Archive | July, 2019

Little Africa Fest expands to two days

Little Africa Fest expands to two days

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Parade, booths, artists, and more celebrate diverse culture of many nations

This year’s Little Africa Fest is going to be bigger than ever, expanding for the first time in six years to two days.
A parade starting at Sherburne Ave. and moving forward along Snelling to Hamline Park at 1564 Lafond Ave. will be held on Aug. 3 from 4:30 to 9 p.m. On Aug. 4 the festival will continue at the park, with booths of artwork, performing artists, cultural items and food available. African music will also be showcased.
“We’re trying to create visibility in the district and with businesses,” said Brook Dalu, a business development specialist who runs the Little Africa program. He was present when the festival first began in 2014. It is put on by the African Economic Development Solutions.
“We just kind of let people know that Africa is bigger than what they think; it’s not a country, it’s a continent. And within the countries, there is a lot of diversity.”
He said the importance of the African community around University and Snelling expanded following a study published in 2015 by Dr. Bruce Corrie, then an economics professor at Concordia University. The study reportedly found that Minnesota’s African immigrants have a collective income of at least $1.6 billion, half of which is concentrated in the metro. That includes roughly $200 million in St. Paul and $300 million in Minneapolis
The neighborhood around Snelling and University is rich with African businesses, and the festival celebrates the impact these businesses and their cultures have upon the Twin Cities.
Dalu said all of the cultural districts have more traction because of the Green Line. “Each wanted to create visibility, in spite of construction,” he said. “That’s how the fest came about.”
He said the first fest, held in 2014, “gave us hope.” There were sponsors and a couple of hundred people. This year the fest hopes to draw 10,000 visitors over the two days.

Action and movement
Many of the countries of Africa are represented by the artists participating in the festival, including Korma Aguh-Stuckmayer. She is a performing and visual artist. “I’m kind of in the wellness section and try to get people involved. I try to share my Nigerian culture through dance,” Aguh-Stuckmayer said.
“I try to get people on the dance floor and teach them a few steps. People in Africa have a lot of action and movement.”
Aguh-Stuckmayer admitted, though, that getting people up and dancing can be a challenge. “It might take a minute or two, and I only have a 20-minute program.”
Over 8o artists are expected to participate. A range of art from portraits to landscapes will be on view.
“There are a lot of dancers,” Dalu added. “One fellow performs while he is painting, and he does things upside down.”
A petting zoo is also planned. “The timing is good,” Dalu noted. “A lot of the festivals are over so there is not so much competition.”
He said they are still in the process of talking with MnDOT to work out the logistics of the parade.
“We are going to have some speakers at the fest,” Dalu said. “We have invited both mayors and the governor to attend. We are trying to get exposure.”
Aguh-Stuckmayer said she is part of an advisory group that meets to plan the event. “Having the advisory group is a great idea,” she said.

Family-friendly and free
Aguh-Stuckmayer said the fest is a very important part of the community now, and has so much to offer. “This year I am hoping I get a chance to go around and visit the booths myself,” she said. In the past, as a performing artist, she has not had that much of an opportunity to explore.
“People come and tell you where they are from and what they are doing,” Aguh-Stuckmayer said. “The festival is educational in that way. Singers tell stories through songs, and people just want to have a good time.”
“The festival is open to everyone, it is family-friendly, and it is free,” added Dalu.

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RRR: Flying Pig Thrift Store opening in Midway

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Two benefits: 1) Shoppers use and re-use what is already here, and 2) Proceeds benefit local non-profits

