Commission favors saving St. Andrew’s from wrecking ball

Commission favors saving St. Andrew’s from wrecking ball

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

Heritage Preservation Commission considers church to be significant to St. Paul’s history and votes 8-1 to preserve it

After hearing from both sides of the issue, the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission voted 8-1 in favor of preserving the historic St. Andrew’s Church (photo right by Tesha M. Christensen) that is now being used by the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS). The recommendation now moves on to the St. Paul Planning Commission and the St. Paul City Council.

School opposed to historic designation
The Heritage Preservation Commission received about 200 letters opposing the historic designation of the former St. Andrew’s Church. Nearly all of the letters were written by people who said they were parents of children who attend school at TCGIS or were teachers and staff members. The school currently has about 520 pupils and seeks to grow to about 630.

About 100 of the letters were from St. Paul residents including some who identified themselves as neighbors. The rest came from Minneapolis, Roseville, and other suburbs.
TCGIS supporters asked the Heritage Preservation Commission to avoid giving “a crumbling former church building, owned by the Twin Cities German Immersion School, a historic designation will put an unrealistic financial burden on this public charter school.”

The letters referred to it as a “short-sighted petition” that is “being presented by a small, vocal and selfish minority of neighbors.”

In his letter to the commission, TCGIS Executive Director Ted Anderson pointed out, “The school is a model for successful charter schools in both cities.”

Anderson added, “The non-profit school’s future is at stake if it is to be forced into maintaining an old building that is falling apart and is functionally obsolete.”

TCGIS does not think that historic designation should occur over the property owner’s objections—“Especially when the property owner is a non-profit entity such as a public charter school,” wrote Anderson.

Additionally, he wrote that historic preservation is not a benefit to a non-profit like a school; it is a burden.

“When my husband and I first saw the school, we were impressed with the beautiful building and excited that our children would attend a school with such a unique feature. However, the beauty of the building and the memories that it holds for our neighbors does not and should not take precedence over the education of our children,” wrote Theresa Gardella of Roseville.

“Sometimes in order to move great educational missions forward, spaces that no longer function (and that are unsafe and prohibitively expensive to repair) need to be demolished and replaced by new facilities that are more efficient and better designed with contemporary architectural knowledge about space and learning,” stated Kerten Warren of Roseville.

“I believe that historic preservation fails when it is used as a tactic to exclude or limit owners from their right to utilize or modify a property in a manner congruent with similar properties not deemed worthy of preservation,” wrote John Steingraeber of St. Paul.

“I live in St. Paul because its history and landmarks appeal to me,” wrote TCGIS parent Mike Mitchelson who lives along Como Lake. “But I also appreciate progress and the idea that neighborhoods—including historic ones—need new landmarks to continue their relevance and attract new generations of residents. The Como Lake area is such a neighborhood.”

Neighbor and TCGIS school parent Kyle Johnson who lives along Englewood is opposed to the request for historic designation. “The ‘neighbors’ have already taken resources from the school by making it look at alternatives,” he wrote. “That’s money that could have gone for books or teachers.”

In favor of preservation
The Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) received about 11 letters from people, most of them neighbors, who support the designation of St. Andrew’s as a heritage site.
Earlier this year, 600 people signed a petition asking that the school wait on expansion until June 2020 to provide time to review various options and to gather more concrete estimates for work needed on the building. School representatives have stated that it would be prohibitively expensive to update the old church building while neighbors argue the amount is part of regular maintenance fees and any repairs needed are much lower.

However, the school voted on July 30 to raze the structure and had initially scheduled partial demolition for early October, but after receiving pressure from the grassroots group Save Historic St. Andrews it agreed to wait until the summer of 2019.

Save Historic St. Andrew’s (SHSA) raised funds to complete a historic evaluation of the building that was designed by the city’s first architect, Charles Hausler, and then applied for heritage preservation on Oct. 1.

Murial Gubasta’s paternal great-grandparents, Coleman and Justina Horvath, immigrated to the Como Park neighborhood in 1900 and were among many other Hungarian immigrants who settled in the Warrendale neighborhood and contributed money to build the new St. Andrew Church building on Como Ave. They were married in the first church building in 1908, and their children attended school at St. Andrew’s. Gubasta was the fourth generation of her family to attend school there and was followed by her nephew as a fifth-generation student.

“There are several hundred other family stories that are similar to mine,” wrote Gubasta in a letter to the HPC. “Even though many of these proceeding generations have moved on it does not mean St. Andrew’s Church building no longer has historic and cultural value. To raze St. Andrew’s Church building is to destroy the rich, historic and cultural identity of this beautiful neighborhood in Como Park.”

