PUZZLER: Have you seen this billboard?

PUZZLER: Have you seen this billboard?

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Mizna is an organization based in the Midway that promotes Arab-American culture through programming and their art/literary journal. They have partnered with the Minnesota Museum of American Art on a new exhibition, “History Is Not Here: Art and the Arab Imaginary.” The show, which has been in the works for two years, pushes back against Arab stereotypes and features both Arab and non-Arab artists from Northern Africa and Southwest Asia. The billboard at Vandalia and University is part of a series from that exhibition called “Self Portraits with Foreign Fruits and Vegetables,” by artist Raed Yassin. Yassin is from Lebanon, but lives in Germany. His series considers how easily fruits and vegetables from foreign lands are integrated into Western diets – even while those same Western cultures struggle with a growing fear of foreigners. The show is on view through Jan. 5, 2020 at the Minnesota Museum of American Art, 350 Robert Street North, St. Paul. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

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In Our Community Events December 2019

In Our Community Events December 2019

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

‘Uh, Oh, Here Comes Christmas’ Dec. 12-14
Applause Community Theatre presents “Uh, Oh, Here Comes Christmas” at Dreamland Arts, 677 Hamline Ave. N. The second weekend of shows are set for 7 p.m. Dec. 12-14. Holiday stories from the international best-selling author of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” have been crafted into an engaging evening of storytelling and song. This charming show takes a funny, heartwarming and often poignant look at the struggle to find the spirit of the holidays amid the avalanche of commercialism, stress and chaos that crashes down every December. Tickets: $15 ($12 student/senior). More at info@dreamlandarts.com.

‘Bandcake’ breakfast
Zion Lutheran Church, 1697 Lafond Ave., will host a “Bandcake” breakfast Saturday, Dec. 14, 9 a.m. – noon. Dine on pancakes, sausages, and fruit. There will also be a bake sale and raffle. Mercy Machine band will play country Christmas. Cost is $10 for individuals and $20 for families. This fundraiser will help make Zion disability accessible. Mira and Tom Kehoe will perform on piano and vocals with Kevin Daley on jazz guitar during a holiday concert on Friday, Dec 20 at 6:30 p.m. Carols by request from 7-9 p.m. Suggested contribution $10.

Beginning drums
Women’s Drum Center, 2242 University Ave., will offer a class in hand drums for beginners on Dec. 17, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $10. Drums are provided. Visit womensdrumcenter.org.

Solstice celebration
Hamline Midway Coalition is hosting an evening of festivities on Dec. 20 from 5-8:30 p.m. at Newell Park (intersection of Fairview Ave and Hewitt Ave.). Join friends and neighbors for a family-friendly evening with a chili cookoff (including prizes!), bonfire, s’mores, hot cocoa/cider, and sledding. Live music will include the Center for Irish Music Trio: Mary Vanorny (fiddle), John McCormick (accordion), Brian Miller (guitar). This trio brings together three gems of the Twin Cities Irish traditional music scene who are also instructors at the nearby Center for Irish Music. Mary, John and Brian have performed all over the Midwest with various groups and they share a love for Ireland’s rich traditions and the culture of fun that follows Irish music wherever it goes. More at HamlineMidway.org.

Yunomi pottery festival through Dec. 20
The Sixth Annual Yunomi Festival at the Raymond Avenue Gallery runs through Dec. 20, and features the work of 38 notable regional potters. Working (more or less) with the same form, each potter brings their own style of throwing and glazing to the small, handle-less cups on exhibit. Located at 761 Raymond Avenue, the gallery has been owned by artist Joseph Brown since 1985. It is the oldest operating gallery in Minnesota. Gallery hours in December will be Monday-Friday from 10a.m.-4 p.m.

Community band holiday concert
LexHam Community Band, conducted by Austin Ertelt, will perform a free concert of holiday music 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019 in Buetow Auditorium in the Music/Fine Arts Building at Concordia University, 310 Hamline Ave. N., Saint Paul, MN 55104. Musicians will bring snacks to share with audience members.

