Complaints slow, but people still refusing to pay trash bills

Posted on 12 May 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Rate of residents not paying bills still at about 11%

By Jane McClure
St. Paul residents have had organized trash collection for six months. While complaints have slowed down, there are still people refusing to pay their bills. That was a key takeaway in a report delivered April 24, 2019 to the St. Paul City Council.
St. Paul Department of Public Works solid waste program supervisor Christopher Swanson reviewed the data from the program progress thus far. While council members are pleased about some aspects of the program, other areas were targeted for improvement. Questions remain on other issues, as to whether or not organized collection has resulted in fewer instances of illegal dumping.
The City Council is due for another report on organized collection in September. While the council is monitoring the trash issues closely, there is a five-year contract in place between the city and haulers. The ability to make changes is limited.
In the meantime, the St. Paul Trash group is pushing ahead with its lawsuit against the city. They return to Ramsey County District Court May 9. One goal is to put the question of organized trash collection on an election ballot.
Since October 2018 St. Paul has required single-family, duplex, triplex and fourplex properties to have city-supplied trash carts and haulers assigned by district. While that pleases people who complained about illegal dumping and too many trash trucks in an alley or on a street, other decried the loss of choice of hauler and the ability to comparison-shop. Another complaint is no longer being able to share a cart with a neighbor.
A fourth issues foes raise is that about half of the firms that were initially involved in organized collection have sold out to other firms. The most recent sale, which affects parts of Hamline-Midway and Merriam Park, is last month’s sale of Advanced Disposal to Waste Management.
Complaints about the program have dropped, said Swanson. But the number of people not paying their trash bills is still hovering around 11 percent. That’s not changed in recent months. Unpaid bills eventually are added to property tax assessments.
Council members told Public Works staff that while the complaints have dropped, they’re still concerned about incidents of poor customer service. Ward 7 Council Member Jane Prince described a situation in which a customer had to quickly leave town to help an ill family member, and yet couldn’t get ahold of trash collection. The company told the customer that a minimum two weeks’ notice is required for such holds.
Prince also said she continues to be concerned about people on fixed incomes, who struggle to afford even the smallest trash cart and every-other-week service. She said the haulers consortium needs to show “common sense’ in dealing with customers.
Other council members said they, too, continue to hear complaints about poor customer service and missed collections. There have been almost 1,400 complaints, with most focused on billing, late fees, missed pickups and other issues. Legislative hearings on unpaid bills began in April, with many hearings focusing on misdirected or incorrect charges. The first challenges to bills go to the St. Paul City Council for final action in May.
The missed pickups number of 1,676, or .7% seemed low to some council members. But Swanson said that doesn’t include weather-related issues. One related issue the council is looking at is whether the city should take over alley plowing, which would be one way to address the problems on snow-clogged alleys.
Another question council members had was how to measure the success of organization collection, which could be seen as reducing illegal dumping and wear and tear on streets. Swanson said that while the dumping figures can be easily collected, looking at impacts on streets is something that could take years.

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Loons open Allianz Field era with draws and a win

Loons open Allianz Field era with draws and a win

Posted on 12 May 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Minnesota United FC kept an unbeaten mark for the first month in its new home.

Photo by Margie O’Loughlin

By Matthew Davis
The Minnesota United FC Loons Major League Soccer team (4-3-2) capped its first month playing at Allianz Field in St. Paul with a win April 28. The Loons won for the first time in the new stadium as 19,620 watched. The Loons edged a win 1-0 over D.C. United (5-3-2), which came into the game at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
“I thought we deserved it with our second half performance,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said in the postgame press conference. “We got the crowd in the game.”
Loons forward Angelo Rodriguez had the crowd roaring with the game winner in the 82nd minute. He collected his fourth goal of the season, which matched his total from 2018.
Goalkeeper Vito Mannone earned the win in net as he faced one shot on goal in 90 minutes of action. Mannone improved to 4-3-2 overall, which included starts in the first two games of Allianz Field’s brief history.
“It feels great. Hopefully more to come,” Mannone said in the press conference. “It’s a great base for us to go and win games.”
He allowed three goals in that first game when the Loons had a 3-3 draw with New York City FC (2-1-6) April 13 in front of 19,796 fans. The first-year goalkeeper faced six shots on goal and made three saves.
Loons midfielder Osvaldo Alonso scored the first-ever goal at Allianz Field in the 13th minute of the game, which shot off the offensive fireworks for the stadium’s premiere.
“It means a lot! I never thought I would score the first goal in the new stadium,” Alonso said in the postgame press conference. “I’m very happy for the goal but disappointed in the result, but we have to keep going.”
New York City FC forward Valentin Castellanos became the first visiting player to score with a goal in the 16th minute. He added another two minutes later for a 2-1 New York City FC lead.
Rodriguez tied the game 2-2 in the 20th minute. The Loons took a 3-2 lead on a gift from New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson when he let a loose ball slip by his foot in the 32nd minute for an own goal, when a player causes a goal in his own team’s net. New York City FC forward Ismael Tajouri-Shradi saved his team from defeat with a game-tying goal in the 64th minute.
“I’m glad that we didn’t lose,” Heath said in the postgame press conference. “I thought our supporters were magnificent. I though the noise in the stadium was incredible. And it bows for better times ahead I think.”
The Loons also reached a scoreless draw with the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy (7-1-2) April 24 in the second-ever game at Allianz Field. Mannone stopped four shots in that game to preserve the draw. His LA Galaxy counterpart, David Bingham, only saw one shot on goal by the Loons.
“This game, we were in control of the game,’ Mannone said in the postgame press conference. “We managed the game in the right moments in the right time against a good team.”
Minnesota United FC has four home games in May, which includes a friendly with German league squad Hertha Berlin May 22. The Loons wrap up the month’s home schedule with the Houston Dynamo (5-1-1) May 25.

