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Archive | June, 2016

InsideBus_25228268919_438249dd6a_oSm slider

A Line marks step forward in bus service

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

Ride for free during opening weekend; special events planned on Sat., June 11

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
On June 11, locals will have a new transportation option.

The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) A Line will begin operating locally from Rosedale Mall, down the busy Snelling Ave. commercial corridor to Highland Village and over to 46th St. Station in Minneapolis.

The A Line will offer a new kind of bus service that will cut the journey from 46th St. station to Rosedale Mall from 48 minutes to 35 minutes.

The line officially opens at 10am.

Bus service on the A Line and Route 84 will be free June 11 to 13.

InsideBus_25228268919_438249dd6a_oSmPhoto right: The 40-foot Gillig model buses look significantly different than regular-route buses. Passengers will be able to get on and off faster, thanks to low-floor buses and raised curbs at stations, plus wider bus doors and boarding from the front and back. (Photos submitted)

Midway resident Jessica Treat of Transit for Livable Communities is looking forward to the start of the A Line. “It’s a significant change and the first in the region,” pointed out Treat.

Como resident João Medeiros said, “I am excited that the BRT will provide an efficient connection from my side of the neighborhood to the Green Line, which should provide easy transit access from the neighborhood to both downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul.”

ALine_Bus_25503107941_467b1a7af9_oSmMederios is looking forward to seeing whether the BRT helps alleviate some of the congestion at State Fair time. “As an all-season user of the Como and Snelling bus stop, I am also excited that the stations are going to have radiant heating in the winter, like light rail stations,” he added.

Opening day events
Events planned from 10am to 2pm on June 11 include:
• Snelling and University: Official ribbon cutting ceremony begins at 9:30am with the ribbon cutting at 9:50. There will be live music and food trucks. Community groups and businesses will have tables set up.
• HarMar Mall: The first bus will bring the mayor of Roseville to HarMar at about 10:10am, where there will be a short ceremony and music by the Roseville City Band and other groups.
• Highland Park: The event will take place at Hillcrest Park, located at Ford Pkwy. and Kenneth, an A Line stop. Community groups, local businesses, and the park board are coming together to host an event celebrating the launch of the A Line route. There will be a climbing wall and children’s craft activity.
• 46th Street Station: A Line bus on display and Metro Transit personnel available to answer questions.

Cross between bus and train
Bus Rapid Transit makes riding a bus a bit more like riding a light rail train.

Customers will pay their fares at ticket vending machines before boarding the bus.

By extending the curbs at stations, buses can merge more easily into traffic after serving a station. The buses won’t pull over to board passengers, but will instead remain in the right driving lane.

Each A Line station is comprised of a northbound and southbound platform. All station platforms will have a customer waiting shelter with interior light and heater, as well as a pylon marker with a real-time NexTrip display.

Passengers will be able to get on and off faster, thanks to low-floor buses and raised curbs at stations, plus wider bus doors and boarding from the front and back. These 40-foot Gillig model buses will look significantly different than regular-route buses.

The A Line buses will stop at fewer red lights courtesy of transit signal priority, and stay better in sync with traffic flow.

While people typically think that traffic is the main reason for bus delays, a traffic analysis showed that delays actually occur from stopping every block, customers paying fares, and stopping at red lights.

BRT addresses these issues.

21 stations every one-half mile
The A Line will connect the Twin Cities’ two metro light-rail lines with the busy Snelling Ave. commercial corridor and several popular destinations, including Hamline University, Macalester College, Midway, Highland Village, Minnehaha Park, Rosedale Center, and HarMar Mall.

The A Line will operate every 10 minutes along the 9.7-mile-long route during rush hours, midday, evenings, and weekends, with less frequent service in the early morning and late at night. The span of service is very similar to today’s Route 84 schedule, with trips beginning at approximately 4am and continuing until approximately 1:30am.

Twenty-one stations are located roughly every half-mile.

The A Line will become the primary bus route serving Snelling Ave. and Ford Pkwy. with increased service in evenings and on weekends, substantially replacing much of Route 84.

Local Route 84 will operate every 30 minutes and make off-corridor branch connections to St. Paul Ave., West 7th St. and Davern St.

Transferring between the A Line and light rail is easy. No matter where you purchase your ticket, it will be valid for 20 hours of unlimited rides. Additionally, A Line tickets are valid for regular-route buses; present your ticket to the driver but don’t insert it into the fare box so that you can keep using it.

Are people riding for free?
Some residents are concerned that riders aren’t paying for their light rail trips and won’t pay for the A Line ride either.

For Hamline Midway resident Dave Olson, not paying for a ride is theft.

“I take the Green Line fairly often and while waiting for trains observe how many just walk past the payment machines and get on the train. Am I an idiot for not riding free also?” asked Olson.

The issues for Hamline Midway resident Tom Goldstein are the $180 fine people are charged if caught riding without a ticket and the use of police officers rather than train monitors for the fare checks. “I wish that everyone were honest—or had the means to pay for transit—but I’d rather see our focus be on keeping the trains safe for all riders than creating a system with out-of-whack penalties and out-of-whack priorities for how we do enforcement,” remarked Goldstein.

“Some of us will perceive rampant fare-theft and some of us will observe near universal compliance in the same train ride. Thankfully the Met Council undertook a controlled study with sound statistical methods to determine an estimate of compliance,” pointed out Hamline-Midway resident Bryan Kennedy.

According to the April 2015 report, the Blue Line fare evasion rate is between 2.6% and 3.6%, and the compliance rate is estimated to be between 80.8% and 84.8%. The Green Line fare evasion rate is between 4.6% and 9.0% and the compliance rate for is between 81.6% and 87.6%. The audit found that Go-To Card users were the largest group of people not to comply, perhaps because of a misunderstanding of how the card works. Data was collected in 2014.

Neighborhood resident and transportation researcher Guillermo Narvaez thinks that the BRT model seems well suited at this time for Snelling. However, he pointed out that “while it does increase the amount of passengers it can carry, it does not really inspire developers in the same way more permanent forms of transit does.”