SHSA member Kevin Anderson pointed out, “We have had a school in this neighborhood since 1920, and we value the vibrancy that it brings to our community. However, development by any institution or resident needs to take into consideration the essential character of the established neighborhood. I believe that the current expansion plan proposed by TCGIS is not consistent with the St. Paul Comprehensive Plan or congruent with the existing character of our neighborhood.”

According to SHSA member Steve Greenwood, “St. Andrews deserves historical designation, as it is comparable to Hausler’s other buildings on the National Register (St. Anthony Library, Riverview Library, Freedom Library, Minnesota Building, Minnesota Milk Building, and St. Mary’s in Hague ND). It is also comparable to the six District 10 buildings on the Register (Footbridge L-5853, Bridge 92247, Conservatory, Salvation Army Women’s Home, and Northern Pacific Railway Co. Como Shops), in terms of architectural beauty, design architect significance, social significance, and impact on the neighborhood.”

What makes it significant?
St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission, in its 8-1 decision for historic preservation, said the former church building is eligible for local designation under four of St. Paul’s Heritage Preservation criteria.

St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, built in 1927 by the McGough Brothers, is architecturally significant as a well-designed example of the Romanesque Revival style. According to the HPC report, the church is not only significant in the Lake Como area, where it maintains a strong architectural presence, it is also among St. Paul’s most distinctive period revival style churches.

St. Andrew’s Catholic Church is also significant for its association with Charles A. Hausler, who served as the first city architect for the city of St. Paul and whose large and diverse body of work had an important impact on the city. (See related article on page 6)

St. Andrew’s Catholic Church is also historically significant as an important institution in the Lake Como area that became a community center for the working-class congregation that it served, according to the information reviewed by the Heritage Preservation Commission. The church served a community of Hungarian immigrants and is significant for its association with the Hungarian immigrant experience.

Another criterion is that its unique location or singular physical characteristic represents an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community, or the city of Saint Paul. According to the HPC report, the Warrendale neighborhood has a unique layout designed by H.W.S. Cleveland, as it is not a grid, but a curvilinear plan and St. Andrew’s Church is sited in a unique location within that plat.

Debate over 1983 preservation report
In deciding on the status of St. Andrew’s Church historic status, the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) cited a “1983 Historic Sites Survey of St. Paul and Ramsey County” that stated that St. Andrew’s Church was a “Site of Major Significance.”

Twin Cities German Immersion School officials noted that the documentation for that very same report did not list the church as a site “eligible for designation.” And, that in fact, the official “Historic Sites Survey” for the church done in 1981 clearly marked “no” for National Register potential, “no” for “local designation potential,” and “no” to “historic district potential.”

According to Christine Boulware, Historic Preservation Specialist for Planning and Economic Development, reports that are more than ten years old may contain important data, but that they are “out of date” and that new or updated information should be the primary focus.

“Effectively, the current nomination that was submitted for St. Andrew’s Church is the up-to-date information that an intensive level survey would provide and more,” Boulware said. “Thus, when the HPC reviewed the nomination at the Nov. 5 public hearing, they determined the site eligible for local designation based on the information provided in the nomination document.”

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Allianz Field 09

Innovative water re-use system being built into Allianz Field Great Lawn

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

By the end of November the Allianz Field was making its permanant stamp on the Midway’s landscape. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

When the Minnesota United FC soccer team takes their opening kick at Allianz Field next spring, nearly 20,000 fans and spectators will have walked across the Great Lawn to enter the new stadium. Coursing quietly beneath their feet will be an innovative stormwater and reuse system that, in its own way, is as exciting as the game.

Wes Saunders-Pearce, water resources coordinator for the City of St. Paul, said, “This project has been a partnership from the beginning with the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD). We kicked off a visioning workshop almost three years ago, and the ideas that emerged have resulted in our most ambitious collaboration to date. We looked closely at how stormwater was managed at CHS Field (home of the St. Paul Saints) and along the Metro Green Line. Both of these systems are on a much smaller scale than what we engineered for Allianz Field, but they definitely helped inform the design.”

Anna Eleria is the planning, projects, and grants division manager for CRWD. She said, “The key question that drove this partnership was, ’How can we change the mindset of managing stormwater as a resource—rather than a liability?’ We hope that once the public understands how it all works, they’ll start to look at how they can manage their own stormwater better.”

Allianz Field and the surrounding new developments will occupy approximately half of the 35 acre Super Block site. The masterplan is pedestrian-oriented and designates 2.6 acres of public, outdoor gathering spaces. The stadium will be ringed by three grassy plazas, and a fourth green space will be placed along University Ave., near the Snelling Avenue Metro Green Line Station. The largest of these green spaces, called the Great Lawn, is directly in front of the main stadium entrance.
All of the stormwater from Allianz Field and the surrounding new developments will be directed underneath the Great Lawn, where it will be captured in a state-of-the-art cistern system with a 675,000-gallon holding capacity. Stormwater will be treated with ozone after it has passed through a series of filters, and further purified with ultraviolet light. A water main that surrounds the stadium on the north side will distribute the clean stormwater to other properties for irrigation and non-drinking purposes.