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What is it like to be in a courtroom?

Posted on 12 May 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Hamline Elementary students find out.

Photo by Jan Willms

By Jan Willms
What is it like to be in a courtroom? Serve as a prosecutor or defense lawyer? Preside as a judge? Be part of a jury?
Fifth graders at Hamline Elementary, 1599 Englewood Ave., were able to walk across the street on April 26, 2019, and find the answers as they participated in a mock trial that took place in the moot courtroom of West Hall at Hamline University.
The learning experience is all part of a collaboration between the elementary school and the university that started 125 years ago. The mock trials have been going on for at least the past 12 years.
“Each grade level has a departmental/academic pairing with the university,” said Kristin Reilly, principal of Hamline Elementary. “As teachers build units around standards, we try to make the connection with the university that is aligned to learning outcomes. Fifth grade is a grade in which social justice issues come up often in the curriculum.
“Having university students and professors work with our teachers and students to enrich and expand learning is a win/win for everyone involved,” continued Reilly.
She said the fifth graders work with Hamline University students and professors to dive into a specific case. The case that was tried in April was the State of Minnesota vs Mike Jacobs. Reilly said Jacobs was being charged with spray painting a racist statement on a locker of another student, Chris Burke. It was damage of property in the third and fourth degree.
“It is up to the students to dig into the case and dependent on their role bring this process to life,” Reilly added.
According to Jodie Wilson, a teacher and alumnae of Hamline elementary who serves as a liaison for the collaboration, university students come over a couple of weeks in advance of the mock trial and help the elementary students prepare.
“This experience allows the students to see themselves in the real world,” Wilson said. “They can see how school is like real life, with rules and consequences.”
Reilly explained that the roles students play in the trial process are determined by the interest level of the students. “Depending on their comfort level, the students decide what role they will take, but the expectation is that everyone participates. What is always wonderful to see is that students who may struggle in other areas of learning can really shine when learning is authentic and builds upon strengths.”
The fifth grade students themselves were positive about the experience. One student who played the role of a prosecutor said he was excited about it and practiced a lot. “It is possibly something I could do,” he said. Another student who played a police officer giving testimony said, “It’s fun, because you can say whether they are guilty or not guilty. You can learn more if you want to be a lawyer when you grow up.”
Reilly said that when students see themselves as part of a larger part of society, the impact is immense. “The opportunity for our fifth graders not only to understand how our legal system works, but also to have a real life experience and take an active role builds thinking skills, develops speaking and presentation skills, and taps into who they are and what they believe.”
Stacy Agha, a parent in attendance at the mock trial, said her son had told her he was a witness but had not said much more about it, so she came to observe. “He has a Hamline University buddy, so he comes over here a lot. He tells me this is where he is going to college,” she said.
Scholarships are available at Hamline University for Hamline elementary students when they are ready to enter college.
The mock trial experience is only one of four programs that are a part of the pairing of the schools, according to Kevin Yang, coordinator of civic engagement for the Hamline to Hamline Collaboration. “We also have the tutoring program, where university students get paid work-study to work directly with the elementary teachers,” he said. “Another is called Hand in Hand, which is a program where university students called buddies get to volunteer with elementary buddies for 45 minutes a week, reading together and getting a chance to build an authentic relationship.”
Yang said there is also a project called Snelling Connection, which is a newspaper operated by fourth and fifth graders, with two editors and teachers from Hamline University. “They develop reading and writing skills, and confidence,” he said. He added that the mock trial, which is part of an academic program shared between the two schools, is a powerful learning experience for students from Hamline University and Hamline Elementary.
Reilly concurred. “Currently this valuable and cherished partnership, the Hamline to Hamline Collaboration, includes over 70 classroom tutors per week, academic and activity pairings at all grade levels, classes, gifted and talented programming and many other meaningful connections,” she said. “This collaborative learning community brings one of a kind opportunities for elementary students, college students, teachers and professors that enriches learning through shared campuses, resources and experiences. We are two campuses but one community in the heart of the neighborhood.”

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Traffic and Ped safety Jeremy Ellison

Initiatives promote traffic and pedestrian safety in St. Paul

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Calvin

Starting Apr. 1, the St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) implemented their new 12-person Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Unit. According to Commander Jeremy Ellison, the SPPD is making pedestrian and bike safety one of its priorities in 2019—under the direction of Police Chief Todd Axtell. Three full-time employees added to this unit will focus exclusively on the problem of distracted drivers across the city.