BRT is attractive because the overall project costs less, but it is less effective in moving people than a light rail or metro system, he noted. “The idea is one that the GOP will tolerate (versus light rail or streetcar) as it shares the same road infrastructure that cars and trucks use,” Narvaez said.

Why the Snelling Ave. route?
In 2011, Met Transit studied 12 high-ridership corridors and determined that BRT would perform well along the Snelling/Ford/46th route. As a bonus, it was shovel-ready.

The other routes included in the Arterial Transitway Corridors Study were: Lake St., American Blvd., Central Ave., Chicago Ave., E. 7th St, Hennepin Ave., Nicollet Ave., Robert St., Snelling Ave., West 7th St. and West Broadway Ave. The study later added Penn Ave. and Chicago-Fremont in North Minneapolis.

Construction on the line began in 2015 with road improvements, new shelters, and other amenities. The line was originally slated to open in 2015, but a lengthy review period set the project back.

The total cost of the A Line project is about $27 million, with money coming from the federal government ($7 million), the state of Minnesota ($16 million) and the Metropolitan Council ($4 million). Of that, $15 million was spent constructing stations and adding related technology and fare collection elements; $7 million on new BRT vehicles for the service; $1 million on transit signal priority; and $4 million on design.

Plans call for 20 rapid transitways by the year 2040—16 to 17 of those would be BRT lines. This system will allow another 500,000 people to be a 30-minute commute from their workplace.

“I believe in transit and other forms of transportation that make cities more livable and attractive,” said Narvaez. “Is the BRT a perfect solution? Hardly, but it has us talking and thinking about it instead of just driving through places that hopefully will become destinations in the near future.”

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The Emily Program slider

The Emily Program ‘gave me my life back’ says local woman

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

Program set apart by staff who have been there too, and are working to increase care standards for eating disorders

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
One in five women struggles with an eating disorder.

St. Anthony resident Billie Gray is one of them.

At 39, her best friend asked her to be an attendant at her wedding, and Gray spent more time worrying about how she was going to look in a sleeveless dress than she did being happy for her friend.

“Luckily I had enough awareness to recognize that as distorted thinking,” stated Gray.

IMG_1012TheEmilyProgramSmShe walked herself down to her “friendly neighborhood eating center,” The Emily Program, and asked for help.

She got it.

“It gave me my life back,” said Gray.

Photo right: The adult treatment site at 2265 Como is one of several in the neighborhood. A center for youth is located across the street. The Emily Program offers outpatient, intensive day/partial programs with lodging available, and 24/7 residential care at ten sites across Minnesota as well as sites in Washington, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The administrative offices, including the Foundation, are based in St. Paul’s Bandana Square. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

For Gray, having an eating disorder meant that she kept a part of herself set aside to manage that disorder.

She knows she could have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder when she was 24, but she kept her habits hidden from others for years.

“Eating disorders come in a lot of different manifestations,” Gray observed.

She wasn’t the type of binge eater who drove to three different drive-thrus and ordered a meal at each to devour in one sitting. No, hers was harder to see because it didn’t manifest according to the stereotype. Her eating disorder involved grazing from the time she got home from work to the time she climbed into bed. Every night she ate to the point where she felt full and then kept going until she felt physically ill.

IMG_1005Bille-and-JillianSm“It was like I had two stomachs,” Gray explained. “One was so full. One couldn’t stop eating.”

Photo left: The Emily Program Foundation Executive Director Billie Gray and The Emily Program Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Jillian Lampert stand in the kitchen at the 2265 Como Building, a place where cooking classes and meals are held. Treatment at The Emily Program involves a lot of different food experiences, pointed out Lampert. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

For some, grazing is fine, but Gray’s habits were normal behavior taken to extremes, as all eating disorders are. Hers was a problem in part because of the time she spent obsessing about food and the internalized shame that surrounded eating, Gray pointed out.

Every day she woke up and told herself today would be different. Every day it was the same.
Gray isn’t alone. Middle-aged women are among the fastest growing segment of the population diagnosed with eating disorders.

Relaxing and welcoming atmosphere
Gray is grateful for the help she received at The Emily Program, which is primarily staffed by 520 people who have had eating disorders themselves.

“I love the atmosphere here,” Gray stated. “It’s very relaxing. Everyone was kind and willing to meet me where I was. If I had had one negative experience, I would have left.”

Once she was being treated at The Emily Program, she felt like she got steadily better as she put time into it, but change didn’t happen all at once.

She attended individual therapy, met with dietitians to learn about nutrition, and focused on the behavioral piece, as well.

Treatment at The Emily Program involves a lot of different food experiences, pointed out Dr. Jilllian Lampert, The Emily Program Chief Strategy Officer. Residents and therapists engage in intimate meals together in the dining rooms at the facility, cook meals together, and go out to eat together.

Other components are art therapy, body image support groups, and mindful, restorative yoga.
“Being disconnected from your body is a hallmark of an eating disorder,” pointed out Lampert, “so getting back in touch with your body is a part of healing.”

Gray’s breakthrough came during a somatic experience group session, a type of therapy she didn’t think would be valuable for her at all. She considers herself to be analytical and logical and didn’t want to focus on sensations.

When encouraged to stop and pay attention to the sensations in her body, Gray realized, “I literally couldn’t feel anything between my pelvis and my throat.”

Lampert pointed out that another common part of an eating disorder is being unable to close one’s eyes and count a pulse beat. Restorative yoga helps patients reconnect with their body’s biorhythms.

Emily at Whittier ElementaryPhoto right: The Emily Program Foundation staff meet with a group of girls at Whittier International Elementary School in Minneapolis. They present at daycares, middle and high schools, universities, churches and other community groups to increase awareness and education of eating disorders. “The seeds get planted very young,” observed Gray. “We’re doing what we can to change the environment and minimize the number of seeds that get planted. They’re currently partnering on a pilot program with the St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ Preschool. (Photo submitted)

The underlying issue creating Gray’s eating disorder was control. “I wasn’t ok with who I was,” she observed.

Through art therapy, she learned how to express herself, a practice she found empowering and continues today.

There is a debate about whether one is ever really cured of an eating disorder. Gray finds it helpful to continue attending a support group every two weeks.

