RRR: Pollinator Pathway workshops starting soon

RRR: Pollinator Pathway workshops starting soon

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Tara Nielson (left) is one of the two mosaic artists who will teach the community workshops at Mosaic on a Stick. Lori Greene (right) will design the mosaics. The monarch design for the first container is shown here. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

An eight block stretch of North Snelling Ave. will be transformed this summer, connecting Allianz Field to Pierce Butler Meadows with pollinator friendly plantings. Hamline Midway Coalition Executive Director Kate Mudge has secured funding from the Allianz Foundation for the creation of a pollinator pathway. The pathway will be marked by 10 three-foot-tall, mosaic-tiled containers filled with annual and perennial flowering plants.
The public art/environmental project is aimed at both beautifying and unifying the neighborhood.
“The opening of Allianz Field brought a great deal of excitement and energy to the Hamline Midway neighborhood, and we’re eager to continue that momentum by working with the Hamline Midway Coalition and Mosaic on a Stick,” said Allianz Life President and CEO Walter White. “We are dedicated to making a difference in the community, and welcome the opportunity to provide financial and volunteer support for this project.
“We believe that, as the naming rights sponsor of Allianz Field, it’s crucial for us to have a strong connection with community leadership in Hamline Midway. This will help us to have a better understanding of their priorities for the neighborhood and provide support for different initiatives that connect with our company values.”
Lori Greene, owner of the art studio Mosaic on a Stick, will host a series of mosaic-making workshops to bring the large scale containers to life. Her studio address is 1564 Lafond Ave. The workshops are being offered at no cost and are open to the public. Residents and non-residents are invited to learn how to make mosaic art with local artists Tara Nielson and Juliette Meyers.
According to Greene, “Mosaic is an art form available to everybody. No previous art experience is needed.”
The first two workshops will be “Train the Trainer” workshops, offered Thursday, Jan.16 from 6-9 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 18 from 3-6 p.m. Participants only need to attend one of these to become a trainer. Workshops are open to anyone who has made an RSVP. Maximum attendance is 15; minimum age is 11 years. The workshops will continue every other week into the month of May, depending on how long it takes to finish all of the containers. Call Mosaic on a Stick to reserve a spot at 651.645.6600, or visit the Hamline Midway Coalition website at www.hamlinemidway.org.
The inspiration for the first container design came from Greene’s home garden. She said, “I was lucky to find several monarchs on Father’s Day last year, eating away at our milkweed plants. They stayed in the garden all summer, and I loved watching them. These community workshops will be a great opportunity to learn to make mosaic.
“The art form is peaceful and uncomplicated; our studio is a wonderful art-making space. We are hoping to have a diversity of art makers join us!”

Interested in a two-year grant?
The Allianz Foundation is funding the Pollinator Pathway that will be installed along N. Snelling Ave. this summer. Their mission is to promote financial literacy, independence and self-sufficiency of senior citizens, and youth development/inclusion in the Twin Cities area. The organization values sharing their financial resources and expertise with organizations that make a positive impact in communities. Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America makes two-year grants, which typically range from $15,000 to $25,000.

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Development plan at ‘superblock’ evolving