Ellison explained that those officers will travel in unmarked, high clearance SUVs so they can better see into cars they are monitoring. “We want people to know that our officers will be out there watching for distracted drivers,” he said. “Our goal is no longer to catch people unaware. We want drivers to be informed, to make smart decisions, and to be part of improving public safety. A good day will be a day when we don’t write any tickets.”

Minnesota law states it is illegal to use a wireless communication device to write, read, or send an electronic message while driving or stopped in traffic. While that law has been on the books for a while, it has been difficult to enforce; creating the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Unit should help.

The cost of a first violation will be $136; the cost of a second violation for the same offense will be $366. According to Ellison, “Law enforcement supports Minnesota becoming a ‘hands-free’ state for cell phone use.” A bill toward that end moved through legislative committee in January and is expected to pass with bipartisan support.

Photo right: Commander Jeremy Ellison is behind the wheel of one of the St. Paul Police Department’s new Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Unit enforcement vehicles. Ellison said, “Every other day in the City of St. Paul there’s a crash involving a pedestrian. Last month there were two pedestrian fatalities, and that’s two too many.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Right now, nobody really knows how much of a problem distracted

driving is. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is funding research projects in several major cities, and St. Paul was chosen to participate. The goal of these projects is to gather data to determine what percentage of crashes are caused by drivers distracted by electronic devices.

On another front, the Stop for Me Campaign is an ongoing initiative to improve public safety in St. Paul. Organized by St. Paul’s 17 district councils, St. Paul Smart Trips, and the SPPD, Stop for Me teaches that stopping for pedestrians and bicyclists isn’t just common courtesy—it’s the law. “Last year, there were 108 Stop for Me events in St. Paul,” Ellison said. “We looked at crash data for marked crosswalks (where there wasn’t a traffic signal) to decide where to hold these events. We met with community members at dangerous intersections to practice safe crossing techniques for all ages.” To learn more about scheduling a Stop for Me event in your neighborhood this spring or summer, email jeremy.ellison@ci.stpaul.mn.us.

According to Commander Ellison, the following safety information is worth knowing:
• Along with Metro Transit, the SPPD believes in the saying, “See tracks, think train.” Every time you cross the LRT track, be mentally prepared that a train may be coming.
• Minnesota law states that when a traffic light has turned yellow, a motorist should be stopping—not accelerating through the intersection.
• If a pedestrian puts one foot into the street, an oncoming motorist should be stopping. Do not hope or assume, but make sure it is safe to cross. A pedestrian is ten times more likely to die in a collision with a car than the occupants of two vehicles that collide.
• If you’re riding or walking your bike in a marked pedestrian crossing, you’re considered a pedestrian and cars are required to yield.



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Hero Search 17

Donate Good Stuff where it can make a difference

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Calvin

When Como resident Jennifer Victor-Larsen was working on her MBA at the University of St. Thomas a few years ago, she got an idea. “I knew I wanted to do a project in the realm of a social venture, but there was already so much great work being done in the Twin Cities. I started looking for gaps in services, and it turned out I didn’t have to look very far.”

Victor-Larsen had lost her grandmother and two aunts within a short period. Her mom ended up with many of their things: a whole attic full of high-quality stuff with sentimental value that was gathering dust.

Victor-Larsen said, “I started to think about where those things could go in the non-profit community; how could they be put to good use and not just add to the endless waste stream?”

“At the same time,” Victor-Larson said, “I was volunteering with two organizations that help victims of human trafficking—Brittany’s Place and Breaking Free. I started asking the staff of both organizations, ‘What things do you really need to help your clients regain their independence?’ It turned out that plenty of those things were in my mother’s attic and in my own home.”

Photo right: Como resident Jennifer Victor-Larsen is changing the name of the non-profit organization she started to www.donategoodstuff.org. For the time being, go to www.herosearch.org to learn where to donate household items in good condition to local non-profits that can use them. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Victor-Larsen found the service gap she had been looking for, and in 2014 created a non-profit she called “Hero Search.” “It took a year for me to build the database, which works in the same way as a volunteer-match database,” she said. “Someone with stuff to donate can search by non-profit type or by proximity to their home. I wanted HeroSearch.org to show how donated items would be used, so donors would know the impact they were making. I wanted it to be easy to search for nearby organizations so that drop-offs would be convenient for donors. The vision was to contribute to a less wasteful, more connected, and more generous world.”

Victor-Larsen is leaving her long career in the insurance industry on May 1 to dedicate herself fulltime to this work. She’s in the process of rebranding HeroSearch.org, and has changed the name to DonateGoodStuff.org. She’s redesigning her logo and has set the bar high for her growing non-profit organization: to become the #1 resource for people who have items to donate to charities nation-wide.

DonateGoodStuff.org is holding a 5K fundraiser at Como Lake on Sat., May 11. Day-of registration opens at the Como Lake Pavilion at 7:30am, and the run kicks off at 8:30am.