Saunders-Pearce explained, “What we’re seeing with the Allianz Field and surrounding development properties is the first catalytic investment in the Super Block. As a water resource planner, there were a lot of things that were compelling about this project. When future developments come in, their stormwater management system will already be in place. We hope that this will help move things forward because the blocks will be ‘development ready.’ We’re looking through both a sustainability lens and a development lens at the same time.”

The Great Lawn will be available for public use and was intentionally designed to be an open space. Saunders-Pearce added, “There will only be about 20 home games each year at Allianz Field. We anticipate that people will find this area (with its variety of commercial and mixed-use properties) to be approachable—and that they’ll use it well.”

The mission of the CRWD is to protect and improve the water quality of the Mississippi River. “We’ve always been concerned about the Super Block site,” Eleria said.

“Previously there was no treatment of the stormwater runoff there; it all just fed into the storm sewers and ran directly into the river. Now, stormwater that runs off half of the site will be treated, and we think it symbolizes the future for development in the area. CRWD doesn’t own any land. We rely on partnerships with other organizations that care about sustainable approaches. Part of the funding we were able to contribute to this project came from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources’ Clean Water Fund and the Metropolitan Council’s Stormwater Grant.”

Public Art Saint Paul will likely be another partner in the eventual ‘innovation celebration’ of this building site, but a decision was made to forestall the installation of public art until after the season opens in 2019. Saunders-Pearce said, “All of the site work is done, and it has moved very rapidly. We want to give the public some time to get used to using the space, and to see how the pedestrian traffic flows. We anticipate having public art near the Great Lawn, and also some interpretive signage that explains the water re-use that’s in place underground. All of the partners agree that we don’t want to use signage as the only tool for interpreting this innovative system; we want to have something that’s more powerful, and that’s better at accomplishing the job of place-making. This is going to be a tremendous area for St. Paul.”


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Pedestrian Map St

Over 4,000 people weighed in on city’s new pedestrian plan

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

This map, from the Saint Paul Pedestrian Plan Executive Summary, shows the areas (in green) where High Priority Areas for Walking Investments are proposed. Almost the entire West Midway is highlighted. (Photo provided)

St. Paul has 1,080 miles of sidewalks, and 330 miles of roads without sidewalks

Steps to improve conditions for St. Paul pedestrians are the focus of the city’s first-ever pedestrian plan. The plan will be released Dec. 14 by the St. Paul Planning Commission. The release marks the start of a 30-day public comment period, with a public hearing set for Feb. 8, 2019.

A Planning Commission recommendation goes to the City Council for final approval, with March 2019 eyed as a possible public hearing date. The plan will become part of the city’s comprehensive plan.

The commission’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously Nov. 19 to recommend the plan’s release, following a presentation by Fay Simer, pedestrian safety coordinator for the St. Paul Department of Public Works. Earlier in November, more than 40 people attended a plan open house.

Having a plan in place for sidewalks, trails and street crossings reflects the city’s values, Simer said. The plan calls out infrastructure needs as well and can guide funding city spending decisions. “It also can start conversations and change the culture of the city to promote walking,” she said

City officials hear strong support for pedestrian improvements, including sidewalks where none exist and safer street crossings. Mayor Melvin Carter’s 2019 budget includes $1 million for sidewalks, which is about double past spending.

St. Paul has 1,080 miles of sidewalks. Only about six to eight miles are replaced each year, meaning many sidewalks are in poor condition. What is more concerning is the number of areas without sidewalks at all. The city has only required sidewalks with street paving projects or new developments since 2017, meaning some neighborhoods have been able to opt out if residents didn’t want sidewalks.

Simer said the city has about 330 miles of sidewalk gaps. Included in the gaps are 62 miles of busy arterial streets, which can be dangerous to walk along or cross.
The 91-page pedestrian plan has been in the works for more than a year, including open houses, surveys, and focus group meetings. More than 4,000 people weighed in. A 26-member steering committee was also involved.

A map showing sidewalk gaps and high priority areas for walking investments is one key outcome of the plan. Neighborhoods along Green Line light rail are cited for their lack of sidewalks. That’s despite a program during rail construction that emphasized creating more pedestrian connections to and from rail and rail stations. Neighborhoods in the west midway also lack sidewalks.

The areas mapped out were chosen using several criteria, Simer said. One is equity, and looking at neighborhoods where people may rely on walking the most. Another is safety, where streets are busiest. Four-lane and arterial streets are some of the toughest to get across on foot. Census tracts and data including transit access, population, health and employment density are other factors. City staff also looked at areas where there aren’t sidewalks.