Development plan at ‘superblock’ evolving

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

A 2016 master plan for the Midway Center “superblock” outlined an ambitious vision of 18-story high-rise office buildings along Snelling Ave., as well as apartments, hotel space and commercial properties. Redevelopment reality could be quite different. How different is still unknown.
That lack of specifics frustrated attendees at the Dec. 16, 2019 Union Park District Council’s land use committee meeting. More than two dozen people turned out to hear about the property, which is bounded by St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues and Pascal St.
Since Allianz Field opened for its inaugural season in 2019, area residents and business owners have wondered when the rest of 34.5-acre site will be redeveloped. There is also unhappiness that Minnesota United FC hasn’t contributed toward a community benefits fund for neighborhoods around the soccer stadium, despite pressure from Union Park District Council and Hamline Midway Coalition. The fund is meant to support a range of community improvements, based on ideas gathered in a public input process.
Most attention at the district council meeting focused on redevelopment. Minnesotan United FC principal owner Dr. Bill McGuire asked for patience. He also said that while plans are in the works, those behind redevelopment must persuade potential partners that there are exciting plans for the property.
“The odds of (the site) looking exactly like the master plan are zero,” he said. While there is still a vision of a mixed-use urban village as outlined in the 2016 plan, it won’t be to the scale city planners imagined.
The lack of action on redevelopment is causing the most frustration. “Who makes the decisions?” said Hamline-Midway resident Jonathan Oppenheimer. “Who should we hold accountable?”
When the pace of redevelopment was questioned, McGuire said, “We have a good thing here. We don’t have the rest of it yet.” He added that Allianz Field is something the community can be proud of and it will spark redevelopment.
“You have a quarter of a billion dollar stadium that the whole world is talking about …streets, trees, grass and people. Five hundred thousand people came to this neighborhood in 2019 because of redevelopment,” McGuire said.
Minnesota United and the shopping center owners are working with the architecture firm Populous, which designed the stadium itself. What’s envisioned is a smaller, mixed-use village-type development.
“I spend more time on this than anybody,” he said, describing himself and Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff as the two decision makers. McGuire and his partners lease Midway Center from its longtime, New York City-based owners.
McGuire estimates that more than $1 million has been spent on planning for redevelopment, which could start in the fall. But there are issues to work out with the city and Metropolitan Council, which owns the former bus garage property at the northeast corner of Snelling and St. Anthony, before development can proceed.
Redevelopment of the entire site has an estimated cost of $850 million. The initial projects McGuire sees are an apartment complex with up to 240 units, a hotel and buildings adjacent to the Great Lawn with first-floor food vendors and offices on the upper floors.
One challenge with redevelopment, especially when affordable housing is considered, is that the Midway Center property is valued up to $5 million per acre. But McGuire said some level of affordable housing hasn’t been ruled out.
The site also has its challenges with a high water table along Snelling and the high costs of providing parking, especially underground parking.
Much hinges on what development partners can be brought in. The Midway Center redevelopment also is affected by what happens on the Midway Marketplace block to the east, where Walmart closed last year.
In the meantime, less than half of the Midway Center strip mall is still standing, along with three smaller buildings along University.
One likely change is that the Great Lawn park area north of Allianz Field is poised to become an entertainment district, which was the topic of a St. Paul City Council public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at City Hall. The parkland agreement with MUSC LLC keeps the green space open to the public as part of the city park system. Delaware North, which oversees food and beverage concessions at Allianz Field, has applied for an extension of the liquor service area on the Great Lawn as well as the areas between and across Shields Ave. to allow patrons to consume malt liquor, strong beer and wine at events held there. The change would be in time for 2020 events.

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Events Jan 2020

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Caring Hearts drive runs through Feb. 23
Jehovah Lutheran Church is collecting toiletries and over-the-counter medications for St. Paul homeless. Members, friends and neighbors are invited to bring toiletries (both large and small-size containers) such as shampoo, lotion, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and meds such as Tylenol, cold/flu tablets, Ibuprofen, cough drops and children’s and adult vitamins. Also needed are winter hats, socks including large and extra-large sizes, mittens and other items useful for cold weather, as well as lip balm, foot-care corn pads, fungal cream, Pedialyte, small first-aid kits, baby diapers and baby wipes. Bring items to the church at 1566 Thomas Ave. Sunday mornings from 9 a.m.-noon or on a weekday by appointment (651-644-1421 or jelcoffice@gmail.com). Items will be accepted through Feb. 23.

Concert raises money to stop oil pipeline
On Friday, Jan. 24, 6:30-10 p.m., Zion Lutheran Church (1697 Lafond Ave.) will be hosting some of the Twin Cities’ finest roots-rock and folk-country bands for a night of family-friendly music dedicated to stopping the construction of an oil pipeline across Northern Minnesota. Any money raised at January’s concert will be donated to the Line 3 Legal Defense Fund’s ongoing efforts to cover and remit the legal fees of pipeline protesters. Bands performing at the Jan. 24 event include The Gated Community, The Urban Hillbilly Quartet, and Wilkinson James, all mainstays of the local music scene and masters of their genres. This will be the first time they are all sharing a stage together, eager to lend their musical talents to the cause. This will be an all-ages show with a suggested $10 donation at the door, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Wellness series starts
Willow Tree Healing Center is hosting a monthly Community Wellness Series on the second Friday of every month 6-8 p.m. at 393 Dunlap St. (the former Central Midway Building) in the first-floor conference room. There will be time for grounding and centering followed by a presentation on a topic with a mental health professional. It will end with an opportunity for conversation and support. This gathering will be free of charge and snacks will be provided.
Respectful parenting group meets Jan. 16
Local children’s author, Ioana Stoian, will be sharing her latest children’s book, “Always Be You” on Thursday, Jan. 16, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. It is part of the Respectful Parenting: Let’s Talk About It! Library Series hosted by The Form Network (theformnetwork.org). Founded in May 2014, FORM is a growing community of parents, educators, students, and administrators who gather monthly to inspire, support and engage in topics relating to early childhood education and parenting. Form provides an open forum for collaborative inquiry, dialogue, and advocacy influenced by Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach.

’Humanize My Hoodie’ screening Jan. 21
Attend the “Humanize My Hoodie” documentary premiere and Q/A Session with Andre’ Wright and Jason Sole on MKL Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 20 at 1 and 4 p.m. at the Phoenix Theater (2605 Hennepin Ave.). This movement is led by Hamline University adjunct instructor Jason Sole and his collaborator Andre Wright. The “Humanize My Hoodie 285-page graphic novel tells the story of how Wright and Sole turned an idea into a movement spanning the globe.