“The family-friendly event is open to everyone,” Victor-Larsen said, “and will be held rain or shine. We’re hoping that because it’s Mother’s Day weekend, families will walk or run the twice around the lake loop together.“ There’s no charge for children in strollers or wagons. Preregister online, and get a guaranteed t-shirt at www.hero.search.org. Two of the more than 100 non-profits that Hero Search partners with locally will be on-site that day—Minnesota Youth Link and Minnesota Pocket Pet Rescue.



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Midway Marketplace

Development Roundup, April 2019

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Calvin


Midway Marketplace sold to Minneapolis firm for $31 million
New ownership could eventually bring changes to Midway Marketplace. The shopping center at 1400 University Ave. was recently sold to Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson Realty. The company announced its purchase of the center from RVI, a company from Ohio. The selling price was $31 million.

Illustration right: Midway Marketplace is the extensive complex of buildings and parking seen in this illustration. Hamline Ave. is on the east, Pascal St. to the west, with University Ave. on the north and St. Anthony Ave. on the south. It does not include the buildings on the southeast corner of the superblock, one of which is the St. Paul Police Western District Office. (Illustration provided)

The center occupies the block bounded by University, Hamline and St. Anthony avenues and Pascal St. It was built after the 1996 implosion demolition of Midway’s longtime Montgomery Ward store and catalog shipping center. Ward’s, K-Mart, Mervyn’s California and Cub Foods were anchor tenants, with only Cub remaining.

Ward’s was replaced with Herberger’s, which closed last year. Its building was designed with a tower to mimic the original iconic Ward’s tower. Mervyn’s is now LA Fitness, and WalMart is in the former Kmart building. TJ Maxx, Discount Tire and several smaller businesses are also in the shopping center.

Planning for Midway Center began in the late 1980s. The master plan won St. Paul City Council approval in 1990. The project was initially led by Ward’s and the development firm of Trammel Crowe. Site pollution, changes in developers and other complications pushed the initial work to 1995.

The original Ward’s building was imploded and demolished in 1996.

Midway Marketplace is the largest modern-era ground-up retail development along University. During planning for Green Line light rail, it was rezoned for traditional neighborhoods use 4, which would allow for high-density, mixed-use redevelopment in the future.

Jeff Hildahl, senior vice president of properties and leasing for KA Realty, issued a statement indicating that existing leases will be honored, and the tenant mix won’t change. But the new owners are looking at ways they can partner with the Allianz Field soccer stadium, possibly on parking and other issues.

Grant requests roll in
Businesses and institutions are among those seeking 2019 St. Paul Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) grant and loans. The application period closed in March. The requests are under review by city staff, the Planning Commission and the Neighborhood STAR Board. The St. Paul City Council is expected to approve the funded projects this summer. The STAR Board will conduct its reviews and rankings in May.

The city received 53 proposals requesting more than $67.5 million in assistance, with more than $7.5 million in matching funds identified. All requests require a match. That compares to 41 proposals and plus-$5.4 million in assistance that came in 2018.

Thirty-five proposals are for commercial projects, with two for mixed-use projects and four for housing. Others are a mix of playgrounds and other outdoor amenities.

Monitor area commercial projects include a $150,000 grant request from Community Involvement Program and ALLY People Solutions to renovate 1515 Energy Park Dr. into the new headquarters for the merged disability service agencies. It will bring 130 jobs to St. Paul, as well 40 central office and program staff.

Element Boxing & Fitness, 555 N. Fairview Ave., is seeking a $40,00 grant and $40,000 loan to develop the CO-MOTION Center for Movement.
New Vision Foundation is seeking a $105,424 grant to relocate to 860 Vandalia St. It would share space with Tech Dump, an electronics recycling and jobs program.

Playwrights Center is seeking a $75,000 grant and a $75,000 loan to make building renovations at 710 Raymond Ave., to relocate from Minneapolis.

Junior Achievement, which recently moved to 1745 University Ave., is seeking a $100,000 grant to tuck-point and repair the east wall of its building. A mural there would be replaced.

Midway-based African Economic Development Solutions seeks a $360,000 grant for its small business revolving loan fund. That is a citywide fund, although plans call for a focus on North Snelling’s Little Africa area.

The Ain Dah Yung Center for homeless Native American young people at 771-785 University Ave., is seeking a $100,000 loan to add a cultural facility to its housing project. The housing is under construction.

Other requests include a $35,000 grant for Twin Cities German Immersion School, 1031 Como Ave., for a 430-foot long, seven foot tall, gabion stone fence along its eastern border.

Another non-commercial request is from Zion Lutheran Church, 1697 Lafond Ave., which is working with Hamline Midway Elders to add an accessible entrance and lift and install an accessible bathroom. The church houses many food and wellness programs.



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Prepare for opening day soccer game traffic and parking

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Calvin

Take the bus or train, bike, walk or use a taxi or ride-share. Unless you have a reserved parking spot, don’t drive to Minnesota United FC soccer games at Allianz Field.