After her three-year treatment, she realized she wanted to make a difference for other people struggling with eating disorders. She quit her successful corporate job and became the executive director of The Emily Program Foundation in June 2014.

The Emily Program Foundation presents at daycares, middle and high schools, universities, churches and other community groups to increase awareness and education of eating disorders. Bullying about body size and appearance is the most common form of bullying in schools.

An program set apart
In 1993, psychologist Dirk Miller, Ph.D., LP, opened The Emily Program, named after his sister, Emily, who recovered from an eating disorder.

Previously, Miller had started the first hospital-based eating disorders treatment program at South Bend General Hospital in Indiana. He had also worked with the University of Minnesota’s intensive bulimia program and started an eating disorders group at The University of St. Thomas.

The 23-year-old organization has grown a lot since its start with one employee in a former St. Paul fire station.

Today, The Emily Program offers outpatient, intensive day/partial programs with lodging available, and 24/7 residential care at ten sites across Minnesota as well as sites in Washington, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The administrative offices, including the Foundation, are based at 1295 Bandana Boulevard W.

They also have an Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment location for adolescents and adults at 2265 Como Ave. and at 2230 Como Ave.

The program is for people of all genders from age 8 to 78 who struggle with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, compulsive overeating, obesity, and other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED).

The approach to treating eating disorders is based on the belief that individuals are unique and that they intuitively seek meaning, value, and creativity in life. Effective treatment requires awareness of the genetic, biological, psychological, social, and cultural impacts on each person.
Lampert noted, “It’s the way we do things that sets us apart.”

The Emily Program meets this high-intensity need for care through evidence-based practices, round-the-clock nursing, and specialized medical treatment. It is affiliated with the University of Minnesota, initiates studies, and lobbies at the federal level.

“We can help people make changes in their behavior, so they don’t have to have an eating disorder,” said Lampert.

Working to raise the standards of care
The Emily Program is leading the charge to improve the quality of residential eating disorder care through its leadership of the Residential Eating Disorder Consortium (REDC).

“Through REDC, we are hoping to raise the bar for quality of care across all residential eating disorder programs,” stated Lampert, who serves as president of the REDC, an organization The Emily Program co-founded.

In the United States, 30 million Americans struggle with eating disorders. Only a fraction of them will need specialized 24/7 care for their mental illness, but few will find it as residential programs only have the capacity to treat less than 0.05 percent of those impacted each year.

Insurance doesn’t always cover treatment costs, despite the Mental Health Parity Bill passed in 2008.

Every 62 minutes someone dies as a direct result of an eating disorder, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy and Action. Eating disorders can be expensive to treat, but they are serious issues with the highest mortality rate of any other mental health illness.
The Emily Program provides education and training opportunities for health professionals so that they may be better equipped to intervene early in the illness, optimizing patients’ recovery.

When Lampert was struggling with an eating disorder 20 years ago, she bounced from substandard program to substandard program. While things have gotten better, she sees room for improvement. That’s part of what has driven her efforts to push for quality treatment standards, which were adopted by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities in 2013 and by the Joint Commission recently.

Few health care providers receive adequate training in recognition and treatment of eating disorders, explained Lampert. “There’s a huge disparity between the number of lives lost and medical training.” The average doctor has received 24 minutes of training. The Emily Program feels so passionately about this that there is currently a bill in Congress, The Anna Westin Act, named in memory of a Minnesota woman who died at the age of 21 as a direct result of anorexia that sets aside existing funds for training. The Emily Program staff and volunteers, including Anna’s mother Kitty, who serves on the Foundation Board, are working hard to ensure it becomes law.
For more, browse emilyprogram.com.

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Hamline Ave. Parking meeting slider

Some, including high rise residents, question parking loss on Hamline

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

Parking would be lost for a bike lane taking up 10 feet; proponents say north/south bike connection is needed

By JANE MCCLURE
Hamline Ave. could be restriped with bike lanes between University and Minnehaha avenues as soon as this fall. A future phase of the project could extend the lanes north to Pierce Butler Rte.
Many bicyclists welcome the idea of bike lanes, saying it will provide a needed north-south route through the area. Other project supporters contend it would make Hamline traffic slow down and promote pedestrian safety.

Hamline Ave. Parking meetingPhotos left: A group of residents and other interested parties attended the open house on May 26 to have the opportunity to help shape the future and safety of Hamline Ave. The City of St. Paul Department of Public Works held the public forum to discuss and explain proposed improvements to Hamline Ave. The work being proposed involves removing and replacing the top layer of pavement and updating all non-ADA Haline Ave. Parking meeting 2compliant pedestrian ramps. This route is also identified in the Citywide Bike Plan, and the City is proposing to install on-street bicycle lanes, which would require removal of on-street parking from one side of the street. (Photos by Kyle Mianulli)

But some avid cyclists disagree, saying it wouldn’t be safe. Business owners and residents, including many in the Hamline Hi-Rise, worry about the loss of on-street parking. They note that existing on-street parking bans in the surrounding area, coupled with spillover parking from schools and events, already create a parking crunch at certain times. But St. Paul Department of Public Works staff, using a recent study, counters that many of the parking spots are underutilized and that there would be enough parking remaining even with a bike lane.

Dozens of people filled a meeting room May 26 at Sejong Academy, 1330 Blair Ave., to discuss the project with city staff. Bike lanes and new pedestrian curb ramps would be installed as part of a mill and overlay project. It would also involve removing parking from one side of Hamline between University and Minnehaha.

Hamline Ave. has been eyed as a bike route before. Past efforts have been shelved due to opposition about parking loss and safety. It was identified in the citywide bicycle plan as a key bike route, which the City Council adopted in 2015.

Luke Hanson, Public Works project manager, said plans for Hamline between University and Minnehaha call for two five-foot bike lanes, an eight-foot parking lane on one side of the street, an 11-foot travel lane in each direction and parking bans at all four corners of Charles Ave.

Hanson noted that while Hamline north of Minnehaha isn’t part of the 2016 project, it makes sense to discuss the project extending north. A northern connection would extend to a bike/pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks and additional routes. But because Hamline is narrower north of Minnehaha, it would mean banning parking on both sides of the street.

