Archive | March, 2018

Spring Café awarded five-year contract to operate at Como Pavilion

Spring Café awarded five-year contract to operate at Como Pavilion

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

Visitors to Como Park and its economic pavilion will enjoy a new dining option. And everyone is hoping that with the new operator, the third time is the charm.
On Feb. 14, the St. Paul City Council approved a 23-page contract with O’Reilly Custom 3 LLC to operate the pavilion, 1360 Lexington Pkwy. N., on a recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Commission. The name announced is Spring Café.

A request for proposals was posted in December 2017, and the restaurant operator was chosen from who applied before a January deadline.

The City Council approved the contract without discussion as part of its consent agenda.

Spring Café will be the third restaurant operator at the pavilion in recent years. Como Dockside closed last fall. In 2015 Como Dockside had replaced Black Bear Crossings, which won an $800,000 legal judgment against the city after it was ousted in 2014. That restaurant had operated for 13 years, and on Como Ave. before that.

Before Black Bear a combination of city workers and caterers provided food service at the pavilion.

New operator Matty O’Reilly is not only a veteran restaurateur, he already works with the Department of Parks and Recreation to operate Red River Kitchen at the City House at

Upper Landing. That facility is in what used to be a head house and sack house for a larger grain elevator complex.

Area residents may also know O’Reilly as owner-operator of Delicata Pizza & Gelato, 1341 Pascal St., in the Como neighborhood.

The agreement takes effect Apr. 1 and continues through 2023, with an option for an additional five-year renewal. It also has a clause allowing termination. It calls for operations between 11am and 9pm weekdays during peak season and no weekday hours during the winter. Saturday and Sunday hours during peak season are 9am-9pm, and 9am-3pm during the off-season. The operator and city will work together to see if there can be promenade access during the peak season, before opening the restaurant.

Peak season is considered Mothers’ Day to Labor Day.

The hours are a major change from the Como Dockside operation, which shut its doors in November 2017. Those operators dealt with very slow weekday hours during the fall and winter months. Como Dockside had to open at 7am under its city contract.

The new operator will also provide recreational equipment rental, room rental and community access to rooms, and catering service with facilities rental. Services such as equipment rental could be contracted to a third party.

The contract gives the new operator exclusive rights to outdoor vending and calls for operations of the concessions window. Window hours cannot be used as a substitute for interior hours of operation. The operators can sell souvenirs, with the approval of such items.

O’Reilly will also take over the theater and music bookings, which traditionally are more than 100 per year.

The contract also allows for the sale of alcoholic beverages including wine, beer, and liquor. Those must be consumed within the pavilion and promenade and can only be sold when the full kitchen is in operation. Liquor could be sold at ticketed or private events.

One point of debate at last year’s community meeting is that while some neighborhood residents enjoyed being able to have liquor or cocktails, others said walking in and seeing a full bar didn’t provide a family-friendly atmosphere. The full bar is expected to go away, with wine, beer, and a few selected premade cocktails offered.

The new restaurant isn’t expected to have table service. A menu of burgers, salads and rice bowls has been suggested, under the guidance of chef J.D. Fratzke.

Another change is that the city can potentially take a larger cut of revenue during the summer. The contract does maintain the $100,000 minimum annual payback to the city.

The contract also calls for the new operator make $20,000 in improvements. That compares to $294,000 put in by Como Dockside, largely on the interior of the pavilion, which needed a new kitchen. It also included a new dock.

The new contract calls for the city to get a guarantee of 10 percent of gross revenues during the peak season. Como Dockside’s contract called for nine percent.

The contract also has thresholds for additional shared revenue if the restaurant receipts top $1.5 million and $1.75 million per year. A percentage of winter brunch revenues are to be dedicated toward additional capital improvements.

Comments Off on Spring Café awarded five-year contract to operate at Como Pavilion

Tiger by Jackie Scherer

Program helps those with sensory processing needs enjoy zoo more

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

Como works with Autism Society on handouts and maps to help families prepare before they get into zoo

All photos by JACKIE SCHERER and provided by COMO ZOO
For those with sensory issues, it can be hard to visit the zoo, but Como is launching a new program to change that.

Visitors who have family members on the autism spectrum or those with sensory processing needs will now be able to enter Como Zoo one hour before when doors open to the general public on selected Sundays and Wednesdays.

“Como has so much to offer when it comes to sights, sounds, smells, and temperatures, that it can sometimes be overwhelming,” remarked Noah Petermeier of Como Zoo and Conservatory. “We are so lucky to have such a dynamic facility that allows visitors to have unique learning experiences. Keeping that in mind, it is important for us at Como to acknowledge what we can do to assist those who might have challenges processing these sensory experiences.”

The goal of this new program is to provide families resources and tools to support them and make their time at Como more accessible.

“We can’t take away some of these sensory experiences like the smells and sounds, but what we can do is provide families with resources to help prepare them for their experience and set them up for success,” stated Petermeier.

“When we go to events like these, we find that knowing the staff and other visitors understand unique struggles can be helpful,” said Autism Society of Minnesota Education Specialist Lucas Scott, who added that it eases any embarrassment that might develop.

Scott is excited about the zoo’s commitment to hold these Autism Sensory Friendly Mornings monthly and make it a regular offering rather than a one-time thing.

Upcoming dates include Sundays, Mar. 11, Apr. 8, May 13, June 10, July 8, July 22, Aug. 5, and Aug. 19; and Wednesdays, June 13, July 11, July 25, Aug. 8 and Aug. 22.

Families can arrive between 9-10am on the selected dates. They should enter through the visitor center main entrance. The early entry days will include early access to zoo exhibits and zoo grounds, a sensory story time, and a quiet room where families can go to take a break if needed. Other partnering organizations will also have resources available for families.

According to Scott, there are many misconceptions out there regarding those with autism and sensory processing disorders.

