Archive | October, 2016

Monitor in a Minute

Monitor in a Minute

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin


Changes in the works to capital budget process
Area residents and district councils that routinely submit projects for the city’s Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) will see changes in 2017. The St. Paul City Council voted Sept. 28 to launch a study of capital budget changes.

With large projects looming and a slew of capital maintenance needs, the City Council and the Long-Range CIB Committee will be looking at process changes. That, in turn, means there won’t be the extensive project submission and review process next year, to determine what is and is not funded in 2018-2019.

That is likely to disappoint district councils, booster clubs and other groups that had already started work on projects to be submitted in January 2017. But City Council President Russ Stark and Deputy Mayor Kristin Beckmann said the proposal is to fund fewer needs in 2018-2019, giving time for city staff, the CIB Committee, district councils and citizens to look at the CIB process and make changes in time for the 2020-2021 funding round. That process starts in 2019.

Firestation 20The two big projects looming are Fire Station 20 replacement in West Midway and Scheffer Recreation Center in Frogtown. The city also has millions of dollars in unmet repair needs at area parks, recreation centers, libraries and other facilities.

Planning and design funds for Fire Station 20, 2167 University Ave, were recommended for $1 million. The two-story, double-bay station was built in 1921. Station access was affected when Green Line light rail was built. Vehicles have to cross the light tracks to get out to calls, and rigs have to back in when they return. Fire Chief Tim Butler said cost estimates to build a new fire station are at $7 million. But the city is looking at a number of options to replace Station 20. One idea is to build on land owned by the WestRock (formerly Rock-Tenn) paper recycling company nearby. Another idea is to discuss a joint facility with the Minneapolis Fire Department.

Saint Paws wins approval
Saint Paws’ quest to continue operating a dog daycare and overnight boarding facility won unanimous St. Paul Planning Commission approval Sept. 30. The commission placed eight operating conditions on the business, including the use of an indoor dog relief area.

Saint Paws is at 1921 University Ave. The Planning Commission was asked to grant the business a determination of similar use status. The Commission had to determine whether indoor dog daycare and overnight boarding is similar to other uses allowed in a traditional neighborhood zoning district.

At issue with Saint Paws was where the dogs relieve themselves. Saint Paws has been walking its dogs in the surrounding neighborhood and using nearby Iris Park as a relief spot. A city Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) staff report pointed out that such use “has the potential for significant negative impacts on the maintenance and appearance of the park above and beyond the impacts typically found with other (traditional neighborhoods-zoned) uses.” Other than the Iris Park issue, the business would meet all other conditions for a determination of similar use.

City planning staff recommended denial of the request in August, but after commissioners had said a more thorough look at history is needed, the issue was laid over.

Property owner Thomas Dunn and his daughter Susan Dunn, who operates the business, asked the Zoning Committee to recommend approval. They agreed to the conditions proposed. The Dunns renovated the building and opened the business not knowing they needed a license to open a dog daycare. The business came to city officials’ attention in May after a complaint. It had opened in February.

Saint Paws has support from a number of area businesses and Iris Park residents. But the St. Paul Department of Parks and Recreation raised objections to using Iris Park as a dog relief area. Dogs still can be walked in the park and surrounding neighborhood. Some neighbors have said the presence of dogs makes them feel safer.

The only person objecting Sept. 22 was the owner of the city’s three Dog Days businesses. She asked that all similar businesses be treated consistently and fairly.

Health care homes studied
The notion of health care dwellings will be explored by St. Paul City officials in the weeks ahead. The City Council on Sept. 28 approved measures related to a 2016 state law. No one appeared at a Sept. 21 public hearing to speak on the issue.

The Minnesota Legislature in May approved regulations allowing cities to permit temporary dwellings for the purpose of providing health care to a family member. Under the regulations, a family could house a relative in a recreational vehicle, small trailer home or similar facility on their home property. Possible structures could be as basic as a trailer home designed for disability access or as elaborate as a small house that could be placed in a driveway or backyard.

The intent is for the dwellings to meet a short-term need, to help families provide care for their loved ones. The state law has provisions to ensure that the temporary dwellings don’t become permanent and that they aren’t used to simply create extra housing. For example, the housing would be for family members. The family member would need assistance with two or more daily activities due to their mental or physical health.

A conditional use permit would be required for the dwellings. State law allows cities or counties to opt out of allowing the dwellings. The St. Paul City Council imposed a moratorium on such temporary dwellings until the St. Paul Planning Commission completes a study of the pros and cons of such dwellings.

