Archive | August, 2016

Met Council and MnDOT raise questions about Soccer Stadium traffic

Met Council and MnDOT raise questions about Soccer Stadium traffic

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

Concerns about transit and transportation system capacities when Minnesota United FC starts playing at its planned Midway Soccer Stadium are among the issues raised in a study of potential project impacts, which was to be ratified Aug. 9 as the Monitor went to press. Metropolitan Council and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) are among those asking whether city officials and consultants are being realistic about potential transit use and street and highway capacity on game days.

The comments were among those made in response to an Areawide Urban Alternatives Review (AUAR) for the Major League Soccer stadium and Midway Center redevelopment.

The AUAR is a study process used to determine all types of environmental issues that could be created by new development, and to suggest measures needed to mitigate those impacts.

On June 20 St. Paul city officials released the final AUAR, supporting documentation, public comments, and comment response. The AUAR itself is 105 pages long. The supporting documents, comments, and responses filled 469 pages.
“As the responsible governmental unit overseeing this review, the city values the input received from community members and agencies, and we have incorporated changes where appropriate,” said Planning and Economic Development (PED) Director Jonathan Sage-Martinson. “We are confident that this final document provides the thorough framework to identify and address any potential impacts of proposed development on this site, providing a clear path forward for redevelopment.”

City officials were set to ratify the document Aug. 9, if there are no state or federal agency objections. It is to be updated every five years, as the soccer stadium and adjacent Midway Center are redeveloped.

During a 30-day comment period that ended July 6, city officials heard from five state and regional agencies, six organizations and 23 individuals. Many commenters weighed in on multiple topics including traffic, transit use, spillover parking, noise, air pollution, and site cleanup due to past contamination. City staff and consultants working on the AUAR considered almost 60 comments to be substantive. Those comments were then used to add to or expand upon information in the AUAR.

The documents state that responses are generally confined to “substantive issues that address the accuracy and completeness of the information provided in the draft analysis, potential impacts that may warrant further analysis, further information that may be required in order to secure permits for specific projects in the future, and mitigation measures or procedures necessary to prevent significant environmental impacts within the area when actual development occurs.”

Questions centered on transit and transportation system impacts on soccer game days. Metropolitan Council questioned the assumption used to determine “mode split” for travel to the site, or how it was determined the number of people who would drive, take transit or shuttle buses, walk or bike. “

soccer illus 1Photo left: The most recent site plan shows how little parking is actually planned in the first phase of the superblock project. Although the city and the league are making contingency plans for shuttle buses and the use of mass transit, those plans have been called into question. (Illustration provided)

Those assumptions appear to be tilted heavily to make the case that few if any roadway improvements are needed from this massive traffic generator,” the council letter stated. The regional government also said transportation analysis should look at the overlap of transportation modes of auto access, pedestrian access, and transit access, instead of studying the issues separately.

Red flags were raised about the high percentage of shuttle bus and transit service usage estimated, as Metropolitan Council stated, “Additional potential capacity on the Green Line does not automatically translate to usage.”

City officials responded that they made conservative assumptions, given the lack of off-street parking on and near the site, and indicated they believe traffic, transit use, and parking can be “effectively managed.” The AUAR does recommend a more detailed transportation management plan be developed.

Metropolitan Council also noted that weekend evening game transit riders would be competing with regular transit users. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) also raised concerns about scheduling of games, which could affect air pollution levels. City staff replied that weekday game times are expected to be either 7 or 7:30pm, with most vehicles arriving after afternoon rush hour. The response also stated that the other weekday events held at the stadium wouldn’t attract as much traffic. Concerts are not expected to held at the stadium.

MnDOT commented on I-94, Snelling and Concordia avenues’ capacity and indicated it would ask for further reviews as the stadium and shopping center redevelopment moves forward. One issue MnDOT raised is that of having as many as 150 shuttle buses per hour descending on the proposed stadium drop-off on Concordia Ave.

Yet another concern raised repeatedly was that of space for light rail and bus patrons to queue as they enter and exit transit vehicles. That is among issues being studied by Metro Transit, according to the AUAR.

Many of the area residents who commented are worried about spillover parking in adjacent neighborhoods. One answer the city had to those comments was that residents can seek residential permit parking districts. However, the St. Paul Department of Public Works is studying changes to the permit district regulations.

It’s not clear yet how those regulations could change. At least one permit request has been put on hold until the new regulations are adopted.