That’s the message from team and city officials as they make plans to move almost 20,000 people to and from the stadium on game days, starting with the opener Apr. 13. Basic travel, transit, and parking plans were released in March and presented to Union Park District Council and Hamline Midway Coalition (HMC).

Team and city staff and traffic study consultants say that the stadium traffic and parking plans are a work in progress, with changes possible as needed. But both district councils’ members and staff said they’d like to have had more neighborhood input and inclusion on stadium planning in general, saying they were left out of major decisions.

“This has come up quickly,” said HMC Community Organizer Melissa Cortez. She and others at the HMC meeting criticized the city and soccer team’s lack of communication and collaboration on planning. That has forced neighbors to be in reacting mode, and not working together. “I think there’s been a lot of missed opportunities … it feels like this is just happening to us.”

Board members said that while they appreciated hearing the plans, they’d have liked more notice and more time to share ideas.

City and team officials said they’d like more of a partnership with the neighborhoods and would do better.

The St. Paul Planning Commission’s Transportation Committee also reviewed the plans Mar. 25, the day after a stadium preseason event drew enthusiastic crowds and some neighborhood complaints about traffic and spillover parking.

Concerns were raised about spillover parking in adjacent neighborhoods, motorists using neighborhood streets to bypass University and Snelling, and the small size of the study area, which is centered on the stadium site. Some questioned why scrutiny of traffic and travel impacts weren’t looked at to the north and south. City staff comments that changes can be made didn’t mollify some HMC Board members.

Other issues raised by the Planning Commission committee include a need to expand on the 400 bike rack spaces on-site, and to work with adjacent property owners on parking. On Mar. 24, some stadium visitors parked at nearby Midway Marketplace. That will require the property and business owners there to police their parking.

The game day experience
The key message is plan ahead. “We don’t want you to drive by yourself, and it’s going to be a miserable experience if you do,” said St. Paul Police Commander Kurtis Hallstrom. “If you don’t have a parking space assigned, don’t drive to the stadium.”

Minnesota United is communicating directly to ticket holders about pre-purchasing parking spots or using other ways to get to games. The stadium site has 400 parking spaces. Maureen Smith, senior vice present for finance for Minnesota United, said that the team is preselling parking.

Photo right: There are approximately 400 bike racks located around the stadium—designated here in yellow. (Illustration provided)

Parking in the Midway Center block is for team staff and VIPs. Parking is also being presold at Spruce Tree Center ($40 per game) and HealthEast facilities (season-long parking packages at $20 per game) near the stadium, with about 1,200 spaces there.

Metro Transit will also operate buses to and from the Minnesota State Fair, where there will be about 2,500 parking spaces available. (Reportedly 15-game packages for this location will be available for $180.) The fairgrounds parking is the only place where pregame tailgating is allowed. Buses will travel on other routes, not yet finalized, to get to and from the stadium.

Downtown parking ramps will also be promoted as an option.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the 2,500 State Fair parking spaces will not be available for MNUFC home games on Apr. 28, Aug. 14 or Aug. 17.

Luis Pereira, planning director for the city’s Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED), said the 2016 Snelling Midway Master Plan and an Alternative Urban Areawide Analysis (AUAR) study were used to plan for transportation needs. Those provided a starting point for further work with experts including staff from several city departments, the consulting firm Strgar Roscoe Fausch, the Ramsey County Department of Public Works, Metro Transit, Metropolitan Council, Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

Photo left: Allianz Field has designated pick-up and drop-off points (identified in yellow) for fans planning on taking Lyft, Uber or a taxi to games. Get dropped off curbside on your way into the stadium on gameday, with easy access to your gate no matter where you’re seated. (Illustration provided)

Experience with game days at Xcel Energy Center, TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota and US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis were also drawn on to make plans.

City officials are now seeking feedback to make further changes, with the public able to weigh in at www.stpaul.gov/departments/planning-economic-development/allianz-field/allianz-field-transportation-feedback.

“Having that ongoing public input is really important to us,” Pereira said. Plans are being made not just for soccer game attendees but for residents, business owners and institutional groups concerned about access to their properties. Another focus is business licensing, including vendors and people wishing to lease out their parking lots. The city is already hearing concerns that some neighbors will want to sell their yard space for parking, which isn’t allowed in the neighborhoods by the stadium.

One huge focus is education. “Fans from outside of our area may not know our street system. That’s going to be a critical thing for us,” said Pereira. Education includes information to soccer game attendees about how to get there.

Red flags raised
The 2016 AUAR raised several red flags about stadium parking demand, and transit and travel congestion. Metropolitan Council questioned the assumptions used to determine “mode split” for travel to the site, or how it was determined the number of people who would drive, take transit or shuttle buses, walk or bike. “Those assumptions appear to be tilted heavily to make the case that few if any roadway improvements are needed from this massive traffic generator,” the 2016 council letter stated.

Red flags were raised about the estimated high percentage of shuttle bus and transit service usage, as Metropolitan Council stated, “Additional potential capacity on the Green Line does not automatically translate to usage.”

