Q&A: Resiliency at St. Paul College

Q&A: Resiliency at St. Paul College

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

All courses at Saint Paul College (235 Marshall Ave.) moved to remote delivery approaches in response to the COVID-19 situation. Some of the technical, service and health sciences programs require face-to-face instruction, which may resume later this summer, according to St. Paul College Interim President Deidra Peaslee. Almost all of the students returned to class April 6 after the extended spring break.

The St. Paul College International Student Coordinator meets with international students to check in on how they are doing and provide any support they may need.

– How has COVID19 and the Stay at Home order affected the college?

As with everyone, the coronavirus (COVID-19) and Stay at Home Order have affected every aspect of the life of Saint Paul College.  We  feel very fortunate, however, to have been declared an essential service so that our students can successfully complete their spring term courses and continue their college education this summer and next fall.

– How have you changed your offerings for students in light of the COIVD-19 situation?

All of the course instruction and support services at Saint Paul College were moved to remote delivery approaches in March.  Our last  in-person courses were March 14.  The last day on-campus for all faculty and staff was Friday, March 20.  By March 25, our student support services resumed operations using remote delivery approaches.  Our classes resumed remotely on Monday, April 6.  Some of our technical, service and health sciences programs require face-to-face instruction so we’re hoping those classes can complete their remaining components later this summer.  From early on, the College has also communicated and posted on our website a wide range of resources to help our students, faculty and staff as they switch to remote instruction, service provision and learning.  That included access to free and low-cost Internet access, computers, and a wide range of community resources to help themselves and their families during this very challenging time.

– What factors have gone into your decisions?

   All our decisions in response to the coronavirus have focused on two goals:

  • First and foremost, keeping all students, faculty and staff safe and healthy by strictly following the latest recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Second, providing every means possible for current students to complete their Spring Term courses successfully.

– How are students managing things and what are you hearing from them?

Yes, we have been hearing from them.  First, almost all of them returned after their extended Spring Break to resume learning when classes restarted remotely on April 6.  Second, our students have been amazingly resilient, not just in finishing their courses, but handling the many other challenges the coronavirus and Stay at Home Order have imposed on them and, in many cases, their children and extended family as well.  Many of them have lost their employment in addition to having new responsibilities for supporting their children in K-12 schools learning remotely.  Some of them also have faced health challenges either their own or within their extended families.  Whenever Saint Paul College has learned of a student, faculty or staff member contracting the coronavirus, we have reached out to express our concern for them and to provide them information to a wide range of resources that can help them during their recovery. 

– What have you heard from educators ?

Our faculty and staff have quite simply been extraordinary.  Saint Paul College’s faculty and staff have long been known and admire for their dedication to supporting students and helping them be successful.  That’s never shown itself more than over the past number of weeks.  It has, of course, been a very stressful time for all of us as we address this new challenge with very little time to prepare and lots of new information flowing almost constantly since early March.  But I couldn’t be more pleased or proud of how the Saint Paul College faculty and staff have pulled together to keep our instruction and support for students moving forward with quality and integrity despite all the challenges in moving rapidly to new teaching and service delivery approaches.

– How do you see this affecting your industry as a whole and what concerns you?

This, of course, is the key question facing all of society as we move through this pandemic.  What does the future hold?  As with any  major event, particularly one reaching every corner of our globe, I’m sure the coronavirus will have long-term and very significant ramifications for higher education.  Beyond the short-term challenges we’ve faced already, we’ll have financial ramifications like most organizations.  Saint Paul College is extremely fortunate to have built significant reserves that will be very helpful in balancing our budgets and maintaining our staffing levels over the next few years.  In the medium term, we’re working hard to assure we can maintain utmost quality in our instruction and support services during our Summer and Fall Terms.  We anticipate it may be some while before we can resume all of the on-campus, face-to-face instruction and services we enjoyed until mid-March.  But having nearly completed Spring Term with only a couple of weeks to prepare, I’m confident we’ll do even better in preparing for Fall Term. I also think that, over the long term, all of us in higher education will take away many lessons from this experience including how we can serve students with alternative approaches to our traditional face-to-face delivery, maintain flexibility and agility in responding to crises and find new ways to work together successfully even though we can’t do so on-campus right now.



