March 2020 Monitor_01_01

Read entire March 2020 edition

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Read the entire March 2020 edition of the Midway Como Frogtown Monitor by clicking here. Or, check our Read Paper tab.

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WEB_Ford Area C Meeting 08

Area C not deemed emergency

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Area C (background), as photographed from the opposite bank of the Mississippi River, is just south of the Ford Bridge. The Ford Motor Company dumped unknown quantities of industrial waste, including solvents and paint sludge, on the floodplain of the Mississippi River below the bluff near its St. Paul assembly plant between 1945-1966. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

People urged to stay off site for safety


Over 150 people turned out to hear the latest findings about Area C from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in a packed meeting room at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on Feb. 20, 2020.
The topic of discussion, called Area C, is a dumpsite where the Ford Motor Company dumped unknown quantities of industrial waste, including solvents and paint sludge, on the floodplain of the Mississippi River below the bluff near its St. Paul assembly plant between 1945-1966.
MPCA hydrogeologist Amy Hadiaris has been monitoring ground and surface water in Area C since 2007. She presented the most recent data and summarized the position of MPCA by saying, “Clean-up is needed, but we do not see this as an emergency situation.”

Community concerned
Community members expressed a deep level of concern about the dump site during the meeting, submitting a half-inch-thick stack of index cards with questions for MPCA staff to address.
Friends of the Mississippi River Executive Director Whitney Clark asked the last question of the evening. He asked, “Is it right for the Ford Corporation to leave their waste for future generations to clean up?”
Someone then called for a show of hands for how many people would have Ford remove it all if they could – and nearly everyone in the room raised theirs, including MPCA staff.

Testing being done
In this investigative stage, nine groundwater monitoring wells will be added to the existing 10. Friends of the Mississippi River and the Capitol Region Watershed District requested and support this increase in monitoring activities.
Hadiaris explained, “MPCA has a set process for evaluating the safety of ground water. We are testing for 65 volatile organic compounds, and 80 semi-volatile organic compounds. One of the big concerns is lead, which was added to all paints of that era.”
At the request of MPCA, the Minnesota Department of Health reviewed site data to assess health risks related to Area C. It was determined that only minimal threat exists if trespassers contact contaminants in soil or other physical hazards. There are no other ways for people to come in contact with contaminants, unless they trespass on the site.
To further discourage trespassing, MDH recommends repairing broken fence segments and adding signage between the Hidden Falls Regional Park walking trail and the southern boundary of Area C.

Waiting for two+ floods
Hadiaris said, “This is a contemplative process. We will wait for at least two flood events before making a clean-up decision and presenting it to the Ford Corporation.”
There will be another community information meeting once MPCA completes its feasibility study. To be placed on the email update list for Area C, contact Sophie Downey at sdowney@fmr.org.

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Truce Center 10

Truce Center opens in Summit University

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Community conflict resolution center is response to gun violence

Stand out quote from the wall in the Reflection Room:
“Another day,
another chance.”

It’s no secret that the city of St. Paul has been hard hit by gun violence in the last several months, and that the victims have been disproportionately African American.
Miki Lewis, an African American man who grew up in the Summit University neighborhood, felt called to do something about the violence.
He started formulating a plan last summer, and opened the 8218/Truce Center on the northwest corner of Lexington and Selby avenues in December. He said, “This is a place where kids ages eight to 18 can come to learn, to relax, and to figure out how to settle their differences peacefully.”

Understanding value of their own lives
Walking through the door, visitors are welcomed into a room filled with African artifacts. Lewis explained, “Africa is where we came from, so it seems like the right place to start.”
The 8218/Truce Center is both a space for conflict resolution and an African American museum. Lewis created the dual mission because he saw a multitude of needs going unmet for young people.
The center offers classes in community awareness, conflict resolution, health and wellness, entrepreneurship, leadership, self-respect, depression, suicide prevention, and African American history. Lewis and his team of volunteers mentor African American youth in gaining more self-knowledge and understanding.
Students earn a certificate of leadership when they complete all of the courses. Lewis said, “We teach them things they aren’t being taught in school.”
Leaving the reception area, a visitor walks through a doorway over which a sign is posted, “For Colored Only,” a remnant from the Jim Crow era of segregation. Every inch of the African American Museum shows images of the African American experience – images that speak both to great struggles and to great accomplishments. Lewis said, “There is no substitute for our kids knowing the reality of who they are. We’ve got to help them understand the value of their own lives, and that starts with learning their history.”

Space to be safe in
Lewis was born just a few blocks away, on Hague and Milton. He said, “Gun violence always had its mark in this neighborhood, but it has gotten so much worse. I’ve been mentoring kids out in the community for more than 20 years, and I knew it was time to create a space where they could come and be safe. I feel like, if you don’t know who your neighbors are – it’s a lot easier to get in trouble. And there are just fewer places for kids to go these days. ”
Youth come to the center to learn about themselves, and they also come to learn about each other.