Christmas Eve lessons and carols
Jehovah Lutheran Church will conduct its annual Lessons & Carols worship service at 4 p.m. Christmas Eve. All are invited. The church is at 1566 Thomas in St. Paul. The traditional service, known worldwide and dating back a century or more, includes a sequence of beloved Christmas carols and Bible readings, including “Once in Royal David’s City” and a candlelit “Silent Night,” with children passing among worshipers to light candles provided for all in attendance. An organ prelude at 3:50 p.m. precedes worship.
Author speaks Jan. 13
Michigan author Cristo Bowers will speak on super sensory powers in an open public meeting of the Theosophical Society 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13 in Room 330 of the Griggs-Midway Bldg., 1821 University Ave. W., St. Paul. $10 requested donation. 651-235-6645

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. In addition to their presentations, Fireside authors will be asked to talk about the natural environment and what it means to them to complement the citywide conversation happening this winter as part of Read Brave Saint Paul. 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.

Free correctional ministry course
A free introductory course on correctional ministry for clergy and others is set for 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 21-March 10, at Concordia University in St. Paul. The course, offered jointly by Concordia University’s Department of Criminal Justice and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, outlines the history of corrections and mass incarceration and describes effective approaches, both clinical and Christian, to prevent recidivism. In-person classes will be in room 109 at Luther Hall, 1282 Concordia Ave. Online learning is available as well. Information is available from Seemann (seemann@csp.edu), a volunteer and board member with Crossing Home, a nonprofit that helps former prisoners adjust to living on their own. The group maintains an office at Jehovah Lutheran in St. Paul.

Hamline Midway Elders

By Laurel Collins, laurel@hmelders.org or 651-209-6542
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.
• Jan. 14 – Islam 101: Understanding Its Basics, with Mohamed Ahmed
Cards & Games: Jan. 14, 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.
Chair Yoga with Nancy: Dec. 12, 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.
Reading Buddies: 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month, 12:30–1:10 p.m.
We invite elders to be a Reading Buddy with third grade students at Hamline Elementary School. No experience is necessary, just a desire to interact with children. And you don’t have to attend every session, just come when your schedule permits.
Knitting & Crochet Group – Mondays from 1 to 3 pm (ongoing) at Hamline Church United Methodist
Hamline Midway Elders provides the yarn and needles, tea and cookies. 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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Como Community Council Corner December 2019

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director,

Upcoming District 10 Meetings
• Community Council Board Meeting: Tuesday Dec. 17
• Land Use Committee: Monday Jan. 6
• Neighborhood Relations Committee: Tuesday Jan. 7
• Environment Committee: Wednesday Jan. 8
All meetings typically begin at 7 p.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton. Renters, homeowners, and other community members are always welcome to attend and participate. Whenever possible, agendas are posted in advance in the “Board News” section of District 10’s website.

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Library upgrade, choir, D.C. fundraising

Library upgrade, choir, D.C. fundraising

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Eric Erickson

Como students performed “The Frog Princess” for the annual fall musical in the Cougar Forum. The cast and crew adapted well, moving their production to the forum while the auditorium was closed for remodeling. (Photo by Eric Erickson)