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Development Roundup

Development Roundup

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin


Accessory units along Green Line get approval
Accessory dwelling units, touted as a way to add housing density along the light-rail Green Line in St. Paul, would only be allowed in portions of the South St. Anthony Park, Merriam Park, Snelling-Hamline, Lexington-Hamline and Hamline-Midway neighborhoods under an ordinance approved Sept. 14 by the St. Paul City Council.

Whether the change prompts more people to add the accessory dwelling units isn’t clear, although support was voiced for the change at Planning Commission and City Council public hearings.

Council President Russ Stark said he hears interest mainly from the North St. Anthony Park neighborhood. That area is outside of the boundary. The St. Anthony Park Community Council recently oversaw a study of the dwelling units and supports the zoning change. District 1 Planning Council supported the change and asked that the changes be adopted citywide. Hamline Midway Coalition and Como Community Council weighed in with technical suggestions.

In Merriam Park, a group studying housing issues in the neighborhood has looked at the proposal as a way to promote more owner-occupancy of the neighborhood’s many large foursquare homes. Union Park District Council didn’t take a position on the zoning study.

The City Council September 14 asked city staff to do a follow-up study of the dwelling units, to see how many have been added over the next year. Minneapolis has added about 50 units since it added an accessory dwelling unit ordinance a few years ago, although it’s not clear how many of those were existing units that were brought into compliance with new regulations.

The area where the housing units will be allowed is smaller than originally proposed. The City Council voted 6-1 on September 7 to drop Summit-University and Frogtown from the neighborhoods where accessory dwelling units would be allowed. That move was recommended by Ward 1 City Council member Dai Thao in response to the objections of the Summit-University Planning Council (SUPC). Frogtown residents had supported the change.

The ordinance would allow stand-alone backyard houses, carriage house-style apartments above garages and smaller units built into or attached to a larger home one-half mile north and one mile south of the Green Line from the western city limit at Emerald St. to Lexington Pkwy. The new units would have to be owner-occupied, be registered with the city and meet an array of zoning and building code regulations.

The proposal grew out of zoning studies along the Green Line that began even before the trains began running in 2014. It was promoted as a way to increase the number of housing units conveniently located near the transit line and had the support of other local district councils.

Griggs Midway lot plan OK’d
Changes have been made to the financing for the Griggs Midway Building parking lot improvements. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, approved the changes Sept. 28.

Feat3_15Dickerman3Photo left: One of the plans that were originally proposed for Dickerman Park.

The building complex at the northeast corner of Fairview and University avenues had used a part of Dickerman Park for off-street parking for many years. That lot was removed as the Park is being redeveloped.

The HRA action approved a change in term from seven to five years for a previously-authorized forgivable loan through the Neighborhood Commercial Parking Program. The program was created to mitigate parking losses when Green Line light rail was built. Griggs Midway Building got a loan in Aug. 2015.

The Griggs Midway Building Corporation owns five buildings in the block behind the northeast corner of Fairview and University. Two of the buildings front on Dickerman Park. The park project resulted in the loss of 57 parking spaces. A second lot on Fairview has long encroached on Fairview right-of-way, meaning another 27 parking spaces would be lost.

The HRA loaned Griggs Midway Corporation up to $200,000 to reconfigure the rest of its parking area. The corporation wants to change the loan term to five years to limit the liability on their asset.

Former auto dealership sold
Two more former auto dealerships on University Ave. face transformation. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board Sept. 28, gave the nonprofit tentative developer status for two properties long occupied by Saxon Ford.

The developer status doesn’t involve any budget action at this time. It gives the partnership time lines to bring forward plans for the city-owned properties, which are bounded by Sherburne Ave., Galtier St. and University Ave. One property has a seven-month deadline, and the other can be worked on for up to 30 months. If planning is successful, final development agreements come back to the HRA for sale of the properties. The HRA set many conditions to be met as part of the developer agreement.

The city has sought developers for the properties for more than a year. The partnership would build assisted living on one parcel and a health center on the other. The plans have support from Frogtown Neighborhood Association.

Grant awarded
A West Midway residential development received investigation grants from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Metropolitan Council. The St. Paul City Council voted Sept. 7 to accept the funds.

It was among nine grants sought for sites throughout the city. The grant application was submitted in April. $763,327 was awarded for a preconstruction work for a new apartment building at 2300 Territorial Rd.

A developer sought the grant through the city, which acts as a pass-through funding source.

