their families through hands-on science and art experiences.  This month the activities will include building a BIG tower and other creations that will show proportion and size differences. On Sat., Dec. 12, 1:30-3pm, the Second Saturday Science Club theme will be Crystals and Light. Walk-ins are always welcome!

Also on Sat., Nov. 14, 3-4pm, the Teens Reading Bravely group will meet in the library’s teen area. Teens in the group read and discuss books that fall under the “Read Brave” genre. Recommended for ages 14 and up, 9th grade and up. The group’s December meeting will be on Sat., Dec. 12, also 3-4pm in the teen area.

On Mon., Nov. 16, 7-8pm, join The Friends and Park Square Theatre for an evening with actors from the upcoming production “My Children! My Africa!” In 1984, in a segregated township in South Africa, an idealistic teacher believes education—and poetry—can create a better future for his students. Amid anti-apartheid rioting, Mr. M hopes to offer reconciliation by forming a debate club between his black school and the local white school. But as neighborhood tensions escalate, students and teacher find themselves along the blurry line between revolution and terrorism. The shocking conclusion is a timely reminder that one person’s tragedy and a community’s deep sense of loss are inextricably linked.

The library’s ongoing Wednesdays at 1 series continues Wed., Nov. 18, 1-2:30pm with “Be Wise, Be Informed, Be Empowered.” Gary Johnson from the Better Business Bureau will explain how individuals can protect themselves in today’s marketplace. The Wednesdays at 1 programs are a partnership between the Hamline Midway Elders and the Hamline Midway Library.

On Wed., Dec. 2, 1-2:30pm, the series will feature the program Wind Songs: Native American Style Flute. Cynthia Unowsky and Deborah Magnuson play traditional, contemporary, and original songs on numerous hand-crafted wooden flutes. On Wed., Dec. 9, 1-2:30pm, Eleanor Ostman, longtime food writer for the Pioneer Press, presents Confessions of a Professional Eater, sharing experiences from her life in food. She will also sign and sell copies of her new book, “Always on Sunday Revisited,” which will be available for purchase for $20. Wed., Dec. 16, 1-2:30pm, Jody Huber returns with another thought-provoking movie with Jody’s Matinee.  She’ll lead a group discussion after the showing.

The library will be closed on Thanksgiving, Thur., Nov. 26.

The Kids Book Clubs will meet Sat., Dec. 5 to learn more about nominees for the annual Maud Hart Lovelace Award through games and activities and to get ready to vote for their favorite books. Division I (grades 3-5) meets 1:30-2:15pm and Division II (grades 6-8) meets 2:30-3:15pm.

Fans of silent slapstick star Buster Keaton will have two great opportunities to see his films at the Hamline Midway Library in December. On Thur., Dec. 17, 7-8 pm, the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library present Keaton’s comedic masterpiece “The General” with live accompaniment from the accordion and saw duo Dreamland Faces.

The movie tells the story of a Confederate train engineer whose beloved locomotive is hijacked by Union soldiers with the woman he loves onboard. The library will feature more silent movie fun with a family-friendly matinee on Wed., Dec. 30, 2-3:30pm featuring two short Buster Keaton comedies, “The Scarecrow” and “The Goat.” Free popcorn and cider will be served. This event is presented by the Hamline Midway Library Association.

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Midway-based TU Dance to perform at O’Shaughnessy

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

TUDance_largerMidway-based TU Dance, the acclaimed Minnesota-based dance company led by Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, returns to The O’Shaughnessy on Fri.-Sat., Nov. 20-21 at 8pm, and Sun., Nov. 22 at 2pm, as part of its 12th annual performance season. The dance concert features a world premiere work by celebrated Italian-Canadian artist and 2015 McKnight International Choreographer Gioconda Barbuto, a debut of a compelling new piece choreographed by Sands, and a reprise of the company’s highly-regarded “January.”

Pierce-Sands and Barbuto are well acquainted, having previously danced together with Minnesota Dance Theatre. “Gioconda’s choreographic philosophy and talents around dance making is both mesmerizing and inspiring, it’s a true gift to have her creating work here in our community, for our community.” Said Pierce-Sands.

Barbuto explains, “My work is created in collaboration with the [TU Dance company members]. I like to create an environment in which the dancers are motivated in exploring collectively, the endless possibilities of movement invention.

“This often develops and feeds into a complex orchestration of interactions of meeting, letting go and ‘leaving a little bit of you behind’,” she continued. “It’s a little bit like traffic, of distinct personalities, coming together, intersecting, meeting and letting ‘someone go by’ but ultimately, in passing we meet.”

The work is driven by the inspiring and provocative music of Gabriel Prokofiev, an innovative London-based composer, who is the grandson of Sergei Prokofiev, the famed Russian composer.