Public Works is hearing a mixed reaction to the project, Hanson said. “We want to hear from as many people as possible.” While Public Works cannot address every concern raised, he said city staff will do what it can.

Many area residents support the proposal, saying a lot of parking along Hamline is infrequently used. They contend that bike lanes will not only help cyclists get to and through the area, but the lanes could also help slow motor vehicle traffic.

David Rudolph lives on Blair Ave. and is a year-round cyclist. “I ride in this area every day,” he said, adding that rush hour periods can be busy and hazardous for bicyclists.

His children attend school near the north end of the route, and his daughter likes to bike to school. “It would be fantastic to have bike lanes for her,” Rudolph said.

Other cyclists from around the city said they’d use Hamline more as a north-south route if it had lane markings. Brian Martinson, a Macalester-Groveland resident and cyclist, said he’d use bike lanes if they were on Hamline.

Martinson said the bike lanes would indicate that motorists need to share the road with bikes. “I ride where I have to ride,” he said. While experienced cyclists like him ride in mixed traffic, lanes would be a benefit and an attraction for more riders to travel Hamline.

Others said they are worried about the loss of parking. Jim Lovold is president of the hi-rise residents’ council. “Our concern is parking for our caregivers,” he said. The 17-story building has about 180 residents who are disabled or elderly. The parking lot has 55 spaces. Lovold and fellow council member Margaret Gilbert said caregivers already must park on-street and will have to walk longer distances.

“Some days the parking is very tight,” Gilbert said.

Other Hamline Ave. residents have little or no off-street parking, and in a few places, no alleys. Residents said they struggle to park near their homes and worry about having to carry groceries or other items long distances.

Petitions against the project are at locations including Grand Paws at Hamline and Thomas and Fields of Hair at Minnehaha and Thomas. Beth Jackson, who operates a home day care on Hamline, said it’s troubling that no business owners were talked to about the proposal.

Hamline Midway Coalition has posted studies about the project and a survey. Go to www.hamlinemidway.org/hamlineave.

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Mayor George Latimer 07 slider

Former Mayor George Latimer makes Midway his new home

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

Story and photo by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Mayor George Latimer 07Seated in his apartment above the Green Line corridor, former mayor George Latimer has an ample view of the streetscape of St. Paul and the skyline of Minneapolis. Latimer served as St. Paul’s mayor from 1976–1990, and now can look out over a city he and his staff helped to transform.

A resident of Episcopal Homes, 490 Lynnhurst Ave. E., since last year, Latimer joked about the ongoing rivalry between the Twin Cities. “Well, I sure do like to have fun with it,” he said. “In the end, I see two cities that are part of a regional community. We flourish because of each other, but that said, we are still two very different cities. It goes deep into our history on both sides. I see St. Paul as operating in a way that’s more collaborative, and Minneapolis in a way that’s more confrontational.”

He continued, “St. Paul has always been, and probably always will be, Minnesota’s second city. We simply are more parochial in our thinking, which has both pluses and minuses. St. Paul residents care deeply about place, community, and connectedness. We are slower to change and slower to embrace change.”

Latimer is a new-comer to a very changed stretch of University Ave. Beneath his sixth story windows, the Green Line speeds by. More than a few articles credit Latimer’s administration with planting the seeds for light rail but he said, “We never came up with anything quite that great in our thinking about transportation. The idea of using transportation as a powerful tool for new development is brilliant. All of the housing that’s being provided for people, especially young people and people who might not have a lot of money. I see the Green Line as the most transformational thing that’s happened to this old river city.”

Latimer will be turning 81 this month. He said, “Of all the things I reflect on with fondness that came out of my tenure as mayor, the one I feel best about was bringing the Job Corps to St. Paul in 1981. It’s still housed on Snelling Ave. across from the State Fairgrounds. Bethel College had the space originally, and when they moved to the suburbs, we had to find a new a new tenant. It was perfect for the Job Corps—a ready made campus just waiting for the students to move back in. Though the program is much smaller now, it’s still running.”

Job Corps is a residential educational and vocational training program for economically disadvantaged youth. “The last time I checked,” he said, “they had graduated more than 10,000 students ages 16-21. They had a placement rate of 91% in successful employment. These are kids who, for one reason or another, didn’t make it through school or into the workforce the first time.“

Latimer continued, “If you live long enough you’ll see a lot of dreams dashed, and maybe have a few dreams that should have been dashed. But Job Corps will always be a warm, abiding memory for me.

Latimer has retained his signature beard, openness and sense of humor. “We had a lot of successes,” he said, “like creating the Family Housing Fund and District Energy, revitalizing Lower Town and building Energy Park. But, we also had some huge failures. Galtier Plaza was a bust financially, and Town Square was a terrible decision architecturally. I taught a seminar on learning from the failures of our administration at Macalester several years ago. The current mayor Chris Coleman, who’s a good friend of mine, said, “I heard about that seminar Latimer is teaching, and I think it should be a year-long course.”

After his last term as mayor, Latimer went on to become dean of Hamline Law School (1990-93), special assistant to the Office of Housing and Urban Development in Washington DC (1993-95) and a visiting professor in Geography and Urban Studies at Macalester since 1996. He continues to work part-time as a labor arbitrator.

Latimer, whose nearly 14 years in office mark the longest mayoral tenure in the history of the city, is quick to acknowledge that he didn’t stand alone. “What occurs during any single political administration has a lot to do with what you inherit,” Latimer said. “We were lucky because so much positive growth had taken place in St. Paul in the 1960’s. I also had tremendous people around me: the civil servants that were already there when I was elected and the people I was able to appoint.”

The former mayor also gives credit to the strong family that surrounds him. When asked how he chose Episcopal Homes after 40 years of living in Crocus Hill, he joked, “Truthfully, every major decision I’ve ever made has been influenced by one of the women in my life: my Lebanese mother, my wife, or one of my daughters. In this case, my daughters made me do it.”

These days he seems happily ensconced in his new apartment—surrounded by photographs of his family and friends, political cartoons and a great many books. Latimer is a dedicated reader, a quality he claims to have inherited from his English father—a quiet man who was a great lover of books.