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3rd Annual Hamline Elementary Fall Festival a success

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin

Big thanks from the whole Hamline Elementary community to their friends and neighbors for sharing a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the 3rd Annual Hamline Elementary Fall Festival. It took an awesome show of community support from beginning to end to make this happen, and they are so grateful to the local organizations, businesses, and neighbors who helped out in ways both big and small. Hamline Elementary loves the neighborhood and reports that they had the best time celebrating with everyone. They are already looking forward to next year! (Photos by Hamline Elementary parents)


hamline-elementary-img_2364 hamline-elementary-img_8872

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Hamline Midway Elders plan monthly activities

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin

Baby Boomers & Better Book Club. Hamline Midway Elders and Hamline Midway Library are continuing a monthly book club around books related to baby boomers. Participants of all ages are invited to attend a discussion at the library on Sat., Oct. 15 at 1pm on “Lake Wobegon Days” by Garrison Keillor. This was his initial book, published back in 1985, that described the town and characters that we’ve heard about for many years on the “Prairie Home Companion” radio program.

Defensive Driving Refresher Class. This free 4-hour refresher course will be held on Monday, Oct. 17, 1- 5pm at Hamline Church United Methodist (1514 Englewood Ave.). Tim Walstrom, an agent from State Farm Insurance, will lead the class. Attendees would need to have completed a previous initial 8-hour class. There will be plenty of space for anyone interested, but we do want/need folks to sign up with Hamline Midway Elders in advance so we can have the right amount of materials for the class.

Jody’s Documentary Film Series. Please join us on Wed., Oct. 26, 1pm at Hamline Midway Library for a POV film titled “What Tomorrow Brings.” The film is directed by Beth Murphy and features the very first all-girls school in a remote Afghan village. No registration is necessary, just enjoy the documentary, some snacks, and a lively discussion led by Jody Huber after the film.

Poetry Writing Classes. The free ARTful Expression classes with the library proved to be so popular that we looked for a way to continue the series. Naomi Cohn (writer, therapist and teaching artist) has volunteered to lead two additional sessions. The class on Nov. 2 starting at 1pm will be “Writing Home: Building Blocks of Poetry” and on Nov. 9 “Haiku and other short poetry.” Each class is limited to 15 individuals, and for more information and to register contact Jean Curtis-Neitz at Hamline Midway Library at jean.curtis-neitz@ci.stpaul.mn.us or 651-642-0293.

Chair Yoga. Nancy Giguere returns to lead another series of Chair Yoga at Hamline Midway Library. Classes will be held on six consecutive Thursday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 beginning Nov. 3 (skipping Thanksgiving). Chair Yoga focuses on a range of movement, alignment, stretching, strengthening, awareness, breathing, and relaxation. All movement is done while seated or standing using a chair for balance.

Monthly Luncheon. Hamline Midway Elders has been sponsoring “second Tuesday” monthly luncheons for the past 15 years. The meal begins at 11:30am at Hamline Church United Methodist (1514 Englewood Ave.) followed by the presentation at 12:15pm. New attendees are always welcome. Join us on Tue., Nov. 8 for a presentation on “Aging & Spirituality” by Senior Pastor Mariah Furness Tollgaard.

Volunteers Wanted. Hamline Midway Elders operates with only two part-time staff. The majority of our services to neighborhood elders is provided by some wonderful volunteers, and we could use more. We have a variety of volunteer needs ranging from driving folks to/from medical appointments, to spring raking, to friendly visiting, to helping out at program events. Please consider helping our program help neighborhood elders.

For more information on any of the above items, please contact Tom Fitzpatrick at Hamline Midway Elders at 651-209-6542 or tom@hmelders.org.

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Hamline Midway Library: Fostering a love of reading in all their activities

Hamline Midway Library: Fostering a love of reading in all their activities

Posted on 10 October 2016 by Calvin

IOC10_14LibraryGraphicThe Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave., is brimming over with an unusually rich array of arts programming, storytimes, and book club meetings this October and November. As the weather cools and the fall leaves blow, be sure to stop at the library for a soul-warming dose of inspiration, learning, and community.

Preschool Storytimes galore
Evening/Pajama Storytimes in English will be happening every Tuesday evening from 6:30-7pm in October and the first two Tuesday evenings in November. PJs, blankets, and favorite stuffed animals are all welcome at these family events. Upcoming dates are Oct. 18, 25 and Nov. 1 and 8. The library also offers a weekly daytime Preschool Storytime in English on Fridays from 10:30-11am. Upcoming daytime storytimes happen on Oct. 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4 and 18.