“I generally think the easiest way to understand anyone is to recognize a person for who they are and not only by a disability label,” he pointed out.

The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) has also worked with other organizations to provide sensory-friendly events, including Stages Theater in Hopkins and the Schubert Club.

“We’ve worked with Shoreview Library and many Dakota county libraries recently to create more sensory-friendly programs and options. We’ve even brought quiet rooms to events like Pride to create a little sensory-friendly bubble in an otherwise not sensory-friendly environment,” stated Scott.

Plan the visit
Prior to starting this new sensory-friendly program, Como met with representatives from AuSM to create a sensory map, social narrative, and visual schedule. They can be found at www.comozooconservatory.org under the “Plan your visit” tab.

These items help attendees prepare and plan before coming. The sensory map highlights strong smells and quiet spaces. A 20-page social narrative lists which types of animals live in each building or area in the zoo, expectations, and rules to follow in each area, and sensory information that might be important before entering.

Families can print out and modify a visual schedule resource for those who appreciate having a pre-planned visual schedule.

“The hope is that families will be able to better prepare for their visit by reading through the social narrative,” observed Petermeier. “They can look at the photos, read the text, understand expectations, and ease some uncertainties that their family might have before coming to visit the exhibits and zoo grounds.”

Excited about the new program
Como’s education department currently partners with the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) to host year-round camps for elementary and high school-aged students.

“We wanted to continue our outreach to these families and other families for a free, early access experience,” remarked Petermeier.

He added, “Our partnership with AuSM has been such a successful and celebrated program here at Como. I am so excited to offer this new program to a larger audience and provide this space and time for families. I am looking forward to learning from our visitors and using their suggestions to make the program more successful.”

So far, the program is doing what organizers set out to accomplish. As one visitor commented, “We have hesitated to come to Como in the past. We are so excited that you are offering this program.”

Comments Off on Program helps those with sensory processing needs enjoy zoo more


Make their summer unforgettable with camp experiences

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

Give your kids childhood experiences they’ll never forget. This summer, take part in a free Forest School—unplug, step back and let their imaginations take the lead. Participate in an outdoor adventure camp and spark a love for biking, climbing, and canoeing that will give them skills to battle stress as they age. Let them soar through the air while learning circus arts, or focus on their artistic side. Give them cardboard to build with, balls to kick around, and Legos to construct robots. Let them pretend to live 100 years ago. Go for the gold in Animal Olympics at the zoo.

That’s just the start of the youth camp options available in the Twin Cities area. Browse below for more information on some of the camps offered locally.


Experience outdoor activities including swimming in an outdoor pool, horseback riding, use of a ropes course and climbing tower, group games, hiking, sensory crafts, and gross motor activities led by a registered occupational therapist, music groups led by a board-certified music therapist, boating, and sports during a Wahode Day Camp in Eagan where campers arrive each morning and leave each afternoon. Two residential camps where campers stay several days and nights are also offered in northern Minnesota at several locations. AuSM camps are tailored for youth and adults with autism. AuSM camps are available for individuals ages 6 and up who are AuSM members. (Photo right provided)
Cost: $725-$1,870

Blackhawks offer several exciting half- and full-day soccer camps for players ages 5-18 that encompass a wide variety of activities and skills. Specialty camps focus on specific skills such as ball control, shooting, and goalkeeping.
Cost: $85-195

Spend some time “Monkeying Around” with your primate pals, go for the gold in “Animal Olympics,” take an “African Adventure” without leaving Como, or try on the hat of a zookeeper or gardener in “Behind-the-Scenes!”. Como’s camps focus on developing children’s appreciation for the natural world through play and exploration, behind-the-scenes experiences, interactions with zookeepers and gardeners, and up-close encounters with plant and animal ambassadors Five-day, half-day or full-day sessions for preschool to grade eight. Extended care is available.
Cost: $135-155

Free Forest School of the Twin Cities is a free group, open to young children and their parents or caregivers. This is a welcoming and non-judgmental group where parents and caregivers can practice giving children space and autonomy to explore and create in nature. Free Forest School meets every day of the week throughout the year at wilderness areas around the metro. Share a snack, take a hike, play in the woods, and have circle time. Parents get a chance to unplug and step back… Kids and their imaginations take the lead.
Cost: Free

Want to make a film just like the professionals do? Feel like biking 10 (or 20!) miles a day? Have a secret stash of poems you want to share? Feel a need to express yourself through paint and paper-folding? Maybe you’d rather argue for the defense in a real courtroom? Friends School will be the place to do that—and more—from June to August for ages 4-14 (photo right provided). Weekdays, half- and full-day. Extended daycare in the mornings and afternoons and need-based financial aid available.
Cost: $105 to $295

Travel back in time and learn about life in the 1800s. Explore seasonal Dakota activities including the maple sugar camp, wild rice village, life in the tipi, hunting games, methods of travel, language, and song. Or enroll in Gibbs Girl or Digging history sessions. Three-day, half-day camps. One-day Pioneer PeeWees camps offered for ages 4-5.
Cost: $19-99

High school students ages 15-18 can explore the craft, prepare for college, and connect with other young writers in the Twin Cities, while working closely with Hamline Creative Writing faculty and published authors.
Cost: $400

Professional Irish Dance training by director Cormac O’Se, an original member of Riverdance.

Join the Minnesota Waldorf School for good, old-fashioned summer fun June 12 to Aug. 18. Outdoor games, natural crafts, water play, gardening, fairy camp, and much more, all on their beautiful 8-acre campus. 70 East County Road B, St. Paul. For children ages 3.5 to (rising) 6th grade.
Cost: $150- $275
651-487-6700 x202

Summer sessions for ages 6-15 are run by the University of Minnesota’s Rec & Wellness Camps, from June 11 to Aug. 10.
Cost: $299

Fun, exciting camps that combine physical fitness and education are offered throughout the summer for school-age kids. Register early for discounts.