Flying Pig Thrift Store owner Melody Luepke, said, “The memory of my sister Heather has guided the vision for this place, where donated treasures find new homes, and worthy non-profits benefit. We’re choosing to operate as a cooperative, with profits shared equally among participating non-profit partners that focus on social justice and reducing gun violence. Donations are welcome during business hours.”(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Melody Luepke had a long, satisfying career as a special education teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. Now at an age when most people are thinking about retirement, she has jumped into a second career instead: as sole proprietor and CEO of the Flying Pig Thrift Store at 722 Snelling Ave. N.
The organizational skills Luepke honed as a teacher and lifetime member of the National PTA have come in handy.
Along with family, friends, and volunteers, she is transforming the former Hamline University Bookstore into an attractive destination for people interested in reusing, recycling, and shopping local. With donations, in Luepke’s words, “pouring in,” a well-stocked, well-tended thrift store is starting to emerge.
The Flying Pig is a way for Luepke to honor the memory of her sister, Heather Valdez, a children’s librarian and thrifter extraordinaire. Valdez died of pancreatic cancer last year.
Luepke said, “Heather was a free-spirited woman with a generous heart. She loved to shop at thrift stores, and always knew how to find the perfect gift for someone. Her greatest gift may have been that she was able to accept people for who they were. Heather lived with cancer for two years, and enjoyed thrifting before her chemo treatments right up until the end.”
A grand opening celebration for the Flying Pig is planned for Saturday, July 20 from 3-7 p.m, with a short program at 5 p.m. Live music will include Melvin Carter Sr. and Friends, the band Zoe Says Go, and more.
Starting July 25, the store will be open from 11 a,m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Monday, staffed by volunteers. When asked to describe her ideal volunteer, Luepke said, “Someone who is willing to come on a regular basis, is reliable, fun, and dedicated to our mission of social justice. For more information on volunteering, email cerdocielo@gmail.com.
Luepke will use her own yardstick for measuring the success of her new business. She said, “After we meet the minimum needed to pay our lease and related expenses, we will donate all proceeds to four local charities. These organizations are Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration, St. Paul Almanac, and Black Truce Peace Organization. We’ll have information on-hand about these organizations, so people can learn while they shop. We’re especially interested in supporting non-profits that are underfunded, working on social justice issues, and serving the local community.”
The site at the northeast corner of Snelling and Minnehaha avenues was chosen because of its easy access to public transportation, and high level of incidental foot traffic. Luepke said, “It had also been on the market for more than a year, and that made the price ‘friendlier.’”
Luepke has contracted with Job Corps students to create both interior and exterior signage for the Flying Pig. At Job Corps, low-income youth aged 16-24 work toward their GED while learning a trade, such as making commercial signs for businesses.
The Flying Pig will feature the work of two local artists for the grand opening: Paul Johnson and Mark Nelson (and the artists will be on hand, too.) Johnson and Nelson both use found materials in the creation of their artwork, underscoring the basic message of thrifting – that it makes sense to use and re-use what is already here.
Did Luepke ever imagine she would be opening a thrift store at this point in her life? “I suppose anything’s possible,” she said, “when pigs can fly.”


Shop to benefit…
1) Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
2) Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration
3) St. Paul Almanac
4) Black Truce Peace Organization

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She couldn’t walk, run or bike –- but she could ride a carousel

She couldn’t walk, run or bike –- but she could ride a carousel

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Karen Wyckoff’s parents and volunteers honor legacy by organizing Rein In Sarcoma each summer at Como Park

Karen Wyckoff

The usual way to raise funds for a worthy cause is to walk, run or ride a bike. But when Karen Wyckoff wanted to raise funds for education and research about sarcoma, a connective tissue cancer she had been diagnosed with, she had been too weakened by the disease to do those activities.
However, she could ride a merry-go-round, and she rode a horse to raise funds to fight sarcoma at Cafesjian’s Carousel in 2001. That first event had seven sarcoma patients and a total of about 250 people attending. In all, $10,000 was raised, which went toward sarcoma research at the University of Minnesota.
Karen died a month after that first fund-raising gathering, but the carousel rides continue in Como Park, where Cafesjian’s Carousel is now housed. The 19th annual Party in the Park will take place July 29 at Como, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Rein in Sarcoma (RIS), co-founded by Karen and her parents, Pete and Sue, has grown at a tremendous rate over the years, promoting education, support for patients and their families, research and a search for a cure for sarcoma.

Sarcoma often masquerades as sports injury
“You can get sarcoma anywhere in your body,” said Amy Hoban, co-chair with Allison Mulcahy for Party in the Park. “The joke is that there are more flavors of sarcoma than Baskin Robbins. It could be based in cells, muscle, tissue, bone. Mine was in my abdominal wall.”
She said that people of any age can get sarcoma, but it frequently hits young people in their teens and early 20s, when they are active and athletic.
“It often masquerades as a sports injury,” Hoban explained.
“Although a rare cancer, it comprises 17 percent of children’s cancer,” said Janelle Calhoun, the executive director of RIS. She added that symptoms may or may not be painful, and can include a lump or bruise that may grow at a rapid pace or grow slowly. Some tumors can grow from the size of a pea to the size of a grapefruit in around 40 days.
Calhoun said the organization has an education committee, comprised of doctors from Mayo, the University of Minnesota, Children’s Hospital, Regions and Children’s Masonic Hospital. Education has been a top priority for RIS. “Some surgeons are not familiar with sarcoma, and they do a small incision and take out the tumor in strips. Sarcoma reacts negatively to this,” Calhoun said.
“Tumors have to be taken out in their entirety with a lot of tissue.”