“It’s a huge honor for me to be selected as this year’s McKnight International Choreographer and to be working with Toni and Uri. To be a part of their vision and to work with these amazingly talented artists in the studio is fulfilling and boundless, each day I look forward to seeing where the next creative journey might take us,” says Barbuto.

TU Dance will also premiere a new work choreographed by Sands, which will be set to music by Charles Mingus. In addition, the full company will perform Sands’ “January,” which examines perpetual states of transition, exploring life at the crossroads of earth and sky, with eyes on both yesterday and tomorrow.

Tickets are $18, $25 and $31 with discounts for students, seniors, military, MPR, TPT and groups of 10 and more. For more information and tickets, contact The

O’Shaughnessy Ticket Office at 651-690-6700; business hours are Mon.-Sat. 12-6pm; ticket office is located on the main campus of St. Catherine University at 2004 Randolph Ave., Saint Paul. Tickets can also be purchased online 24/7 at oshag.stkate.edu/event/tu-dance.

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Proponents plead for projects left out of capital improvement list funding

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

Capital projects to be approved next month
Several capital improvement projects are headed for approval at year’s end as part of the 2016 city budget. But proponents of projects left out are still making their case for funding. That includes the boosters of the Victoria Theater in Frogtown, who filled a city budget meeting room in October to ask that $200,000 previously allocated be restored.

City Council members said they are seeking money to restore the old theater near University and Victoria, but that they need to find the funding it is eligible for. One possible source is sales tax dollars.  The Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) recommended funding for Victoria Theater, but city staff said it isn’t eligible for the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds suggested.

Mayor Chris Coleman also cut funding recommended for the Model Cities Central Exchange mixed-use development near University and Victoria to reallocate funds and balance the capital budget. He also dropped funding for work on the long-planned Pierce Butler Route expansion. That was shelved because city officials are concerned about project costs and want to see a sustainable source of long-term money identified before a multi-million dollar project moves ahead.

Ward One Council Member Dai Thao said he wanted to see funds restored for the projects. He is especially concerned that the theater restoration project will lose momentum. He is also unhappy that area residents who have waited for Pierce Butler Route reconstruction must continue to wait.

Several area projects are still in the running for city dollars, including Hamline-Midway neighborhood’s May Park improvements, relocation of Fire Station 20 in the Cretin-Vandalia area, Frogtown’s Scheffer Recreation Center design, and work on Frogtown Farm Park on Minnehaha Ave. But, unless there is change, other projects including additional work at Dickerman Park at University and Fairview, and completion of the Charles Avenue Bicycle Boulevard, will languish.

The committee and its citizen task forces spent several months reviewing more than 130 projects and city programs. Requests totaled more than $166 million, far more than was available. For 2016-2017, the committee allocated $22 million in capital improvement bonds, $14.8 million in municipal-state aid (MSA) and $8 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars.

Funding site cleanup
Two Midway area redevelopment sites are vying for regional funding. The St. Paul City Council Oct. 28 unanimously approved several applications for funding. The city’s Department of Planning and Economic development (PED) will seek contamination cleanup and investigation grants for the former Sholom Home site at N. Snelling Ave. and Midway Pkwy. and the former Lexington Branch Library at 1080 University Ave. They are seeking the grant funds from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and Metropolitan Council Tax Base Revitalization Account Program.

Both sets of applications were due Nov. 1. West Side and Highland neighborhood projects are also vying for funding.

Both sources of funding are frequently tapped by the city for cleanup and site redevelopment. Several redevelopment sites along Green Line light rail have reaped the benefits of the funding.

In the case of each type of grant, the city typically applies in conjunction with developers and acts as an administrator the grants if they are obtained.

The city is a participant in the Metropolitan Council’s Livable Communities Grant Program, which allows it to apply for grants including the tax base grant project.

A decision on the grants is expected by year’s end or early 2016.

Development project is still vacant, city says
One of University Avenue’s many redevelopment projects hit a road bump Oct. 21. The St. Paul City Council voted to assess a $2,025 vacant building fee on the developers of the former Old Home Dairy building at University and Western avenues.

A partnership of Sand Companies and Aurora-St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation is working together as Old Home Plaza LLC to redevelop the former dairy building into mixed-use development. New housing is under construction behind the building. The project will create 60 units of housing. Total cost is $16.9 million.

The original dairy building is considered historic and is more than 100 years old.

The developers and city officials have been debating the building’s status since March.

City building officials contended that the original Old Home structure needed to be re-registered as a vacant building. The developers objected, noting that they have pulled the required permits needed to renovate the building and are working with city officials on redevelopment. They questioned whether they should continue to pay  the vacant building fee. But developers didn’t attend public hearings to contest the fee.