Miki Lewis is the founder and director of the 8218/Truce Center. He is shown standing in the Reflection Room, where photographs of more than 50 Minneapolis and St. Paul residents who died of gun violence or drug overdoses line the wall. He tells young people, “This is one wall I do not ever want to see your picture on.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Reduce violence in community
If there’s an argument happening out in the community, or bullying, or threats, Lewis and his volunteers can help. He said, “Because I’m from this neighborhood, I’m a known person. We’re here to help parties mediate their differences, and to get conflicts resolved safely. This is our effort to reduce community violence.”
While the center is dedicated to mentoring African American youth, anyone is welcome and encouraged to take a tour. The 8218/Truce Center is located walking distance from several schools at 175 Lexington Ave. N. Hours are Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m; call 651.340.4081. Visit www.8218trucecenter.org to learn more.

‘We’re in this life together’
Lewis is finalizing the details of getting non-profit status for the center. Since it opened, he has paid the bills himself. He said, “I believe we’re all put here to assist in saving the world. I can’t do it by myself, and neither can anyone else. We’re in this life together. If someone wants to make a donation to the center, they’re welcome to. But what would light me up more than anything would just be for people to come down to the center and learn some African American history.”
As Lewis is fond of saying, “Just do what your heart allows you to do.”

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WEB_Menopause Center 01

Menopause Center guides women through transition

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Menopause Center Administrator Coleen Boeckman (left) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse/Certified Nurse Midwife Catherine Mascari (right). The center is at 576 Minnehaha Ave. W. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Menopause doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. The word is derived from Greek and means, literally, “the end of the monthly” – but it’s a long process, and it just isn’t that simple.
The Menopause Center of Minnesota offers education, counseling, and resources to help women 35 and older deal with issues and symptoms caused by perimenopause and menopause.
Becky Mendoza has been with the practice since it started 20 years ago. She is an advanced practice registered nurse and certified nurse practitioner with a focus on women’s health. She said, “Perimenopause and menopause can be very hard for women, but they don’t have to be. There are many ways we can help women be more comfortable, healthy, and symptom-free.”
Catherine Mascari was one of the Menopause Center’s first clients. She now works alongside Mendoza, and is an advanced practice registered nurse and certified nurse midwife. Mendoza and Mascari’s clients are healthy, low-risk women experiencing the physical, emotional, and psychological challenges of hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause.
Perimenopause is a transitional phase which typically begins in a woman’s late 30s or early 40s. It is the precursor to menopause. Ovarian function declines, and levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone rise and fall unevenly.
In menopause, the ovaries are no longer producing estrogen or progesterone. Menopause is defined, in hindsight, as 12 consecutive months without a period. The average age for reaching menopause in the U.S. is 51 years.
Beginning in perimenopause, women may have hot flashes and night sweats – both of which can leave them wringing wet with sweat day or night. Many women experience something unaffectionately referred to as meno-fog: frequent lost trains of thought, lack of word recall, and cognitive dullness. Hormonal imbalances can trigger irritability, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and for some, a loss of libido (sex drive). Approximately 40% of women will continue to have symptoms years after menopause has occurred; the frequency and intensity of symptoms can range from pesky and infrequent to almost constant.
Mascari said, “It is a rare woman who has no problems or frustrations as she enters this time of significant change. An important aspect of self- care is to surround yourself with understanding, helpful, and courageous people.”
“Sometimes women don’t feel understood by their partners as they go through these changes. Men have a corresponding male menopause, but it usually isn’t as significant. We encourage all couples to take the effects of menopause seriously, and to work on having open, clear communication with each other.”

Personalized care
The Menopause Center is for women only, and limits its scope to a consulting practice. The clinicians do not perform physical exams, and there are no lab services available.
Mendoza explained, “Clients receive personalized guidance and counseling to help them manage their menopause transition with ease. Some women choose hormone therapy, and some do not. Some choose to take supplements such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, and some do not.
“We are here to give clients the personalized care they might not get from their primary doctor, because this is our sole concern.”
The Menopause Center of Minnesota is located in the same building as Lloyd’s Pharmacy at 1576 Minnehaha Ave. W. They accept Blue Cross Blue Shield and Preferred One, and are able to arrange payment plans. Their telephone is 651.698.0891; web address is www.menopausemn.com.
Suggested resources: The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Menopause by Robin Marantz Henig: Oprah Magazine (September 2019); The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup.

“The changes of perimenopause and menopause occur spontaneously as women age. These changes bring opportunities for growth and new self-awareness – and they can be challenging.”
~ Menopause Center of Minnesota


Tips from Catherine
Life style choices for better health in perimenopause and beyond:

✓ Consider a Mediterranean approach to food choices, more plant-based and fewer animal-based items.
✓ Stay flexible, balanced, and strong as you age. Try weight-resistance activities like swimming, interval walking, yoga or pilates for a minimum of 75 minutes/week.
✓ Limit caffeine intake and alcohol consumption.
✓ Stop cigarette smoking/vaping.
✓ Make yourself and your health a top priority.