Make your own games and design circuits. Paint with pizzazz. Search out connections between visual art and creative writing, and explore the life of a story in journalism. Debate, play chess, learn about mathematical modeling and forecasting, make movies or delve into creative science options. Options at SPA cover a wide range of academic, arts, and enrichment activities for grades 2-12.
Cost: $195-385

Summer is a great time to try dance. Programs include workshops and camps for ages 3 and up, weekly drop-in classes for teens and adults, and a new “mommy and me” baby class. (Photo right by Margie O’Loughlin)
Cost: $8.50-$20/hr

Located at 30+ sites, with several locations in the Midway-Como neighborhoods, St. Paul Urban Tennis offers a summer program for all age groups and skill levels. Tennis lessons combine high-quality instruction with life skills learning. Sampler Camps offer a condensed, 4-day version of the lesson program. Scholarships are available.

Explore the variety of Y Summer Programs at over 60 metro-area locations. Programs include flexible three-, four-, and five-day options. There’s something fun for everyone from preschool through grade nine.
Cost: $80-350


Be initiated into an ancient and esteemed House of The Realm, jump into live-action adventure gaming, build your own arms and armor, and more during these five-day, full-day sessions for ages 6-17. Buses available from Powderhorn Park and some camps held at Minnehaha Park. (Photo right provided)
Cost: $369

Solve mysteries of the past in this three-day History Detective Camp for ages 10-13. Or, young ladies ages 9-12 can step back in time to a unique Finishing School for Young Ladies day camp.
Cost: $220

Unleashed summer campers entering grades 3-10 spend a full week immersed in animal learning and fun. NEW this year: Campers will spend their time exclusively in the shelters.
Cost: $120-300

A variety of art disciplines and mediums with themes like mirror images, urban forest, theater, art car, or paper and book arts offered for ages 4-18. Five-day, half- and full-day sessions available.
Cost: $155-285

Camp and canoe while learning leadership and teamwork skills in a seven-day resident camp for youths age 13-18 who live within the city limits of Minneapolis or St. Paul. Held on the St. Croix River in Rush City and organized by YouthCARE.
Cost: free

Explore international circus arts at Circus Juventas. Five-day, full-day sessions offered for ages 6-15. Or make your own camp with Circus Sampler Days
Cost: $85-405

Experience cultural and language immersion; 15 languages to choose from. Resident camp for ages 6-18 and family camps.
Cost: $960-$4,510

Explore prairies, wetlands and woodland trails during full- and half-day, four-day camps offered for students entering 1-8 grades. Shorter sessions are available for ages 3-6.
Cost: $55-325

Day camps exploring science, technology, and engineering are offered in partnership with local community education programs. Sessions, length, and price are varied per location and type of camp for ages 4-14.

Make butter, ice cream, and bread while learning about science, agriculture, and history at the Bruentrup Heritage Farm in Maplewood. Plus, students will play old-time games like townball and do arts and crafts. Three four-day sessions offered in July and August.
Cost: $150

Fiddle Pal Camp Minnesota is four days to discover, learn and play for children, adults, and families at three locations.
Cost: $395-495

From fusing to casting to glass blowing, ages 9-18 are introduced to the mesmerizing medium of glass through immersive half-day, five-day experiences.
Cost: $325-425

Experience the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder or the engineers and grenadiers who called Fort Snelling home. Experience outdoor skills and life in the early 1800s. Camps range from one to four days.

Speak, hear, sing, and create in German while exploring subjects ranging from history and art to science and music during five-day, half-, full- and extended-day sessions for grades K-3 at the Germanic American Institute.
Cost: $130-150

Summer camps allow time for more in-depth projects, such as Wild & Wooly, Fairies, Gnomes, Knights, Critters, and Classic Crafts, for kindergarten and up.
Cost: $120-$165

Half-day, five-day sessions and single day sessions for beginners through experts ages 8-18 enhance hand-eye coordination, boost concentration and build self-confidence.
Cost: $30-110

Yoga infused throughout the day via story, dance, and games for campers age 5-12. Located on the Greenway = daily field adventures.
Cost: $75-355

Enjoy Summer Tennis in Minneapolis parks for ages 6-17.
Cost: $85-405

Girls and boys ages 6 to 17 can design and build their creative ideas, mixing art, science, and technology during partial-day, weekday camps. There are more than 120 classes available over ten weeks of full and half-day Monday-Friday workshops begin June 11, including:
Engineering, art, design, craft and technology workshops available all summer; Friday-only workshops and Extended Day in mornings and afternoons; Theme weeks: Toys & Games + Sci-Fi & Fantasy, including a Giant Mouse Trap Maze and Enormous Viking Ship!; Marvelous teen workshops: metalworking, art, CAD, puzzle room build, video game design, stilting, woodworking and community design project!
Cost: $185-370, scholarships available

Ages 4-8 can participate in a nourishing, creative and relaxing “backyard” summer experience (photo right provided). The morning starts with free play/maker time with loose parts, a mud and wood chip kitchen, supervised use of basic tools, costumes and art projects. Take picnic lunches to nearby Bracket Park or trails along the Mississippi, where there is after-lunch reading time on blankets and in hammocks. Afternoons are spent at Brackett Park, playing ball, climbing trees, or playing at the playground or wading pool. Four weekly sessions offered.
Cost: $180/week

There’s something for everyone—from the youngster just learning to put pen to paper to the seasoned high school senior with a novel already under her belt. Sessions run in week-long blocks July and August, full and half-day options available for ages 6-17.
Cost: $262-525

Roller ski, mountain bike, canoe and more during adventure camps for ages 9-13 at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Equipment provided during the full-day, five-day sessions.
Cost: $200