Physical improvements to the library at Como Park High School have also been accompanied by programming changes. Ms. Sheri Chaffee-Johnson, a veteran English teacher at Como, has transitioned to become the school librarian.
Chaffee-Johnson has transformed the library layout into an open, welcoming environment capitalizing on natural light and creating places for collaborative work, various work stations, and quiet nooks for reading and studying. There’s even the aroma of fresh coffee from the Cougar Grounds!
Academy of Finance (AOF) students who wanted to design a small business created the coffee shop in the library. It’s student-run, overseen by AOF teacher Ms. Erin Colestock. Coffee, tea, lattes, cappuccinos, and hot chocolate have proven to be popular and add ambiance.
Another new library program is peer tutoring for all core subjects at various hours throughout the day. Plus, the collection of books and resources are getting an overhaul to reflect relevance and fulfill students’ literary needs.
The Como Park Choirs will present the annual Pops Concert on Monday, Dec. 16 in the Como Auditorium from 7-8:30 p.m.  The show will feature five choirs performing music from High School Musical, Shrek, Reflection, Alessia Cara and more. Admission for the Pops Concert is $2 for adults, $1 for students and senior citizens. 
On Friday, Dec.20, the choir will go on tour around the neighborhood to perform for elementary school students. The concerts will be held at Chelsea Heights Elementary and Como Park Elementary.
Advanced Placement Government students who will be representing Como in the national Close Up Washington D.C. program in February are raising funds to support their trip. Students will be bagging groceries for customers at the Roseville Cub Foods on Larpenteur Ave. from 10a.m.–8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21. The group already worked a successful Cub fundraiser on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Cub customers generously support the effort of the students with donations that help defray the expense of the educational adventure. Community members interested in financially supporting students in the Close Up Washington D.C. program can also contact the trip coordinator at eric.erickson@spps.org.
Middle school students who are interested in experiencing a day of Como Park High School are invited to shadow a current Como student. Parents of interested prospective students who would like to shadow or take a tour may register by going to spps.org/visitcomo.
The Cougar girls’ basketball team began the season ranked in the state’s top ten for Class 3A and held the #4 spot as the Monitor went to press. The team is playing an extremely challenging non-conference schedule in December with three games against top-ten teams in Class 4A, including large suburban schools such as Wayzata, St. Louis Park and St. Michael-Albertville. As for the St. Paul City Conference, the Cougars will be aiming to win their sixth consecutive title.

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Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

After 50 years, she’s encouraging others

Editor’s note: The text below was from a speech Nadine wrote and gave at two Twin Cities churches during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We have used just her original first name and not her new name to protect her and her daughter.
My name is Nadine. I am 77 years old. I was married for 47 years. My daughter and I are in a protection program through the Minnesota Secretary of State and share a home. I work three part-time jobs, I assist my daughter who has a chronic illness. I am active in my church and community.
I’m telling my story not because it’s unusual, but because one in every three women will be faced with a similar story. It happens in every neighborhood, religion, nationality and workplace. Today in the time it takes me to tell my story over 200 Minnesota women will be abused.
It’s difficult to put 50 years into a few minutes.
I married this good humored man who came from an abusive background. His parents and grandfather were murdered by a family member.
We moved to Nebraska, where he was going to college, far from my family and friends. The first week, he came home from school and went into a rage because I fixed creamed corn when I also made gravy. He cleared everything from the table, leaving food and broken dishes on the floor, walls, everywhere. I was shocked! I had never seen anyone do such a thing. This was not the last time.
When I learned I was pregnant, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to tell him. He became very angry, called me terrible names. “How could you be so stupid as to get pregnant!” He grabbed me by the hair and dragged me across the room and pulled out a handful of hair from my head.
We moved to Minneapolis. He became Comptroller of Hennepin County Department of Social Services for 25 years. He learned the system well. At home, he controlled everything. He controlled what, when, where, and if we ate. He controlled when we went to bed and when we got up. Often in the middle of the night, he’d make us get up to do something he wanted done now. He went on lavish fishing and hunting trips, but there were no family vacations.
At Christmas, we opened gifts and ate, if and when he said we could. My daughter and I were nervous wrecks before holidays. His expectations of our daughter were totally unreasonable. Nothing we did was ever good enough. Everything that went wrong for him was someone else’s fault.
A friend told me he had purchased three airplanes. He didn’t even have a pilot’s license. When I asked why, he became very angry. He shouted, “I am the financial expert in the family and I’m not going to let you make the financial decisions. You are so dumb, you think 2+2 = 5. He threatened that he would take my daughter and I’d never see her again. “I have friends in high places. No one will believe you. You are nobody.” He threw me against the wall. I had large bruises on my legs, hips and head.
One day, my daughter and I went shopping. It took longer than he thought it should. When I took her home, she had a message on her answering machine that he was coming over with his .357 Magnum. Soon he was at her house yelling and waving a loaded gun at us. We were terrified. We were too afraid to call the police, for fear it would just get worse. I was threatened with a loaded gun on many other occasions.
I started having panic attacks every time I got in the car with him. He called me names, swore and yelled at me, and I felt trapped. One day alone he yelled at me over 74 times. I quit counting.
For over 40 years, I managed the accounting practice we started, but I was never allowed to get a salary or any benefits. He said,”I’m the accountant, so it’s my money.”
When he touched me, my stomach turned to knots. It was not affection. If he showed anything, it was a signal to go to bed with him. If I didn’t, I was called crude names and was told I was worthless.