When asked about the renaming of the Central Library in his honor two years ago, the outspoken former mayor said, “I hadn’t heard a word about it—until the day it happened. Mayor Chris Coleman came to our house carrying something in a plain, brown wrapper. It could have been a fish for all I knew. I opened the wrapper and inside was a plaque designating the downtown St. Paul library as the George Latimer Central Library. I was completely speechless. Coleman said, ‘I never thought I could silence George Latimer,’ but he was wrong.”

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soccer illus 1 SLIDER

Major league soccer stadium closer to reality in the Midway

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

Legislature passes liquor license and property tax exemption; advisory committee wrapped up its report May 26

By JANE MCCLURE
Plans for a Major League Soccer stadium and Midway Center redevelopment continue to change as the St. Paul Planning Commission prepares to hear comments on the stadium site plan and master plan for the Midway Center superblock.

The plan goes to the Planning Commission at 8:30am, Fri., June 10 at City Hall. People can also comment online, at https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/planning-economic-development/planning/snelling-midway-redevelopment-site.

The plans will likely get voted on by the commission in July, with an Aug. 3 St. Paul City Council public hearing. Approval would allow stadium work and related infrastructure work to start in earnest. Shopping center redevelopment would take much longer.

The prospect of the superblock lingering continues to worry some community members and many members of the Snelling Midway Community Advisory Committee (CAC). The committee wrapped up its work May 26, sending a detailed report of issues to the Planning Commission. The detailed report was not so much a simple up and down vote for the plans as it was a summary of the committee’s work and a series of recommendations and outline of issues needing further study.

Those issues include parking, traffic, and environmental impacts. CAC members also said they’re willing to meet again if need be.

Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire and Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff of RK Midway reviewed the latest plans May 26 with committee members. McGuire outlined what he called the “near term possibilities” for the site when the stadium would open in 2018. Plans showed the stadium taking up a space that would extend into Midway Center, displacing the Rainbow grocery store, Pearle Vision, Home Choice, Midway Pro Bowl, Walgreens and some vacant mall space.

The rest of the center would remain in place. So too would McDonald’s and Perkins restaurants. A green space anticipated to extend from the stadium to University would instead end south of the restaurants. But the building Big Top Liquors occupies would be gone. The former American Bank building would remain. What is described as temporary parking would be along Snelling, with a lot at Pascal St. and St. Anthony Ave. Much existing Midway Center parking would remain.

Birdoff said he cannot discuss lease details that affect when and where businesses move. Some businesses could opt to move to vacant spaces within the center. Others could leave. He dismissed the notion that shopping center space would remain empty, calling it “economic suicide” to reduce the center by 150,000 feet and not add new space.

Ambitious plans unveiled earlier this year called for mixed-use redevelopment, with high-rise office-retail buildings along Snelling Ave. housing at Snelling and Pascal St., and hotel space near Pascal and St. Anthony Ave.. Much of the site would be mixed use, with parking ramps built inside the buildings.

“What’s the incentive or urgency to move forward after the stadium is built?” said Eric Molho, committee co-chairman. He said the shopping center has been its current condition “for a very, very long time.” Birdoff responded by noting that some spaces have specifically been left vacant because redevelopment is coming.

Donna Drummond, planning director for the St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED), said city officials view the shopping center plans as interim in nature. The site’s traditional neighborhood zoning calls for denser, mixed-use development.

“Everyone understands that no one wants the center to stay this way,” said CAC member Kirk Wythers. He asked if the city could limit how long spaces would be left vacant and used for parking, but timing is something the city doesn’t regulate.

The timing of Midway Center redevelopment is just one of a number of issues the CAC is raising in its report. The report outlines concerns ranging from the upcoming environmental impact studies to how the success of redevelopment can be measured. Committee members debated how specific the report should be, especially in the comments about affordable housing.

Property tax impacts that could be tied to redevelopment were another concern. Several committee members called the report “aspirational” and wanted to see measures in the report taken to ensure high-density, high-quality redevelopment. Others questioned how redevelopment could impact gentrification.

Some issues, such as a desire to see more minority-owned businesses as part of a redeveloped Midway Center, are beyond what a master plan can impact. One repeated comment May 26 is that there are issues that are beyond the control of a master plan, as the plans regulate land use and density.

As the Monitor went to press, Gov. Mark Dayton pocket vetoed a tax bill adopted May 22 by the Legislature because of, he said,  an error in the bill. A property tax exemption for the stadium property was included in that bill, but the requested sales tax break on construction materials was not. A liquor license was approved under separate legislation and signed by the governor.

ILLUSTRATION BELOW: The current site plan shows how the new soccer stadium will incorporate itself into the superblock while the owner of the Midway Stadium property, RK Midway, considers its plans for redesign of its property. The plan shows the removal of what is now the Rainbow grocery store, Pearle Vision, Home Choice, Midway Pro Bowl, Walgreens and some vacant mall space. The building currently occupied by Big Top Liquor would also be torn down. There will be temporary parking of approximately 220 spaces to the west of the stadium divided by an in/out street. Outlot buildings will remain on University’s south side, as will the rest of the current mall. Some parking spaces at the mall will be lost to a green space that goes partway toward University Ave. One of the concerns of the Snelling Midway Community Advisory Committee (CAC) was that there is no timeline for the future development of the balance of the superblock.

soccer illus 1

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Galtier _3148

Vote on Galtier Elementary closure set to happen June 21

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

By JANE MCCLURE
Galtier Elementary families, faculty, staff and supporters will know June 21 if their school will close at the end of the 2016-2017 year. After packing a May 31 special School Board meeting to plead for more time, they now must wait and see what happens. Many predict a close vote and hope it comes down on their side.

Galtier _3148After months of speculation, Superintendent Valeria Silva announced last month that Galtier would close. She said that while Galtier is a good school, it just doesn’t have enough students to be viable.

Photo right: Parents and interested citizens packed an earlier open house where the closing of Galtier School was discussed. (Photo by Kyle Mianulli)

Parents, who worked hard to attract more students in the face of a district program that allows neighborhood children to be bused to St. Anthony Park, said they need more time and more district assistance to help Galtier succeed. But they were frustrated by what they see as a dismissive and uncaring attitude by the school administration and some board members. Some said the school district lacks leadership and courage, and that it isn’t interested in helping students of color succeed in a neighborhood school.