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Q&A with Defining You Pilates and Fitness

Q&A with Defining You Pilates and Fitness

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Defining You Pilates and Fitness owner Suzy Levi teaches a class via Zoom. (Photo submitted)

Defining You Pilates and Fitness (550 Vandalia St.) quickly transitioned to a virtual studio format in March, pointed out owner Suzy Levi. The studio is offering 3-4 live group classes daily (mat pilates, yoga, barre, strength and HIIT formats), and has a Zoom library for members. Memberships and class sampler packs are available at several different rates starting at $19.99. There are also free weekly workouts on the studio’s YouTube channel.
Defining You is collaborating with an innovative fitness collective effort locally called Sweat Minnesota. This grassroots partnership of Twin Cities fitness pros and studios hosts a free line-up of all types of classes every other Saturday, and Defining You has hosted three classes on Facebook Live.

– How has COVID19 and the Stay at Home order affected your business?

Fortunately Defining You Pilates and Fitness was able to quickly transition to a Virtual studio format upon learning of Governor’s mandate on March 16.

Several days after temporarily closing our brick-and-mortar studio in Vandalia Tower we were up-and-running with virtual group classes on Zoom, for some of our Pilates Mat and Fitness Classes. Unfortunately our clients are missing out on our fabulous Pilates Reformer and Tower classes that utilize our apparatus equipment, which is all housed at the studio.

We’re grateful to so many of our loyal clients for sticking with us through this tough patch, enabling us to serve  people through fitness and ultimately working to support the greater community’s physical health and emotional wellbeing.


This pandemic brings to the forefront how important maintaining your health is, as a defense against the virus. Exercise and movement is essential to our wellbeing and we are thrilled we can provide this to our clients and our greater community.


– What do your current operations look like and when will you reopen?

  • Defining You has pivoted to a Virtual studio format and we’ve been up and running on Zoom for the last 6 weeks. Every day, we offer several live virtual group classes to bring our community together to move more, protect our health, support one another and stay connected. Classes include mat Pilates, Yoga, Barre, Strength and HIIT formats.
  • As an added benefit, DYF members have access to our Zoom library of virtual classes. So if they miss a favorite class, they can catch it at a later date/time. Or, if there is a class they love, they can run through it as many times as they like! We’ve heard from members that the Defining You Zoom library is a valuable offering, particularly during quarantine. We also offer pre-recorded virtual Sampler Packs of 3- or 5-classes for purchase for non-members.
  • We offer private training sessions virtually for individuals who appreciate one-on-one  support from our certified Pilates teachers and functional fitness trainers.
  • And, we’re publishing free weekly workouts on our You Tube channel. These range from HIIT to Pilates to our latest Big Ball workout that utilizes an extra-large exercise ball!
  • Fortunately we’re also collaborating with an innovative fitness collective effort locally called Sweat Minnesota. This grassroots partnership of Twin Cities fitness pros and studios hosts a free line up of all types of classes every-other Saturday, with their next event on May 16. Defining You has hosted three Sweat Minnesota classes on Facebook Live and anyone can visit our Facebook account and enjoy these free classes as well.
  • We have a plan in place to reopen as soon as Governor Walz gives us the green light and we’re working behind the scenes to make sure the studio space is ready and that our team is well prepared. Once the restrictions are lifted, our strategy is to reopen Defining You in stages; we will take it slow and be cautious being mindful and following the COVID-19 guidelines established by the Department of Health and the CDC.


– Did you secure a PPP loan or other assistance and how does that affect things for you?

As a St. Paul small business owner, I have applied for a PPP loan and a couple of other loans. I am still waiting to hear and am hopeful something will come through to help sustain the studio through the shutdown and the following 12 months as we anticipate it will take awhile to return operations to pre-COVID19.


– How many staff did you go into this with and what is the current situation? How are they managing things? 

Our operations staff of four has not been impacted, yet.

Our instructors and trainers have scaled back on teaching given we reduced our daily class schedule to three to four classes a day, compared to eight to 10 classes during pre-Coronavirus times.