Why didn’t I just leave?
• I feared what he would do to my daughter, my family and anyone who helped me.
• I feared that no one would believe me.
• I didn’t know who I could trust to turn to for help.
• I felt paralyzed, overwhelmed and couldn’t think clearly. All I could focus on was surviving each day.
• I didn’t know if I had the strength to leave.
•I was over 70 years old, with not a lot of technical skills or formal education. Who would hire me?
I had no job, no money, and I had no idea how I would survive financially.
• I feared my church would abandon me.

What made me leave?
Through counseling, I realized the real danger I was in. Have you ever seen someone with a loaded gun in his hand in such a rage that their face does from red to gray? It was like seeing pure evil. I felt if I didn’t leave, I would be carried out in a body bag.

So I prepared to leave
I joined a support group, I prepared a safety plan, I packed a suitcase. When I shopped, I wrote the check for more and hid it. I coped important documents. I opened a checking and charge accounts in my name only.
In November 2007, with very little besides the clothing I had and the help of my daughter, I went to the Alexander House battered women’s shelter with the support of my family and his. They not only provided me a place to collect myself, by assisted me in finding housing, resume writing, resources and support.
My ex harassed my daughter. He called her doctor and said she was missing and wanted them to help him find her. He had people stalk her, take pictures of her and her home. One of the stalkers strangled and killed a woman three blocks from her house. She and I moved six times in five years to try to feel safe. She sold her home where she had lived for 30 years because she no longer felt safe.
After I left, he did everything possible to destroy me emotionally, physically and financially. He broke into my house twice, destroying things, got rid of gifts that were sentimental to me, left loaded handguns and ammunition in the house. Had people drive by my house, take pictures, report what lights I had on and who was in my driveway. A dead deer was left by my back door.
He sold our accounting practice to a friend for $1. He changed titles on properties we jointly owned. He sold a car that was titled in my name, without my signature. He removed me as a beneficiary on all of our life insurance. He filed joint tax returns without my signature and took all the refunds. He took all the equity in our home, even though our line-of-credit required both of our signatures. He is in contempt of court of nearly every court order. He moved to Arkansas to avoid enforcement by Minnesota courts.
And I thought none of this could ever happen!
In support groups I learned how many women have gone to their pastor or priest and left feeling hopeless, trapped and rejected. It is important to me to share with you my experience with my church. Over the years, I spoke with many priests and basically was told to pray – pray harder – be a better wife, love more, turn the other cheek, be forgiving. But when I left, I went to my priest, his first question was, “Are you safe now?” He told me to contact a shelter and do whatever they told me to do. Each time I went to court, he gave me a blessing and prayed with me. Knowing my church was there to support me meant everything to me. And I wish every abused woman would have this kind of experience.

How do I manage?
I work three part-time jobs. I’ve gone to a food shelf. Family, friends, and my therapist pray for me. I have reminders throughout my house: “I am with you always, signed God.”
One day at a time, I have seen miracles unfold in my life. I have a roof over my head and I can actually laugh and celebrate holidays. It wouldn’t have happened without the support of a shelter, the support of my friends, daughter, family and God’s every present help. I know God loves me and I am worthy of peace.
I don’t believe I am here to just survive a marriage. I am here to encourage others.

Read her daughter’s story. Click here.



B Line route may extend to downtown St. Paul

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen


The initial route proposed for the B Line.

After hearing from community members, planners now recommend extending the B Line to downtown St. Paul.
The B Line will run along Lake St., Marshall Ave. and Selby Ave. Initial plans called for the B Line to only go as far east as Snelling Ave.
Planners recommend that the existing Route 21 along that corridor remain on a limited basis, running on Lake St. between Hennepin Ave. and Minnehaha Ave. every 30 minutes.
From April to October of 2019, B Line staff attended or hosted 26 community events, participated in bus ride-alongs and stop pop-ups, and connected with over 1,500 individual people to help inform the planning process and preliminary recommendations for the B Line.
Community input on preliminary recommendations is still being gathered to shape a draft corridor plan for the B Line.
This draft plan will be released for public comment in 2020, and will include more detailed information on planned station locations. To co-host an event or schedule a presentation, contact Cody Olson, Community Outreach Coordinator, at BLine@metrotransit.org or 612-349-7390. The Metropolitan Council will consider approval of a final B Line corridor plan in 2020.