Rarity makes it difficult to get good information
She said Karen and her family had a vision to educate medical professionals, patients and their families. RIS has raised money for research to understand how these tumors work. “We are sometimes still using data and information that was effective in the 50s and 60s,” Calhoun said.
Because sarcoma is so rare, Hoban said not much research money is given to explore sarcoma. “So we sponsor research, some of it looking at things that have worked in other cancers, even dogs. We have a vet and genomic testing has been studied to see what could apply to sarcoma.”
And for the past 10 years, third year medical students have received training in sarcoma so that they can advocate for all the years they are in practice.
“So many committees have sprung up,” Calhoun continued. “We have development, research, finance and education committees and a marketing team and board that are made up of really caring and dedicated people.”
Although most of the volunteers are survivors or patients and their family members, or people who have had some connection with the disease, others volunteer to support what they consider a tremendous cause.
Patient and family support are important parts of the RIS mission. Tote bags are provided for nurses to distribute to current patients. And the patients can get a notebook with information about sarcoma that can be given out or mailed or downloaded online.
Hoban said the rarity of sarcoma makes it difficult to get vetted information about it. “And even if you did get something online, you wouldn’t get much information,” she said. “So we have a medical advisory board that makes sure the information in the notebook is correct… The first thing I did when I was diagnosed was download it.”

Mentors, coffee meet-ups, galas, speakers and more
Patients can also get matched up with a mentor who has had sarcoma. This can be a local match or one across the country. “Getting good information and being able to talk to other patients is very difficult,” Hoban said, “and this is a way to support patients.”
She said that support for patients is part of what Party in the Park is all about. “Whenever you go to an RIS event as a patient you are offered the opportunity to wear a sunflower corsage,” Hoban said. “You can see others who have the corsages, and go up to anyone and ask them about their story and their care.”
There is also a Winter Gathering and a Fall Gala. There is a coffee for survivors that meets every week. Another fall event is Rein in Sarcoma Remembers for those who have lost someone to the disease. Guest speakers are invited to talk about grief.
“With all of our events, we try to have something social and something educational,” Hoban said. There are golf fundraisers and bike fundraisers, with groups continually meeting throughout the year to plan and to educate and to support.

July 29 event starts at 6 p.m.
Things have come a long way since Karen Wyckoff started the first event with seven patients and about 250 people in attendance. Over $2 million has been raised for sarcoma research.
This year’s Party in the Park begins at 6 p.m. A tribute ride on the carousel will kick off the party, with all patients and survivors taking the first ride. For the rest of the evening, Como Park provides free rides on the carousel to everyone.
Although the public has always been invited, this year a special effort through social media is being extended to bring in even more attendees. There will be activities for children, including face painting and inflatables. Elpis, an organization that assists homeless youth, will offer participants the opportunity to build their own birdhouses and birdfeeders. There will be fire dancing and food.
“We would love for everyone in the neighborhood to feel welcome and have a fun night,” Calhoun said.
Party in the Park is free, but visitors are asked to register on the RIS website at www.reininsarcoma.org.
Other than Calhoun and a medical educational professional, RIS relies on volunteers. Over 110 will come together on the day of Party in the Park to help. RIS also has help from major sponsors: Walser/Subaru, Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota.
“The hardest part,” said Calhoun, “is our friends passing.” She added that there are also many celebrations of survivors. “I am so proud everything I see every day. There is a lot of passion and a lot of hope.”


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Extend the Midtown Greenway into St. Paul?