Our staff is managing fairly well and we know we’re stronger together. We have ongoing check-in Zoom calls to support each other. This is a very tight network of thoughtful individuals who care very much for one another as well as our clients.


– How do you see this affecting your industry as a whole and what concerns you?

  • I know many small boutique studios and micro gyms  are hurting financially today, we are all trying to figure this out together and we appreciate any and all support from our neighbors and the local community.
  • Most fitness professionals and studio owners have very narrow margins to remain viable and profitable even in the good times. So, the Coronavirus era has taken a toll.
  • The good news is we are a determined team of business owners, and by working together we will figure this out. Organizations like Sweat Minnesota are doing so much good to support and invigorate the local fitness industry. I’m on the Board of the Pilates Method Alliance, we are continually offering guidance, support and insights to help those in our industry. In fact, just this week I hosted a Facebook live discussion related to nurturing and maintaining client relationships during a pandemic.
  • I believe there are silver linings to every trying situation. This Pandemic forced many of us to offer virtual options for our home bound clients sheltering in place. Going forward, this option will be a great value to clients who cannot make it to live classes due to work, family or other commitments. They can opt into these classes anytime, almost from anywhere. Virtual formats also provide us, as studio owners, with additional revenue streams and they add value to our studio programming. I was planning on adding this as an option at Defining You in Q4 for our fitness classes and Pilates Teacher Training Program. Now I can work on improving our product and it will be even better by the end of the year.

– How can the community support you?

  • We appreciate any and all support during this time, it means so much to me and our entire Defining You community.
  • Our welcoming studio is known for our supportive team of staff, clients and community members. We always emphasize that we meet clients where they’re at, at all levels. So, if there are readers who are looking to join a studio, we offer an introductory monthly membership for $69. This would include all our virtual group classes for one month. We also offer a 3- or 5- Virtual recorded class Sampler Pack for $19.99 and $29.99 respectively. With this option folks can choose the format series they’re interested in, join in the classes and also have access to those same classes in our Zoom library for up to one month.
  • Please visit our website at www.DefiningYouFitness.com or email our front desk team at definingyoufitnessdesk@gmail.com or call us at 651-769-5712.
  • If there are people who have tried Defining You and had a great experience, please tell your friends, neighbors and family! We also appreciate any positive reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.

– Any other comments?

I have said often, we will get through this. And, when we do, we will be better at what we do, better at helping people live their healthiest lives, better at appreciating the gifts we have.  We will be stronger, too.


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Q&A with Lula Vintage: ‘Shop small for real’

Q&A with Lula Vintage: ‘Shop small for real’

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Lula Vintage (1587 Selby Ave.), has been shut down since the Stay at Home order, losing the majority of its income. Owner Hayley Bush, who operates the shop by herself, is selling items online, through an Etsy shop called LULAVINTAGEMN, and off an Instagram account. She is planning to reopen the shop as soon as the governor gives his stamp of approval.

– How has COVID19 and the Stay at Home order affected your business? 

Since my store is a retail business, it must be closed during the stay at home order.
This means that LULA has no source of revenue besides online sales which are a very small percentage of our income.
We have an ETSY shop called LULAVINTAGEMN. We also sell items off our Instagram account.
Our main source of revenue is gone, however.
We will reopen as soon as we are given the stamp of approval for our governor.
– How do you see this affecting your industry as a whole and what concerns you? 
I am concerned that I have lost my spring business which is my best two months of the year and will not be able to financially rebound.
I am concerned that people will no longer have the financial stability to spend money at small businesses.
I am concerned that people will not want to brick and mortar shop as they now have become accoustomed to online shopping.
How can the community support you? 
People have bought gift cards as well as made special orders. People have gone at shopped at my etsy shop as well as just visited it – which moves it up in the search rankings.
Also, I have had cards and gifts sent from sweet, wonderful customers. People have donated clothing as they are cleaning out and just want the items to go to a good home.
I have had people send pictures of lounging at home in items from my shop. It’s has all given me a great comfort.
I really encourage people to shop small for real. Not just talk about it and pretend to do it but actually do it. If they don’t- only big companies will eventually be available to them who will then be able to charge whatever they’d like.
I read a study where one very small town, in one year, pumped over $300,000 into their own economy by agreeing to support their own businesses. St Paul is a big city- imagine what we could do if we all went to our own grocers and co-ops, shopped our own stores, ate at our own restaurants and hired our own local companies for the work we needed, Not only would our economy flourish but we could really be a great example for other cities.
Thank you for a platform to talk about this situation.
This is why local papers are important as they give voice to local issues.