Lexington-Hamline Community Council was among the groups raising questions about spillover parking in adjacent neighborhoods. The council pointed out that using Concordia University as an example of available off-street parking may not be realistic, as much of the university’s parking is in use much of the time.

Noise was also a concern, with some neighbors raising concerns about fireworks after soccer games. The AUAR states that use of fireworks is being considered by Minnesota United. Noise impacts were studied in a one-mile radius of the stadium site.

Other comments centered on historic issues, from Minnesota Historical Society and the state archaeological office. A search of the Minnesota Historic Society Historic Resources Inventory revealed that no structures or ruins in the AUAR area or its proximity are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). However, some properties in and around the AUAR area are eligible for review for the NRHP due to their age and contribution to the commercial corridor along University Ave. These structures were identified in an earlier environmental review for the Green Line LRT. Within the AUAR area, three structures are the former Midway National Bank (American Bank) at 1578 University Ave. W. and Midway Shopping Center West Building (Big Top Liquor) at 1460 University Ave. W. But the AUAR and state officials note that while the building is older and predates the rest of the shopping center, its extensive alterations have removed historic features.

No archaeological sites in or around the AUAR area were identified as part of the inventory search, but state officials are interested in seeing if there are archaeological features on the former bus barn site or beneath the shopping center.
The revised AUAR and all other documents are available at stpaul.gov/SnellingMidwayAUAR.

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CLS slider

Central Lutheran School is building up STEAM

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

Story and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Central Lutheran School (CLS) has been around for a long time. While they’ve been in their current location at 775 Lexington Ave. since 1951, the school had its origins 120 years ago—started by German immigrants who sought to build a school before they built a church.

These days, the school is serving children from many different cultures. According to head administrator Elizabeth Wegner, “Our student body is more diverse than the Hamline Midway neighborhood it sits in. We have students from Ethiopia, Eritrea,  as well as from families who have been anchored in St. Paul for generations.”

“CLS doesn’t follow the usual parochial school model of one church – one school,” Wegner explained. “We’re the product of an association between four neighborhood churches: St. Stephanus, Jehovah Lutheran, Emmaus Lutheran and Bethel Lutheran.”

CLS 04Photo left: Elizabeth Wegner in the café-gymna-chapel-atorium. She said, “While CLS offers a Christ-centered learning environment, we have students from many denominations and plenty of kids whose parents don’t go to church at all.”

The school is switching to a new curriculum this year grounded in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM). Wegner, along with board member Kerri Miesen, expressed their commitment to the curriculum change and said they have the staff to make it succeed. “Our staff is experienced, energetic and unified as a team,” Miesen reflected. “We believe we have a real service to offer to the community.”

CLS serves a wider than usual age range: T-8, with “T” standing for toddler. As of Aug. 1, their newly licensed Toddler Room will be available for children ages 16-36 months. The Toddler Room will be staffed with two teachers, taking up to 14 children at a time.

There are two levels of preschool at CLS: one for three-year-olds and one for four-year-olds. Kindergarten is a stand-alone grade; grades 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8 are combined classes. Wegner said, “If enrollment in any of the combined classes exceeds 25, the grades will be split.”

CLS 18Photo left: The newly-licensed Toddler Room will open its doors on Aug. 1. The idea for having a Toddler Room came out of conversations with parents of older students.

Wegner, who also serves as the school music director, has been with CLS for 18 years. In that time, she has seen a lot of changes in education. “We’re a small school with big opportunities in academics, as well as extra-curricular activities,” she said. “We’re proud of our new STEAM curriculum, a variety of sports, visual arts, and instrumental and vocal music offerings .”

She continued, “More than 85% of our students are involved in music ensemble of some sort. Opportunities beyond general music start in 2nd grade with Orff Ensemble, a method of music instruction that combines singing, dancing, acting and use of percussion instruments. Junior chorus and orchestra are available in 3rd grade, with band being added in 4th grade. The upper grades can participate in orchestra, band, concert choir, hand bells, and/or hand chimes.”

Wegner estimated that K-8 registration will hover around 95 students this year.

“The crash of 2008 really took a hit on our enrollment numbers,” she said. “We’d like to see those numbers rise to 140-150 students again. All students are welcome here, and we try hard to make tuition affordable for every student whose family wants them to attend.”

CLS is currently offering a $500 reduction in tuition for newly enrolled students. Additional scholarships are available through the school’s Jayson Fund for grades K-8, and through www.thinksmall.org for preschool students. For more information or to schedule a tour of the school, contact Elizabeth Wegner at ewegner@clssp.org.