Those at the November open house and Transportation Committee members expressed enthusiasm for the plan, although many issues were raised. Several people cited the need for ongoing funding for sidewalk and crosswalk safety improvements, not just to make the improvements but to provide ongoing maintenance. Others raised the needs for better street lighting for nighttime walking, as well as better snow and ice removal.

“I love the plan so far,” said Transportation Committee member Kevin Gallatin. He and other committee members would like to see more details on how the plan and the city’s street design policy tie together. That can be added as the plan continues through the review process.

Transportation Committee member Wendy Underwood also expressed support for the plan, although she’d like to see more emphasis on safe street crossings.

Safe crosswalks are another issue, especially on busier and wider streets. “Motor vehicle speeds and crossing distances are the biggest threats to pedestrian safety,” said Simer. “We don’t want there to be streets in St. Paul that people cannot get across.”

Snow and ice on sidewalks were raised frequently as problematic. While about 80 percent of walks are cleared after the city sends letters to property owners, that still takes filing a complaint. One challenge is that there aren’t citywide programs to assist people who need help shoveling snow.

Property owners must remove snow and ice from sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall.

The plan identifies several short-term and long-term strategies, including consistent review processes for pedestrian crossings, seeking alternative funding to build more sidewalks, and looking at ways to address sidewalk shoveling.

One issue that has dominated recent discussions is that of funding. “Funding has been a big challenge” for those seeking sidewalks to be installed or repaired, said Simer. Sidewalks in the past have been funded through a combination of property owner assessments, city funding or outside grants.

The plan also includes a focus on four pedestrian programs the city is involved in.

Stop for Me is a targeted effort to promote safe crossings and law enforcement.

Safe Routes to Schools is a program through which school communities plan out improvements to help children safely get to and from school. Planning commissioner Christopher Ochs said he’d like to see a future safe Routes effort focused on central High School.

A third effort is regular pedestrian and bicycle counts, powered largely by volunteers. Simer said the counts provide needed baseline data for studies and funding requests.

A fourth program is Paint the Pavement, where neighbors paint a design on a street surface to calm or slow traffic.


Edit note: The original article reported the public hearing was going to be Jan. 25, however it was subsequently changed by the Planning Commission to Feb. 8, 2019.

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Development Roundup, Dec. 2018

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin


Internet business receives loan to move into the Midway
A recently merged company is closing its Hudson, WI. location and consolidating in the Midway industrial area. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, voted Nov. 28 to approve a $175,000 forgivable loan to Alula.

Alula is the product of the acquisition and merger of Resolution Products and ipDatatel. Both companies work in home security and online businesses. The companies were operated independently until August 2017. Now that the merger has been completed, the company intends to close its facility in Wisconsin and relocate to St. Paul. Additionally, Alula would shift some workers over time from a Houston, TX facility to the Twin Cities, though the plan to continue operating the facility in Houston.

The proposed facility here will serve as the corporate headquarters for the combined operations. Alula considered spaces throughout the Twin Cities and also explored options to headquarter the company in other regions. With the approval of Strategic Investment Funds, the company will lease approximately 50,000 square feet at 2340 Energy Park Dr. They will relocate 56 existing jobs and hire 69 additional employees to staff the St. Paul office, making a commitment of 125 jobs at their new headquarters in Saint Paul.

2340 Energy Park Dr. is located in an I-1 zoning district, with all of Alula’s proposed land uses permitted. No existing businesses will be displaced or relocated as a result of this project, and there was no land acquisition that took place as a result of eminent domain.

The city funds are from the HRA Strategic Investment Fund and will be used for equipment and furniture.

Meatpacking plant in Midway wins historic status
The former Superior Packing Plant property, which has long been eyed as a redevelopment site, has won needed historic designation. On Nov. 5 the property at 2103 Wabash Ave. was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an excellent, intact, local example of a multistory straight-line production, meatpacking plant within the city of St. Paul. It was part of St. Paul’s first meatpacking district before the main district moved to South St. Paul around the Union Stockyards.

The property has been largely vacant for several years. It was built in sections over the past century but hasn’t housed meat packing operations for almost 40 years.

Various developers have looked at the property since then and sought ways to redevelop it. The latest proposal, by PAK Properties and HGB Group, called for turning the property into multi-family housing. That required a complex series of reviews by the city’s Planning Commission, as the developers sought to retain the underlying industrial zoning.

The project had the support of St. Anthony Park Community Council, Midway Chamber of Commerce, housing advocates and business groups, but was challenged by adjacent commercial and industrial neighbors due to concerns about putting a large number of residents into a busy non-residential area. The developers dropped their plans at about the same time an appeal was underway before the St. Paul City Council.

The historic designation would help a future owner-developer to receive state and federal historic tax credits. The credits have been used at other St. Paul sites, including the West End’s former Schmidt Brewery and at the Chittenden & Eastman building in South St. Anthony Park.