The new route proposed for the B Line.

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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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Stop the presses – Chamber Directory: Support your local merchants

Stop the presses – Chamber Directory: Support your local merchants

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By DENIS WOULFE, Denis@MonitorSaintPaul.com or 651-917-4183

Denis Woulfe

Over the years, the Midway Como Monitor has had the good fortune to have a great working relationship with the Midway Chamber of Commerce. The genesis of the Monitor back in the 1970s was in large part due to encouragement and support from organizations like the Midway Chamber, the Hamline Midway Coalition, and others. In fact, when the Monitor initially needed capital to start the newspaper, there were 10 business owners and community leaders who co-signed a note with Midway Bank to get things up and running. Today, we still rely on and work closely with business and community groups and derive much of our information and story ideas from them.
You might have noticed that one of the new columnists for the Monitor in recent months has been Midway Chamber Executive Director Chad Kulas. Kulas brings a great deal of insight to his column each month, and shares many of the new developments occurring in the Midway with our monthly readers. Starting with the addition of light rail to the University Corridor several years ago, to the most recent addition of the new Allianz soccer stadium, the Midway has been the hub for a whirlwind of activity in recent years. We’re quite pleased to be able to share some of the stories about the new and unique businesses that have come to make Midway their new home through the eyes of Kulas’ monthly column.
But you may or may not know that in addition to publishing the Monitor each month, and our sister newspaper, the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger in South Minneapolis, we also partner to produce and distribute the annual Midway Chamber of Commerce Community Directory each spring. As part of that, we reach out to Chamber and non-Chamber businesses alike to see if they would like to reach this unique audience of Chamber members through advertising in the Directory.
Now the Chamber Directory is a unique product as it functions as both a house publication for Chamber members, chronicling their activities during the course of the year, but it also serves as a valuable source of information for community residents on local officials, and contact information for local schools, parks, and other community organizations. It is a great resource that is a staple in the homes and businesses where we distribute the Directory.
The Directory also functions as a valuable reminder about the wealth of valuable goods and services that you can find within our community. I remember hearing a presentation years ago about the impact of spending your money with a business that is headquartered locally versus one that is headquartered in Timbuktu. There’s a stunning multiplier effect when you spend your hard-earned dollars locally, and the short summation is that the money you spend locally ends up returning to you multifold in the form of higher local tax coffers, jobs for your high school sons and daughters, and in many other ways. Once your hard-earned dollars are spent with companies who are headquartered out of town, that money doesn’t come back to our neighborhood. Or at least it doesn’t come back in the same dramatic way that spending locally does!
So I have three messages to pass along to you today. First, if you are not currently a Midway Chamber member, why not consider signing up? I know Chad Kulas would be delighted to meet with you and tell you about the benefits of becoming a Chamber member. The Midway Chamber, by the way, is definitely on a roll of late, and is now celebrating its 100th year of existence in St. Paul. That’s a pretty impressive legacy, and not every local Chamber can make that claim to fame.
Second, if you are a business that does business in the Midway and is looking to bolster your community image and your community connection, why not consider advertising in this coming Midway Chamber Directory? I’d be happy to discuss options with you and see if it could be a good fit for you.
Lastly, regardless of whether you are a business owner or a resident in the Midway and Como communities, I’m guessing that you believe in the importance of community if you are reading the Midway Como Monitor. Consider why supporting advertisers like those in the Midway Chamber Directory as well as those in the Monitor each month is vital to the stability of that same community. Watch for and consider patronizing those same merchants when you see the Chamber Directory next April and the Monitor each month.
And meanwhile, if you have any questions about the Midway Chamber Directory or the Monitor, don’t hesitate to email me at Denis@MonitorSaintPaul.com

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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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