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Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Home & Garden

Grow and assemble your own edible salad. (Photo by Jennifer Porwit)

By Jennifer Porwit, master gardener

Many of us live where our yards are small or we don’t even have a yard of our own at all. How can we grow our own food under those conditions? That situation requires thinking out of the box (or the garden). There are many tactics that can be used.

Scenario #1: All outside space is taken up by flowers or concrete.
Solution – Sneak edibles in amongst the strictly ornamental plants. In the background a shorter vining type of winter squash such as “Ponca” can be tied up onto a sturdy tripod. The diminutive ‘Bush Baby’ and ‘Raven’ zucchini varieties can be grown in the ground or in a large container. All of the squashes have large decorative leaves. Speaking of decoration, four-foot-tall ‘Red Burgundy’ okra has striking burgundy colored fruits and stems, as well as deep red flowers that look like small hibiscus blooms. A smaller red okra is ‘Little Lucy.’
Groups, rather than rows, of ‘Rainbow’ swiss chard can be tucked in here and there for glimpses of red, yellow and orange stems. As the plants grow the outer stems and leaves can be harvested on an on-going basis. Beets, the cousins of swiss chard, have dark green ruffled leaves with burgundy or yellowish stems, as well as the enlarged root. These are best placed where other plants will fill in when the beets are harvested. ‘Golden’ and ‘Detroit Dark Red’ are both varieties where the entire plant is edible. ‘Golden’ has the advantage of not having juice that stains.
Most of the tall varieties of tomatoes are best hidden at the back of a decorative garden and supported by sturdy stakes or enclosed in a large wire cylinder. However, the newer varieties of dwarf indeterminate tomatoes can be placed more centrally. These varieties range in height from 2 feet to 4 feet, and the fruit come in all colors. Some support is best. Varieties sold locally include ‘Rosella Purple, ‘Golden Gypsy,’ and ‘Heartland.’ Very short varieties like ‘Tiny Tim’(cherry) and ‘New Big Dwarf’ (slicer) and can be placed front and center.
Carrots have fine feathery foliage which is ideal as a front edging for a bed. It has the advantage of looking good until late in the season. Individual plants can be harvested on an ongoing basis while maintaining the overall look. Another edging choice is lettuce, which comes in many colors and textures and can be harvested a few leaves at a time from many plants or whole plants can be removed where there is a crowd. In a couple days the remaining plants grow and the harvested one isn’t even missed. When lettuce goes to seed it can be easily pulled as part of regular maintenance.
Herbs such as dill, basil, rosemary, and chives all are small plants that can be tucked in here and there in a decorative garden very easily. Dill and chives are annual plants that need to be replanted each year. Rosemary is a perennial that is not winter-hardy here, but can be potted up and used as a houseplant in the winter. Chives are perennials that slowly multiply in place and can be harvested for many years.
Many flowers are edible and add color to a salad or stir fry. Included are nasturtiums, violets, basil, chamomile, pansy, rose, marigold, and daylily. Remember, do not eat any plant parts that have been sprayed with insecticide.
Unused edges or corners of patios, sidewalks and driveways are good places for large pots. Most all medium and small-sized edible plants can grow in pots as long as they do not have really large root systems.

Scenario #2: Very little of the yard has sun all of the time.
Solutions – Plant edibles that don’t require full sun, but tolerate partial sun (four to eight hours of direct sun per day), such as: arugula, asparagus, beets, bok choi, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, garlic, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, parsnip, potatoes, radish, rhubarb, rutabaga, scallions, spinach, tatsoi, and turnip. Note that these all are leafy or root crops, not fruits.
Chase the sun – a dwarf variety of tomato plant in a large pot can be moved around the yard by means of a small wagon or wheelbarrow.