Higher Ground wins funding to move into Como building
A longtime Marshall Ave. charter school’s upper grades are headed in a few years for a new home at 1471 Brewster St. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), approved the issuance of up to $15 million in conduit lease revenue bonds for Higher Ground Building Company. The nonprofit is an arm of Higher Ground Academy.

Higher Ground Academy is a K-12 public charter school which has operated since 1999 in a facility at 1381 Marshall Ave. One of its founders is former City Council President Bill Wilson.

The school currently enrolls approximately 785 students. It is full, with a waiting list of 276 pupils.

The facility was originally financed with bonds issued by the HRA in 1999, with additional improvements financed through HRA issued bonds in 2004 and 2009.
In 2013, the HRA issued $13,480,000 in bonds for the school that refunded all prior bonds and financed equipment purchases for STEM labs to enhance academic programs. The current outstanding balance of the 2013 bonds is $12,125,000.

The HRA has received an application on behalf of Higher Ground to issue up to $15 million in conduit revenue bonds, to purchase, renovate and expand an existing school building located at 1471 Brewster St. That is the former Metro Deaf facility. That school recently moved to a new location.

The Brewster building is 40,000 sq. ft. and sits on a 1.75-acre site near Como and Snelling avenues. The existing building was built in two sections, with an original one-story structure in 1973 and a two-story addition in 2009. Higher Ground wishes to renovate and expand the building. The new school site will support students in grades 7 to 12 and increase enrollment in grades 7 to 12 from approximately 300 to 450. The new site is just 2.8 miles from the Marshall site and easily accessible via main thoroughfares from all directions. The school also provides its own bus transportation service for all students.

Elementary students would remain at Marshall Ave.

Earlier this year school officials considered, but then dropped, a proposal to relocate to property on the St. Paul College grounds in the Summit-University neighborhood.

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Como High School Farley Bronze Cross Award

News from Como Park High School, Dec. 2018

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• Como Park senior William Farley received the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross award at a special ceremony attended by family, instructors, and peers from the Marine Corps JROTC. The Bronze Cross is an elite honor earned annually by just six exceptional individuals from over 5,000 Marine Corps JROTC cadets across the entire nation.

Farley’s accomplishments in JROTC began during his freshman year and increased over time to include not just higher rank and distinction within the program, but also excellence in challenging academic coursework, extracurricular activities, and community service.

Farley carries a non-weighted GPA of 3.96 (4.39 weighted), has twice led a Como Knowledge Bowl team to the national JROTC finals in Washington D.C., has earned AP Scholar status, and is a member of the National Honor Society. He also qualified for the Minnesota State History Day, qualified for the Minnesota Personal Finance Decathlon State Competition, ran track and field, and had leadership roles in several service projects with the Boy Scouts in addition to JROTC and school initiatives.

Photo right: Cadet Captain William Farley (center, holding certificate) earned the prestigious Legion of Valor Bronze Cross Award. With over 5,000 candidates from across the nation, Farley was one of just six recipients for the JROTC top honor. (Photo by Eric Erickson)

The proclamation read at the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross ceremony included roughly 40 other awards, achievements, and accomplishments. Farley’s resume is extensive, and his uniform is highly decorated. But the quality most admired by both instructors and fellow cadets is Farley’s humility.

When asked about his award, Farley’s selfless attitude revealed itself. To him, the achievements and honors are a by-product of the experiences that were developed as part of a team. “I think truly the most wonderful experience I’ve had has been to be part of this second family,” Farley said.

The support Farley has received from the Como MCJROTC, his teachers at Como, and his parents Dana Farley and Anna Otto will serve as a springboard as he pursues his college options. Like most Como cadets, he is not planning to join the military. The goal is to use the skills and commitment to excellence he’s developed as a compass for succeeding in college, career, and life.

• Coordination between Como Academy of Finance (AOF) instructor Kris Somerville, Wells Fargo, and Junior Achievement’s “JA Inspire” outreach program created a large-scale, impactful experience at Como for 370 students. On Nov. 15, over 40 volunteers from Wells Fargo visited Como for an all-day event. Freshmen spent time with mentors and learned how to network. Sophomores developed and refined resumes with the volunteers. Juniors participated in mock interviews and mentoring sessions. Seniors presented solutions to case studies developed by Wells Fargo.

Photo left: Wells Fargo employees conducted mock interviews with Como Park Academy of Finance (AOF) students in the Como Gymnasium last month as part of the AOF Career Development Day. (Photo by Eric Erickson)

For AOF students who have been part of the Wells Fargo event before, the day was highly anticipated and did not disappoint. “It was a wonderful experience because the volunteers were really down to earth and gave me such great advice about how to improve my presentation,” said senior Selena Vue.