Fireside Reading series begins Jan. 22
The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library will present the annual Fireside Reading Series, featuring six weeks of author readings, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evenings in January and February at the Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. The first author is William Kent Krueger on Wednesday, Jan. 22. The Fireside events are free and open to the public; registration is requested. Patrons can enjoy coffee, cider, cookies, and book signings. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided for all six events with advance notice. www.thefriends.org/fireside.

Get ready for primary
As Minnesota switches from a caucus system to a primary system for the Presidential election, the League of Women Voters St. Paul is working to ensure that all voters have an opportunity to learn the ins and outs the new system. Michael Wall, of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, will lead an information
session on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 6:30-8 p.m. at Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, (550 Vandalia St.). Learn about the new ballot and get informed for the primary vote on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, the first presidential nominating primary in nearly three decades. The program will be cablecast live on SPNN channel 19, and MTN channel 16. Visit www.lwvsp.org to register.

German tips on raising self-reliant children
Does Germany have a leg up on rearing children to be more independent and self-reliant than children in the U.S.? Author Sara Zaske who lived in Germany for almost seven years and wrote about that instructive experience in her popular book, “Achtung Baby: an American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children” (Picador USA, January 2018) will explore such general and nuanced issues at a public discussion Jan. 29, 2020, at 7:00 pm at the O’Shaughnessy Education Center Auditorium on the University of St. Thomas Campus (2115 Summit Ave). The engaging event is sponsored by the German Department at the University of St. Thomas and the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS).

Town Hall meeting set for Feb. 8
Rep. Alice Hausman, Rep. John Lesch, and Sen. John Marty invite residents of District 66 (parts of St. Paul, Roseville, Falcon Heights, and Lauderdale) to a Town Hall meeting at Falcon Heights City Hall on Saturday, Feb. 8, 10-11:30 a.m. in advance of the upcoming legislative session. “We will discuss the issues and bills that we are working on and listen to ideas and concerns expressed by attendees,” said Marty. “Please join us and share your thoughts and questions.”

Tonic Sol-fa show
Enjoy the award-winning music of Tonic Sol-fa at Roseville Area High School (1240 County Road B2 W.) Friday, Feb. 28, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $19 for adults and $12 for students and seniors over 60. Day of the concert: $25 and $15 for students and seniors. Purchase tickets online at: www.isd623.org/tonicsolfa. Tonic Sol-fa is a ground-breaking a cappella ensemble from Minnesota, in constant development since their formation two decades ago. The New York Times describes Tonic Sol-fa’s sound as “A vocal kaleidoscope… unique to the human voice.”

Hamline Midway Elders
Monthly Luncheons – Second Tuesday of each month, 11:30 a.m–1p.m., at Hamline Church United Methodist. Chef Erik Hendrickson will prepare a wonderful meal, blood pressure checks will be provided, and new attendees are always welcome at our “Second Tuesday” luncheon events. Suggested donation $7.
• Feb. 11 – Scams & Fraud, with Jay Haapala of Minnesota AARP
Cards & Games: Feb. 11, 1-3 p.m. (after luncheon), Hamline Church United Methodist. Stay after lunch to play cards and games with friends. We provide decks of cards, or bring a game you enjoy! Coffee and cookies provided.
Jody’s Documentary Film Series: Jan. 29, 1 p.m. at Hamline Midway Library. Snacks provided. Check website for film description (www.hmelders.org/events.html).
“Friendly Frog” Potluck Lunch and Bingo: third Friday of each month, 11a.m.–2 p.m. at Frogtown Community Center (230 Como Ave.). Join other Frogtown seniors for a meal and bingo. Bring a dish to share, plus $1 for supplies, and 5 cents and additional coins for bingo cards.
Chair Yoga with Nancy: Thursday, Jan. 9-Feb. 27, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. Sitting in a chair or standing and using the chair for support, you’ll learn fundamentals of yoga postures and breathing, practice tension release, and begin building strength and flexibility.
Knitting & Crochet Group – Mondays from 1 to 3 pm (ongoing) at Hamline Church United Methodist. Yarn and needles, tea and cookies provided. The group meets weekly throughout the year to work on projects, such as shawls or scarves that are donated to those in need. New participants are always welcome.


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BRIEFS January 2020 Monitor

BRIEFS January 2020 Monitor

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Carter elected Chair of Ramsey County Board
The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners has elected Toni Carter as Chair of the Board for 2020.
Since 2005, Commissioner Carter has represented Ramsey County District 4 made up of the Saint Paul neighborhoods of Crocus Hill, Desnoyer Park, Lexington-Hamline, Merriam Park, Snelling-Hamline, Summit Hill, St. Anthony Park, Summit-University and parts of Hamline-Midway, Highland Park and Macalester-Groveland.