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Study re-opens conversation about rehabbing bridge for bikes and peds while still carrying trains

Engineering feasibility studies usually don’t have people sitting on the edge of their chairs but last month, supporters of the Midtown Greenway Coalition did just that.
More than 60 bike enthusiasts gathered on June 6, 2019, at the Hamline Midway Library to hear the results of the Extend the Greenway feasibility study, and to discuss the possibility of extending the Minneapolis bike trail into St. Paul.
The study involved in-depth structural analysis of the 100-year-old Short Line Railroad Bridge across the Mississippi River (east of 27th St. in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis).
Midtown Greenway Coalition executive director Soren Jensen explained, “With the support of our 35+ Extend the Greenway partners, and donations from hundreds of people on both sides of the river, we hired engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates to determine if the bridge could be rehabbed to safely support bikes and pedestrians. We are pleased to announce that the results are in –and it can!”
This isn’t the first time that the Short Line Bridge has been studied. Jensen said, “Hennepin County conducted an engineering study in 2006, and concluded that the bridge was just too old to be used as a connector. At that point, the conversation kind of died. For our study, we re-framed the question to be, ‘What would it take to strengthen the bridge to make it structurally sound?’ Kimley-Horn’s report outlined several options for rehabbing the bridge to make it safe for bikers and pedestrians. No matter which one is chosen, structural redundancies will have to be built into the bridge to make its usable.”
Jensen continued, “The idea isn’t to have all the answers right now, but to spark interest in re-examining the idea. The easiest thing would be if the train didn’t run, but ADM says they’re still investing in its use while the Atkinson Mill on Hiawatha Ave. operates. Almost all of our options involve sharing the bridge with the train, and could include building a replica bridge or adding a second story above the tracks.”
The existing 5.5-mile-long Greenway Bike Trail was built in three phases and, if everything works out, the expansion across the Mississippi River would be Phase Four.
Jensen said, “It’s important to remember that transit projects take time. This one would have a complicated funding structure pooling federal dollars, support from both Hennepin and Ramsey counties, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, business and non-profit sponsors, and individual donors. What we hope to do is get the conversation started.”
Looking ahead, if the Greenway were extended as far as Cleveland Ave. in St. Paul, there would be safer bike and pedestrian access to Alliance Field, the State Fair Grounds, the Green Line LRT and more. Another advantage would be connecting the Somali communities at Skyline Towers in St. Paul with Cedar Riverside in Minneapolis via bicycle.
The Extend the Greenway Partnership also supports the proposed Min Hi Line in South Minneapolis, which would connect the Midtown Greenway to Minnehaha Falls Park.
Jensen said, “All organizations that share our vision of extending the Midtown Greenway are welcome to join us. The Extend the Greenway Partnership includes neighborhood groups, non-profit organizations and businesses from both Minneapolis and St. Paul. For more information, contact Soren Jensen at soren@midtowngreenway.org.

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Judge deliberates over  restraining order for TCGIS

Judge deliberates over restraining order for TCGIS

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Save Historic Saint Andrew’s asks that school not be allowed to tear down former church
Save Historic Saint Andrew’s (SHSA) members continue their fight to save the 92-year-old church building that many feel is a community anchor by taking the discussion to the Ramsey County District Court.
Judge Jennifer Frisch began hearing testimony on Monday, July 1, 2019 from both sides, SHSA and property owner Twin Cities German Immersion School which plans to tear the building down and construct a new three-story gymnasium and classroom building in its place.
SHSA filed a suit under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) seeing a temporary restraining order and permanent injuncture against tearing down the building.
TCGIS indicated in court that they are anxious to proceed with demolition, and expect to have a demolition permit in a matter of days.
The hearing ended mid-afternoon on Wednesday, June 3 and attorneys had until Monday, July 8 to file their final briefs. The judge was expected to rule within 5-7 days, and had not by press time.
The city’s Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) both recommended historic designation, and SHPO asked the State Board to find the church eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
However, the city council voted against designating the church as a historic preservation site on Wednesday, June 5, and approved both the site plan and the three variances requested by the school with various conditions to address impacts of the school’s enrollment growth regarding noise, traffic, and more.

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On the Right Track with jobs for youth

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Right Track interns Madison Price (left) and KaDeane Smith (right) in a budgeting class at St. Paul College. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Madison Price is an ambitious 17-year-old who attends Nova Classical Academy during the school year. This summer, the Midway resident has a paid internship with the city of St. Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections.
Price said, “I’m learning about zoning requirements and regulations, which will help me down the road when I open my own child care business. I see myself being an entrepreneur once I graduate from college. I plan to attend a Historical Black College or University, maybe Spellman or Howard.”
Price is part of a city of St. Paul Parks and Recreation program called Right Track.
According to program supervisor Shaina Abraham, “There are more than 700 students ages 14-24 participating in our program currently, and there will be 100-150 on board during the school year. The city of St. Paul is working toward broader inclusivity across its workforce – and this is one way to get there faster. Youth in our program are getting life exposure to real jobs in several city of St. Paul departments, non-profit organizations, and businesses.”
Right Track’s mission is to enhance St. Paul’s workforce by providing career readiness opportunities and work experience for under-resourced youth.
In St. Paul, 24% of youth are unemployed, including disproportionately high numbers of youth of color. It’s no secret that Minnesota ranks high when it comes to racial disparities. Right Track exists to connect youth from low-income families (or youth facing other barriers to employment) with meaningful work, so they will be better prepared to thrive in the workplace.