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$33,000 awarded for historic survey of Hamline Midway

$33,000 awarded for historic survey of Hamline Midway

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

A long-awaited historic survey of the Hamline Midway neighborhood has obtained needed funding from the Minnesota Historical Society. The St. Paul City Council in July accepted the funding of $33,000 through two grants. The money will be used to complete a cultural resources study.

The study was sought for many months by neighborhood residents, preservation advocates, and members of the group Historic Hamline Village. Advocates in recent years have butted heads with Hamline University over the demolition of university-owned houses, off and on-campus, including the White House.

The White House, which was located on the Hamline campus, was the longtime home of the university president.

Neighbors have also criticized the university for tearing down other homes, including older homes that have long ties to the community and university’s growth and development. One sticking point has been the lack of a current master plan for Hamline University redevelopment and growth. The fight over the demolitions led to the formation of a joint university-community group.

1549 Minnehaha 2Photo left: The house at 1549 Minnehaha Ave. dates from 1888 and was home to Prof. W.D. Walcott. He chaired the Hamline University philosophy and psychology department. Demolition was halted in 2014 after the neighborhood raised red flags about its possible destruction. (File photo)

Council President Russ Stark, whose Fourth Ward includes the area to be studied, said he is pleased that the study dollars are available. “This should give us current information on the historic resources in the neighborhood and help us discuss next steps,” he said.

A timeline for the study isn’t known. One wrinkle is that the neighborhood district council, Hamline Midway Coalition, is operating at limited capacity this summer due to a lack of staff. Stark said he expects that the district council will have involvement in the study.

The funding for the study is tied to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which established a strong federal policy favoring the preservation of properties and sites which have been significant in American history for the public’s benefit.

The state and its historical society have long taken the position of helping local units of government to engage in a comprehensive program of historic preservation.

1538 Englewood 2Photo right: 1538 Englewood Ave. was built in 1887. This property has been identified as eligible for historic designation. It is a brick Queen Anne style, which is considered unusual. In the past, Hamline University officials have considered moving the house. (File photo)

A state goal is to promote the use and conservation of historical, architectural, archaeological, engineering, and cultural heritage sites in the state for the education, inspiration, pleasure, and enrichment of the citizens of the state through the creation of local heritage preservation commissions.

The city also has policies which promote heritage preservation, including a chapter in its comprehensive plan.

Both the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission and Department of Planning and Economic Development will be involved in this study.

Stark noted that the last study of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood dates to 1983, as part of a larger Ramsey County historic sites survey. That information needs to be updated, to determine which buildings have historic significance and are eligible for designation.

The last property in the neighborhood to obtain National Register of Historic Places status is Hamline Church United Methodist, 1514 Englewood Ave., which received designation in 2011.

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Snelling trees slider

Putting down roots on Midway’s Snelling Ave.

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

Story and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

The beginning of a new urban canopy is starting to grow along Snelling Ave.
According to City of St. Paul urban forester Zach Jorgensen, “83 trees were planted between Selby and Hewitt avenues in July.”

Snelling trees 06“We had to remove 57 mature trees for the reconstruction project last summer, mostly ash, and maple,” Jorgensen said. “Those trees were mature for their urban site, with trunks as large as 10” in diameter in some cases.”

Photo left: Zach Jorgensen, City of St. Paul urban forester said, “We’re working with some pretty tough elements here on Snelling Ave. We had to choose ‘work-horse’ trees like Honey Locust, that can take the engine exhaust, road salt, and inconsistent watering.”

“The new plantings are much more varied,” he continued, “and will likely be a better investment for the future. Species include Patriot and Discovery Elm, Swamp White Oak, Honey Locust, Kentucky Coffee Tree, and Century Linden. There will be a concentration of Prairie Sentinel Hackberry in the median near the I-94 intersection.”

Snelling trees 04Photo right: Brian Woyda, owner of Woyda & Mortel, Inc., will be responsible for keeping new trees watered and maintained this year.

Brian Woyda, owner of the landscape construction company Woyda & Mortel, Inc., did the installation with a crew of three workers. The planting took about a week, interrupted occasionally by the summer’s highest heat indexes. The crew averaged more than ten trees per day, removing brick pavers, digging deep holes for the installations and tamping the soil back into place with an industrial compacter. Woyda & Mortel, Inc. will be responsible for watering the trees for the rest of this growing season.