A variety of athletic, academic and enrichment programs are offered, including woodcarving, viola and cello, combat robots, puddlestompers, fencing, movie making, sewing, painting, rocket science, drumming, and more. (Photo right provided) Half- and full-day, one- to three-week weekday sessions. Camp Minnehaha, a full day camp for pre-k to grade 8, includes daily devotions, games, indoor and outdoor activities, daily swimming lessons and a weekly off-campus activity.
Cost: $40-500
612-728-7745, ext. 1

Play music, get creative, bake bread and construct books while exploring the rich culture along the Minneapolis riverfront district. Campers aged 9-11 will explore a new experience each day at four arts centers.
Cost: $225-$250

Work with sculpture, tiles, or wheel-thrown pottery in half or full-day sessions for ages 6 and up.
Cost: $165-315

Snapology camps provide a perfect mixture of STEAM learning and fun. With camps happening at the new Discovery Center in Uptown every week of the summer, as well as at various schools and educational partners around the Twin Cities, Snapology has got you covered for kids as young as 3 and as old as 14—Robotics, Coding, Science, Technology, Drones, Pre-K, Engineering, Architecture and more.
Cost: $150

Southeast Soccer fields a variety of girls and boys teams for ages U9-U18 at beginner, intermediate and advanced competitive levels. Consider the Lil’ Dribblers soccer program for ages 4 -8, or summer traveling teams.

Learn about devised theater, music, and other performance art forms during these one- to two-week, half- and full-day sessions for preK to grade 12. Two theater classes offered in collaboration with the Science Museum and Minnesota Zoo.
Cost: $75-425

Sew, knit, felt, dye and more. Take home completed fiber items from three- and five-day, half-, full- and extended-day sessions for ages 6-16.
Cost: $87-370

Students ages 8-17 enrolled in the weeklong, half-day camps will experience a variety of circus disciplines (including Trampoline, Static Trapeze, Acrobatics, Circus Bike, and of course Flying Trapeze).
Cost: $275

Painting, drawing, clay, theatre, writing, glass and much more for ages 6-14.
Cost: $23-$97


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of every camp in the Twin Cities. If you would like to be included in next year’s guide, please send us detailed information on the camp.

Comments Off on Make their summer unforgettable with camp experiences

Everyone loves to ‘mix it up’ in the Creative Enterprise Zone

Everyone loves to ‘mix it up’ in the Creative Enterprise Zone

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

The Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) is a well-established hub of industry and creativity, radiating out in all directions from the intersection of Raymond and University avenues.
Home to many creative businesses and nonprofit groups, the CEZ itself became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the fall of 2017, making it possible to receive funding from a broader range of foundations.

Originally formed in 2009 as a task force of the St. Anthony Park Community Council, the CEZ now has its own twelve-member working board.

As part of an ongoing series, they hosted a mixer on Feb. 26 at The Naughty Greek Restaurant (2400 University Ave. W.). The Naughty Greek is a fairly new addition to the restaurant scene that serves up authentic Athenian street food at their two St. Paul locations.

Photo right: CEZ board chair Catherine Reid Day welcomed 100+ attendees to the mixer held at the Naughty Greek Restaurant on February 26th. The topic of discussion was Innovative Development for a Creative Economy. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The mixer addressed questions unique to the CEZ about live/work spaces, the growing trend of maker spaces, the future of space development for creative entrepreneurs, and the opportunities and challenges associated with transit-oriented development.

The event was funded by the Knight Foundation. Jai Winston, St. Paul Program Director for the Knight Foundation, added closing remarks.

According to board chair Catherine Reid Day, “At the heart of everything we do for the CEZ is the belief that creativity and economic development go hand in hand. We very much want to preserve the lively mix of people and enterprises that make up our zone. In the usual scheme of gentrification, this presents real challenges.”

The main mixer event was a panel discussion about these challenges. Panelists were Can Can Wonderland’s Rob Clapp, owner and real estate broker of Summit Group/KW Commercial; First and First CEO Peter Remes, a company that transforms derelict urban warehouses into creative, inspiring, worker spaces; and Renee Spillum, Senior Project Manager with the community development corporation Seward Redesign. CEZ board member Lucas Koska moderated the panel discussion.

Photo right: Dr. Bruce Corrie, newly appointed Director of Planning and Economic development for the City of St. Paul said, “We have every intention of becoming the best city in the country for the creative economy.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Clapp explained, “Can Can Wonderland (755 Prior Ave. N.) is proud to be the first arts-based public benefit corporation in Minnesota (called a B Corp). That means that we can place value both on being an economic engine for the arts and on being a profitable company. The American Can Factory was the perfect place to create Can Can Wonderland because it had the space we needed at a price point we could afford.”

“The positive energy of the CEZ,” Peter Remes said, “was a big part of what drew me to want to develop Vandalia Tower at 550 Vandalia St. The 220,000 square foot building was in terrible shape, but so many other things about the decision felt right. Ultimately, it was because of the neighborhood that we decided to put our stake in the ground.”

Renee Spillum works as a senior project manager for Seward Redesign in Minneapolis, is a resident of Hamline-Midway, and a new CEZ board member. Her work is focused on business development, commercial leasing, and new development projects. She is also a licensed commercial real estate agent. “I get to go to my job every day and work on re-connecting neighborhoods. What could be better!” she said.

Reid Day concluded, “The Mixer Series has been great because we’re able to invite all kinds of people into creative spaces in the CEZ for conversation.”

In addition to many creatives and makers living and working in the CEZ, staff of the Department of Planning and Economic Development showed up in full force for this mixer. And why shouldn’t City Hall be interested in what’s happening in the CEZ? According to Reid Day, “this district provides more tax revenue to the state than any other.”

The next mixer will be held in early April, time and place still TBD. Check the website at www.creativeenterprisezoneorg for updates.