Scenario #3: There is no ground to plant in where one lives.
Solutions – Rent a plot in a community garden. Help a friend or an elderly person with his/her garden and share the produce. Where potted plants are allowed at multifamily units fill the pots with edibles instead of strictly decorative plants.
When growing vegetables in pot it is advisable to fill the pot with well-draining potting soil that drains well, not soil from a garden that tends to compact and get hard. Growing plants in pots requires regular fertilization. It is important to read the label on the fertilizer packaging and follow the advice given regarding how much fertilizer to use and how often it should be applied. Too much fertilizer is as bad as too little.
Grow sprouts of various kinds in your kitchen. Common seeds to sprout are alfalfa seeds, broccoli seeds, red clover seeds, lentils, mung beans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds. The only equipment needed is a glass jar with a sprouting screen lid. Besides being nutritious, sprouts can be grown year around. Bean sprouts are an essential ingredient in many Asian dishes.



School spreads message of joy during distance learning

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

St. Paul City School District has a message for its 540 students: “We miss you and we are here for you!”
St. Paul City School staff is putting some heart into their distance learning plans by visiting individual students at home to post a message of joy and support in front lawns. “We want our families to know they are being supported from afar even in these uncertain times,” said District Executive Director Dr. Meg Cavalier. “This closure has been difficult for all of us, but our community has risen to the challenge by continuing to celebrate and care for our students above all.”
St. Paul City School (SPCS) is a public charter school district whose three school sites serve preschool through 12th grade students. Like all schools across the state, St. Paul City School temporarily closed all buildings and moved to distance learning for the remainder of the school year.
After the technical pieces were set in motion, such as getting classrooms online and delivering books and other materials to students’ homes, SPCS knew they needed to go one step further to bring joy to the community. “We want to help students and families find a smile in the midst of this really scary time,” explained Primary and Middle School Principal Justin Tiarks. That’s when SPCS staff began printing signs with the message “We miss you! We are here for you” in English, Spanish, and Hmong and planting them in the front yards of each of their students. Some staff were even lucky enough to get to wave to their students from afar.
Distance learning is a practice that all Minnesota schools are in the process of getting used to. There are plenty of challenges; “I don’t get to see my friends and help people or do group projects,” says Lyna N., a fifth grader at St. Paul City Primary School.
Some families struggle to access technology, meals, mental health supports, and other resources typically provided by schools.
But there are also highlights to note. “I have really enjoyed working so closely with students and their families each day. It is nice to have time to connect with families and get to know them better,” said second grade teacher Brittany Burrows.

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Food program reopens

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Feeding Frogtown reopens Friday, May 15 at St. Paul City School after shutting down in March. It will no longer offer walk-up distribution. Folks must drive up or call 612-440-8570 for delivery in Frogtown, Rondo or the North End. Beginning Friday, May 22, two satellite sites will open: at Frogtown Farm (bottom of the hill along Minnehaha) and Como Place Apartments.

The Frogtown Farm board has announced it will scale back this year to smaller areas that can be maintained by a reduced farm crew and hold monthly pop-up produce distributions. A cover crop will be planted on the larger fields to enrich the soil for the 2021 season.

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{ Development Roundup } May 2020