On a computer track
In his second summer with Right Track, 19-year-old Midway resident KaDeane Smith has begun an internship with St. Paul Public Schools Facilities Department.
Smith is also a student in St. Paul College’s Gateway to College, where he can finish high school while beginning college. He hopes to continue his education at Full Sail University in Florida in a year or two, focusing on designing and developing computer games.
At SPPS this summer, his internship will introduce him to Management Information Systems (MIS), computer assisted design (CAD), accounting, and administrative skills.

Be a Right Track supervisor
Right Track participants attend two launch dates before their internships begin. They meet their job coaches right away, and are introduced to topics that will be revisited throughout the summer including professional email and telephone etiquette, Microsoft Excel, networking skills, budgeting, personal finance, and public speaking.
Supervisor Shaina Abrahamson said, “I’ve worked with youth, families, and communities for more than 20 years. What’s exciting to me about working with Right Track is, of course, working with kids – but also helping supervisors to grow along with the changing workforce. The next generation of workers is going to look very different when the Baby Boomers retire.”
Just like the Right Track youth, supervisors attend training before summer internships start. They learn about cultural competency and diversity, and how to give their interns a voice and a sense of empowerment in their workplace.
It’s not too early to start thinking about hiring a Right Track intern for next summer. Benefits to employers include access to a talented pool of diverse youth interns at a reasonable cost (approximately $1,500 per intern). Right Track staff provides youth recruitment, screening, and placement; two days of work-readiness training before the internship and ongoing training while employed; orientation and training for workplace supervisors; and on-site job coaching and mentorship for interns as needed.
These organizations provided Right Track internships last year: https://www.stpaul.gov/sites/default/files/Media Root/Parks %26 Recreation/YJ02_employer_logos_1_websiteImage.PNG
For information on becoming an intern in 2020, contact Right Track at 651-266-6363 or RightTrack@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

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Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Organized collection fight goes on
Some Allianz Field neighbors will get residential permit parking, but others saw their request rejected June 26 by the St. Paul City Council. While that helps Snelling-Hamline residents who say their streets are full on game days, it frustrates Merriam Park residents who will continue to deal with spillover parking from soccer games.
Both requests had the support of Union Park District Council. Ward Four Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson opposed both districts. She and other council members agreed that they’d like to see something other than a year-round permit district in place to deal with game parking.
Nelson also said that there have only been nine games.
On a 6-1 vote the council OK’d expansion of a permit district that includes Concordia, Carroll and Iglehart avenues between Asbury and Pascal streets. That district in Snelling-Hamline was created years ago to deal with commuter park and ride issues. Street, east of Snelling Ave.
Longtime neighborhood resident Daniel Jambor told the council that game day employee and attendee parking has affected the tiny neighborhood. He said that all neighbor want is reasonable access to their homes. Snelling-Hamline residents also tire of speeding and illegally parked motor vehicles, trash strewn on boulevards and noise after games.
Ward One Council Member Dai Thao represents Smelling-Hamline. He sympathized with neighbors.
Nelson cast the lone vote against the Snelling-Hamline request and led the charge against the Merriam Park request. She said that permit parking is too “broad and overreaching” to address the game day issues. She wants other solutions tried first.
Council President Amy Brendmoen supported the Snelling-Hamline request but shared Nelson’s concerns about the overly broad impacts. One suggestion raised during the council meetings was to see if game day only restrictions could be posted.
Snelling-Selby Area Business Association and commercial property owners opposed both requests.
Merriam Park neighbors in the area southwest of I-94 and Snelling Ave. had worked on their permit request for more than a year, in anticipation of soccer. They were unhappy that the request failed on win approval, on a 2-3 vote. Council members Kassim Busuri and Jane Prince voted for the district, with Nelson, Brendmoen and Chris Tolbert against. Thao and Rebecca Noecker had left the meeting before the hearing and vote.
Restrictions in Merriam Park would have included Concordia between Pierce St. and Snelling and on Pierce and Fry streets from Carroll to Concordia avenues. Neighbors there have also struggled with spillover game day parking, along with fan behavior and traffic issues. Neighbors after the meeting said they haven’t decided next steps.
Nelson has called for a more comprehensive parking plan, rather than what she calls a “piecemeal” approach. Allianz Field has 400 parking spaces, most of which are reserved, and 20,000 seats. Fans are urged to use transit or off-site parking.