Comments Off on Everyone loves to ‘mix it up’ in the Creative Enterprise Zone

Midway Coalition Monitor News

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

Hamline Midway Coalition creates a new committee focused on Outreach and Engagement.
Are you passionate about Outreach and Community Engagement? Do you feel that we can do more as a community? Then this may be the spot for you. Hamline Midway Coalition is looking for people with a passion for the Midway and the desire to work toward connecting with and in our community. The hope is that those who respond would be willing to work with our neighbors, businesses, and city on the ever-present issues in and around the Hamline Midway Neighborhood.

We are currently accepting applications for committee members. Please send your interest to communityengagement@hamlinemidway.org and we will send a questionnaire to you for completion. Members of underserved groups encouraged to apply. Thank you for your commitment to the Midway neighborhood.

Hamline Midway Community Mosaic build out begins March 22
Join the Hamline Midway Coalition and Library for three days of Mosaic Making at that Hamline Midway Library. Mosaic Artist and friendly neighbor Lori Greene will design a mosaic art to be housed at the Hamline Midway Library. Designs were submitted by library patrons in the month of February which have served as an inspiration for the design. Project build dates are:

Thursday, March 22, 2018- 3:00pm-7:00pm

Friday, March 23, 2018- 1:00pm-4:00pm

Saturday, March 24, 2018- 12:00pm-3:00pm

Visit the Hamline Midway Coalition or Library for more information.

Hamline Midway Coalition hosts a Movie Night at Hamline University
MOANA will be showed on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Doors will open 6:30pm and movie to begin at 7:15pm in West Hall Room 101. Popcorn and beverages will be provided or bring your own! All ages encouraged.




Comments Off on Midway Coalition Monitor News

Giraffe by Jackie Scherer slider

St. Paul Ballet is breaking down barriers so all can dance

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

In only five years’ time, St. Paul Ballet (SPB) has established itself as a thriving non-profit dance school and company in the Midway neighborhood. Their mission is to rejoice in the beauty and immediacy of dance with the widest possible audience, to lift the human spirit through the art of ballet, to provide outstanding dance education, and to perform a vibrant repertory with excellence. To accomplish all of this, they’re breaking down barriers to participation in ballet—one after another.

Executive Director Lori Gleason, said, “At first glance, the things that seem to get in the way for people are transportation and cost. Our studios are conveniently located just three blocks north of the Greenline LRT station at 655 Fairview Ave. We also have ample off-street parking. The first class here is always free for new students, and we offer many affordable drop-in classes.”

Photo left: Children in the Parent and Me class on Saturday mornings enjoy movement to music, along with songs and games. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“Our philosophy at SPB is to address each dancer as a whole person,” Gleason continued. “Traditionally, ballet dancers have had a certain look. Members of SPB’s company created something a few years ago called ‘Take Back the Tutu’—which sets the tone for inclusiveness at the school, and shows that all body types are welcomed and celebrated. ‘Take Back the Tutu’ empowers dancers to claim ownership of their bodies, and to throw out the idea that every dancer has to look the same.”

In the past, SPB has partnered with the Melrose Institute and the Emily Program to provide information and guidance about nutrition and eating disorders. They also sponsor an annual health fair in the fall that is open to the public and provides a wealth of health and wellness information.

Photo right: The Parent and Me class welcomes Spanish speaking families, with the help of pre-professional student Emilia Garrido, who is a native Spanish speaker. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The recreational program at SPB serves about 300 students through music and movement classes, beginning with a class called ‘Parent and Me” for dancers ages 2.5-4 and their parents. This class (offered on Saturday mornings 8:45-9:30) welcomes Spanish and English speaking families.

“Not speaking English shouldn’t be a barrier to participation,” Gleason explained. “This is the fourth session that we’ve offered this class; it was the idea of Mary Coats, Director of our Young Children’s Program. One of our pre-professional students is the teaching assistant. She’s a native Spanish speaker who greets families at the door and translates as much of the class as is needed into Spanish. We feel this broadens the experience for everyone.”

Laura Greenwell is SPB’s School Director and an instructor in the pre-professional program. She is also the only ballet teacher in the state of Minnesota certified by the American Ballet Theatre at the highest level of their National Teacher Training Curriculum. Because of this, she is eligible to bring American Ballet Theatre’s Project Plié out into the community. Greenwell partners with local Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs in the summer, offering classes and watching for students ages 7-14 from communities of color who might have a natural ability for ballet. The goal of Project Plie is to diversify the field of ballet and keep it culturally relevant for years to come.

Photo left: Children in the Parent and Me class on Saturday mornings enjoy movement to music, along with songs and games.(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Another perceived barrier to participation in ballet can be age. SPB offers an intermediate level class from 10-11:30am on Mondays and Wednesdays called Life Long Ballet. Taught by Anna Goodrich, the class is a magnet for people who want to keep dancing all through their lives. The oldest students are in their 80’s, with an average age of 60. The class is followed by an optional 30 minutes of strength conditioning.

“Dance is for people of all ages, as long as it’s enjoyable,” Gleason said.

‘Boys Club’ is a new class happening on Saturdays from 1-2pm. This introduction to ballet, for boys ages 7-12, is offered free of charge. Gleason said, “In keeping with our philosophy of treating dancers as athletes, this class emphasizes conditioning, flexibility, and strength, as well as technique.” A dress code of black ballet slippers, shorts, and a white t-shirt is required.

Lastly, SPB and their neighbor/landlord have created a partnership that is busting through barriers. Next door to SPB, Element Gym is owned and operated by Dalton Outlaw—a boxer who trains competitive fighters and leads fitness classes. SPB and Element Gym teamed up for a series of performances last year called “The Art of Boxing – the Sport of Ballet.” The performance will be repeated this year at 6pm on Apr. 15 at the Ordway Concert Hall. Gleason said, “One of the many wonderful things that have come out of our partnership with Dalton and his athletes is that more women and girls are taking boxing classes, and more men and boys are taking ballet. We learned that our two organizations have a lot of shared values around training and community building.”

To learn more about the work of SPB, call 651-690-1588 or visit their website at www.spballet.org.