Source: Catherine Mascari,
Menopause Center of Minnesota

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Micro theater series highlights women filmmakers

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Moonplay aims to be radically generous, celebrate creative energy and feature do-it-yourself approach

Jes Reyes has taken on a new hat as curator for Moonplay Cinema, a series of films by female and non-binary filmmakers that will be screening at Dreamland Arts (677 Hamline Ave. N.). The first film will be shown June 28. (Photo by Terry Faust)

By Jan Willms
Jes Reyes is an artist who wears many hats. She founded the Altered Esthetics Film Festival at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis and directed it for four years. She teaches at Springboard for the Arts. She is a program coordinator for Avivo Artworks, a multi-faceted studio for artists living with mental illness. She is a painter and filmmaker who also creates poetry.
But now she has taken on a new hat as curator for Moonplay Cinema, a series of films by female and non-binary filmmakers that will be screening at Dreamland Arts, 677 Hamline Ave. N. The first film will be shown June 28.
According to Reyes, the project has been in her thoughts for some time.
“I led the Altered Esthetics Film Festival and was also a member of the working board of directors for that organization,” Reyes said. “My term as a board member ended in 2017, and so I was able to hand over that program to a whole new body of artists. I always have dreams for something else and am working on things.”
She said she sat for a while with her ideas. “I’m not somebody who just dives right in,” she explained. Reyes said she had been working on another film program that involves community focus, and is small and more intimate. “I was not sure at that time it would be for women filmmakers specifically,” she said.
Then a colleague who runs Dreamland Arts asked if she would be interested in curating a program in film for that venue.
“I thought that would be beautiful,” Reyes said. “It’s in my neighborhood and it’s the kind of micro-theater with 40 seats that’s more intimate. Micro-cinema is something that has always interested me. You actually get to talk to people. I had dreamed of turning my garage into a micro-cinema, but who wants to sit in a cold garage in the middle of winter?”
Reyes still bided her time, even after the curating offer. “I wasn’t ready. I work full-time, teach and am a practicing artist. But the time came, and I was applying for grants here and there. I knew I would try the grant route first, and if I wasn’t able to get one, I would launch the program myself.”

Women-specific because…
“So I knew 2020 was the year, and I decided the film program would be women-specific because we live in a world with a lot of gender disparities. “
She said there are opportunities for women artists, but as they move up in their careers, those opportunities are more limited in terms of access.
“My goal is to provide a safe place for women to be honored and their stories to be told and recognized,” Reyes stated. “I want a film program that is set up to support gender-marginalized individuals, and that includes women and those non-binary identities who are gender non-conforming.”
Reyes said most of the filmmakers she has scheduled for Moonplay Cinema for 2020 are Minnesota-based. Kiera Faber, Andrea Shaker and Molly Parker Stuart are all filmmakers she has curated before and that she has gotten a lot of inspiration from.
These three who are scheduled for the 2020 showings explore topics around mental illness, home and family, according to Reyes. But they do it in different ways.
“Kiera does stop-motion animation, which I have an affinity for,” she noted. “Andrea is a photographer and filmmaker in what I call slow cinema. And Molly works in digital pixilation.
“The films will explore non-traditional cinema, but will also be close to what we experience. They will end with a Q and A, so folks can get to know the filmmakers, and they can get to know their audience.”

Why ‘Moonplay’?
Reflecting on how she chose the name Moonplay, Reyes said the moon has always peaked her interest as an artist. “I have actually been working on a short narrative film for a couple years now called Moonland. It’s a semi-autobiographical film, centered on the loss of a mother to a terminal illness,” Reyes said. “The moon represents that longing and also uncertainty and night time, and how anxiety can come out at night. I have had other projects related to the moon,” she added.
She said she thought Moonplay was a good metaphor for the screen itself and watching films. “Also the moon is open and inclusive,” she said.
And one of her favorite filmmakers, Marie Menken, was an experimental filmmaker who made short, very quick abstract films on celluloid. “She made a stop-motion short in the 1960s, and it’s called Moonplay. So I wanted to honor her,” Reyes said.

Planted in community
Reyes described her own work as an artist as multidisciplinary. She does abstract paintings and video poems and diaries. She likes doing experimental films.
“I generally am a filmmaker who works by herself,” she said. “If I collaborate with one other person, that person is usually not another filmmaker.” Reyes attended film school in Long Beach, Calif. and then moved to Minnesota, where her mother grew up, to spend a year. She has now been living in the Hamline-Midway and Frogtown area for the past 15 years.
Reyes attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota, getting her master’s in liberal studies, focusing on creative writing, feminist theory and film studies. She noted that as an artist, and particularly a filmmaker, she and her colleagues usually have to go to Minneapolis to practice their craft. “It’s just not fair,” she commented. With Moonplay Cinema, she said one of her goals it to establish an ongoing film program in her community.
She is currently raising funds through indiegogo.com, which is set to run through March 17. Her film program has already been 41 percent funded through it. Reyes said she also wants to be able to pay the filmmakers and the venue.