City officials responded in 2016 that they made conservative assumptions, given the lack of off-street parking on and near the site, and indicated they believe traffic, transit use, and parking can be “effectively managed.” City officials did more planning as the AUAR recommended, which is where the current recommendations stem from.

The modal split for game days is estimated to be 38.5 percent of fans using transit, with 23 percent walking, biking or taking taxis and rideshares. Off-site shuttles will bring in another 22.5 percent, with 11 percent of game attendees using private parking and another 5 percent using on-site parking.

Some streets around the stadium and Midway Center superblock of Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues will have limited access on game days. Pascal between University and St. Anthony will be local traffic only, for access to businesses and homes. One-lane restrictions will be in place on St. Anthony between Pascal and Hamline avenues and on University from Fry St. to Pascal Ave. Spruce Tree Dr., which is an anticipated transit rider route to and from the westbound Green Line platform, will have restricted access. Pickup and drop-off space for shuttles, taxis, and rideshare vehicles will be on St. Anthony west of Pascal.

St. Paul and Metro Transit police will be stationed at intersections around the stadium to manage traffic control, safety, and the flow of transit riders.

David Hanson, Metro Transit’s assistant field director for operations, said the Green Line light rail and A Line rapid buses will be the workhouses for stadium arrivals. Metro Transit will have staff out on and near rail and bus platforms to provide directions. Extra trains and buses will run to get people to and from the stadium, with a goal of having everyone cleared out one hour after a game ends.

A three-car train can hold 600 people, and an articulated bus can carry 100. The train platforms can hold three times the train capacity, for waiting passengers.

“We haul masses efficiently,” said Hanson. “No one can do it better than us.”




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Como High School Senator Smith

News from Como Park High School, April 2019

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Calvin

By ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• Twenty-two seniors currently studying AP Government and AP Macroeconomics spent a week of March in Washington D.C. The participating students were part of the national Close Up program, which promotes civics education and participation in our democracy with the capital city as a living classroom. Como student highlights included visiting the national monuments, memorials, museums of the Smithsonian, the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, U.S. Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, and unique Washington neighborhoods.

Students met with Senator Tina Smith in her office and met Senator Amy Klobuchar in the capitol outside the Democratic Leadership Office near the Senate Chamber. Senator Klobuchar also took the time to show the students the ornately decorated President’s Room in the capitol.

Photo right: Como students participating in the national Close Up Washington D.C. program met with their U.S. Senators during an intense week of study. The Como group is pictured here with Senator Tina Smith in the Hart Senate Office Building. (Photo provided)

While observing the House of Representatives in session from the House Gallery, Como students witnessed discussion and debate of legislative bill H.R. 1, which supports strengthening voter access and reducing the influence of big money in politics. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke for 15 minutes which was captivating for the students who have studied her role in government.

Throughout the week, Como students were engaged in policy discussions and simulations with peers from across the nation in workshop groups.

The Close Up closing banquet of 160 students featured six student speakers. Como’s Jamie Cohen was selected to represent her workshop group. She delivered an excellent, reflective and motivating speech received with much applause.

The annual adventure to Washington D.C. for Como AP Government students is made possible through student and school-sponsored fundraising activities, with generous scholarship support from a few individuals of the St. Anthony Park neighborhood and Como area booster organizations.

• Como seniors Theo Lucy, Lexie Harris, and Pa Nhia Vang were selected to receive fellowships from the League of Women Voters. The students were chosen based on their competitive applications which exhibited a strong interest in promoting political participation, working to register voters, and issue advocacy.

The fellows are developing an advocacy project to be implemented this spring with the goal of bringing attention to an issue in their community and meeting with elected officials to address concerns and encourage action. The fellows will also coordinate this year’s voter registration efforts at Como.

The League of Women Voters is non-partisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or parties, but always working on vital public issues.

• For eight 11th grade U.S. History students, their award-winning research projects from 1st semester will extend into the spring and the Minnesota State History Day Competition! The following students advanced from their respective categories at the St. Paul Regional History Day and will present their work at the University of Minnesota on May 4:

In the Group Website Category — Maisee Her, Rose Say, and Ly Xiong for the Immigration Act of 1924. Noelia Marin Leal and MaiChue Xiong for Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand. Way Htoo and Shar Too for WAVES (the women’s branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve)

In the Individual Documentary Category, Lisa Saechao qualified for state with her short film on The Hmong Genocide.

Two other Como students earned honorable mention for their entries in the Individual Website category—Eethan Lee for the My Lai Massacre, and Jorge Pliego for Warren Robinett’s “Easter Egg” video game insertion.

• Two teams of students from Como’s AP Economics classes participated in the Urban Regional Econ Challenge at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis on Mar. 13. The event is administered by the Minnesota Council of Economic Education (MCEE) and sponsored by “The Fed.”

The Como team of Aiyana Aeikens, Naddi Jillo, Khyri Lueben, and Antero Sivula took 2nd place in the overall competition, narrowly falling to Richfield in the Quiz Bowl Final. In addition to the competition, the students enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the Fed and toured the facility, including the cash vault, with Federal Reserve staff.