Business awards
The Saint Paul City Council wis accepting nominations for its Business Awards through Feb. 28. These awards are the next step in City Council’s Open for Business initiative that started in 2015 to make Saint Paul an even better place to do business. The winners of the business awards will be recognized at a Saint Paul City Council meeting in April 2020. Find more information and nominate a business at www.stpaul.gov/bizawards.

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The Pitch meets delays

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Too-high groundwater levels and rising construction costs have slowed the start on the Pitch, a six-story mixed-use development west of Allianz Field.
The six-story project, which was to break ground this fall, is delayed until 2020. Union Park District Council’s land use committee heard an update Nov. 18 from developer Wellington Management.
The Pitch is to be located at 427 N. Snelling Ave., the longtime home of Bremer Bank. The bank recently moved into temporary space at Spruce Tree Center and is to occupy part of the commercial space in the new building. The bank building is expected to come down in December.
The building will have about 158 units of varying sizes and 13,000 square feet of commercial space. Dwelling units will be a mix of micro-units, studios, one and two-bedrooms, at market-rate rents. Walgreens has been suggested as one of the other commercial tenants.
The high water table has been a key factor in the delay, said Casey Dzieweczynski, Wellington project manager. “We put meters into the ground and over the last spring, we saw that the groundwater level was up seven to eight feet.”
That meant eliminating one of two planned underground parking levels for residents and reducing the amount of parking to 55 spaces on one level, said Dzieweczynski. To offset the reduction Wellington is considering adding an automated car lift to the underground level that would allow for approximately 30 more stalls, bringing the total to 85.
The parking change doesn’t require another round of St. Paul Planning Commission approvals. The original development had 142 parking spaces, with 25 for commercial patrons and 117 for residents. The second level of underground parking would have been for residents, as is the first level. But because the development site is zoned traditional neighborhoods three and is within one-quarter mile of Green Line light rail, there is no minimum number of parking spots required.
“I’m excited to hear that there is less parking,” said Henry Parker, a member of the UPDC board and committee. “It will show other developers and investors that there is not as much of a need for parking.”
The Planning Commission in April approved a conditional use permit, floor area ratio variance and nonconforming use permit for the project. A conditional use permit is needed for height. The property is zoned for traditional neighborhoods three use, which allows a height of up to 55 feet. A height of up to 90 feet is allowed with a conditional use permit; a height of 75 feet is proposed.
The nonconforming use permit allows the new development to have two drive-through lanes, one of the bank and one for the pharmacy. The existing bank building has two drive-through lanes.
Another change is in contractors. Original contractor Watson Forsberg has been replaced by Hopkins-based Frana Companies. Frana is building the six-story Scannell Properties project north of the Wellington site. This fall the old Furniture Barn and World of Wireless building came down to make way for that new development. Frana is also working with Exeter Group to build an apartment building at Marshall and Western avenues this fall.
A third change is in project architect, with UrbanWorks Architecture replacing Pope Associates. New building drawings haven’t been completed, but Dzieweczynski said the structure would be similar to what was originally announced.

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Building a Stronger Midway- Holidays: a time for giving

Building a Stronger Midway- Holidays: a time for giving

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By CHAD KULAS, Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director

As you look outside, you know winter is upon us. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we are in a busy time – between holidays, office/company parties, and wrapping up projects by the end of the year. But many also look for ways to help, in a popular time for giving back. According to Patrick Kirby, founder of Do Good Better Consulting, nationally 20-25% of fundraising is done in the fourth quarter with many organizations seeing much higher numbers.
In and around the Midway, there are several nonprofits. While we live in Minnesota, jokingly the land of 10,000 nonprofits (there’s actually only 9,127 nonprofit employers in the state) – there is an even bigger concentration the closer one gets to University Ave. Why?
For starters, we are closer to the State Capitol and many nonprofits are busy during the legislative session lobbying on behalf of their interests. A good transit system also helps, as many nonprofits rely on buses and trains to get their employees, volunteers and clients to their door. With cheaper rent than either downtown, the Midway and University Ave. are better on the budget while still being serviced by transit lines. There is also a synergy which occurs when several groups of a similar mission are close to each other. Like tech companies in Silicon Valley, nonprofits often want to be close to other nonprofits.
And nonprofits are good for the region. They make up 13.3% of the total workforce in Minnesota, and in two local zip codes (55104 and 55115) there are 425 nonprofits. Over 50% are in the category of human services and represent a broad range of ways to give back.
How do people help nonprofits? In several ways. For some, donating financially requires little time but can make a big difference. For those wanting a more hands-on approach, they volunteer their time. My family likes to shop for others, by buying gifts requested from families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. For some, giving back is something to do as a family or a group of friends. For others, it can be an office bonding opportunity.
At the Midway Chamber, each November we help support and promote the Shop with Cops program. The program features a cop shopping with a child for the child’s family; often the gifts purchased that day are the only gifts the family will receive for the holidays. Many times, the day starts with a shy child walking to Target with a police officer, and ends with the two laughing together as they wrap the presents. While there are similar programs throughout the country, it started here with the Saint Paul Police Department when a local resident wanted to see a better relationship between cops and youth.
In December, we hold a Celebration of Nonprofits at Hamline University where we feature programming geared at the nonprofit community. Up to 40 of our nonprofit members participate in an expo and directories of our nonprofit members are given to all attendees.
This holiday season, I hope you can think of nonprofits in our community who could use a helping hand and find a way to support any way you can.
Statistics used in this article are attributed to the 2018 Minnesota Nonprofit Economy Report, published by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. The data in the report comes from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and Internal Revenue Service. Additional information about the nonprofit sector is available on the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ website, minnesotanonprofits.org.