Bonding requests set
The city of St. Paul will submit four of its own bonding requests to the 2020 Minnesota Legislature, the St. Paul City Council decided June 12. The council and Mayor Melvin Carter’s administration will also work with several St. Paul nonprofit organizations that are submitting bonding requests, to determine what level of support the city can provide.
2020 is a bonding year for state lawmakers.
The state will issue general obligation bonds to pay for the fixed asset, brick and mortar projects. St. Paul will be up against other cities, counties, colleges and universities, state projects and other needs when it makes its requests. The 2020 lists were due at the capitol June 14. Review will start soon, with decisions made during the 2020 legislative session.
The preliminary priorities approved June 12 are, in order, Third Street/Kellogg Boulevard Bridge – $55 million; eastbound Kellogg Boulevard Bridge at River Centre – $10 million, the River Learning Center at Crosby Farm Regional Park – $3 million and planning funds for the Como Zoo Orangutan Habitat and Energy Efficiency and Asset Preservation.
The top three requests have been on the city’s wish list for several years. The bridges are both in deteriorated condition. The Third/Kellogg Bridge is considered to be most critical because it will carry future transit vehicles on the planned Gold Line.
Ward Four Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson said she and other council members have been hearing from nonprofit groups that will be seeking state bonding. Nelson said there are several entities in her ward seeking critically needed legislative support, including the International Institute on Como Ave.
The council member agreed that it is important for the city to review and determine support for the nonprofits’ requests. That review will be done at a later date.

No more “opt-outs”
It’s official – streets will be reconstructed whether St. Paul property owners like it or not. Without discussion, the St. Paul City Council June 12 rescinded its longtime street reconstruction opt-out policy.
The policy has been on the books since 1994 and was sparked when a group of North End homeowners asked to not have their street rebuilt. That led to the opt-out policy. The policy was amended over the years to indicate that residents who successfully petitioned for an opt-out would have their projects moved to the end of the residential street paving projects’ list. The opt-out was also clarified to indicated that an entire project area had to opt out, not just one street.
The current street program is meant to address very old paved or oiled streets that have never been formally built. Streets get new surfaces curb and gutter, sidewalks, driveway aprons, boulevard trees and new streetlights.
Streets with sanitary and storm sewers that required separation were rebuilt in the 1980s and 1990s under a separate program.
Council members Amy Brendmoen and Chris Tolbert introduced the resolution eliminating the past opt-out policies. They contend that delaying work creates high costs later and adds to ongoing street maintenance costs. The city often hears from new residents in areas that opted out in past years, who question why their street hasn’t been rebuilt.
The most recent opt-out was in Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, for the second phase of the Woodlawn-Jefferson project. Residents complained that street reconstruction would mean adding sidewalks and losing more than 50 trees. They said residents don’t need sidewalks and can walk in the streets.

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Hamline Park Playground DSC_5596

McMurry Field, Hamline Park play area make cut in city’s 2020 budget process

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen


A $373,500 construction project is set for 2020 at Hamline Park’s playground, if the funding is approved by the city. (Photo submitted)

With completion of a June public hearing process, St. Paul’s 2020-2021 capital spending recommendations are en route to Mayor Melvin Carter and the St. Paul City Council for inclusion in the 2020 city budget. The recommendations were due in the mayor’s office June 30.
Improvements to McMurray Field and a new Hamline Park play area made the cut, but the long-awaited replacement of Fire Station 20 at University and Cretin/Vandalia was set aside.
Another project that was postponed is planning for the Central District Police headquarters, which moved off of Rice St. in the 1990s. District offices are now at the main headquarters near downtown. Penciled in for the future is planning for the future of the Hamline-Midway and West Side’s Riverview branch libraries.
Hamline Park playground is poised for $373,500 million in 2020, if the committee recommendations make it into the final budget.
Parks and Recreation sought $4 million to replace artificial turf fields at McMurray. The committee recommendation is for $1.5 million.