According to Jorgenson, “90% of the cost of tree installations for the city involves what goes on below ground. “ He explained, “We can’t use just ordinary soil because the trees take so much abuse in this heavily urbanized environment. We’ve chosen to go with what is called a structural soil mix. The one we use comes out of Cornell University. It’s made up of crushed granite, clay loam, and hydro-gel, a binder that holds everything together. We buy it by the ton.”

Snelling trees 05Photo left: Kyle Hunter compacted the structural soil to hold a new tree in place —while still allowing for good water flow.

Barb Spears is a long-time Hamline Midway resident, born at Midway Hospital. She trained as an urban forester, and serves on St. Paul’s Tree Advisory Panel. “The panel’s mission is to serve as a link between the citizens of St. Paul and its forestry department to preserve, provide and enhance St. Paul’s urban canopy,” she noted.

“There will be opportunities for people,” Spears said, “especially Snelling Ave. business owners, to adopt nearby trees beginning in 2017.” Because the trees are surrounded by permeable pavers, they can be watered directly onto the soil or even through the pavers. To inquire about adopting a tree next year, or to report a tree looking stressed at any time, call the City Forestry Department at 651-632-5129.

Snelling trees 09Photo right: Workers installed 83 new trees along Snelling Ave. in high heat and humid conditions.

Spears also serves on the Hamline Midway Environment Committee. Her colleague there, Lucy Hunt, said, “We’re very happy to be getting these trees. A canopy of trees isn’t only beautiful; it’s good for the whole community. In the inner-city, we have high ozone levels and way too much air pollution. Getting 83 new trees is a nod to our neighbors that City Hall cares about our air quality.”

In addition to improved air quality, an urban tree canopy contributes to improved human health, better storm water retention, reduced energy costs and a mitigated “heat island effect” by cutting down on the amount of pavement exposed to the sun.

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Smaller than expected crowd turns out for public hearing on stadium

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

City Council poised to vote on stadium site plan Aug. 17; everyone still waiting for state legislature/governor to act


The St. Paul City Council is poised to vote Aug. 17 on the Major League Soccer stadium site plan, Midway Center redevelopment master plan, a technical zoning amendment allowing the stadium to move ahead, and plat changes tied to redevelopment.

A smaller-than-anticipated crowd turned out for the Aug. 3 public hearing.
Familiar objections centered on spillover parking, traffic, noise and lighting. But most attention focused on Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff, who addressed earlier reservations he’d raised about the ambitious master plan. Birdoff assured the council that center redevelopment will go ahead in conjunction with the stadium, but that it could take different forms than the master plan indicates—and will take time.

The council held three public hearings, one on each plan and a third hearing on a technical zoning amendment that will allow a sports stadium of 20,000 or more seats to be built in a traditional neighborhoods zoning district.

The Planning Commission recommended City Council approval of the stadium site plan and shopping center master plan July 10, following the June 8 public hearing.
The stadium plans are moving ahead without a needed property tax exemption from the Minnesota Legislature. As of July, Gov. Mark Dayton and House and Senate leaders were still discussing a special session, which would include action on the requested tax break. But as of Monitor deadline no session date had been set.

The St. Paul Planning Commission voted Aug. 5 for two technical variances to the property’s traditional neighborhoods zoning. The commission’s Zoning Committee had recommended on July 28 that they be approved.

A Planning Commission decision on the variances is final unless it is appealed to the City Council. City officials wantrf the variances adopted before the stadium site plan and shopping center master plan get voted on by the City Council Aug. 10.

Planning Commissioners said they understand the need for variances, but they are frustrated with the rushed process and piecemeal approach to stadium and Midway Center reviews. “These are very complex plans, and we haven’t had a lot of time to go through them,” said Commissioner Gaius Nelson.

The need for variances came up during the review of the stadium site plan and Midway Center master plan, said St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) Planning Director Donna Drummond. The variances were then laid over for separate action, rather than postpone the stadium site plan and center master plan process.

The fast pace of the variances’ review and approval process frustrated some members of the Union Park District Council (UPDC). On July 18, the district council’s Economic Development and Land Use Committee discussed the variances. But with no city staff report to review, committee members said they didn’t have anything to act on.

“We really can’t do anything without a staff report,” said UPDC Executive Director Julie Reiter.

City planning staff had recommended approval of both variances, which are technical in nature. Both variances are for the 17-acre site eyed for the soccer stadium and adjacent amenities, on the southern part of the property. About 9.8 acres are the former Snelling bus garage property, owned by Metropolitan Council.

The remainder of the area is owned by Midway Center owner RK Midway. The soccer stadium site plan is considered to be the first phase of overall Midway Center redevelopment.