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Development Roundup December 2019

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

New Taco Bell restaurant?
A controversial plan to rebuild the Taco Bell at 565 N. Snelling Ave. is going back before the St. Paul Planning Commission and its Zoning Committee. Plans for Zoning Committee hearing 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 at City Hall, and a commission vote as soon as Dec. 20.
Planning Commission decisions on conditional use permits are final unless they are appealed to the St. Paul City Council.
There has been a Mexican-style fast-food restaurant at the site since 1973, including Zantigo and Zapata as well as Taco Bell. In 2015 a new restaurant was proposed but plans were set aside after objections from neighbors and Planning Commission members. At the Planning Commission, there was debate as to whether or not allowing the current business to keep operating was a good outcome.
Restaurant owner Border Foods wants to tear down and replace the existing restaurant, retaining its current drive-through service. Plans call for moving the drive-through service farther away from residents, adding a wall and other buffering features, and reducing the amount of on-site parking.
Taco Bell has been a source of controversy. Late-night and early morning patron behavior at the drive-through has drawn complaints over the years, including noise, fights, loitering and other behaviors.
One complication for Border Foods and for neighbors is the lack of clarity in city records. At some point a drive-through window was installed, although a conditional use permit was never issued for the window. It’s not clear why that didn’t happen because the permits are a longtime requirement for all types of drive-through services. With no conditional use permit for Taco Bell, the city never had a chance to place conditions on operations such as speaker placement and noise levels, and hours.
Another wrinkle is that the site’s longtime commercial zoning was changed to traditional neighborhoods use, as part of a larger study for North Snelling. That type of zoning is meant to promote denser, more walkable neighborhoods and deter uses such as drive-through services.

Parking ramp changes hands
One of the few city-owned parking ramps outside of downtown has a new owner. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) November 13, approved the sale of the Spruce Tree Center ramp to the adjacent office building owner, Spruce Tree Center LLC.
Sale price is $1.5 million.
A license agreement with the city will allow for 200 ramp spaces to be used for events at Allianz Field, the Major League Soccer stadium just east and south of Spruce Tree Center. The terms of the license agreement allow for up to 25 professional soccer matches and up to 10 other events, as well as a gold cup soccer event.
The center and ramp are at the southwest corner of University and Snelling avenue. A purchase has been negotiated for more than a year.
In 1987 the city worked with Metro Plains development to build the office building and the ramp. The building, with its bright green exterior, is meant to resemble a spruce tree. The building was in private ownership, but the ramp was a city-owned ramp.
The operating agreement gave the building owner the right to purchase the ramp.

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Monitor In A Minute December 2019

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Dale Street Bridge schedule unveiled
The $14.7 million Dale Street Bridge over Interstate 94 will bring improved walkways and bike access when it is completed in 2020. But the project will bring months of disruption to area neighborhoods. More than 70 people joined the Ramsey County Department of Public Works Nov. 21, 2019 for a preview of construction timing and one more look at bridge plans.
The project goes out for bid in February, with work starting after that. The bridge is to be fully open for traffic in fall 2020, although some landscaping and other work could extend later.
The new bridge will provide 16 feet of pedestrian, bike and plaza space on either side, two 11-foot lanes of motor vehicle traffic in each direction, and 12-foot turn lanes. Dale between University and Iglehart avenues will be rebuilt, with new sidewalks, new street lighting and corner bump-outs added.
A former service station property at the northeast corner of Dale and St. Anthony will be open space, with a direct sidewalk and a winding “switchback” walkway to allow for easier access of what is a steep slope.
The $14.7 million project is covered with a mix of federal, state and local funding. The only assessments for adjacent property owners along Dale will be for above-standard street lighting. Those costs haven’t been calculated.
Those at the meeting had questions about detours, cut-through traffic, access for buses, snow plowing and access to homes, place of worship and businesses. County officials plan to post a question and answer section on the project website. The project will also have a dedicated community engagement worker to help get the word out about detours and other issues.
Bridge planning and community involvement in bridge design have taken place over the last few years, with several community meetings, said Ramsey County Project Engineer Erin Laberee. Much of the historic Rondo neighborhood was wiped out during freeway construction, and one goal is to have a new bridge’s public art honor that community.
“The original bridge was built in 1961, and expanded in 1983,” said Laberee. “It’s time for it to be replaced.”