Will libraries be replaced?
Libraries sought more than $7 million for the two libraries. The recommendation is for planning money in the years ahead.
One idea that has been discussed in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood is to replace the current library on Minnehaha Ave. with some type of community arts center, using the existing library building. Some neighborhood activists wanted to see the current library preserved as such a center or for other uses.
Library spokesperson Phoebe Larson said there are no plans for the library’s future. The next steps will come out of the planning process.
“Both libraries have aging facilities,” she said. No decisions have been made as to whether or not buildings would be modernized or replaced. Each library is more than a century old.
As for Fire Station 20, it was set aside in favor of more pressing needs at Fire Station 7 on the city’s East Side. Replacement of Station 20 has an estimated cost of $8.184 million. Its replacement has been discussed for more than a decade.
The largest 2020-2021 submission was replacement of Rice Recreation Center in the city’s North End, with $11.2 million sought in 2020 and $2.3 million in 20201. The project was awarded $400,000 for planning.

Yes, CIB process has changed
The committee recommendations were developed by a city-staff CIB committee working group and then reviewed by the CIB Committee.
If veteran community activists think the Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) process has changed, they’re right. The 2020-2021 budget cycle is the first under a new process for funding capital projects. The process has been in the works since late 2016. The CIB Committee is still working on details of the new process.
“We were building the plane while we were flying it,” said Madeline Mitchell of the Office of Financial Services.
The budget includes $4.451 million in capital bond-supported projects in 2020 and 2021. Most funded projects are for capital maintenance for city facilities. A second public hearing is planned for this fall.
The proposed capital budget calls for $4 million per year in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) spending, $4.451 million per year for annual programs and $6.224 million per year for large projects.
Until 2015, the capital budget process in St. Paul was long, involved, and heavy on community engagement. More than 100 projects were submitted every other year. Every district council is invited to have representatives on CIB task forces on community facilities, streets and utilities, and residential and economic development. The among of staff and volunteer time spent on CIB prompted then-Mayor Chris Coleman’s administration to put the entire process on pause in 2016 so that it could be studied. The 2018-2019 cycle included larger projects chosen in 2017, including the Frogtown Recreation Center.
The t

A $373,500 construction project is set for 2020 at Hamline Park’s playground, if the funding is approved by the city. (Photo submitted)

ask forces are gone. 2020-2021 projects were reviewed by a city staff-CIB Committee group. They used criteria including departmental long-range plans, racial equity and condition of facilities to make decisions.

Is there enough community input?
CIB Committee members had mixed reactions to the new process.
Committee member Paul Raymond said he appreciates that small, community driven projects won’t have to go up against large projects such as fire stations and recreation centers.
But others, including Committee member Joel Clemmer, said they’d like to see city departments do more community engagement when they bring projects forward in the future.
Capital Planning Team members said that while there were tough choices, the recent process was easier than previous CIB rounds, where there were so many submissions to choose from. It also helped participants to look at project scoring and discuss needs. Several agreed it was good to hear focused projects.
In 2020, the CIB Committee and staff will review a small pool of community-based projects. The funding amount to be shared has been suggested at $500,000.

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Improving Saint Paul’s business climate

Improving Saint Paul’s business climate

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Chad Kulas, Midway Chamber of Commerce