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen


University and Fairview plan
Plans for a 146-apartment, five-story mixed-use building near University and Fairview avenues met resistance from the Union Park District Council (UPDC) land use committee. On split votes in March, the committee recommended denial of developer LIG Investments’ requests for a conditional use permit and density variance for the project at 1790-1800 University Ave. the request goes to the full district council for action in the future.
Hamline Midway Coalition has also reviewed the request but took no action.
The project would eventually go to the St. Paul Planning Commission for final approval, regardless of whether or not is has district council support. The site is zoned traditional neighborhoods 3, so no zoning change would be needed.
Developer Alex Gese of LIG Investments is working with Joshua Jansen from Collage Architects on project plans.
Some land use committee members said they couldn’t support the project because of its lack of affordable housing. Others said they needed more time to discuss the plans, but the online meeting was drawing to a close. Supporters said the project is a way to redevelop a site with two older buildings for a higher and better use.
The demand for more affordable housing is also a topic the Planning Commission is studying. St. Paul currently has no inclusionary zoning ordinances that tie zoning approvals to provision of affordable housing units. These ordinance can be used to require that a given share of a new building be affordable to low to moderate-income residents.
St. Paul can only require affordable housing be built if a project developer seeks a city, state or federal funding source.
The project would have a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments, with 10 units apiece of the two and three bedroom units. Rents would start at $1,700 for one bedroom and go up to $2,400 for the larger three-bedroom units.
The development site is occupied by two longtime University Avenue businesses, Hafner Furniture at 1800 University Ave. and Bonded Auto Repair at 1790 University Ave. The buildings are at the southwest corner of University and Beacon Street. Gese said the site has its challenges including the need for environmental cleanup.
Eason said the project would help meet market demand for apartments.
The first-floor commercial space could open with a coffee kiosk, which could be developed into a full bar/restaurant in the future. The wide front sidewalk would be an amenity for a first-floor occupant, said Jansen.
Because the site is zoned for TN3 and is along the Green Line light rail transit corridor, it isn’t required to have any off-street parking. Seventy-six enclosed parking spaces and bike parking are planned.

University/Hampden development moves ahead

John O’Brien, who manages the commercial Wright Building west of the site, appeared at the Zoning Committee public hearing to speak in opposition. The Wright Building has off-street parking it already must police to keep non-tenant vehicles out. He believes that such a large parking variance next door will mean more vehicles illegally parked in the lot.

A proposed five-story building with 147 apartments and 1,400 square feet of commercial space won approval from the St. Paul Planning Commission Friday April 3. Paster Development and Yellow Tree Management are seeking a conditional use permit and variances for 2225 University Ave. The developers would tear down a one-story office building and cinderblock garage that are currently on the ell-shaped property.
The Planning Commission Zoning Committee voted March 12 to support the conditional use permit and variances, despite staunch neighborhood opposition to a parking variance. The project drew letters in opposition from almost 100 neighbors opposed to the project’s parking variance, citing high demand for parking in the area already created by other apartment buildings in the area. The variance is for 57 spaces. The project has 80 underground, with the rest in a parking lot along Charles Ave. The project requires 147 spaces.
Mike Sturdivant of Paster Development said they don’t anticipate that every building resident will own a motor vehicle, given its location along light rail and local bus routes. The development team also said they would provide ample bike parking for residents.
The site’s location along Green Line light rail and bus routes justify the parking variance. The property was rezoned for traditional neighborhoods use in 2011, as part of a sweeping University Ave. rezoning process. Had the site been rezoned for TN use, it would not be required to provide any off-street parking.
“The zoning to industrial-transitional came at a time when there was concern about the loss of industrial zoning,” said Senior City Planner Anton Jerve.
St. Anthony Park Community Council and three other property owners and residents also sent letters of approval.
The project requires Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) approval, as it is in the Historic Raymond Village Heritage Preservation District.
The site is long and narrow, with 103 feet of frontage along University Ave. Its north end abuts Charles Ave., extending all the way to Pillsbury Ave. Its site is sloping, and the grade at Charles is eight feet higher than the grade at University.

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Absentee voting may happen

Absentee voting may happen

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

District 10 Como Community Council

Michael Kutchta

By Michael Kuchta,
Executive Director


The Como Community Council board will vote May 19 on whether to allow absentee voting for 2020 board elections. An advisory committee is recommending a two-week window in June during which community members could vote by mail or by using an online ballot.
Under the district council’s bylaws, elections were supposed to take place April 21 at the District 10 annual meeting. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the board postponed the in-person meeting and elections that go with it, in order to comply with Minnesota’s ban on public gatherings. Changing voting procedures requires changing the district council’s bylaws, which the board expects to do this month.
Under a draft proposal, eligible community members in District 10 would request a ballot, then return it before June 16. The ability to vote absentee will allow community members to participate more on their timeline, rather than requiring them to show up in person at a particular time in a particular place one night a year.
Details on how to request a ballot will be posted on the district council’s website after May 19: www.district10comopark.org.
Still time to run: The website will also have details on candidates. Nine seats are up for election this year. In most of the positions, no incumbent is running. The deadline for candidates to file is Tuesday, May 19.