One variance is a floor area ratio (FAR) variance for the soccer stadium itself. FAR is the ratio of a building’s total or gross floor area to the size of the piece of land upon which it is built. St. Paul’s traditional neighborhoods zoning classifications have FAR requirements to encourage density. The ratio required for the stadium’s TN4 zoning and in an area near a light rail station is a minimum 1.0. The stadium is proposed to have a .19 FAR.

The second variance is for a parking lot at Pascal and St. Anthony avenues. The 164-space lot is to be used by the stadium and by retail space associated with team merchandising. One intent of TN zoning is to discourage the creation of stand-alone surface parking lots. A parking lot isn’t allowed as the primary use on a property unless the parking spaces shared amount multiple businesses or uses.

Tegra Group of Minneapolis, a real estate broker and advisory firm, filed the variance requests on behalf of Minneapolis United FC. Nate Pearson of Tegra Group said the FAR requirement isn’t a useful measurement for the 20,000-seat stadium. When calculated FAR for the stadium, only the enclosed part is used. Pearson also said that shared use of the parking lot is logical and that sharing of the spaces could be discussed as shopping center redevelopment continues.

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Letter to the Editor: Thanks to community for life celebration of “Mr. Phil”

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

Dear Editor:

I would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate the life of Philando “Mr. Phil” Castile with the J.J. Hill Community.

It was an event for families and students to grieve and comfort each other, and it was also a place to talk to our children about the issues we face right now as a society. I was planning on maybe 30-50 school community families and staff coming out, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. Our small community vigil gained national media attention and grew to more than 3,000 people.

I am heartened that the community kept the event peaceful and focused on the man who affected J.J. Hill in a positive and memorable way.

There are too many people to thank individually in a letter, but there are a few people who helped prepare me for what was to come. I reached out to a few friends, and some people I have never met, who gave me sound advice and stepped up to help.

I am forever grateful to my wife Mollie Reid Fragnito, Rep. Erin Murphy, Paul Winkelaar, Jeff Bauer, Atom Robinson, Chris Crutchfield, Andrew Collins, Sharon Freeman, Mr. Bill and Mr. Gary from J.J. Hill, Zuki Ellis, Rashad Turner, Charlie Foust, Anna Gaarnas, and Beth Jackson; you all helped with logistics, and most importantly, gave me the voice I didn’t know I had.

I also want to thank the St. Paul Police Department and St. Paul Public Schools for the help they provided with the vigil.

Finally, thank you to the family of Philando Castile. You showed great strength and courage. “Mr. Phil” will be forever missed at J.J. Hill.

Tony Fragnito

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D10-Lawn Sign-FreeRange

We heard them, they heard us

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin


A “comprehensive sound abatement program,’’ including giving Fairgrounds management ultimate control over the soundboard, is one of the conditions the Soundset music festival must meet if it returns in 2017, State Fair management says.
That’s the result of the excessive noise and other problems that spilled into the neighborhood on May 29 from Soundset, a day-long hip-hop festival that attracted more than 30,000 fans to the Fairgrounds.
The District 10 Como Community Council compiled residents’ complaints about music volume, profanity, parking, traffic congestion, trash, and loitering during and after the 10-hour festival, then used letters, phone conversations, and a face-to-face meeting on June 30 to detail the problems and propose potential remedies.
After that meeting, Soundset’s organizers—Minneapolis-based Rhymesayers Entertainment—proposed the sound abatement plan, says Jim Sinclair, deputy general manager of the Fair. Rhymesayers’ plan includes redirecting speakers, monitoring sound levels outside the Fairgrounds and, if necessary, giving State Fair personnel “control of sound emanating from Soundset,” Sinclair says.
There is no signed deal in place, but Soundset can return on May 28, 2017, if it agrees to implement the sound abatement plan and meet other conditions, Sinclair says.
Meanwhile, District 10 continues to talk with State Fair management and City of St. Paul officials to implement ways to reduce traffic, parking, and other impacts on the neighborhood from Soundset and other large Fairgrounds events.
For more details on the Soundset discussions, see District 10’s website: www.district10comopark.orgD10-Lawn Sign-FreeRange.

Signing on for safer streets
In another initiative to grab the attention of motorists who speed, blow stop signs, or otherwise drive inconsiderately, residents on more than 60 blocks have applied to post lawn signs designed to make District 10 streets safer.

D10-Lawn Sign-ThanksThe lawn signs are appearing in different parts of the neighborhood for a week or so at a time, then rotating to other blocks. The signs carry three different messages: “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here,” “Slow, Please: Free-Range Children, Adults & Dogs,” and “Thanks for Slowing Down.”