It’s one of the oldest conflicts in the world – business owner vs. the government. It’s just one example of a person not wanting to be told what to do by someone else – think parent vs. child, cop vs. suspect, teacher vs. student. Usually, a business owner is expecting (hoping) different licenses, taxes and other fees will cost less than they ultimately do. This story is seen around the world. But is it different in Saint Paul?
Many business owners suggest it is harder to do business in Saint Paul than other cities. It can be hard to make a comparison of an older, built-out city like Saint Paul with a newer suburb- one which has more developable land and aspires to attract more residents and businesses. But often Saint Paul is also seen as more difficult than its bigger twin to the west – Minneapolis.
When a city gets that reputation it can mean a business: a) Won’t consider locating within its boundaries; b) Will choose to expand elsewhere; or c) Will look at moving to a different city, despite all the hardships associated with making a move.
Employees at the city of Saint Paul have heard the concerns and want to make improvements. They too want to see the city run more efficiently and to have fewer business owners annoyed at what they believe to be longer waits and difficult regulations to understand.
In January, the Midway Chamber hosted a meeting where most City Council offices as well as other city staff were present. The meeting was an opportunity for businesses to think about what works, what doesn’t and what could make life easier for a business owner in Saint Paul. The Midway Chamber has taken information from that meeting and is creating a vision going forward. One part of that vision is to form a committee where we aim to make Saint Paul more business-friendly. We will begin meeting this summer and will have involvement from key city of Saint Paul staff.
We are also partnering with the city’s Department of Safety & Inspections (DSI) on a meeting regarding Class N licenses. These licenses include liquor, automobile and health/sports clubs, and require a 45-day period for the public to make comments. Could this process be more efficient? A brainstorming meeting will be held Thursday, July 25 at Urban Growler Brewing Company, 3-4:30 p.m. Please consider attending if this issue interests you.
Another old conflict is a new business moving into a neighborhood vs. the residents. Most district councils review new license applications and offer residents the opportunity to comment. Many residents feel an ownership of their neighborhood (as they should) and ask the hard questions to an outsider moving in to their community. We always stress to businesses the importance of meeting with as many neighbors as possible and building a relationship with the area district council. Usually, a solid relationship with the community means any initial concerns can get ironed out and the residents are more likely to support the new business.
So, will Saint Paul’s reputation change? A major change like this can’t occur overnight, but we hope gradual changes can happen short term and eventually lead to bigger change. Perhaps technology can lead to more efficient services (example: more permits available online) and a cultural shift can occur, as well. A more business-friendly city will help all – including city staff and residents who can benefit from a more thriving community.

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Too Much Coffee: Monitor launches Voluntary Pay program

Too Much Coffee: Monitor launches Voluntary Pay program

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Why do we matter?

Tesha M. Christensen

Why does a small neighborhood newspaper still exist in the days of Facebook and instant online news? What sets the Monitor apart from these other news sources?

We’re Relevant.
The simple answer is we’re your local news source. There’s not another publication that covers the Midway and Como neighborhoods like we do.

We’re Informative.
We write about local businesses opening and closing, about what’s being torn down and what’s being developed, about who is agitating for change and who has paved the way for others to follow.
We tell you about the neighbor who has turned into an entrepreneur, the college student who is giving back to the world, and the Boomer who is following a more sustainable lifestyle.
These are the people in your community. And the Monitor is your community news source. We’re about connecting people through the pages in our newspaper. We print “News for You.”

We’re Reliable.
The Monitor has been delivering news to your doorsteps since 1975. In fact, September marks our 44th birthday. And we’re here to tell you: Print Is Not Dead.

We’re Delivered Responsibly.
The folks who work for this newspaper are connected to the area. We’re not dropping in, writing an article that will tear the area apart, and then flying out. We’re committed to this neighborhood, and the people who live and work in it.
This does mean we approach things differently. We have to.
We don’t do #fakenews.

Will you help cover the costs
of the monthly Monitor?
In the upcoming months, I plan to introduce you to the various people and companies that play a role in getting this newspaper to your front steps and local bulk drop business sites each month. What questions do you have? Send them my way.
We are inviting you and our other readers to help us by voluntarily paying the cost of printing and delivering your paper.
The Monitor doesn’t charge for subscriptions to our monthly newspapers. Like most others, we rely on advertising revenue to pay for the costs of putting the newspaper out – paying the printer, the delivery staff, one full-time and one part-time sales representatives, bookkeeper, and others. We pay for our web site, Adobe and Quickbooks software, phones, and post office box. Because we run a virtual office, we contract with a provider for cloud services and a remote desktop, along with email and other IT services.
We want to make sure that our content is fresh and engaging, and so we pay writers and photographers to cover meetings and conduct feature interviews.
As owner, I’m a jack-of-all-trades, doing the newspaper layout, writing articles, paying the bills, selling some ads – and making the coffee.
I’m committed to quality journalism at the Monitor and its sister newspaper, the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger.
To do that, we’re asking for your help. Would you consider donating $12 – or $1 a paper? How about $24 – or $2 a paper? Maybe you love us so much that you want to send more and pay it forward – we’d love that! One lucky donor will get a four-pack of tickets to the Ren Fest; drawing on Aug. 5.
See page 12 in this issue for our Voluntary Payment donation form or go to our website.
I’d also like to start running photos of readers on our Social Media channels and within our printed pages. So, snap a photo of you with the latest, hot-off-the-press newspaper. Tag us online or email it my way. Let us know what you appreciate about the paper. Let us know what we’re missing. Share story ideas. Send in your letters to the editor and guest commentaries.
We’re relevant, informative, reliable and responsible – because of you.

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2019 Midway Chamber Directory