Fate of BP station up in the air
It will likely be early 2020 before the fate of the crime-ridden BP gas station at 1347 University Ave. W. is known. The troubled business was the focus of an administrative law judge hearing in mid-November. St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) officials contend that the business should have its operating licenses revoked. Owner Khal Aloul has fought the city’s actions and is trying to keep the business open.
A homicide in the parking lot and ongoing allegations of drug dealing, fighting, loitering, city license violations and other crime have area residents and business owners demanding change. Incidents at the property have been live-streamed.
In one Police Department video shown at the hearing, an employee explains how scouring pads and glass tubes were used to make kits for smoking crack. The employee also admitted selling single cigarettes and cigars in violation of city ordinances.
At the hearing, Hamline Midway Coalition presented testimony that included more than 280 survey responses. The focus was on how behavior at BP impacts neighborhood residents, businesses and commuters. DSI and the City Attorney’s Office have focused on a long history of license violations and crimes.
St. Paul has used an administrative law judge process in license matters since the 1990s when facts in a case are in dispute. Attorneys for the city and the business have until Dec. 20 to submit their first round of closing arguments, with further filings possible until Jan. 10. The judge then has up to 30 days in which to make a ruling, which then goes back to the St. Paul City Council for action. That is expected in February, where there will be another public hearing. No date has been set.

Trash rates to be reduced
St. Paul’s 2020 residential trash disposal rates will decrease, over protests from the six-member garbage hauler consortium serving the city. The St. Paul City Council Nov. 13 voted unanimously to approve 2020 rates. The total decrease is $1 million for the $27 million contract, and not the $2.5 million increase haulers initially sought.
Nor would the city agree to freeze rates at the 2019 level for the first six months of 2020, another request the haulers made. The rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
On average, property owners will see about a $10 per year decrease.
At public hearings in November, an attorney for St. Paul Haulers LLC spoke against the rate package, as did Sue Stewart of Highland Sanitation. Both cited increased costs.
Organized collection, which is entering its second year, serves one to four-unit residential buildings. Council members and Department of Public Works staff said that with one year’s data on hand, they have actual garbage tonnage to factor in. The tonnage collected for the first year of the program is 56,000 tons.
Council members and Department of Public Works staff stood firm, saying that if tonnage went down, so should rates paid.

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World’s only oboe bass duo offers monthly music series at Lyngblomsten

World’s only oboe bass duo offers monthly music series at Lyngblomsten

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Rolf Erdahl (double bass) and Carrie Vecchione (oboe and English horn) make up the musical duo OboeBass! Erdahl said, “By returning to Lyngblomsten nearly every month, we’ve gotten to know people and hear their music stories. One woman told us, ‘I wish I’d listened to classical music before I was 80!’ We hope our programs inspire people to expand their own musical experiences, because it’s never too late to learn.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Carrie Vecchione and Rolf Erdahl just finished their first year of monthly music education programs at the Lyngblomsten Care Center, and they will be back in 2020. Performing as the duo Oboebass!, their series explored composers, ensembles, instruments, conductors, ideas, and compositions that make up the multi-faceted world of classical music.
Barbara McClelan is a Falcon Heights resident who didn’t miss a first Friday performances all year. She said, “I like how well thought out the programs are, and how much fun Carrie and Rolf have playing music together.” McClelan is a member of the Lyngblomsten Community Sage Singers: a group made up of resident and non-resident singers and directed by Macphail Center for Music faculty.
On the first Friday of November, the duo introduced Igor Stravinsky’s piece “The Rite of Spring,” which premiered in Paris in 1913. Vecchione and Erdahl called their presentation, “The Riot of Spring.” They explained that the public had reacted to the Paris debut with an actual riot. Members of the audience heard the first strange, uneven bars of music and began to fight, shout, and throw things at the conductor. Was the piece a reckless abomination, or a work of genius? It’s a matter of personal taste, but “The Rite of Spring” became the most talked about musical composition of the 20th century.
Vecchione and Erdahl approach each session this way. They offer a piece of music or a composer for consideration, tell stories, play selections, and sometimes invite audience participation. They also provide resources for further study, in the form of suggested readings and supplemental listening. OboeBass! presentations are engaging and educational, and give listeners the rare opportunity to hear classical music played just a few feet away.
Both members of OboeBass! earned doctoral degrees in music performance: Vecchione on the oboe and English horn, and Erdahl on the double bass. Former professors at Ball State University in Indiana, they moved to the Twin Cities in 2006. They have been tenure track music professors, and professional orchestra musicians. At this point in their long careers, they are focused on performing and teaching as a duo – and they keep finding new ways to make that happen.
Erdahl said, “We started as a married couple looking for repertoire written for our instruments, and quickly learned that there wasn’t much. Fortunately, we have composer friends, and continue to find new composers and performance opportunities. The wide range of styles and expression, and the high quality and appeal of the music written for us, convinced us that we could pursue a career as a duo specializing in new music for oboe and double bass.”
Since 2008, OboeBass! has received several grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. They first started doing music education programs for elementary schools, but have since developed programming appropriate for all ages and life stages. Vecchione said, “We’ve had a lot of success doing our programs inter-generationally, as well.”