For Wells Fargo volunteers, the interaction with Como AOF students was insightful and inspiring. One Wells Fargo team member, Derek Fried, said. “I have done several other volunteer activities with Wells Fargo, and this was far and away the most fun and most rewarding.”

• Nine AOF students interviewed for and successfully earned marketing internships with the BrandLab. The mission of the BrandLab is to change the face and voice of the marketing industry by introducing, guiding and preparing students for careers in marketing and advertising.

Seniors who earned this opportunity were Kenneth Psalms and Curtis Love. Junior interns include Abdulaziz Ahmed, Leonce Corder-Campbell, Aleeyar Keh, Ong Vang, Paul Vang, Lisa Saechao, and Pang Dao Xiong.

• The Como Park Choirs will present the annual Pops Concert on Monday, Dec. 17 in the Como Auditorium from 7-8pm. The show will feature six choirs performing music from Moana, The Greatest Showman, Hamilton, The Tempest, and more. Admission for the Pops Concert is $2 for adults, $1 for students and senior citizens.
On Thur., 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, Hamline Elementary, and Como Park Elementary.

• The Chamber Singers and Concert Choir presented a musical based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest on Nov. 8-9. High-quality performance by the cast and chorus pleased audiences and directors alike. Actors included Alicia Banks, Roan Buck, Wyatt Hanson, Willow Hollister-Lapointe, Areya Khue, Jo Ann Lane, Mai Lao Lee, Chandani Lor, Emilie Pagel, Lillian Rogers, Tobias Sax, Aspen Schucker, Lila Seeba, Ava Vitali and Kevin Yang.

• Advanced Placement Government students who will be representing Como in the national Close Up Washington D.C. program in March are raising funds to support their trip. Students will be bagging groceries for customers at the Maplewood Cub Foods on Rice St. and County Road B from 10am–8pm on Sat., Dec. 22. 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.

• The Cougar girls’ basketball team started the season in spectacular fashion with victories over Bloomington Kennedy, Mounds View, Robbinsdale Cooper, and Minnehaha Academy. The hot start catapulted the Cougars to the #6 ranking in the Class AAA state rankings as the Monitor went to press.

• Prospective students and families for the 2019-2020 school year are invited to Como’s Showcase Night! Showcase is an open house format where students and families have a chance to learn more about academic and extra-curricular activities at Como. Showcase will take place on Tues., Jan. 15 from 5:30-7:30pm.

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Prep Sports Notebook, Dec. 2018

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin


St. Paul Como Park girls keep hopes high despite youth
Despite graduating five seniors, St. Paul Como Park looks to have a big season with a young team.

The Cougars return ten players from a team that went 19-9 last year, won the St. Paul City Conference and fell in the Class 3A Section 4 semifinals. Returning player include Ronnie Porter and Kaylynn Asberry who both averaged more than nine points per game

“I think we are moving along quite nicely,” Cougars coach Alexis Gray-Lawson said. “Our chemistry is there we just have to tighten up some things. I believe this will be a great season for us.”

Porter averaged 9.6 points per game, and Gray-Lawson says she “can score anywhere on the floor.” Porter’s offensive ability could help alleviate the loss of leading scorer Makayla Vannett to graduation.

Raiyne Adams, the team’s third-leading scorer last season, also graduated. Gray-Lawson said those two “are hard shoes to fill” for her team.

She anticipates Asberry, who had 9.3 points per game last year, stepping up with her aggressiveness on the court. Eighth-grader Shania Nicols gives the Cougars some offensive punch with her sharp-shooting after averaging 6.8 points per game last winter.

Freshman Jada James gives the Cougars a force on the boards. She also averaged 5.4 points per game last season.

“I think our biggest strength is our heart and the way we compete each night,” Gray-Lawson said.

St. Paul Central girls rebuilding
With little veteran experience, St. Paul Central will have a rebuilding season this winter.

The Minutemaids have a senior and a junior, which are outnumbered by the ninth-graders and eighth-graders on the team. St. Paul Central has five ninth-graders, two eighth-graders and a sophomore on the team.

“We are young and have a bright future,” Minutemaids coach Marlon McCoy said.

Key returning players include junior forward Afiya Ward and sophomore guard Alayjza Campbell. Ward saw varsity time last season and averaged 2.5 rebounds and a steal per game. Campbell posted 7.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest.

Minutemen boys look to soar
St. Paul Central returns lots of talent in looking to claim the St. Paul City Conference boys basketball title after falling short last winter.

The Minutemen went 16-10 overall and finished in second place for the conference. They return their top three scorers and rebounders from that squad.

Leading scorer Daveonte Davis returns to the lineup after averaging 23.5 points per game last winter. The Minutemen also have Dion Ford, who posted 19.4 points per game last season and led the team in rebounds with 7.2 per contest.