• Academy of Finance (AOF) sophomore Kalid Ali was selected to participate in the University of Wisconsin Business School’s Business Emerging Leaders (BEL) Program. The summer program at the Madison campus is designed for promising students with strong academic credentials and demonstrated leadership skills.

BEL Program students who are admitted to UW-Madison and complete a business major are granted a full-tuition four-year scholarship. Kalid is excited for his opportunity that will begin this July.

• Como’s Apps Club has been meeting weekly after school to develop a digital application which will serve the deaf and hard of hearing. The goal of the app is to help deaf teenagers effectively communicate with their peers without feeling uncomfortable. The Apps Club will present its app, including business and marketing plans, at the Minneapolis Convention Center on May 11.

• Como Choir students participated in the Minnesota State High School League Vocal Solo and Ensemble Contest at North St. Paul High School last month. Soloists earning Excellent ratings included Maisee Her, Mai Lao Lee, and Michael Yang.

The Chamber Singers received a Superior rating. Several Como vocalists were also evaluated as Superior, including James Baker, Chloe Hollister-Lapointe, Willow Hollister-Lapointe, Areya Khue, Koob Lee, Chandani Lor, Gemma Pham, Htakee Saw, Rose Say, Aspen Schucker, Lila Seeba, Lee Tuggle and Kevin Yang. The highest honor given at the contest is Best in Site, which was bestowed upon senior Marco Tabacman.

• A talented cast and crew performed “The Unusual Suspects” in the Como Auditorium in March. The play, written by Samara Siskind, is a comedy set in a high school revolving around a caper that unites some unlikely students. Como’s adaptation was directed by English teacher Allison Hartzell.

The cast included Amira Boler, Lila Seeba, Lily Rogers, Toby Sax, Wyatt Hanson, Roan Buck, Ava Vitali, JoAnn Lane, Alicia Banks, Emilie Pagel, Cece Godfrey, and John Dugan.

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Monitor In A Minute, April 2019

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Calvin


Vendor dispute sent to hearing
A dispute between city officials and a 2018 Minnesota State Fair vendor was assigned to an administrative law judge Mar. 20, after the vendor disputed facts in the case. Fridley resident Todd L. Grosklags was set to pay a $500 fine for selling state fair tickets in the street median at Snelling Ave. and Midway Pkwy., in violation of city regulations. He was seen selling the tickets in the prohibited area between Aug. 24-28, 2018. Grosklags was warned in writing once and then seen committing the same violation.

Grosklags asked to address the City Council, which is allowed in license violation cases. Typically, people who ask for that opportunity ask for leniency. But because he disputed the facts in the record of violation, the City Attorney’s Office recommended that the council not vote and instead send the matter off for a hearing.

The hearing will produce a recommendation, and the issue of a fine or penalty will be returned to the City Council in the future. If a fine is recommended again, failure to pay the fine within 30 days can result in a license suspension.

It was the second 2018 fair vendor violation case the council has heard this year, reflecting a crackdown during the 2018 fair. Another vendor didn’t show up for his hearing earlier this year and was fined.

The Department of Safety and Inspections conducted numerous license compliance checks for peddlers operating during the 2018 Minnesota State Fair.

Facilities receive funding
Area parks and facilities are slated for improvements this year as part of the city’s capital maintenance program. On Mar. 20 the St. Paul City Council approved more than $1.425 million in work on city parks, public works, fire, police, and libraries facilities.

The projects were recently reviewed and recommended for funding by the city’s Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) Committee. The city budgeted about $2.8 million in 2018-2019 for capital maintenance needs. Demand for money always exceeds the amount available. About three dozen projects receive funding each year.

The largest area project is at Como Lakeside Pavilion, where a $175,000 rooftop condenser and air handler project are planned. The nearby Como Golf Course building is slated for $150,000 in HVAC work.

Trash collection hearings set
St. Paul residents and owners of small multi-family properties who have not paid, or refuse to pay, their city trash bills will be going to legislative hearings. On Mar. 20, the St. Paul City Council authorized a legislative hearing process in an attempt to collect the roughly $120,000 that is owed the city for 2018 bills.

The council action launches legislative hearings starting at 9am., Thur., Apr. 11. Council members weren’t told exactly how many individual bills are outstanding, but it’s likely that hearings will continue into May.

The first garbage bill hearings before the City Council are planned for 3:30pm on Wed., May 22. As hearings continue, the City Council is likely to have to act again in June.

The hearing process will be similar to that used for property code enforcement, in which there is a hearing before a legislative hearing officer. In those cases, final decisions are also in the hands of the City Council.

Most of the $120,000 in unpaid bills range from $55 to $200, with much smaller late fees pending. Single-family home and rental property owners of up to four units can go through the hearing process, pay their bills if directed to so, or having the late amounts placed on their property taxes.

Organized residential collected began Oct. 1, 2018. The program has drawn a slew of complaints, as well as a lawsuit.