“We value the bridge that OboeBass! provides
for young and old to come together
to enjoy and appreciate the power
of music in all of our lives!”
~ Andrew Lewandowski, Lyngblomsten

Listen on the first Friday
The year-long series at Lyngblomsten will be offered again in 2020. Toward the goal of building an intergenerational audience, community members are encouraged to attend. Neighbors, families, homeschool groups, and music classes are all welcome to join the residents of Lyngblomsten for these lively presentations. The recommended minimum age for participation is upper elementary school.
Vecchione explained, “Our ultimate goal is to keep live music performance alive. We’ve travelled to more than 100 senior care facilities across the state. We’ve particularly enjoyed the year-long series at Lyngblomsten, because it gives us a chance to get to know the people who attend regularly. We are not just providing entertainment here; we are providing an opportunity for active listening. Some people may not appear to be actively engaged because of mobility issues or health conditions, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening.”
OboeBass! is on an exciting trajectory, inspired by their love of lifelong learning. While both Vecchione and Erdahl still aspire to play with orchestras at a high level, they are involved in creating a rich repertoire of their own chamber music to perform.
Erdahl said, “We received a grant from Chamber Music America, and were able to commission a piece by Valerie Coleman. She’s a very ‘in’ composer, and we should be receiving the piece any day now. We had three amazing pieces written for us this year.”
OboeBass! performs in the Nelson Benson Chapel at the Lyngblomsten Care Center, 1415 Almond Ave. There is a small parking lot, and plenty of on-street parking. The performances are free and open to the public. Carrie Vecchione and Rolf Erdahl will present their programs at 10:30 a.m. on the first Friday of each month in 2020, except February and April.

Mary Ann also belongs to a couple of book clubs, one in their old Longfellow neighborhood that she has attended for 40 years.
“One of the things that has helped both of us,” said Mary Ann, “is that we really like to keep learning, and we are involved with things that help us keep learning new things all the time.”
Lowery also noted that their spiritual life is important to them. They belong to Bethlehem Covenant Church, and over the years have gone on six mission trips to Chile.

Lowery said he also believes strongly in family, and hosting family celebrations over the years as well as adventurous trips to the Grand Canyon, Switzerland and other destinations has been something he really enjoys.

Enjoy the view
And then there is the view. The Smiths live on the 20th floor of an apartment in St. Paul that overlooks the Mississippi, and the city. Every room of their apartment has a large window that lets the light in.
“The other morning, when I was going to Toastmaster’s, it was still dark out when I was getting ready. We could see the rowboats down on the river, from the rowing clubs. There were lights on the ends of the boats; I hadn’t noticed that before,” Lowery said.
“In the fall, the river turns crimson,” he added.
“One of our hardest years was when we decided to move out of our house, but every day we are glad we chose this place,” said Mary Ann. “It’s refreshing to wake up to these views every morning.”
“The weather is amazing up here,” she added. “You can see the storms coming in.”


In addition to the EP, KFC recently released a music video filmed and directed by Keegan Burckhard. Vagle acknowledges that being in a band (and doing the communications/marketing piece) is challenging as a fulltime student, but that it’s what she wants to pour her energy into.
Here are the links to the EP “Get Along” online:
• Bandcamp: https://keepforcheap.bandcamp.com/album/get-along-2
• Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3QffWplEQYSkoMviShc9r7?si=sUlVzPmtR-S5t7vN3IRkkQ
• Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/get-along-ep/1483261945
For more information about KFC, email Autumn Vagle at info@keepforcheap@gmail.com.

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Zero Waste Saint Paul is on a mission: to advocate, connect, and educate for a better environment

Zero Waste Saint Paul is on a mission: to advocate, connect, and educate for a better environment