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Monitor in a Minute

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

Como Community district plan moves ahead
The District 10 Como Community Plan, which has been in the works for about two years, heads to the St. Paul Planning Commission for a public hearing at 8:30am Fri., Nov. 13 at City Hall. The Planning Commission set the public hearing date on the recommendation of its Neighborhood Planning Committee.

district10landuselargeformatredThe plan acknowledges potential future changes in the community and presents strategies for addressing issues. It draws on a land use plan completed in 2007 as well as the Midway Pkwy. plan of the 1990s and the planning done by a group that looked at the Lexington/Larpenteur area about five years ago.

District plans are used to guide future land use in a community. The plans are also used to shape investments in infrastructure including parks, streets, transit, trails, and bike lanes. Plans are used when funding is sought for projects in the city’s Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget. Some district councils have used plans to shape future programs and activities.

Como’s proposed plan calls for maintaining the community’s largely residential character and making sure that new development is complementary to the neighborhood. Some infrastructure needs are raised, ranging from street improvements to restoration of several features at Como Park. Some areas, such as Lexington/Larpenteur and Como/Dale/Front, are cited for additional attention.

All of St. Paul’s 17 district councils are required to prepare district plans. The plans are to be redone every decade. City staff offer some assistance in preparing plans, but much of the heavy lifting is done by district council volunteers and staff.

After the public hearing the plan goes back for committee review before the Planning Commission takes action. The commission then sends the plan to the City Council for a final vote. District plans become part of the city’s comprehensive plan.

District councils honored
St. Paul’s 17 district councils don’t just get a special day in their honor—they got an entire month. The St. Paul City Council and Mayor Chris Coleman declared October to be District Council Month, in recognition of the district council system’s 40th anniversary. The councils will celebrate with an awards event in January.

The council passed the resolution, with more than three dozen district council members present. Also present was former Mayor Larry Cohen, who was mayor when the district council system was created.

Cohen recalled that in the 1970s, the council chambers were often filled with citizens raising questions and objections to things going on in their neighborhoods. While the city had many informal neighborhood associations in those days, there was no set citizen participation system. It took many months and many meetings, but the system was put into place in October 1975.

Cohen congratulated those present for their service, as well as thanking those who have served on district councils in the past.

At one time, the city had as many as 19 district councils. There have been changes over the years. Highland and Macalester-Groveland neighborhoods were once one large council, called Southwest Area District Council. The most recent change occurred almost a decade ago when Merriam Park, Snelling-Hamline, and Lexington-Hamline councils merged to form Union Park District Council.

Several of the current City Council members and Coleman have district council experience on their resumes. District councils do a number of tasks, making recommendations on zoning changes and licenses. From time to time the councils gather citizen input on ordinance and city policy changes, as well as citywide land use, transportation, and parks and recreation plans. The councils do comprehensive planning for their neighborhoods and work to get capital improvement budget projects passed. Councils oversee blocks clubs and crime prevention efforts.

Councils also help operate the city’s curbside recycling program and have overseen neighborhood cleanups. Projects differ from council to council, with some running community gardens, festivals, organics recycling programs and other events.

Councils have some paid staff but operate largely with volunteers. It’s estimated that the city currently has more than 2,000 volunteers on councils and their various committees.

Liquor law changes to be reviewed
St. Paul’s proposed changes to its liquor laws are en route to the city’s Charter Commission. The St. Paul City Council Oct. 14 passed it unanimously and without comment.

The council is asking the Charter Commission to review a proposed ordinance that would exempt restaurants with on-sale liquor licenses from citywide and ward license limits. If adopted, the change would mean that restaurants in area neighborhoods that have waited years for liquor licenses could seek them. After Charter Commission review, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the issue, most likely in this month.

The City Council can change the charter if it has a unanimous vote of approval. If council support is not unanimous, the measure would be in the hands of the city’s voters—on the 2016 ballot at the earliest.

The change is sought by Ward Three Council Member Chris Tolbert, at the behest of Highland District Council and current and prospective restaurant owners in his ward. Ward Three has only seven on-sale liquor licenses available, so restaurant owners must often wait years for a license to become available. Ward Four, which includes much of the Monitor coverage area, is also in the position of having only one license available at this time.

City Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) staff held a series of meetings around St. Paul this year to discuss the change and met little opposition.

If the changes don’t pass, prospective restaurants along Green Line light rail may still have the option of seeking full liquor licenses under a proposed commercial development district in the works along University Ave. and the West Midway area.