More than 150 residents selected these messages as the most effective way of taking back neighborhood streets from drivers who seem to disregard the fact that people live, walk, and bike here.

D10-Lawn Sign-KidsIf you’re interested in organizing your neighbors to post signs on your block, contact the District 10 office at 651-644-3889, or district10@district10comopark.org.

Neighbors grow frustrated with vacant Sholom Home
District 10 is leading ongoing meetings between the newest owners of the former Sholom Home property and neighbors who are increasingly frustrated with what they see as rising amounts of illegal activity.

Neighbors say they routinely observe scrapping, squatting, drug sales, and other unwelcome activity in and around the abandoned Midway Pkwy. property. They also complain that private security and St. Paul Police seem unable or unwilling to invest the time necessary to root out the problems.

Charter Midway LLC purchased the former nursing home in December, with plans to turn it into an assisted living and memory care center.

David Grzan, president and CEO, says Charter Midway continues to seek additional financing that would make the renovation possible and eliminate the opportunity for crime. “We know there’s a problem there,” he says. “It’s a beacon for that activity. It attracts the wrong element.”

D10-sholom-exteriorPhoto left; Neighbors say they routinely observe scrapping, squatting, drug sales, and other unwelcome activity in and around the abandoned Midway Pkwy. property that used to be the Sholom Home. (Photo submitted)

Western District commanders Ed Lemon and Bryant Gaden told neighbors on July 28 that even though St. Paul Police list the building a problem property, officers need direct permission from the property owners before they’ll enter. Further, the commanders said, a response by patrol officers is generally going to be a lower priority than many other types of police calls.

Randy Olson, the general manager of JBM Patrol and Protection, pledged to neighbors that he’ll work more closely with police in responding to problems. JBM took over as Charter Midway’s new security company in July.

Further, Charter Midway is following recommendations from the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections to better secure the building, including tearing out excessive shrubbery, and boarding up windows and doors from the outside, not just the inside.

“But that’s an interim measure,” Grzan said. “The best cure is to put an operating business in there.”

Pick up a recycling bin any Sunday
The Como Park Streetcar Station is open from noon-4pm every Sunday between now and the end of September. A District 10 board member will be 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
Didn’t know about the latest update with the Sholom Home property? Wonder what’s going on at the State Fairgrounds? Need to keep track of music and other activities at the Como Lake Pavilion? Surprised by closed bridges or other road construction?

Then you probably haven’t been reading District 10’s free weekly email newsletter. It’s the best way to keep up with neighborhood events. We send it to your inbox every Friday. To sign up: go to www.district10comopark.org, then click the newsletter icon in the right column.

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HU coach Chip Taylor

Taylor keeps continuity for Hamline football

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin


More local college football teams than just the University Minnesota kept continuity in recent coaching changes.

While Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys taking over at mid-season for Jerry Kill made the major headlines, Hamline University made a similar move later in the off=season. Pipers defensive coordinator Chip Taylor officially took over the program for previous head coach Chad Rogosheke in March.

HU coach Chip TaylorPhoto right: New Hamline University football head coach Chip Taylor will look to guide the Pipers to more success after back-to-back 4-6 seasons. The program hasn’t finished over .500 since 1995. (Photo courtesy of Hamline University Athletics)

“I took the Hamline job because I felt strongly about the administration’s commitment to the experience of our scholar athletes,” Taylor said. “The MIAC is a great league with great football coaches.”

Taylor and the Pipers open fall practice on Aug. 13, and they will enjoy similarly continuity to the Gophers in that process. Taylor worked under Rogosheke for three seasons at Hamline, and they did the same at Division I Bucknell. Similarly, Claeys worked under Kill two decades with the Gophers and previous schools.

Taylor and Rogosheke had their share of success at Bucknell and then Hamline. Bucknell went 6-5 in 2011 after a one-win season in 2010. Similarly, they improved on a 2-8 season at Hamline in 2013 with back-to-back 4-6 seasons.

At Hamline, they sustained a little more gridiron success than Bucknell where the Bison dropped to 3-8 in 2012 after the 3-8 campaign. Moreover, he took over a Hamline program that hasn’t seen a winning season since 1995. The Pipers won only one game between 2011 and 2013.

Taylor now has the task of building on two improved seasons in a MIAC league loaded with talented squads. The University of St. Thomas made the national championship game and returns heavy talent. St. John’s University looks strong after back-to-back 10-2 seasons, and recent playoff regular Bethel University will look to prove its 5-5 season in 2015 a fluke.