The Minutemen also have Ronelle Porter who can score and distribute the ball. He averaged 12 points and 2.8 assists per game last season, and he posted 4.2 rebounds per game.

Luke McElroy also poses a threat on the glass. He had five rebounds per contest last winter, and he averaged 9.3 points per game.

St. Paul Central will have a challenging road ahead with a challenging non-conference schedule that consists of Hopkins, Minnehaha Academy, Park Center and Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Lincoln. It could help the Minutemen as a tough Class 4A Section 4 awaits. That consists of defending state champion Cretin-Derham Hall and early season Class 4A favorite East Ridge.

New look for St. Paul Como Park boys
With its top six scorers graduated, St. Paul Como Park will have a new look on the court this winter.

Donzello Barros is the leading scorer among returning players from last season. He averaged 7.2 points per game.

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Como Community Council Corner, Dec. 2018

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director

What matters most to you?
What do you think about Como—the good, the not-so-good, what you’d keep, what you’d change? A new District 10 survey gives you the chance to voice your opinions and ideas about neighborhood trends, amenities, issues, characteristics, and possibilities. The goal: Give those of us at the Como Community Council a better understanding of how, where, and why to prioritize (or re-prioritize) goals and work for 2019 and beyond. Take the survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/D10survey.

Upcoming District 10 meetings
• Como Community Council Monthly Meeting: Tues., Dec. 18. The meeting is expected to include recommendations on variances Twin Cities German Immersion School is seeking for its proposed expansion.
• Environment Committee: Wed., Dec. 19. (Because of the holidays, this meeting was rescheduled.)
• Land Use Committee: Wed., Jan. 2.
• Neighborhood Relations and Safety Committee: Tues., Jan 8. (Because of the holidays, this meeting was rescheduled.)

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.

Streetcar Station open once a month
With the change of seasons, the Como Park Streetcar Station is now open only on the first Sunday of each month. But it is still 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. Hours remain the same: noon to 4pm. Upcoming dates are Jan. 6 and Feb. 3. The Historic Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

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News from Hamline Midway Library Dec. 2018

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

The Hamline Midway Library, 1558 West Minnehaha Ave., is your neighborhood gathering spot, where you can enjoy great programs and Internet access and access portable WiFi hotspots, books, CDs, DVDs and more, all free with your library card. Here’s what is happening in the coming weeks.

For families and kids
Preschool Storytimes in English will happen Fri., Dec. 7 from 10:30-11am, take a holiday break on Fri., Dec. 21 and 28, and then be back again on Jan. 4 and 11. Storytimes feature stories, songs, puppets, and more. They’re a great way for caregivers to bond with children and build social skills, listening comprehension, and letter and number recognition while creating a solid foundation for lifelong learning. Children of all activity levels are welcome!

The Show and Tell Book Club for grades 1-4 meets on Sat., Dec. 15, 1:30-2:15pm, to share books and do fun literacy activities together.

On Sat., Dec. 29, 3-4pm, school-aged children can enjoy a Maker Break with the Mobile Comedy Suitcase. In this program aimed at ages 7-11, kids will learn several different artistic techniques for making people laugh and observe and pull humor from their everyday lives. The workshop will cover joke writing and telling, improvisation, puns, comic timing, and more.

Opportunities for adults
The Saints and Sinners Mystery Book Club meets on Sat., Jan. 5, 1-2pm, to discuss good mystery novels. Contact volunteer G. Balter for book list or more information at gerribalter@gmail.com or 651-224-5570.

Relax and stretch at Chair Yoga with Nancy Giguere of the Hamline Midway Elders Association on Thur., Dec. 13 and Jan. 10, 10:30-11:30am. All movement is done while seated or standing using a chair for balance.

Holiday closures
The library will be closed all day on Dec. 24, 25, and Jan. 1 and will close at 5:30pm on Dec.31.

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Hamline Elementary FR1

The Family Room at Hamline Elementary is a place for community engagement

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

On any given day, the new Hamline Elementary Family Room, just steps from the main entrance on Englewood Ave., is a hub of activity. You’ll find families waiting to drop off or pick up their kids, gathering with friends, catching up on work, meeting with Hamline staff, or taking a few minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee. Designed to be a place for families to learn, share, and connect, the Family Room is quickly becoming the heartbeat of the Hamline community.

The development of this sunny, south-facing room is the centerpiece of the school’s 2016 Minnesota Department of Education Full Service Community Schools grant award. This new space is large enough for a kid’s play area, two workstations equipped with laptops and office supplies, two comfortable conversation areas, and cupboards and shelves full of shared supplies and resources including a community closet and community pantry.

Hamline families use the room throughout the day, and Hamline staff use the space for morning mindfulness exercises, staff meetings, and monthly “Coffee with the Principal” sessions. Community posting boards keep people connected to what’s happening at the school and in the community and are always filled with employment and continuing education opportunities, family-friendly activities, nutrition, and housing support information, and so much more.