Pool owners may face sanctions
Owners of abandoned swimming pools in St. Paul face sanctions as a result of a new city ordinance adopted in October  by the St. Paul City Council. Regulatory changes were brought forward after a Memorial Day weekend incident when two children fell into a water- and garbage-filled, abandoned pool in the city’s North End. Seven-year-old Sher Kpor died in June, a few weeks after he fell into the pool. He and his brother were able to get through a locked fence to the pool area.

That pool has been removed and its site filled in, but city officials said more needed to be done with abandoned pools. The Minnesota Department of Health took over licensing and inspection of pools in 2013. But many private pools behind homes and apartment buildings aren’t licensed. State officials said those pools aren’t their responsibility.

The St. Paul Fire Department has drained abandoned pools at property owners’ requests.
City Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) staff worked on the new regulations.  The city will require fencing around all outdoor swimming pools that are at least 24 inches deep with a surface area of 150 square feet. Previously only pools holding more than 5,000 gallons of water had to be fenced.

The city also set maintenance criteria for outdoor pools out of service for one year. Those pools need to be fenced and be free of stagnant water. Pools out of service for two or more years, with stagnant water or lacking fencing, can be classified as nuisance pools. Property owners either have to bring pools into compliance or the city will do the work for them, at the property owner’s expense.

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‘Tis the season: time for fairs, festivals, and dinners!

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Calvin

Central craft fair scheduled Nov. 14
Central Lutheran School, 775 N. Lexington, is hosting their 3rd annual craft fair on Sat., Nov. 14, 9am-3pm. Local vendors will be there selling creative gifts, and refreshments will be available. Please come and join them for a fun shopping event.

St. Columba hosts dinner and bingo
St. Columba Church, 1330 Blair Ave., is planning Turkey Bingo, Nov. 14, 6:30pm. Adult tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and include a Turkey buffet dinner with beverage plus two Bingo cards for each game. Bingo play runs about 2 hours with chances to win turkeys as well as special prizes and drawings. Doors open after mass at 5:30pm with dinner and bingo starting at 6:30pm. For more info or tickets call 651-646-4419 or the parish office 651-645-9179.

Fall craft and bake sale set for Nov. 21
Zion Lutheran Church, 1697 Lafond Ave., will hold its annual fall craft and bake sale on Sat., Nov. 21. from 9am to 1pm. Crafts, bakery, raffle, and recycled Christmas decorations will be for sale. Cookies and coffee will be for sale throughout and a lunch for $4 will be served from 11-12:30. For additional information call 651-645-0851.

Art and Craft Fair scheduled Dec. 5
For more than 15 years, St. Paul landmark GINKGO coffeehouse (721 N. Snelling Ave.) has hosted an art and craft fair for local artists. The 2015 fair is planned for Sat., Dec. 5, 9am-4:30pm.

This shopping opportunity showcases 15 local artists, with unique, high-quality items at reasonable prices. The products include handmade glass beads, knit and felted items, quilted products, wooden items, metal sculptures, chain maille and other types of jewelry, and much more.

For more information or to  find out about participating in this year’s fair, call 651-645-2647 or email kathy@ginkgocoffee.com.

Annual sale now through December
Nettie and Friends 12th Annual Sale of the Season is open daily through December from breakfast through 2pm at Egg and I, 2550 University Ave. W. (University and Hwy. 280). The sale features creative, hand-crafted gifts, with the benefits going to benefit Maxwell School.

Holiday craft fair planned Dec. 5-6
The 12th annual Holiday Craft Fair will be Dec. 5-6, at Roseville City Hall. Spread out over two levels, more than 70 local crafters and artists will be selling their all-handmade wares. Items include soaps and balms; natural stone, fused glass, beaded and other fine jewelry; photography; pottery; knitted items; fairy and bird houses; paintings; fine chocolates and delicious canned jams; and so much more. And once again the annual Bake Sale by the Friends of Roseville Parks (FOR Parks) will be onsite, Saturday only, raising money to support all the parks in our city.

After a bit of shopping, take a break and sit down with a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.

Coffee and food will be served up by Dunn Brothers (Fairview Ave. location).
Sale hours are 10am-4pm on Sat., 12-4pm on Sunday. There’s no admission charge and free parking. Roseville City Hall is located at 2660 Civic Center Dr.

The Holiday Craft Fair is put on by volunteers from the Harriet Alexander Nature Center (HANC); all vendor fees go to HANC to support environmental education programs. For more information about the event, including a list of participating crafters and a gallery of some of their work, go to HolidayCraftFair.com.

Craft, art, and bake sale planned Nov. 21
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 285 N. Dale St., is planning their annual Craft, Art, and Bake Sale for Nov. 21 (9am-3pm) and Nov. 22 (10am-3pm). In addition, Kim Tann, the pastor’s wife, will stop your cravings for stir fried rice and egg rolls; to go, or to eat while you shop.

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