Book clubs foster love of reading
The Baby Boomers and Better Book Club will meet Sat., Oct. 15, 1-2pm, to discuss Garrison Keillor’s “Lake Wobegon Days.” The club is presented in partnership with Hamline Midway Elders.

The Teen Book Club also meets on Oct. 15, 3-4pm and Nov. 12, 3-4 PM, to discuss graphic novels, “Battle of the Books,” “Read Brave,” and more. The group is intended for readers in grades 9 and up.

The Show and Tell Book Club meets Sat., Nov. 5, 1:30-2:15pm. It’s a great opportunity for readers in grades 2-4 to share their favorite books, enjoy snacks, and celebrate reading through conversation and activities. New members are always welcome!

The Saints and Sinners Mystery Book Club will meet Sat., Nov. 5, 1-2pm to discuss a good mystery. Contact G. Balter for book list or more information at gerribalter@gmail.com or 651-224-5570.

Arts and science programming
During MEA week, the library will host a few different programs to keep kids busy when they’re out of school. On Thur., Oct. 20, the library presents “Stay Play MEA: Blues for Kids” with presenter Jim Stairs, a workshop that teaches kids of all ages the joy of Blues music. The workshop is custom-designed to suit the audience and can include guitar, harmonica, piano, vocals, or Blues history. To register, stop in at the library, email Aura at aura.scherbel@ci.stpaul.mn.us, or call 651-642-0293.

“Peaceful Explorations: Exploring the World Through Music, Movement, and Storytelling” comes to the library on Thur., Oct. 27, 6:30-7:30pm. In this special program, families can enjoy learning about the seasons and living peacefully through storytelling, movement, and music. It might be just the thing families need in this hectic election cycle, so come check it out!

On Mon., Nov. 7, 6-7pm, Russell Harris presents “Mini Masterpieces: Bubblemancy,” an art workshop for preschoolers and their families. Participants can learn the science of bubbles and have a chance to experiment with what becomes possible with bubbles once they understand how bubbles work. Attendees will even make bubble art to take home!

The preschool arts series continues on Mon., Nov. 14, 6-7pm, with “Mini Masterpieces: ArtStart,” in which participants make art with discards, scraps, and other recycled material, and on Mon., Nov. 21, 6-7pm, with “Fingerprint Art.”

Science Saturday takes over the auditorium on Sat., Nov. 12, 1:30-3:30pm, with “Pop Ups!” School age kids and their families can play with tension and springs to make their own pop-up assemblages at this fun hands-on event.

Film fun
On Fri., Oct. 21, 3-5pm, the library will show a special movie for teens, director Barry Sonnenfeld’s sci-fi comedy “Men in Black.”

Jody’s Documentary Film Series continues on Wed., Oct. 26, 1-3pm, with a showing of the PBS POV documentary “What Tomorrow Brings,” directed by Beth Murphy. The film invites viewers to visit the first all-girls’ school in a remote Afghan village and offers an astonishing look at the courage it takes to challenge tradition and custom. This event is a collaboration of the award-winning documentary series POV, the Hamline Midway Elders, and the library. Come for the movie and the snacks, stay for the lively discussion afterward!

On Sat., Oct. 29, 2:30-4:30pm, the library will host a matinee showing of the original 1984 “Ghostbusters,” directed by Ivan Reitman.

Poetry and exercise for adults
On Wednesday afternoons in November, writer, therapist, and teaching artist Naomi Cohn will present Known By Heart, a two-part series of poetry workshops for adults.

On Nov. 2, 1-3pm, Cohn presents “Writing Home: Building Blocks of Poetry,” guiding participants in exploring the theme of home through poetry. Whether you’re new to poetry or have been writing all your life, you are welcome!

The series continues on Wed., Nov. 9, 1-3pm, with “Writing Haiku.” The Knight Foundation, the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation, and the Hamline Midway Elders, have all contributed to make this poetry series possible. Registration begins Oct. 17.

On Thursday mornings in November, the library will offer Chair Yoga, a class in which all movement is done while seated or standing while using a chair for balance. This class is taught by Nancy Giguere and co-sponsored by Hamline Midway Elders. Upcoming classes are on Thur., Nov. 3, 10, and 17, 10:30-11:30am.

Library closures
The library will be closed all day on Nov.11 for Veterans Day and on Nov. 24 for Thanksgiving, so be sure to plan your book runs accordingly!

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