Most importantly for Hamline, those three teams won by at least 20 or more points last season against the Pipers. Bethel and St. Thomas actually cruised much more comfortably than St. John’s 41-21 win.

All three teams stand in Hamline’s way for reaching the upper echelon of the MIAC. The Pipers also need to avoid losses in close games as their other three occurred by 10 or fewer points.

“We want to attack each week as one-game seasons,” Taylor said.

Hamline did show a glimpse of pulling out the close game last season though when freshman quarterback Justice Spriggs threw a touchdown pass with 20 seconds left. It completed a 31-30 comeback at St. Olaf College.

Passing looked good on paper for the Pipers last season with 221 yards per game and 15 TDs. Running the ball more effectively than last year’s 3.6 yards per carry will add to the air attack this fall.

Returning wide receiver Naji El-Araby gives both the passing attack and special teams a spark with his playmaking ability. Nick Kampa likewise could boost the passing game after a 4-TD season in 2015.

“Our strength will be our skill players,” Taylor said.

It doesn’t hurt either that Taylor brought on former Gophers quarterback coach Jim Zebrowski. The Pipers’ new QB leader knows much about Division III success. He played at Mount Union and coached at Wisconsin-Whitewater, the two most dominant programs at that level of college football.

Chase Duwenhoegger, a junior offensive lineman, gives the Pipers some size up front at 6-2 and 270 pounds. It helps a young running attack since senior backs Austin Duncan and Ryan Ferkinhoff graduated.

Hamline’s defense looks tough, with the work Taylor has done as defensive coordinator over the past three seasons. The Pipers had 17 takeaways in 2015. They also ranked fifth for the MIAC in passing and rushing yards allowed.

Junior defensive backs Anthony Hill and Zach Schwalbach will step into key roles and look to build on the secondary’s nine interceptions for 2015. Jonny Nguyen, a junior linebacker, could give opposing quarterbacks trouble again after a 4.5-sack season.

Lucjan Januszewski, a former Como Park standout, had 22 tackles last season on Pipers’ defensive line. Brendan Nachtrieb will join the line this fall, which could alleviate the graduation of Matt Wildes.

“Overall, we are looking for the team to compete each Saturday to the best of their abilities, and we want to continue to recruit the right scholar athletes to Hamline University,” Taylor said.

Hamline’s first gridiron test commences on Sept. 3 at home against Crown College with a 1pm kickoff.

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Como High – MCJROTC Cadets

Como students travel the country to enrich experiences

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

Como High - AOF in D.C• Como Academy of Finance (AOF) students John Barton (right in photo) and Greg Murphy (left in photo) were selected to attend the Youth Career Connect (YCC) National Conference in Washington D.C. from July 20-22.  The two students, who will both be seniors this fall, produced a video last semester in their AOF coursework that was selected as a top three finalist in the national YCC Video Contest. Their video highlighted the important and influential work that YCC grantees and partners are doing to provide students with successful paths to employment.

While in Washington D.C., Barton and Murphy were led on a White House tour, met with staff members from Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office, and visited Smithsonian museums, memorials and monuments.  At the U.S. Department of Labor, they presented their video and spoke on a panel at the YCC National Conference.  The students shared stories about their Academy of Finance experiences including job shadows, internships, and opportunity to earn college credits.

• In other AOF news, eight students were thriving this summer in BrandLab marketing internships at local companies and agencies. Three juniors attended Gopher Business at the U of M’s Carlson School of Management and three girls attended the Michigan Tech Summer Engineering Camp through 3M. Five students attended the Minnesota Business Venture Camp, and one student participated in the Minnesota Council of Economic Education Camp at the U of M.

Como High - MCJROTC Cadets• Como MCJROTC sophomore cadets Joseph Newman, Philip Chervenak, and William Farley (left to right in provided photo) traveled to Front Royal, Virginia to attend a cyber security and STEM course hosted by the eastern region of the Marine Corps JROTC. The cadets stayed at the Randolph-Macon Academy and took intensive courses in Cysco Tracer-Router Configurations, Linux, and Microsoft security applications. The cadets hope to build upon the experience and use their specialized knowledge to be successful in the national Cyber-Patriot competition hosted by the Air Force Association during the upcoming school year.  The cadets also had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. while out on the east coast.