Some went so far as to accuse the district of setting Galtier up for failure. Galtier had a major renovation just a few years ago. But it has also had program changes and a near-constant principal turnover. The school had 310 students in grades K-5 in 2012, its last year as a science magnet school.

Others were also unhappy on May 31 with a long district staff presentation that didn’t allow some families time to stay and testify.

School Board Member John Brodrick wants the district to give Galtier more time. “If we truly believe in the Strong Schools, Strong Communities (program), then we have to help a school like Galtier,” he said.

District officials want to combine Galtier with Hamline Elementary, which will have space in its building after the Jie Ming Mandarin Chinese School moves out. Some Galtier parents noted that because Hamline Elementary is also under-enrolled, they and their children could face another school move in just a few years.

Galtier’s enrollment is 158 pupils, and 13.67 staff and faculty. That drops to 144 pupils this fall. Eighty-eight percent of the students are at the poverty level. Parents said the uncertainty about the school, coupled with the lack of support from the district, hasn’t helped enrollment.

Some were frustrated with a joint outreach effort with Hamline Elementary, which fell apart earlier this year. “We never signed on to close Galtier,” said parent Clayton Howatt.

Galtier’s budget is $1.259 million. Keeping the school open could take an additional $300,000 to add recruiting staff, eliminating grade level classroom splits and technology staff. Closing the school could take steps including a transition time and what school district describe as a “healing” program.

Many parents said healing wouldn’t be needed as they’d simply pull their children out of St. Paul Public Schools if Galtier closes. A survey of Galtier families indicated that more than 40 percent would leave the school district if the school is closed.

“My son loves Galtier and has thrived at Galtier,” said parent James Luken-Hills. He said closing the school would cause his family to lose faith in the district.

Another neighbor resident noted Hamline Midway has only three elementary schools “And now you’re taking one of those choices away.”

Teachers and parents said Galtier needs more time and more attention paid to its open studio style of learning. “I hope to God we can work this out,” said parent Darren Hayes. His family moved to Hamline Midway for the chance to have Galtier as their neighborhood school.

Parent Mara Martinson said Galtier families raised money for recruitment, instead of getting viable district resources. She said that money could have been used for field trips and other items for their children. “We sacrificed out of our own pockets,” she said.

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ComoFest Logo

ComoFest lines up fun every weekend in July

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

Como Community Council Corner
By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director

ComoFest LogoComoFest expands in 2016 to bring affordable fun to every part of the neighborhood every weekend in July. Here’s a brief rundown of the schedule. You can find full details at www.comofest.com.

• Fri., July 8: North Dale Movie Night. A free outdoor showing of “Pan,” at dusk on the baseball field at North Dale Rec Center.

• Sat., July 9: Como Fest Art Fair. Art and crafts for sale, plus live music, on the Promenade of the Como Lakeside Pavilion. 10am-2pm. Online registration for artists is now open.

• Fri., July 15: District 10 Ice Cream Social. Enjoy neighbors, ice cream, lawn games, and live music. Free, from 5-8pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station.

• Sun., July 17: ComoFest 5K Walk/Run for Everyone. Sponsored by the Como Park Falcon Heights Living at Home Block Nurse Program. Starting 8:30am at the Lakeside Pavilion. Online registration is now open.

• Fri., July 22: Lyngblomsten’s Mid-Summer Festival: A Celebration of Arts & Lifelong Learning. An art showcase, hands-on art activities, music, food, and games run from 2-6:30pm. That’s followed by live music and a community dance under the big tent from 6:30-8pm. Admission is free.

• Sat., July 23: Community Appreciation Picnic. Topline Federal Credit Union presents a free community cookout, with giveaways, open to all ages. From 11am-1pm in the credit union’s parking lot at Lexington and Front.

• Fri., July 29: Northwest Como Campout. Festivities begin at 6pm with a jump castle, climbing tower, concessions and other family fun activities at Northwest Como Rec Center. A free outdoor showing of “Zootopia” begins about 8:45pm. The evening ends with the annual family outdoor overnight campout. To reserve your camping spot, call 651-298-5813 or register online.

• Sat., July 30 and Sun., July 31: ComoFest Music Festival. The Underground Music Café transforms its parking lot and indoor stage for live music, presentations, a local talent show, beer, crafts, and more. Food, coffee, and drinks will be on sale throughout the festival. Hours: Sat., 11am-11pm; Sun., 11.m-2pm.

New board members
Community members elected two new members to the District 10 Board on May 17. Residents elected Tim Post to fill the board’s vacant Secretary position and elected Mike Ireland to fill a vacant seat representing Sub-District 3. Congratulations to both Tim and Mike, who fill terms that expire in April 2017.

D10 Board appoints representatives
The District 10 Board has appointed three community members to represent the neighborhood on two committees dealing with Como Park issues.

• Maggie Zimmerman was appointed to the Como Dockside Community Input Committee. This group is evaluating Como Dockside’s performance as part of the restaurant’s contract with the city. Committee members will develop surveys and other ways of assessing quality, customer service, community access, and other measurements.

• Richard Herriges and Jenny Larson were appointed as District 10’s representatives on the Como Regional Park Advisory Committee. This committee keeps track of what’s going on with traffic, parking, and other projects in the park, and makes recommendations to the city’s Parks Commission. District 10’s representatives will be the point people who 1) keep the neighborhood informed on park plans; 2) explain how those plans could impact those of us who live here, and; 3) convey our advice to Parks leadership.

logo-All InNeighborhood cleanup events start in June
St. Paul has scheduled four community cleanup days where residents can dispose of the stuff they can’t put in the trash. This includes appliances, furniture, tires, demolition materials, and more.
District 10’s event will be Oct. 8 at the Fairgrounds. But St. Paul residents can go to any of the drop-off events, including the first two this month:
• June 11: Washington Technology Magnet High School, 1495 Rice St.
• June 25: Harding High School, 1540 E. 6th St.