Upcoming: short films by local residents
“Dreamland Arts is a neighborhood treasure, and I want to make sure the theater is appropriately paid,” she said. “And I want participating artists compensated for their time.”
“As an artist, if you feel like your voice is not being heard or your work is not being represented, you do it yourself and go from there,” Reyes said. She already has something in the works for 2021, and she would like to develop an educational component to Moonplay. Her idea is to have people who are interested in exploring their neighborhoods in Hamline-Midway, Como or Frogtown be able to go out and create short films about their areas. She hopes to use a Minnesota Arts Board grant to fund this.
Reyes said Moonplay Cinema definitely comes from the perspective that patriarchal priorities do not dictate the efforts made by female and non-binary artists. “Our mission is to be radically generous and requires creative energy and a do-it-yourself approach,” Reyes said.

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Get help at end-of-life

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Midway mortician starts business to help families take an inspired journey together

“By combining doula work, funeral education work, and celebrant work, families can benefit from continuity of care that no one else is offering,” stated Angela Woosley of Inspired Journeys. (Photo submitted)

A Midway woman is breaking ground by launching the first woman-owned, family-centered natural deathcare company.
Angela Woosley of Inspired Journeys offers innovative end-of-life doula services, home funeral education, and funeral celebrant services in the Twin Cities area.
She enjoys breaking down the walls around death and dying, educating people about their choices at the end of life, and generally busting myths about death and morticians.
Woosley has been a licensed mortician for over 15 years, and has taught in the Program of Mortuary Science at the UMN for the last 10 years. She is a trained end-of-life doula through the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA), a certified celebrant (an officiant who is a more secular alternative to a pastor or preacher), and a seasoned educator.
She is also a hospice volunteer through Allina, as well as a member of the National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA).

What prompted you to start Inspired Journeys?
As a mortician and educator, I have seen the rise in both hospice deaths and cremation rates, and I worry that families are falling through the cracks between the health care system and the funeral profession.
I want families to feel partnered with and cared for across the spectrum at the end of life, instead of feeling handed off from one stranger to the next. As dying increasingly comes home with the hospice movement, it is more important than ever before that families feel informed and supported, and that those facing the end of life feel empowered and heard. Hospice sets the stage for people to face the end of life on their own terms, and families are learning that the transition from this world is beautiful, powerful, and sacred. I want to honor that sacred space and allow people to continue to care for the person they love even after death to give this profound occasion the time and space that it deserves. Decisions that flow naturally from approaching death on your own terms include wishing to minimize your impact on the Earth, so there are many affinities between hospice, death at home, home death care, and natural burial and other natural forms of disposition.
I am dedicated to empowering families toward natural death care through individualized consultation, partnership, and expert guidance.

What is an end-of-life doula/midwife?
An end-of-life doula is a paraprofessional who, like their birth counterparts, provides emotional and spiritual support to a dying person and their family. Similarly, a death midwife is often someone who helps families learn how to care for the dead in their home.
Doulas and midwives are not meant to be a replacement for hospice or palliative care at the end of life, but they can fill in the gaps and help support both the terminally ill person and the family so that everyone is better able to approach the end with more grace and less fear or confusion.
The work of a doula is highly individualized based on the wishes of the dying person, but it often involves curating and creating the physical space around the dying person to be the most peaceful and calming environment. It also often involves working on a legacy project that allows the person to see, feel, and create a project that captures their essence and honors their impact on the world. Additionally, this work often involves holistic care for the dying that includes natural pain management, caregiver support, companionship, and personal advocacy.

How does this vary from hospice?
Hospice care is often a multidisciplinary, team-based approach to care that focuses on pain management and comfort, and is funded by Medicare. Care providers include nurses, social workers, chaplains, and volunteers who are generally able to visit patients about 1-3 times a week. Generally, patients on hospice at home have a family member who serves as a primary caregiver, and hospice employees and volunteers supplement their care and submit paperwork and billing to Medicare.
A doula can fill in the gaps in care, support family caregivers, help families navigate the complex system of care that hospice provides, and maintain presence with the terminally ill patient with no preconceived agenda. For example, end-of-life doulas could offer the patient guided visualization, rub their hands or feet, talk them through worries they have, help them brainstorm ways to reconcile with family members, sing with them, pray with them, and most importantly, truly, deeply listen to their needs and concerns.

How can end-of-life be family-centered?
When families have been caring for a terminally ill family member for months or even years, they have learned to care for that family member in an intimate way. They have bathed them, given them food and medicine, helped them brush their teeth, comb their hair, and use the bathroom for all this time.
Once death occurs, suddenly they are expected to turn all of this care over to a stranger, and that just doesn’t make sense to me. You were able to bathe Mom before death, and she’s still your mom now. It just makes sense to continue caring for her.
All I offer is the patience and affirmation that you can do this, along with some practical education. Many people think it’s illegal to care for your own dead, and this simply isn’t true. I am able to guide families through the practicalities, legalities, and show them that this is a simple and natural extension of their care and love.
Many people share that a terminal diagnosis is a sort of wake up call to live in the present moment and take stock of their life. As a mortician, I am a firm believer in living in the present moment as much as possible, regardless of your health!
But especially at the end of life, it can feel like so much is out of your control. It can be confusing and overwhelming. Remember that this is your life and you get to choose how to live it. Doulas can help you get answers, set priorities, and make plans for your care.
More information about the company’s services may be found online at inspiredjourneysmn.com, or by calling 651-300-0119.