• Upward Bound is a college prep program at Como administered by Century College.  Thriving Como Upward Bound students including LayLay Zan, Sarem Ayalewe, Tu Lor Eh Paw, Kao Moua, GaoNou Lee, Aye Win, Shukri Abdullahi, and Peh Mue earned the opportunity to experience New York City from July 17-23.  The program’s theme was “Immigration, Arts and Culture” with study visits throughout the city to connect the history of immigration with cultural influences today.  Destinations included Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, El Barrio in East Harlem, the Tenement Museum, Chinatown, Koreatown and seeing “Aladdin” on Broadway. Students gained an appreciation for their own experiences, comparing and contrasting immigration patterns and assimilation over time in America.

• Como Park seniors Tyler Johnson and Aklilu (Archie) Gjerdrum traveled to Lyon, France from June 30-July 7 to participate in the “streetfootballworld” Festival.  Minnesota’s delegation of four players also included Central junior Sunniva Dunagan.  The purpose of “streetfootballworld” is to bring people together with a united spirit to drive social change through the beautiful game of soccer.

Approximately 500 players from around the world, ages 14-18, used the “football3” model to play in mixed gender, multicultural teams.  The football3 program is inspired by the values of inclusion, teamwork and fair play. Players meet and communicate with their opponents before a match to establish the rules for their specific game.  Once there is consensus, play begins.  The third component is discussing the effectiveness of the rules and how they impacted the game and the shared values.

Johnson, who has played in three state tournaments for Como Park, appreciated how barriers with new players from around the world were broken down through the experience.  “You get to meet people and talk to people to understand where they are coming from instead of assuming based on their race, culture, country and sexuality,” said Johnson.

• Senior Marie Wulff traveled to Ghana from June 27-July 11 as a participant in Global Leadership Adventures “Building Healthy Villages.”  Wulff was one of 15 high school students from North America that served in the African village of Dzita, Ghana.  Wulff worked on a public health project building an eco-compost toilet for the village.  In addition to the labor and service, Wulff was able to learn about the native culture with the village Chief, take language lessons in Ewe, and visit local hospitals, schools and produce clothing in a textile trade school.

The cross-cultural exchange and incorporation of a needed service was attractive to Wulff as she searched for a meaningful way to see another part of the world.  To help raise funds, she hosted an authentic Ghanaian dinner at her church, St. Timothy’s Lutheran, in February.  Wulff was grateful for the opportunity and the community’s support, both in Como Park and in Ghana.  “The experience opened my eyes to a less materialistic way of life,” said Wulff.

• Como Robotics “BeastBot” team will be at the State Fair competing with other robots on Sun., Sept. 4.  Como’s BeastBot will be on display throughout the Fair in the Education Building, which is also where the competition will take place.

• Freshmen Orientation for Como’s incoming 9th graders is scheduled for Thur., Sept. 1 at Como Park High School beginning at 6pm.

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Hamline Midway Coalition at low-power state during transition

Posted on 08 August 2016 by Calvin

Office being staffed one day a week for the rest of the summer; board hopes to have full-time staff back in September


The Hamline Midway Coalition (HMC) has suspended most functions for the time being due to staffing challenges.

The Board of Directors is currently working on a transition plan and hopes to have a full-time person in the office again by September, according to Board President Steve Samuelson.

Hamline Midway Coalition (HMC) Executive Director Michael Jon Olson is currently on an indefinite medical leave.

Kyle Mianulli, HMC’s former Director of Communications and Community Engagement, has left HMC to pursue a career opportunity in the Hennepin County Public Works communications department. “It was an offer he couldn’t refuse,” remarked Samuelson.

Samuelson pointed out that the staffing problems facing HMC are part of a bigger issue for community organizations: it’s hard to retain good staff, Samuelson said.

Office staffed on Wednesdays
During the transition period, former board member Melissa Cortez is staffing the office every Wednesday from 10am to 5pm. Email her at Melissa@hamlinemidway.org, or contact Samuelson at ssamuelson11@comcast.net.

Meanwhile, Olson has been meeting once a week with the bookkeeper to keep up with HMC’s financial transactions.

Olson has been with HMC for about ten years. “He’s been a tremendous asset for the neighborhood,” said Samuelson.

At its August meeting, the board members intend to discuss the job responsibilities of a full-time position they will be hiring.

The organization’s 11-person board is made up of Hamline Midway neighbors, business owners, and community members.

Samuelson pointed out that August is a historically slow time for the organization.

“If something comes in we have the mechanisms in place to deal with it,” assured Samuelson. “We have the basic services in place while we go through this transition period.”

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