The Family Room is also the perfect space to help our community partners feel welcome. The Sheridan Story delivers weekend meals for distribution by volunteers from Central Baptist Church, and Children’s Dental Services sets up their mobile clinic. Mobile Menders collects and mends items there, and it is the place to find one of our Children’s Book Express book-sharing shelves. It is where we welcome the Hamline Midway Elders who volunteer in Hamline’s bi-monthly Reading Buddy program.

As the school continues to build and expand its wrap-around services and improve access to resources, we’re always looking to work with community organizations who would like to provide family-supporting services on site for the Hamline community. Contact the school at 651-293-8715 or the Hamline PTA at hamlineelementarypta@gmail.com to learn more and get connected to the Hamline Family Room Resource Coordinator.

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Community benefits fund discussed in the shadow of Allianz Field

Posted on 10 December 2018 by Calvin

The Allianz Field Major League Soccer stadium will bring many changes to its surrounding community when it opens for games in 2019. Managing that change and leveraging redevelopment and community amenities could become key parts of a planned community benefits fund.

More than 70 people attended a Nov. 28 meeting with City Council members Mitra Nelson and Dai Thao to discuss what such an agreement could mean, and what a related community benefits fund could support.

Their suggestions, and suggestions gathered in an ongoing online survey, will be used to shape goals for the fund. Participants weighed in on display boards and met in small groups at MidPointe Events Center, just northeast of Allianz Field. They discussed issues including their hopes for redevelopment, potential challenges arising from Allianz Field and a redeveloped Midway Center, and ideas for neighborhood projects and initiatives that a fund could support.

Hearing ideas is critical to the success of a community benefits fund, the council members said. “We want to make sure that the team and the city are committed to an agreement that works for the entire community,” Thao said.

“If we proactively define our vision (for the agreement), the stronger it will be over time,” said Nelson.

The task force hopes to have a report completed and ready in January, said Hamline Midway Coalition board member Mike Reynolds. He is one of the task force members. Others involved in the task force said they intend to create a fund that has long-lasting impacts for the surrounding neighborhoods and to make sure it is something that can be easily accessed.

One new wrinkle in the stadium debate is the recent announcement that the University of St. Thomas-St. John’s University football game, known as the Tommie-Johnnie game, will be played at Allianz Field in 2019. Previous discussions indicated that stadium use would be restricted, with events such as concerts not held there because of the potential to damage the natural turf.

The notion of a community benefits agreement and related fund have been discussed since Minnesota United FC announced plans in 2016 to build the stadium on the former Metro Transit bus garage and Midway Center sites. The City Council in August 2016 passed a resolution committing to community benefits at the Snelling-Midway redevelopment site, with the support of Minnesota United and Midway Center owner RK Midway. Other references to a community benefits agreement are also in various development-related agreements between the city and the soccer team.

Some aspects of the 2016 agreement have already been in play, including goals for hiring of women and minorities during stadium construction, and having a central point of contact for communication about construction issues. Other parts of the agreement call for youth sports and community events at Allianz Field and hiring of local vendors and workers when the stadium opens.

One part of the 2016 resolution called for a task force to help develop a community benefits fund. The task force began meeting over the summer with Union Park District Council, Hamline Midway Coalition, Minnesota United, RK Midway, city officials, and other stakeholder groups. With the help of Macalester College interns, agreements in other cities were studied.

Who contributes to the fund, how it is governed and what funds will be used for, are recommendations the task force is working on. While there’s a focus on using some funding to mitigate neighborhood issues tied to stadium events such as traffic, parking, transit, and pedestrian safety issues, others focus on promoting brick-and-mortar development. Another idea proposed is that of using the fund to promote the development of new and emerging community leaders.

Support for small businesses and immigrant-owned businesses, and ways to mitigate the displacement of businesses and residents, emerged as key issues at the Nov. 28 meeting. Some speakers raised fears of gentrification, with one man noting that some area business employees sleep in their vehicles because they cannot afford housing. The need for more affordable and market-rate housing was discussed. Part of the Midway center master plan calls for housing at the southwest corner of University Ave. and Pascal St.

Several people brought up the need to help small, Mom and Pop businesses come to the neighborhood or to relocate when they can no longer afford to be in the area. A related idea is to find ways to promote local businesses to those who attend Allianz Field events.

Several people also asked that the stadium and its two adjacent green spaces have year-round programming for events such as festivals, farmers’ markets, and sports.
Another focus sought is on youth, to promote activities as well as employment for young people.

Hamline-Midway resident Erin Pryor Pavlicka asked if the fund could be used to help support local recreation centers and their programs, with a focus on the Hancock Recreation Center. “It (Hancock) could use some attention,” she said.

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