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Freddie is swimming

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By Carol Mahnke
The hardest part of learning to swim is putting your face in the water — especially if you’re 77 years old and have never learned to swim.
But Freddie Lissimore has the courage and determination to do it. She decided she wanted to swim and so she is.
She has an extraordinary teacher in Mitchell Lallier who offered lessons after Lissimore wished aloud that she could swim.
“I always wanted to learn to swim before I was 60,” Lissimore said, “but somebody has to push me,” said Lissimore.
And Lallier was right there ready to push.
Lallier teaches some classes at the Midway YMCA. He was a junior high physical education teacher, but has taught swimming for some 50 years. Currently he runs S & L Team Cleaners based in the nearby Griggs Building.
Lissimore has had a variety of jobs since she started doing piece work, sewing sleeves, for Twin Cities clothing manufacturers after she graduated from the former Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul. Much of the time she has cared for children as a daycare center teacher or as a nanny.
She was born in Valdosta, Ga. Her family moved to the Twin Cities when she was 11 years old.
“I’d always watch Olympic swimming and tell myself one day I’d like to do that, too,” Lissimore said. “One day I’ll do it.”
Tim Hurley, who has been honing his skill at the front crawl with Lallier’s help, said, “kids just jump into the water.” They don’t seem to have the depth perception adults have.
But seniors have to be encouraged. Fear of drowning, built up over decades, hovers constantly.
Lallier provides a sense of safety and continual confidence in each student’s ability to swim. And Lissimore recently swam the back crawl for 50 yards.
He kept saying, ‘I gotcha, I gotcha’,” Lissimore said of her first efforts.
“For an older person to take the chance, they have to have the desire and they have to trust,” Lallier said.
“Once you feel safety,” Lallier added, “you push yourself to do things.”
Hurley said swimming has changed his life, helping him recover from a disability.
Ruthann Ryberg says walking in the current pool has helped her gain strength after a serious traffic accident. She, too, is taking lessons from Lallier and thinks Lissimore’s progress has been wonderful.
Many seniors find the YMCA pools are good for recovery from a variety of physical complaints.
“It’s an invaluable resource for the community,” Hurley said.
Lissimore now swims under water. Hurley gave her his extra goggles and she bought a swim cap.
“You’ve gotten past your fear,” Lallier tells her, “And you’ve brought others in.
Lallier volunteered to teach Lissimore, and now he has other students including Hurley and Ryberg as well as David, a man from Ethiopia and Luz, a woman from Mexico.

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Is there enough parking at former Sholom site?

Is there enough parking at former Sholom site?

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Former Shalom development plans

City staff, neighbors and board members debate whether 80 spots is enough for 150 apartments

By Jane McClure
The former Sholom Home, which has been vacant for more than a decade, will be redeveloped as a 150-unit apartment building.
The St. Paul Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) Feb. 24, 2020 unanimously approved two variances needed by developer Midway Community Group LLC for the conversion. That decision is final unless it is appealed to the St. Paul City Council within 10 days. As of the Monitor deadline no appeal had been filed.
Sholom closed in 2009 when a new facility was built in the city’s West End. Its old complex consists of four buildings, the oldest one dating from 1922 and the newest from 1970.
Several developers have looked at the property since the Sholom moved out. A conditional use permit allowing 170 dwelling units was granted in 2015 but has expired.
How such a new use will coexist across the street from the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and just a few blocks west of busy Como Park, remains to be seen. The developers contend that the new housing will be an option for people who want a vehicle-free lifestyle, with its proximity to A Line rapid bus service and other transit. Project foes are skeptical.

Parking, unit size variances
The former nursing home, which is on a site zoned for RM2 multi-family residential, needs two variances for the project to go ahead. One is for unit size. The zoning code requires a minimum lot size of 1,500 square feet per unit. The developer is proposing 882 square feet of lot area per unit, for a variance of 678 square feet per unit.
Another variance, which sparked the most debate, is for parking. The zoning code requires 166 off-street parking spaces, but 80 enclosed and lot spaces are proposed, for a variance of 86 parking spaces. Parking was a flash point during the Feb. 24 debate. City staff recommended denial of the variances. Matthew Graybar of the BZA staff said that adding more than 80 vehicles “would flood the area.”
Planning staff, in a memo, also recommended denial. City staff suggested a smaller, 80-unit building but the developers said that didn’t make sense financially.
One wrinkle in the issue is this: the property’s underlying RM residential multifamily zoning could face changes as a result of an ongoing St. Paul Planning Commission study. The study and a future city council decision to change the zoning code could mean the site could accommodate a new five-story building with more than 350 apartments if the Sholom complex came down and a new multi-family structure went up. That study, and a second study calling for relaxed parking standards citywide, could compound the area’s parking problems
BZA members debated the issues at length and voted on the variances separately. They made requests including asking the developers to provide incentives for transit use. Some Snelling Ave.developers in recent months have given tenants a bus card at the start of their leases.
“The problem is where this site is,” said board member Luis Rangel-Morales. “You can provide all kinds of incentives, but people will still drive.”
“That area really struggles with parking issues,” said board member Daniel Miller. But board members ultimately agreed that the project should go ahead, noting that if parking is a problem the developers will have to find a solution or lose residents.