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Erin Pavlica, co-founder of Zero Waste St. Paul and longtime Midway resident. During a recent Intro to Zero Waste training, she said, “We’re not expecting anybody to be perfect. Come as you are, and do what you can. ZWSP is a way to connect with others who have the same concerns. It can be lonely if you’re trying to challenge the status-quo all by yourself.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Zero Waste Saint Paul (ZWSP) co-founder Erin Pavlica has a passion for low waste living. To hear her talk, that passion drives almost every aspect of her busy life.
The longtime Midway resident is an active member of the Hamline Midway Coalition’s Environment Committee, one of the driving forces behind the Facebook Barter/Sell page in Midway and Frogtown, and a principal player in the recent successful effort to ban black plastic and Styrofoam take-out containers in St. Paul (effective January 2021).
Pavlica offered a class through St. Paul Community Education on Nov. 19, called Zero Waste Recycling 101. She fielded questions about composting and recycling, and offered encouragement, as well as information. A few students were overwhelmed by the effort they thought was needed to adopt a zero waste lifestyle.
One myth about reducing waste is that householders need to buy a bunch of fancy stuff to get started, and Pavlica was quick to burst that bubble. She said, ”Almost everything I use as a zero waster comes from our kitchen, like mason jars. A lot of what we buy for our family of six comes from the bulk section of grocery stores and co-ops. I also carry my own silverware everywhere I go, even to parties. I might look kind of kooky, but I don’t care. Most of the events I go to would probably have compostable products, but those take energy to make too. I’d just as soon skip them. We have to be thinking about upstream pollution, as well as downstream.”
More than 40% of what goes into the trash is food scraps and other organic waste. Recycling food waste converts it to compost, which puts nutrients back into the soil in about 90 days. Ramsey County collection sites enable people to drop off food scraps that would otherwise be thrown in the trash – these are then processed into compost and used for gardening and landscaping.
Pavlica said, “A lot of people don’t think about food recycling, but it’s huge. If residents don’t use the drop-off organic waste sites or compost on their own, their food waste is trucked to the municipal incinerator and burned. Food waste is wet, heavy, and inefficient as a fuel source. The average American family of four wastes about $1,500 every year on food that’s just thrown away, so it’s a money issue, too.”
Pavlica had a long list of suggestions for people wanting to clean up their recycling as well. Since switching to no-sort (or single stream) recycling, the quantity of recycling in St. Paul has gone up – but the quality has gone down. They suggest downloading the new, more user-friendly app from Eureka Recycling to get the definitive answer on what is and is not recyclable.
Pavlica said, “Don’t ‘wish-cycle.’ Just find out what’s true.”

Top 10 suggestions for better recycling:
1 Anything smaller than your fist is not going to get recycled, and will likely just mess up the equipment at Eureka Recycling. For example, save reasonably clean tin foil once it is no longer usable. Keep smashing it into a firm ball until it is the size of your fist; then put the ball in your recycling bin for pick-up.
2 If you must use plastic water bottles, make sure they are empty before recycling. If a plastic bottle isn’t empty, it’s too heavy to be sorted at the MRF (Materials Recovery Facility). They use an air puffer to sort and direct plastics to the right place.
3 If you have a plastic bottle with a cap, screw the cap onto the bottle before tossing it in your recycling bin. The cap alone is too small to be recycled.
4 Recyclables should stay in their original shape (except cardboard boxes, which should be broken down.) For example, don’t crush aluminum cans to save space.
5 Do not recycle metal aerosol cans – they can explode. Put them in the trash.
6 Non-food related glass is not recyclable, because it is tempered and melts at a different temperature. Putting it in the recycling is wish-cycling.
7 Many plastic films can be brought to big box stores (CUB, Target, Home Depot) that have collection bins.
8 Dispose of unwanted, expired, and unused medications for free at public drop boxes in Ramsey County. The nearest location is the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center at 425 Grove St. The CVS at Snelling and University avenues also accepts controlled substances, aerosols, inhalers, illicit drugs, and chemotherapy waste. Do not flush any medications down the drain. Note: CVS destroys the medications; they are unable to redistribute them.
9 When it comes to plastics, only numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 can be recycled.
10 Holidays are the most wasteful time of the year. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s last year, USPS, FedEx, and UPS together delivered around 2 billion packages in the U.S. Where is all that cardboard and plastic going—and what is it doing to the environment along the way? Buy local, reduce packaging, and skip the wrapping paper.

What can St. Paul residents bring to their Ramsey County drop-off site?

• Vegetables, fruits, meats (including fats, oils and grease), poultry, fish, bones, grains, dairy, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bags.

• Non-recyclable paper including greasy pizza boxes, paper towels, tissues, non-foil wrapping paper, and paper bags.

• Compostable cups, plates, utensils, and bags. Check for the compostable logo from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) on the item or packaging to make sure it is compostable. Remember, composting is a process that requires air. If compostable products are put in the garbage, not the compost bin, they are no better than trash.

Upcoming events:

The ZWSP is offering a six-week Zero Waste Challenge Feb. 2-March 15 at the East St. Paul Mississippi Market. Cost is $45 for members/ $50 for non-members.

For a one-day primer, register for Saint Paul Composting 101 on Jan. 11 from 3-5 p.m. at Fly Freak Studio, 755 Prior Avenue North. Cost is $12. Or sign up for Intro to Zero Waste on Jan. 18 from 1-3 p.m. at Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply, 1771 Selby Ave. Cost is $20.

For more information about upcoming events and classes, visit www.zerowastesaintpaul.com or check out their active Facebook community, Zero Waste Saint Paul Connections Group.

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Discovery Club