These events run from 8am-1pm, and accept only cash or checks. You can find fees, and other details in the brochure city residents received in the mail in May. Or go online at http://bit.ly/1P0PyVA.

What wasn’t in the brochure:
• The neighborhood cleanup events also will accept household quantities of confidential paper for shredding. The paper you want shredded must be in a box, paper bag, or plastic bag.
• There also will be a drop-off event only for electronics items on Sat., June 18 at Dunning Field, from 9am-noon. That means TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereos, computer equipment, cell phones, cords, and similar accessories. You can enter from Concordia Ave. east of Hamline Ave.

Keeping pedestrians in mind
stop_1320A dozen District 10 residents, plus a few dogs, put their best foot forward in the neighborhood’s first “Stop for Me” pedestrian safety on May 19. Police ticketed 15 drivers who did not yield to pedestrians crossing the intersection at Lexington Pkwy. and E. Como Lake Dr., where park paths cross north of the Pavilion.

“Stop for Me” is a citywide educational and enforcement campaign highlighting the state law that requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk—marked or unmarked—every corner, every turn, every time.

Pick up a recycling bin
The Como Park Streetcar Station is open from noon-4pm every Sunday between now and the end of September. We’ll have a District 10 board member on hand to distribute recycling bins, organics composting bags, or just take your comments and suggestions. The Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

Get D10 news every week
To keep up to date on what’s going on down the block, across the street, and around the corner, sign up for District 10’s free weekly e-newsletter. We send it to your inbox every Friday. Go to www.district10comopark.org, then click the sign-up icon in the right column.

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Music in the Parks series

Music in the Parks series

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

COMO PARK DOCKSIDE IN JUNE:
Fri., June 10, 7pm Harmonic Relief
Sat., June 11, 2016 7:30 PM Music: Midwest Paul Cook, Movie: The Neverending Story
Sun., June 12, 7pm Richfield Symphonic Band
Sun., June 12, 2016 3:00 PM Como Pops
Mon., June 13, 7pm Northern Winds Concert Band
Tues., June 14, 7pm Centennial Community Band
Wed., June 15, 7pm St Paul Ballet
Thur., June 16, 7pm Dirty Shorts Brass Band
Fri., June 17, 7clipart-music-music-clip-art-black-and-whitepm Hopkins Westwind Concert Band
Sat., June 18, 2016 7:30 PM Music: Mike Gunther, Movie: The Princess Bride
Sun., June 19, 2016 3:00 PM Porch Pickers
Sun., June 19, 7pm City of Lakes Sweet Adeline Chorus
Mon., June 20, 7pm Saints of Swing Big Band
Tues., June 21, 7pm Northstar Barbershop Showcase
Wed., June 22, 7pm Capital City Wind Ensemble
Thur., June 23, 7pm Jazz Fest w/ Toni Wolff’s Dream Wedding
Fri., June 24, 7pm Jazz Fest w/ Stone Arch Jazz Band
Sat., June 25, 7pm Jazz Fest w/ Post Atomic Trio
Sun., June 26, 2016 3:00 PM St Louis Park Community Concert Band
Sun., June 26, 7pm St Anthony Civic Orchestra
Mon., June 27, 7pm North Suburban Chorus
Tues., June 28, 7pm Brio Brass Band
Wed., June 29, 7pm Minneapolis Southside Singers
Thur., June 30, 7pm The Zuhrah Flames

COMO PARK DOCKSIDE IN JULY:
Fri., July 01, 7pm King Wilkie’s Dream
Sat., July 02, 2016 8:30 PM Sumunar and Green T present: A Shadow Visitor
Sun., July 03, 2016 8:30 PM Sumunar and Green T present: A Shadow Visitor
Mon., July 04, 2016 3:00 PM Como Pops
Mon., July 04, 7pm Music TBA
Tues., July 05, 7pm Lee Engele and Friends
Wed., July 06, 7pm Just For Fun Singers
Thur., July 07, 7pm Old Time Band
Fri., July 08, 7pm Minneapolis Pops Orchestra
Sat., July 09, 7pm Pan-Handlers Steel Drum Band
Sun., July 10, 2016 3:00 PM Heart of a Tinman
Sun., July 10, 7pm Stan Bann’ s Big Bone Band
Mon., July 11, 7pm Fridley City Band
Tues., July 12, 7pm Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony (GTCYS)
Wed., July 13, 7pm The Minnesota Sinfonia
Thur., July 14, 7pm First Things First

 

COMO PARK AND CONSERVATORY
Wed., June 15, 2016 6:00 PM Groovin’ in the Garden
Wed., June 22, 2016 6:00 PM Groovin’ in the Garden
Wed., June 29, 2016 6:00 PM Groovin’ in the Garden
Wed., July 06, 2016 6:00 PM Groovin’ in the Garden
Wed., July 13, 2016 6:00 PM Groovin’ in the Garden

MERRIAM PARK CENTER
Sat., June 18, 7pm Cromulent: Much Ado About Nothing
Thur., June 23, 2016 6:30 PM Summer Strummin’

COMO STREETCAR STATION
Thur., June 23, 7pm Cromulent: Much Ado About Nothing

 

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Como AoF and Soccer

Como students learn about the finances behind soccer

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

NEWS FROM COMO PARK HIGH SCHOOL

By E RIC ERICSON, Social Studies Teacher

• Como students from the Academy of Finance and soccer players from the boys’ and girls’ programs, spent the night of May 14 supporting the Minnesota United FC Loons at the National Sports Center in Blaine. 150 Como students had the experience of seeing a professional soccer match and touring the field after the team’s 2-0 victory over Jacksonville.

Como AoF and SoccerPhoto right: “Como Park High School Night” at the Minnesota United soccer match on May 14 was a celebration for Como Academy of Finance students and members of the Girls and Boys Soccer programs (see story). (Photo submitted)

Como Academy of Finance director Kris Somerville, along with soccer coaches Jonah Fields and Kyle Johnson are developing a partnership with the club. Before the game, Minnesota United’s Chief Operating Officer visited the school to speak about the business side of the club. The presentation emphasized themes of work ethic and customer service, along with components of marketing and social media strategies. With the new stadium being built in the Midway, opportunities for internships, part-time work, and collaboration on neighborhood service are all exciting possibilities for the Como Park Academy of Finance and soccer programs.