Will lack of parking affect how many rent?
The community development corporation, Northeast Neighborhoods Development Corporation, is a development partner. Its executive director, Chuck Repke, said developers wouldn’t be moving ahead with the project if they didn’t think it was viable. The developers met four times with neighbors to discuss the project.
The developers raised several arguments, including financial viability and building reuse, in making their case for the variances. Plans call for 22 studio apartments; 97 one-bedroom apartments; 24 two-bedroom apartments of 800-900 square feet; and seven three-bedroom apartments. Apartments would be market-rate. Repke describes prospective residents as empty nesters and graduate students.
He predicted many residents won’t own vehicles but will rely on transit and possibly a shared-use vehicle or vehicles at the building. “You’re not going to find better transit than Snelling Ave.,” Repke said.
“Clearly there are limitations on parking,” Repke said. “I’ve been there during the state fair and it is insane.”
Como Community Council/District 10 recommended approval of the variances.
One neighbor, Kathy Kelly, appeared in opposition to express concerns about parking. She said her block of Midway Parkway is already greatly affected by spillover parking from the frequent uses of the fairground and park activities. “Now summer weekends will be every single day of our lives,” she said.
Repke said the developers would personally work with neighbors on parking issues and even help them submit applications for residential permit parking.

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{ Monitor in a Minute } March 2020

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Billboard can go up
OutFront Media will be allowed to erect a large digital display billboard near Highway 280 and Interstate 94, as a result of St. Paul City Council action Feb. 19. On a 6-1 vote the council rejected a citizen’s appeal and upheld a Planning Commission decision allowing the new 14 by 48-foot digital billboard.
Ward Four Council Member Mitra Jalali, who represents the neighborhood where the new digital sign will be located, said that while she understands the emotions around the billboard issue, she also didn’t find that the planning commission erred in its decision. Upholding the appeal would have meant finding that the commission made a mistake.
“I do understand the concerns,” Jalali said, noting that she lives near the sign in question. But she didn’t see enough evidence to warrant overturning the planning commission decision.
Ward Seven Council Member Jane Prince voted against denying the appeal, citing the potential distraction and public safety concerns a digital sign could create. That was among the arguments made by sign foes. OutFront Media has countered with studies stating that digital signs haven’t been found to create traffic hazards.
The planning commission in December 2019 approved a change in nonconforming use relocation to allow one of two sign faces to be moved slightly and converted to digital use. The new sign will be visible from the highways at its location at 2516 Wabash Ave., just west of Highway 280 and north of I-94. Billboard relocation and conversion ordinances mandate that OutFront Media remove six square feet of illuminated billboard space or eight square feet of non-illuminated billboard space, for each square foot of dynamic display space created. City and OutFront Media staff negotiated the list of smaller billboards to be moved, of about 5,500 square feet.
The planning commission decision was appealed by St. Anthony Park resident Keith Hovland.
The appeal was supported by Scenic St. Paul and the St. Anthony Park Community Council.
In exchange for the new digital sign face, New York-based OutFront Media will take down 38 smaller billboards. Twelve will be in Ward Four, where the new digital sign will be erected. Numbers vary in other wards.
Some city council and planning commission members expressed support for the taking down of smaller, neighborhood sign faces. But Jeanne Weigum of Scenic St. Paul said it isn’t much of a trade in some cases, showing the council pictures of neglected sign faces and even one instance where only a sign support posts, and no sign face itself remained. A peeling billboard she showed was surrounded by trees and bushes.
John Bodger of OutFront Media said the company believes the Planning Commission didn’t err. He disputed contentions that digital signs distract drivers, saying that snow and ice create bigger problems.
The sign faced to be moved will be only moved about one foot, Bodger said. “Every ward gets at least two sign faces removed. He described the signs to be taken down in the exchange as smaller, older signs.”

10 Minute Walk grants
The Trust for Public Land has given five St. Paul nonprofits $10,000. Each group is to use the funds for parks access.
The 10 Minute Walk grants will allow five district councils to work on parks planning and public engagement focused on parks. Union Park District Council, Hamline Midway Coalition, District One Southeast Community Organization, District 3 West Side Community Organization, District North End Neighborhood Association each received $10,000.
The grants are meant to help the councils connect residents to existing parks resources. Outreach to underrepresented and marginalized communities is also required. A third aspect of the grant process is that recipients are expected to empower people to become advocates for parks and green spaces.
Another focus is to make parks safer and more accessible to people of all cultures, and to raise awareness of parks funding needs.
Another area park goes a boost in February when the city council accepted $250,000 in Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership dollars for the Midway Peace Park on Griggs Street between St. Anthony and University avenues.