Police horses trot away
It’s official: the St. Paul Police Department Mounted Patrol is riding off into the sunset. On Mar. 20 the St. Paul City Council, approved the retirement of the police horses to This Old Horse, a charitable equine sanctuary.

A resolution authorizing the donation stated that the mounted patrol unit horses “have served the department with honor.” The horses were the focus of an independent equine expert recently and were retired based on their age and condition. The city’s administrative code authorizes them to be donated to a nonprofit, with City Council approval.

This Old Horse is a volunteer-based charitable organization and certified animal sanctuary whose mission is to provide shelter to retired, rescued, and recovering horses. The nonprofit is in the southeastern metro area. It provides opportunities for the public to see the horses and offers activities including youth horse camps.

When the St. Paul Police Department announced plans to disband the mounted patrol earlier this year, the intent was to return three of the six horses to their donors. The unit was disbanded so that police officers assigned to it could be reassigned to street patrol.

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Como Community Council News, April 2019

Posted on 08 April 2019 by Calvin

Board elections
The annual meeting of the District 10 Como Community Council is Tues., Apr. 16. The meeting includes elections for two-year terms on the district council board. Under the by-laws, nine board positions are on the ballot:
• Chair
• Secretary
• One representative from each of the four geographic sub-districts
• Three at-large representatives

In addition, a special election will take place to fill the one year remaining in the vacant position of treasurer.

The deadline for candidates to get on the ballot was Apr. 9; however, additional candidates can nominate themselves or be nominated the night of Apr. 16.

Any renter, homeowner, or other resident of District 10 who is age 16 or older is eligible to vote. So are authorized representatives from a business or nonprofit organization located in District 10. Voting begins at 7pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station, which is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

Information about candidates (and any election updates) will be available on District 10’s website at www.district10comopark.org.

Sunday Series
District 10’s annual Sunday Series is in full swing. Here are the topics scheduled for the next month. All Sunday Series presentations are free.

Watch Where You Live
Sun., Apr. 14, 1-2:30pm
Como Park Streetcar Station
Yes, we live in the city. But nature and wildlife happen all around us: weather, migrations, changes in seasonal patterns, deer, coyote, turkeys, foxes, owls, hawks, and more. We can observe—and document—all kinds of things in our yards or on our walks.

Experts from Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and the University of Minnesota guide us on how to be “citizen scientists”: what to look for, how to use the iNaturalist app to track what we see, and how to tie into local projects and studies that use the power of ordinary people to do real science. Bring your smartphone or tablet!

Mosquitoes: The Showdown
Sun., Apr. 28, 1-2:30pm
Como Park Streetcar Station
One of our most invisible government agencies—the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District—explains how they control the blood-sucking and disease-spreading pests, their middle-of-the-night maneuvers, what’s in those fog machines, and even what those red triangles on storm grates mean. (This presentation was rescheduled.)

Recycling Ain’t What It Used to Be
Sun., May 5, 1-2:30pm
The Good Acre, 1790 W. Larpenteur Ave.
Things are shifting rapidly in the world of “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Get up to speed on what it all means and what we can do about it.
• Saint Paul and Eureka Recycling share the latest on the city’s Recycle Smart campaign and the upheaval in the world of recycling.
• Learn about household hazardous waste, Fix-It Clinics, unused medication, and how Ramsey County has us covered A-Z in waste reduction.
• Como is a leader in organics recycling. Get up-to-date advice on composting at home and through community sites. Plus, get a discount on a backyard composting barrel.

Renter Voice Summit is Apr, 18
Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson, the District 10 Como Community Council, and District Councils 11, 12, 13 and 14 are teaming up to hold a free “renter voice summit” on Thur., Apr. 18, 6:30-8pm. The summit will help renters:
• Learn whom they should call for what, so renters can access public and private resources available to them.
• Understand rights and protections renters have under state and local law.
• Connect with the district council in their neighborhood, and find out how renters can make an impact on local issues where they live.
• Meet neighbors and plan new ways for renters to make their voice heard across Saint Paul.

The event will be held at Hamline University’s Anderson Center, Room 111, 774 N. Snelling.

Note: You don’t have to be a renter to attend. Pizza and child activities will be available. RSVP via Facebook at bit.ly/RenterVoice.

Put It on Your Calendar
• Como Neighborhood Garage Sale, weekend of May 17.
• Como Community Seed Library’s “Seed Your Dream,” Sat., May 18.
• District 10 Community Yoga, Sun., June 9.
• District 10 Ice Cream Social, Fri., July 12.
• Como Neighborhood Pollinator Garden Tour, Sat. July 13.

Upcoming District 10 Meetings
• Como Community Council Board: Tues., Apr. 16.
• Environment Committee: Wed., Apr. 24.
• Land Use Committee: Wed., May 1.
• Neighborhood Relations Committee: Tues., May 7.
All meetings typically begin at 7pm 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.

Summer hours
From May through September, the Como Park Streetcar Station is open every Sunday from noon-4pm. It is a great chance to pick up organics recycling bags or kitchen starter kits, or chat with a District 10 board member who is staffing the day. The Historic Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.


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