Comments Off on St. Paul Ballet is breaking down barriers so all can dance


A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Even a 76-year old canoe.

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

For Kevin Buzicky, getting his old canoe restored to its previous glory was homage to his dad, Ed Buzicky who died, at age 99, in 2016. “Dad instilled a love of the water and the outdoors in me from a young age,” he said. “I have fond memories of my dad and my brother and I going to our lake cabin at Brigg’s Lake, near St. Cloud. We’d catch a bunch of crappies and put them in the freezer, and the next weekend, we’d smoke them.”

The canoe, a 1935 Thompson-Hiawatha canoe, almost didn’t stay in the family, Buzicky said. “Dad was going to sell it to a neighbor for $200, and I asked him, why not sell it to me. It was usable but was aqua blue, and he had painted the outside so many times that the canvas ended up having to be removed and replaced.” He considered taking the boat to a commercial, professional boat builder, who quoted him $3,500 for the job. But, Buzicky had a better idea.

Photo right: The canoe, circa 1941, on top of Ed Buzicky’s car. (Photo submitted)

Ed Buzicky was a young man, only 19-years old, when bought the canoe, hoping to connect to the Minnesota tradition of fishing and boating. It cost $64 when he purchased it in 1936, about $1,120 in today’s money and his son ended up spending about that much to have it restored. But, that money also went to a good cause. It was part of the tribute.

Buzicky called Urban Boatbuilders, 2288 University Ave. W., an organization that helps troubled kids in St. Paul.

Volunteers, working a few hours a week, restored the canoe, the money going to help fund courses that include an after-school work experience program and an apprentice program.

“It was a year before they agreed to do it,” he said. “In January of 2017, the volunteers came to my garage and picked up the canoe. I visited their workshop with my stepmother a couple of times as they restored wood, removed the old canvas and stretched a new canvas over the boat.”

“It took another year for them to finish it, but they put the last coat of red paint on this January, a week before the opening of the Minneapolis Boat Show, where it was on display.”
Buzicky said he’d been following and donating to the organization for a number of years. “I am extremely thankful to the staff for doing such a great job on the Hiawatha Canoe to honor my father,” he said.

“At Urban Boatbuilders, projects engage youth through hands-on experiences. It empowers them to be successful in school, work and life,” said Marc Hosmer, the executive director of the program. The schools select the younger kids for the School Partnership Program, he said, finding kids for whom traditional classrooms are not a good fit. Older kids, aged 16 through 19, can apply for an apprentice program where they learn boat building and in doing so, learn to use math, engineering, and technical skills.

Photo left: Marc Hosmer, Urban Boat Builder’s Executive Director shows off the restoration of Kevin Buzicky’s restored 1935 Thompson-Hiawatha canoe. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

“They also learn social and emotional skills like communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. They learn skills they’ll need for jobs, including the soft skills like how to show up on time and how to interact at work,” Hosmer said.

“When some of these (School Partnership) kids come into the program,” said volunteer Al Raymond, “they couldn’t look you in the eye. At the end, six months later, they’re giving speeches, talking about college, or starting their own business.”

Apprentices often come into the program facing barriers to employment, said Hosmer.

Apprentices often come into the program, facing barriers to employment, said Hosmer. Some have been involved with the justice system. “We look for youth who are interested in hands-on skills. What they learn can translate into jobs in other fields, technical jobs, and jobs in the trades.”

Apprentices also get a chance to try out the boats they build on field trips to places like the Boundary Waters or the St. Croix River. For some of the kids, it will be their first real trip outside of the cities. Most of them can’t swim, but before they take to the water, they’ll get some basic instruction on swimming and, of course, will wear life jackets. The kid builds boats, and then they get to put it on the water, learning to launch and paddle them.

“The Boundary Waters is like an out-of-body experience for some,” said Bob Anderson, another Urban Boatbuilder’s volunteer. “The program broadens their perspective. You see the transformation, and it’s not just the kids who are affected. At graduation, the parents will tell us how much their kids have changed.”

Buzicky’s red canoe is not the only old canoe that the volunteers have restored. “Many of the boats we get are pre-1950s,” said Homser. “One came from the early 1900s. But what’s unique about this boat is the family history. It’s nice to be able to make an emotional connection and have memories come back to life.”

“My dad courted my mother in the canoe around Lake Phalen, Buzicky said. “He painted the outside many times until the paint was cracked from age. He varnished the inside and always kept it indoors or covered.”

“My dad’s canoe is heavier than modern canoes,” he continued. “The 1935 model is 17 ft. long and weighs 75 lbs. These day they have lightweight 25 lbs. canoes, but they aren’t as beautiful.”

Buzicky’s canoe remains at Urban Boatbuilders for now, but he has plans for it. Eventually, it will grace his place in Bayfield, Wisconsin, where he spends weekends. But, before it gets displayed in that home’s cathedral ceiling, it will be part of a Boat Festival at the end of May at Lake Phalen, where newly graduated apprentices will launch it. He hopes, he said, to be one of those paddling the canoe across the water.

Buzicky starts to choke up at the memories brought back by new newly restored canoe and thought of his dad courting his mother at Phalen. “The canoe will be there, back to where my dad enjoyed it. It will be a great tribute.”

Comments Off on A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Even a 76-year old canoe.

JCA 03

Jewish Community Action launches new justice initiative

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

Since 1995, Jewish Community Action (JCA),2375 University Ave. W.,  has worked to organize Jewish Minnesotans to act together for social change.

With a unique model that combines traditional congregational-based community organizing with issue-based campaign work, they partner with local coalitions, interfaith initiatives, neighborhood groups, people of color, and immigrant groups. They believe in working collectively to directly address the causes of poverty, racism, and injustice. Tho accomplish this they train teams of volunteer leaders who take this work inward to their congregations, as well as outward to their broader communities. JCA’s campaigns are driven by Jewish values, but people from all backgrounds are welcome to join in their work for social change.