• Como Park Concert Choir students traveled to New York City from May 25-May 30 and performed at Carnegie Hall on Sat., May 28. The choir students sang the music of Mark Hayes, directed by Mr. Hayes and the Rutter Gloria, conducted by Z. Randall Stroope with other singers from around the country accompanied by the New England Symphonic Ensemble. They were fortunate to participate in the world premiere of “The Field,” by Hayes, in this performance.

Choir in NYCPhoto right: Como Choir students posed at the Statue of Liberty during their tour of New York City. They performed at Carnegie Hall on May 28 (see story). (Photo submitted)

Como Choir Director Carole Whitney, along with Como Assistant Principal and Como parent Patrick Coyne, led the students on a sightseeing tour that netted over 85,000 steps according to pedometers! The group stayed at a hotel in centrally located Times Square, took the subway and walked miles every day on visits to the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero 9-11 Memorial, the Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History. The experience was exceptional and powerful for the talented participants.

• Como Park Robotics (aka BEASTbot Team 2855) had a strong debut performance in the State Robotics Tournament at Mariucci Arena on Sat., May 21. Against the 30 top teams in the state, Como placed 13th at the end of the competition. They participated in eight matches, with different combinations of alliances, which required all teams to do advance scouting and create strategies with their rotating playing partners. Teams earned points for both match results and their own individual robot’s performance.

Coaches Mike Fischer and Donna Norberg were proud of their team’s showing and were thankful for the community support that included a pep fest at school two days before the state competition. The team is already excited for next year and is poised to build a new robot for the yet to be revealed 2017 challenge. BEASTbot will graduate six seniors, but expect 18 returning members plus new freshmen, and other new inspired upperclassmen to be part of another formidable team.

• The Link Crew is a positive and welcoming force at Como Park High School and aims to connect freshmen to their new school. 90 current sophomores and juniors spent several hours training during the last week of May to become Link Crew Leaders for the 2016-2017 school year. Link Crew will lead a freshmen orientation on Sept. 1 from 8am-noon to welcome new Como students and connect them with mentors before school begins next fall on Tues., Sept. 6.

• The Marine Corps JROTC conducted their annual awards ceremony on the school’s back lawn on May 19. The ceremony recognized cadets who excelled in leadership, community service, academics and military virtue. Cadets received certificates and medals from national patriotic organizations such as the American Legion, Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and several others. Cadets Kaitlyn Thomas, Eddy Vue, and Allen Weyaus received $1000 academic scholarships.

Following the awards ceremony, cadets marched in a change of command parade where leadership was transferred from Cadet Lt. Col. Kaitlyn Thomas (2016) to Cadet Major Eduardo Mendoza Balderas (2017). The event was attended by Colonel Paul Adams USMC Ret., SPPS leadership, and over 100 family members and community representatives. Per tradition, the celebration of a busy year culminated in a feast hosted by the cadets and former Como JROTC cadets.

• Academy of Finance students and the Como Park Student Council volunteered at Feed My Starving Children on May 17.

• Como Park Future Educators hosted “Positivity Week” from May 23-27 to put a spotlight on the importance of good mental health. The week was filled with affirmative messages on lockers, announcements, and posters, a guest speaker from the National Alliance of Mental Illness, a raffle with prizes and fundraising for a non-profit.

• The Como Junior-Senior Prom was held at the Science Museum in downtown St. Paul on May 21. The Science Museum served as a wonderful venue for the dance and the well-dressed Como crowd. A grand march was held at the school at 4pm. Photos and dinners out on the town were especially enjoyed in the beautiful, warm, sunny weather before the dance which commenced at 7pm.

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Improvements coming to May Park; open house June 24

Improvements coming to May Park; open house June 24

Posted on 07 June 2016 by Calvin

News from District 11
By KYLE MIANULLI, HMC Communications Coordinator

May ParkJoin the conversation about improvement to May Park. The City of St. Paul Department of Parks and Recreation has secured funding to make needed improvements to May Park at the Northeast corner of Chelton Ave. and Clayland St. in the Hamline Midway neighborhood. Provide input and help re-imagine this neighborhood space at a community open house June 24, 4-6pm, at May Park, 816 Clayland St.

Parks and Rec is also looking for a few good community representatives to help guide the design process. If you’re interested in helping determine the future of the park as a member of the community task force, contact Cheeneng Yang at cheeneng.yang@ci.stpaul.mn.us or call 651-266-6414.

You can also provide input by filling out a quick survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/maypark. For regular project updates, visit www.stpaul.gov/may-park.

Friends of Hamline Park ready for summer fun
Mark your calendars for three fun events in Hamline Park this summer! Following the spring cleanup day and hugely successful planting/gardening event, Hamline Park is looking better than ever and is ready for a summer full of fun and events. On May 21, 27 community members joined forces to plant tons of new greenery generously donated by the Friends School. Volunteers were treated to coffee and beverages from Ginkgo Coffee House, muffins and snacks from Groundswell Coffee, and the joy that comes from the community coming together to revitalize a valued public park.

Mark your calendars for these three free events coming up this summer in the park:
• June 29, 7pm—Puppet Show with Open Eye Figure Theater
• July 13, 5pm—Live Music
• Aug. 10, 6pm—Circus!

Visit the FOHP Facebook page to stay up to date on the all the latest happenings in the park. https://www.facebook.com/friendsofhamlinepark.

Help lead the Hamline-Thomas Community Garden efforts
Now in its 10th year, the little and beloved Hamline-Thomas Community Garden at the northeast corner of Hamline and Thomas avenues continues to grow and flourish. Many neighbors have contributed time and care, and organizers are looking for a few extra hands to help continue to cultivate community and beauty at this well-used corner of the neighborhood.

Volunteer responsibilities might include coordinating a planting date and mulching; making sure there is regular watering; help with maintenance and weeding every few weeks; end of year clean up; and informing neighbors of volunteer needs and opportunities. If you would like to help out, please contact Hannah Texler at ekvadnais@hotmail.com.

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Discovery Club