Permits allow, bike, ped trail
The city of St. Paul and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) have reached agreement on a small piece of a bike-pedestrian trail. On Feb. 26, the St. Paul City Council approved the limited use permit with MnDOT for use of right-of-way on Snelling Ave., which is also Trunk Highway 51, at Snelling and Como avenues.
The city plans to build and maintain a bike and pedestrian trail along Como between Raymond and Hamline avenues. A short portion of the trail is within the Snelling right-of-way. That means the state permit requirement kicks in. The permit requires that the city indemnifies the state from all claims for injury to or death of persons or loss of or damages to property occurring on the trail, or connected with the city’s use and occupancy of the area, except when such injury, death, loss, or damage is caused solely by the negligence of State of Minnesota.
The permit is for the street segment of Como below the Snelling overpass.
On Feb. 19, the city council approved a similar permit with the University of Minnesota, to allow for temporary construction activities to take place on U of M property.

Clean-up, development funds approved
In Febuary, the city of St. Paul accepted state and regional funds for redeveloping several sites around the city. The sites include proposed development locations in the Monitor coverage area.
Metropolitan Council recently approved  a Livable Communities Demonstration Account Development grant of $392,500.00 for 262 University Ave, the Springboard for the Arts/SpringBOX; a $100,000 Livable Communities Demonstration Account Pre-Development grant of $100,000.00 for Little Saigon Plaza at 365 University Ave. and a Livable Communities Act Tax Base Revitalization Account grants of $49,200 for 1222 University Ave. The site at 1222 University Ave. was built as a casket company. It has housed a wide range of retail uses and is eyed for affordable housing development.
The city applies for the funding, through Metropolitan Council and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. It then must formally accept the funds and amend the city budget. The city then works with developers to utilize funds in the project.
The funds are used for site cleanup and transit-oriented developments.

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Events March 2020

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

*Please note – Since publication, things have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check before going. All gatherings with over 50 people have been deemed unsafe by the governor.

Partners and spouses support group
NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is sponsoring a support group specifically for partners or spouses of someone who lives with a mental illness. The Partners & Spouses support group meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month from 6:30-8 p.m., at Falcon Heights United Church of Christ, 1795 Holton Street (Holton & Garden), in Falcon Heights. For more information, call Melissa at 651-354-0825 or Sara at 763-350-6502.

Build skills at home maintenence series
Rethos: Places Reimagined and the Minnesota Tool Library are teaming up to host a five-part basic home maintenance class series through the month of March. Topics include updating old electrical systems, basic toilet repairs, drain maintenance and replacement, and more. These are beginner-level classes, ideal for brand new homeowners, aspiring DIYers, and anyone needing a refresher on basic household maintenance and repair. No experience necessary Feeling Frayed? Updating Old Electrical on Tuesday, March 17, 6-8p.m., Minnesota Tool Library – St. Paul Branch. MTL Basics: Fix It (Electrical) on Tuesday, March 24, 6-8 p.m. Minnesota Tool Library – Northeast Minneapolis Branch. If Walls Could Talk… on Tuesday, March 31, 6-8 p.m. at Minnesota Tool Library – St. Paul Branch. Classes are $25 each. Registration is available online through the Minnesota Tool Library website: mntoollibrary.simpletix.com. Tool Library members receive 20% off registration.

‘We’re all going to be okay’ at Hamline
Hamline’s award-winning theatre department presents, “We’re All Gonna Be Okay” on March 12, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. in the Anne Simley Theater (1530 W. Taylor Ave.) The play confronts the fear and hysteria around the events of 1962 while exploring the false security and conformity of the era. It was written by gender-conforming playwright Basil Kreimendahl and directed by Laura Dougherty, and produced and performed by Hamline students. Email tickets@Hamline.edu for tickets. Prices range from $2 for students to $8 for community members.

Guitar society show
The Minnesota Guitar Society will present Minnesota-born-and-raised, New York-based, widely praised classical guitarist Austin Wahl in concert at the Sundin Music Hall (1531 Hewitt Ave.) on Saturday, arch 14, 7:30 p.m. His program includes classic works by Joaquin Rodrigo, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and J. S. Bach as well as contemporary compositions by Roland Dyens, Sergio Assad, and Robert Beaser. Tickets $10-$25 at the box office and in advance at www.mnguitar.org.


Free concert set
On Sunday, March 22, 2020, at 3 p.m. the East Metro Symphony Orchestra (EMSO), will present The Orchestra Family, a concert highlighting the EMSO family of musicians, at Sundin Music Hall at Hamline University in St. Paul. Admission is free. For more information, go to www.emsorch.org.

How’s the economy?
How is Minnesota’s economy doing? What trends will impact the state over the next 12 months and more? Find out answers, outlooks and more from Minnesota DEED Commissioner, Steve Grove. during the Midway Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting and luncheon on March 18, 11:30-1 p.m. at Bethel University’s Anderson Center (2 Pine Tree Dr.).

Learn to drum
Women’s Drum Center, 2242 University Ave., will offer a class in hand drums for beginners on March 24, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $10. Drums are provided. Visit womensdrumcenter.org.

Spaghetti dinner set
Attend the spaghetti dinner at St. Stephanus Lutheran Church, 739 Lafond Avenue, on Saturday, April 4, 2020 from 5 to 7 p.m. Adult $10, Children ages 5-12 $5; take out available.