Photo right: Participants in the soft launch of the Decriminalizing Communities Campaign had opportunities to discuss their own experiences (direct and indirect) with the criminal justice system, and their hopes for a better future. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

On Feb. 15, JCA staff member Rachel English and intern Anam Hasan led a soft launch of a campaign called De-criminalizing Communities.

The event started with defining some of the organization’s core values. English explained, “We believe that all people are equal. We believe that all people deserve to live in safe communities and safe homes. Despite its name, we do not believe that our criminal justice system is just. In the past 20 years, all forms of crime have declined in our state, yet we continue to incarcerate more people for longer periods of time. Evidence shows that our prison system is both profit-motivated and powered by the racial oppression that underlies many of the systems that remain fundamental to our society. We believe in the need for a justice system that is truly fair.”

English continued, “Our vision is of a justice system that treats incarceration as a last resort. We envision one that emphasizes rehabilitation, drug treatment, mental health care and community-based services to prevent incarceration, and supports people upon their release. We envision one that holds violent offenders accountable while upholding their human rights. We envision a community-centered justice system that uses comprehensive approaches to public safety. We envision a justice system that acknowledges the suffering caused by institutional oppression, and works to eliminate the injustices that trap many people in cycles of hopelessness and despair.”

Embedded in the Decriminalizing Communities Campaign are two other initiatives. The first addresses the for-profit private prison system: it seeks to push back on the creation of private prisons and ICE detention centers in Minnesota. The second seeks to restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences and are once again living and working in their communities.

For more information on how to get involved in the Decriminalizing Communities Campaign, contact community organizer Rachel English at rachel@jewishcommunityaction.org.
Visible in the community in another way, JCA will be hosting their annual Freedom Seder on Sun., Mar. 11 from 2-5pm at Mount Zion Synagogue (1300 Summit Ave.). Friends, partners, allies, and community members are invited to observe Passover together, and to share a meal. The cost is $18; reservations are strongly recommended, though walk-ins won’t be turned away.

What is a Freedom Seder? During the 1960’s, rabbis and activists across the country were inspired by the American Civil Rights Movement. They wanted to incorporate what was happening in present time into the telling of the Passover story, which recounts how the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. For more information about the Freedom Seder, contact: Lauren Muscoplat at lauren@jewishcommunityaction.org.

Comments Off on Jewish Community Action launches new justice initiative

Allianz Field granted major noise and signage variances

Allianz Field granted major noise and signage variances

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

No limitation on noise during games; a 1872% variance on temporary signage, and 179% variance on permanent signage

Allianz Field, the soccer stadium under construction near Snelling and St. Anthony avenues, has won a blanket noise exemption from city noise limits for soccer games. The St. Paul City Council approved the measure Feb. 14. Minnesota United FC is expected to start playing at the field in 2019.

The noise exemption—or sound variance—is one of two measures approved in February for the stadium. The St. Paul Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) Feb. 26 approved variances for permanent and temporary signage at the stadium site. The BZA laid over a request in January to separate permanent and temporary signage, and to have questions answered.

The noise exemption has been debated for several weeks in neighborhoods around the stadium and at City Hall. A public hearing was held in January. Ward One Council Member Dai Thao laid the matter over Feb. 7, so he could review a recommendation from Union Park District Council (UPDC).

Photo right: Major sign variances are now approved for Allianz Field. (Photo by James Burger)

The district council asked that the exemption be rejected and that the city council set a maximum noise level of 65 decibels allowed during the playing and exhibition of any game or league event at the stadium. That is consistent with the allowable daytime noise level.

UPDC believes it is a reasonable limitation to impose after 10pm as well, instead of the current ordinance limitation of 55 decibels after 10pm. UPDC also recommended that the ordinance exemption or variance be put in effect on a conditional or trial basis, for the first five home games of the 2019 season. After an opportunity for review of the noise level generated, it could be granted for the remainder of that season.

Neighbors south of the stadium, in the Snelling-Hamline neighborhood, attended the Feb. 7 meeting to voice concerns. They said they hadn’t gotten notice of the January public hearing. Snelling Park residents Tim Mangan and Jeff Schaller heckled the council before the layover vote. After the meeting, Schaller said that if the soccer team fails, he foresees neighbors getting blasted with loud rock concerts.

“The city has totally ignored our neighborhood,” he said.

“We are literally in the shadow of the stadium, and we deserve consideration,” said Mangan. Snelling Park is the neighborhood south of Concordia Ave., between Snelling Ave. and Pascal St.

But Thao, who represents part of the affected area, said the exemption is a better way to regulate noise. He said it doesn’t include concerts and fireworks, and that such events would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Thao also said the exemption is what is in place at other stadiums in the area. He also pledged to continue working with neighbors and UPDC on noise issues.

Environmental impact studies of the stadium indicate that the blanket exemption is a better strategy for handling noise, said Thao.

Outgoing Ward Four Council Member Russ Stark, who lives north of the stadium, said the city is limited by a development agreement previously adopted on the stadium. “To say you can hold soccer games but you have to quiet the fans down somehow doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

As for the signs, the BZA approved two of the most significant variances seen recently at City Hall. Zoning regulations allow for 250 feet of temporary signage. Team contractors led by Mortenson Construction installed 4,167 square feet of signage without the needed sign permits. They also want to install and additional 763 square feet of signage, for a variance of 4,680 square feet.

Most of the temporary signs promote the Minnesota United FC and the contractors. Some signage promotes the businesses remaining at Midway Center. The temporary signs will come down once the stadium and permanent signs are completed.

The BZA also approved a variance for permanent signage. The zoning code sets the amount of permanent signage by street frontage and property size. The code allows 1,776.5 square feet of signage; the request is for 3,187 square feet of signage, for a variance of 1,410.5 square feet. This signage is on the stadium lower levels as well as on pylons and in the plaza planned at Snelling and St. Anthony avenues.