Zoo will keep parking free
After months of study, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory says it will not implement paid parking this year, in 2021, or likely anytime soon. Research suggests that, if Saint Paul charged for parking, frequent visitors would visit less often and spend less when they do visit.
Charging even $1 an hour for parking would drive down attendance by more than 20 percent during the summer, according to projections by Zoo Advisors, an outside consultant hired by the city. Although parking itself would turn a profit, the revenue gain would not offset the revenue lost from sources such as voluntary admission donations, food and souvenir purchases, tickets to Como Town amusement rides, and fundraising, projections show.
“Some version of paid parking has been a topic in Como Park for many years,” says Michelle Furrer, director of the Zoo and Conservatory. “It was our intent to gather accurate data to inform decisions. The feasibility of this as a revenue source shows it would not be a long-term benefit to the city.”
Opponents said charging for parking would compromise the Zoo and Conservatory’s long legacy of free access, in which visitors are admitted regardless of their ability to pay.

Neighborhood construction
• The Board of Zoning Appeals holds a public hearing Monday, May 18 at 3 p.m. on outside sign variances being sought by Como Park Senior High School.
• Saint Paul now says Como Ave. will not be rebuilt between Hamline and Snelling this year. The city and Ramsey County still intend to rebuild Como between Snelling and the Raymond/Cleveland intersection in fall 2020 (presumably after the State Fair). That work includes the off-street Como Ave. Trail that goes with it. But the stretch east of Snelling is put off until 2021, unless something dramatic changes.
• The city’s Planning Commission on May 1 approved rezoning 1015 Bandana Blvd. from B3 commercial to T3 traditional to allow construction of a 152-unit apartment building atop the existing parking ramp. The commission also approved a setback variance. Both votes were 12-0.

Fresh path builds on local ideas
A newly rebuilt bicycle and pedestrian path in Como Regional Park begins implementing recommendations from the Como Community Council’s Pathways Project. The path stretches roughly two-thirds of a mile from Schiffman Fountain, across Lexington, then along the golf course and up the hill toward Montana.
The portion west of Lexington was dug up and repaved. The portion east of Lexington was widened to 12 feet; it now officially allows two-way bicycle traffic through a stretch of the park that badly needs it.
Those improvements are among recommendations from the Pathways Project. The project’s final report gives Parks and Recreation specific suggestions to improve the condition and function of pedestrian and bicycle paths in the regional park; to upgrade signs; to create maps, kiosks, and other “wayfinding” tools; and to upgrade amenities along paths. The recommendations were the result of more than a year of study, including ideas from more than 300 park users.
The community council now is talking with Parks staff on how to incorporate more recommendations when the department rebuilds the parking lots outside the Lakeside Pavilion and the golf course. That construction is penciled in for fall 2020 or early 2021.

Call or video into D10 Meetings
District 10 board and committee meetings are continuing but, for the time being, they take place using technology rather than face to face. Renters, homeowners, and other community members are always welcome to participate, through either video conference or by phone.
To obtain links, phone numbers, or other information to join a meeting remotely, send a request by email to district10@district10comopark.org. Or, call in your request to 651-644-3889. Whenever possible, agendas are posted in advance in the “Board News” section of District 10’s website: www.district10comopark.org

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Online classes, support offered

Posted on 15 April 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Laurel Collins

By Laurel Collins

While all of our in-person events, classes and groups are cancelled through the end of April, Hamline Midway Elders remains open and we are available to assist older adults in our service area with grocery/meal delivery, rides to essential medical appointments, and friendly visits by phone. Please call our office at 651-209-6542 and leave a message if no one answers, we WILL get back to you.
Our Tai Chi Series with Bruce Tyler, and Chair Yoga series with Nancy Giguere, will continue ONLINE beginning the first week of April. Please email us for details, and an online invitation.
Check our website for updated information, www.hmelders.org, or contact Laurel Collins at 651-209-6542 or laurel@hmelders.org. Our service area borders are University Ave to the south, Dale Ave to the east, Pierce Butler Rd to the north, and Transfer Rd to the west.

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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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