Amharic-English worship set for April 11
Mekane Yesus and Jehovah Lutheran Church will conduct a bilingual Easter Vigil worship service at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at the church they share, 1566 Thomas in St. Paul. An ancient liturgy in a family-friendly form — Service of Light, readings, baptism and Eucharist — will be spoken in English and Amharic, an Ethiopian language. At 6 p.m. Maundy Thursday, April 9, a Seder meal precedes a brief Communion worship service. Christians borrow Seder, the traditional Jewish Passover meal, to commemorate Jesus’ last supper with the disciples. To reserve a place for one or more participants, contact the church by April 7 (jelcoffice@gmail.com, 651-644-1421). A free-will contribution will be accepted at the event.

Theosophical Society plans events
Rick Saxton will present slides and a video to illustrate many mysterious powers of sacred sound 7 p.m. Monday, April 13, in third-floor conference room S-330 at the Griggs-Midway bldg., 1821 University Ave. W., St. Paul. Sponsor of this open public meeting is the Theosophical Society. His presentation on the mystical power of sound will demonstrate the effects of vibration on the physical, mental and spiritual planes. The Theosophical Society offers a free public showing of “LightSource: A Sacred Geometry Experience” 7 p.m. Monday, April 27 in third-floor conference room S-330 at the Griggs-Midway building, 1821 University Ave. W, St. Paul. The program features a deep dreaming soundtrack and guided imagery. It is based on out-of-body exploration by Robert Monroe of the Monroe Institute and sounds and feels like a shamanic journey. Refreshments. Requested donation. (651) 235-6645. www.mntheosociety.org.

Textile garage sale
Beginning as a modest fundraising event 20 years ago, Textile Center’s World’s Largest Textile Garage Sale has grown into an extraordinary sales event, serving artists, makers and nonprofits across the region with textile materials at bargain prices. The sale is set for Saturday, April 18, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Minnesota ReUse Program Warehouse (883 29th Ave. S.E.). Admission is $3. Shop the preview sale on Friday night, April 17, 5:30-8 p.m. Admission is $30/$25 members.

Professor Carolyn Pressler retires
Honor United Theological Seminary Professor Carolyn Pressler at the time of her retirement. On April 27 1-9- p.m.: Worship, dedication of the James B. Nelson classroom, banquet to celebrate our distinguished alum and anniversary classes. April 28 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m.: Plenary session address by Carolyn Pressler with comments by her faculty colleagues. Registration information will be available soon.

Merriam Park Libary events

Fitz & Friends: This Side of Paradise, Sunday, March 15, 3 -4 p.m. Mark Taylor, an educator and interpreter with the Minnesota Historical Society, will discuss F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise and Fitzgerald’s relationship with his eventual publisher and editor, Maxwell Perkins, of Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Health Care Fraud—Preventing Medicare Fraud and Avoiding Scams, Tuesday, March 24, 10:30 a.m. -noon. Learn how to detect Medicare fraud and what to do if Medicare Fraud is suspected. A representative from the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging will discuss the top scams directed towards seniors, offer tips on how to avoid falling for scams and where to get help if you or loved one is scammed.
Read Brave with John Coy, Sunday, March 29, 1:30-3:30 p.m.Join us as author John Coy introduces his new book, If We Were Gone: Imagining the World Without People. After the story, stay for a family-oriented landscape-design project created from recyclable materials.
Read Brave Conversations with Eric Holthaus, Tuesday, March 31, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Join us as we discuss our climate crisis, share stories about how it has impacted our communities, and work together to brainstorm solutions. Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist and journalist for The Correspondent, covering climate science, policy, and solutions. He has previously written for the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and a variety of other publications.
Senior LinkAge Line, Tuesday, April 7, 10:30 a.m. The Senior LinkAge Line® is Minnesota’s free statewide information and assistance service. Attend this free program (offered by the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging) and learn more about the Senior LinkAge Line and how it can help you!
The Merriam Park Library is located at 1831 Marshall Ave. For more information, call 651-642-0385 or visit www.sppl.org.

Upcoming parks events

Summer sports registration is March 1-31 for t-ball, machine pitch, softball, and baseball ages 3-17. First five registration days are discounted.
North Dale Recreation Center. Call 651-558-2329 or visit www.stpaul.gov/northdalerec
• Saturday, March 28, Home Buying,10-11:30am, adults
• Monday/Wednesday, April 6-May 13, Tai Ji Quan, 1-2pm, adults
• Saturday, April 11-18, Conflict Resolution for Adults, 11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m., adults
• Breakfast With The Bunny, Saturday, April 4 from 10-11:30 a.m.
Northwest Como Recreation Center. Call 651-298-5813 or visit www.stpaul.gov/northwestcomorec
• Monday-Friday, March 30-April 3, Internet Broadcast Training, 1-3 p.m., ages 10-13
• Thurday, April 9-30, Spoken Word, 2:15-4:15 p.m., ages 7-11
• Friday, April 17-May 8, Grafetti Street Art, 2:15-4:15p.m., ages 7-12

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