One concern the board had about so much permanent signage is whether it would affect the longer-term development of the site. While there are parking lots shown west of the stadium, plans call for those sites to be developed in the future. BXA members and city staff had questioned whether the stadium would lose signage or if yet more variances would be sought in the future.

But it sounds like at least one more variance is on the way. Bill McGuire, the lead team owner, has been discussing the possibility of dynamic signage at the property. Dynamic signage is lit, changing signage. An example is on Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. Smaller examples are at Holiday Station stores.

The city has regulations on that type of signage, so it’s likely that before any dynamic signage is added at Allianz Field, a zoning code text amendment is needed. Those go through the Planning Commission and then to City Hall.

Comments Off on Allianz Field granted major noise and signage variances

2103 Wabash building

Factory building on Wabash Ave. to be converted to apartments

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin

Preserve industrial land or let a mostly underutilized building sit vacant? Those were the choices for the St. Paul Planning Commission. After much debate in February, the commission agreed Feb. 23 to a plan to convert a century-old West Midway meat packing plant into a 64-unit apartment complex. The commission approved a conditional use permit for Superior LLC’s project at 2103 Wabash Ave. That decision is final barring an appeal to the St. Paul City Council.

“I’m usually the one who says, preserve industrial land,” said Daniel Edgerton, chair of the Planning Commission Zoning Committee. But he was struck by the Port and Midway Chamber support of the residential reuse.

“This is really a challenging site,” Edgerton said. “It’s been underutilized for about 40 years. It seems like a choice of repurposing the property for housing or letting it sit vacant.”

The old Superior Meat Packing Company building has been mostly vacant since 1979. Its first floor in recent years has housed uses including pet boarding, guitar repair and industrial tire sales and service. The oldest part of the structure dates from 1886. It was added onto in 1911, 1928 and 1947, so it has different floor levels and roof heights. Sections range from one to three stories in height. (Satellite photo right from internet)

Many more steps must be taken between now and June, when work is to start at the site. The developers need to seek historic designation for the property, and a possible spot on the National Register of Historic Places. That would provide state and federal historic tax credits to help pay for redevelopment.

Almost two hours of debate at the Planning Commission and its Zoning Committee Feb. 15 revealed the complexity of redeveloping the property. It is a 1.6-acre industrially zoned property that is one block south of Green Line light rail and one block west of Cleveland Ave. The building fills its block, which is bounded by Wabash, Montgomery Ave., Myrtle St. and a parking lot used by Rihm Kenworth.

The parking lot was recently purchased by American Engineering Testing, which plans a five-story building there. Rihm Kenworth is in the process of relocating out of the Midway after being there nearly 70 years.

“Our goal is to save and reuse a historic structure,” said developer Clint Blaiser, who represented HGB and PAK Properties before the Zoning Committee. The developers are trying to get work underway by June, before changes are made to federal historic tax credits needed for the project.

The conditional permit approved Feb. 23 is to allow residential use in an industrial area. It allows more than six dwelling units on an industrially zoned property. Plans call for 39 dwelling units on the first floor. Typically, when residential uses are allowed in an industrial area, those are on upper floors.

The permit also allows 90 percent of the first floor to have residential use. Typically, 80 percent of the first floor would be for non-residential uses.

Blaiser said different ideas were considered for the property, including industrial or commercial reuse. But the building’s configuration makes 100 percent residential use most feasible. “It has about 30 roofs and about as many elevations inside,” Blaiser said.

“It’s basically a historic shell,” said Rich Wessling, project architect from UrbanWorks Architecture. But he and Blaiser said it makes more sense to gut and rehabilitate the building, than to tear it down and build new on the site. They see the building as being affordable for young families and workers who want easy access to light rail, bus service, and area amenities.

The building is in very poor condition, said Blaiser. But it appeals to the developers because of its location in West Midway, where several other old industrial and warehouse properties have been repurposed for residential, commercial and institutional uses.

The property is in an area that has had different types of industrial zoning over the years. Property to the north was rezoned for industrial-transitional use in 2011 as part of Central Corridor (now Green Line) land use and zoning studies.

Beyond the zoning issues are practical considerations for residential reuse. One is that the building occupies its block. It is in an area with no sidewalks. Streets carry large amounts of truck traffic. Those were seen by city staff and some commissioners as impediments to residential reuse. One idea suggested is to vacate the adjacent portion of Montgomery and create more of a walking, biking and parking area.

Another point of debate is a city and St. Paul Port Authority policy to preserve existing industrial property, as outlined in the West Midway Industrial Area Plan. But the St. Paul Port Authority and Midway Chamber of Commerce support the Superior LLC project, as does the St. Anthony Park Community Council.

Both business groups note that the property has been underused for many years and that other developers have considered ideas without bringing anything to fruition. John Young, a Midway Chamber Board Member and industrial real estate broker, said the site has been looked at and rejected by many would-be industrial developers. “It was awful years ago,” he said, noting that the property has gone unsold during several successful real estate cycles.

The Chamber doesn’t take the notion of losing industrial land lightly, Young said. But a residential redevelopment there may be the best fit for the property. “We want places where our employees can live.”

The developers took the unusual step of filing three applications, with the idea of getting at least one approved. The one approved leaves the industrial zoning in place, but grants conditions for largely residential reuse. The commission laid over a request to rezone the suite to industrial transitional and rejected a variable request that tied first-floor industrial use to rezoning to industrial transitional use.

City staff had recommended against all three applications for a variety of reasons, including inconsistency with the comprehensive plan and impacts on area development. Much of the Zoning Committee debate Feb. 15 was technical and procedural, as all eight Planning Commission members present want to see the building repurposed. Sorting that out took time.

Comments Off on Factory building on Wabash Ave. to be converted to apartments

2019 Midway Chamber Directory