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Monitor in a Minute October 2019

Posted on 17 October 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

* Online only article
Business could lose licenses
Steps are underway to revoke city licenses for a troubled Hamline-Midway convenience store and gas station. The Midway BP Amoco at 1347 W. University Ave. has been a trouble spot in recent years, with crimes ranging from shootings to loitering. One person died in a shooting this past summer.
A licensing hearing is planned for Nov. 11 at City Hall. Staff from the city’s Police Department and Department of safety and Inspections have called the business uncooperative, as city requests for surveillance tapes and other information have gone unanswered.
The latest effort is to take away the tobacco sales and gas station city licenses, which is driving the upcoming hearing process. A recommendation on the licenses would eventually go to the St. Paul City Council, which would then hold another hearing.
Business owner Khaled Aloul, who owns other twin Cities area gas station-convenience stores, is fighting the city’s plans. Aloul in recent years has tried to do a major renovation of the business. if those plans are thwarted the business could be in jeopardy. Under a sweeping University Avenue rezoning plan adopted by the city in 2010, a new gas station-convenience store at the property likely wouldn’t allowed.
Aloul has a long history of battling with city officials. Illegal tobacco sales, shots fired calls, property code violations weapons and large late-night and early-morning gatherings outside of the business are among the many complaints about the business.
Hamline Midway Coalition is collecting comments on the business in preparation for the hearing, athttps://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XRNTL5Z?fbclid=IwAR1e8EEhbcs6Ic1rYPbagsCbyIkOzh3-UnbJf4UvBRxI-nf-UhpUS8aAjhk
The survey asked respondents eight questions, including what if any activities they have witnessed at the business and what they’d like to see in the area there in the future. Comments are due by early November and as of late September more than 200 comments had been logged.

Peddler license dispute resolved
A Minnesota State Fair peddler license dispute dating from 2018 has been resolved. The St. Paul City Council Sept. 25 took final action on an issue involving a vendor violating city regulations on where to sell products.
Vendor Todd L. Grosklags was seen in August 2018 selling fair tickets at the corner of Snelling Avenue and Midway Parkway. That violated a regulation that sales not take place within 25 feet of a corner. Two instances of improper sales were observed within a six-day period. Grosklags got a warning for the first sale and was cited for the second sale.
The case went to the City Council but was then sent to an administrative law judge at the state level. A hearing was set for July but Grosklags never showed up. that brought a default ruling in favor of the city.
City officials in recent years have cracked down illegal instance of peddling around the Minnesota state fair, in response to neighborhood complaints.

Tobacco regulations must wait
Activists who want St. Paul retailers to raise the legal tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 may have a longer wait to get such a restriction enacted. Following a September 3 public hearing Council Member Dai Thao amended his proposed ordinance.
One change Thao made, which would remove penalties against underaged purchasers of tobacco products, is considered to be a substantive change. That means renotification of affected store owners and a second public hearing are needed. That will be held in mid-October.
More than three dozen people attended hearings on two Thao proposals. One would raise the legal minimum age to enter a liquor store from 18 to 21. That ordinance won approval Sept. 11. The second, more controversial ordinance, would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco, tobacco-related devices and similar products from 18 to 21.
More than 40 people, including youth activists and e-cig store owners, attended the hearing. Several young people said that strict regulations are needed especially against vaping. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.
Central High student Hayat Fathi described to the council how one of her schoolmates became very ill from vaping. Fathi said vaping is widespread at her school and among her peers. She described how pencil bags are used to conceal the small devices.
“Every bathroom at my school has a subtle fruit smell” because of vaping, she said.
Half a dozen people who own or work at stores that sell vaping equipment and supplies spoke against the ordinance. While agreeing that criminal penalties against minors should be removed, speakers said the ordinance unfairly targets their stores. They said online sales, with supplies that make users sick, should be the focus.
Jacob Bernstein is a co-owner of Imperial Vapor, 227 N. Snelling Ave. he said vaping is a way for people to stop smoking tobacco products and that has to be considered. He and other speakers described starting smoking as teenagers and then switching to vaping.
Bernstein and other store owners and employees said they don’t sell products to people who are underage. They also questioned why vaping products are regulated in the same way that tobacco products are.

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Letters to the Editor September 2019

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Jessica Kopp for Saint Paul’s School Board

Dear Editor:
In November, I will enthusiastically vote for Jessica Kopp to serve on our Saint Paul School Board. I write today to encourage you to connect with and learn more about her and her campaign (at http://www.jessica4stpaulschools.com); I am confident her record and her key commitments will earn your vote, too. Here are some of the reasons why.
I first met Jessica in a local forum where she represented the Hamline Elementary PTA. I took some time afterwards to ask questions about how she saw the school fitting into the broader Midway neighborhood. She gave me a quick yet thorough snapshot: students she knew, community organizations they had partnered with, programs she celebrated (and often had helped to set up), other parents and teachers who were doing phenomenal work, connections to key city agencies which made a meaningful change happen in the Rec Center or that engineered a community-wide arts project on the fences adjoining Snelling Ave. (She also gave me a delicious cookie.) I was struck by the depth of her network and her knowledge. Jessica doesn’t just know that schools are in, and dependent on, the surrounding community – one of her superpowers is the ability to facilitate and shape meaningful relationships between diverse community partners and stakeholders in order to get things done.
A core goal for her candidacy is to help Saint Paul Public Schools better understand and draw on these assets. She has repeatedly helped me see the intersections between various organizations and activists in our community, to see how we could – how we must – define powerful new collaborations between schools and community leadership to serve our students and families.
To do so, she knows the school board must also deepen its understanding of – and responsiveness to– the needs of parents and teachers. Jessica’s strengths as a community organizer are tied to her strengths as a listener. As a board member she will be intentionally and fully present in our schools, re-shaping how the district attends to the voices and needs of each community. Further, she recognizes that, all too often, too many voices are marginalized, neglected, or mistreated. As a teacher, she grappled with the inequities that traumatize students and families; her community activism in the years since has tackled systemic inequality, for instance helping to build a collaboration between Hamline Elementary and Hamline University which improves all students’ experiences in classrooms while also comprehensively rethinking teaching and teacher training.
Jessica Kopp is herself an incredible asset for Saint Paul Schools – she knows how to empower stakeholders, to understand and work with what they tell her, and to help make sustainable change throughout a big, complicated system. I urge you to consider giving her one of your votes for School Board.

Mike Reynolds

Look through lens of Climate Crisis

Dear Editor:
Early on in Mayor Carter’s 2020 Budget address he said the following about the Climate Crisis: “We must act to protect our environment and adapt to the impacts of climate crisis on our city.” Following that during the speech he noted several ways in which the city is attempting to address the climate crisis such as; increase in non-carbon transit options, cooperation with Minneapolis to install 70 electric vehicle charging stations, expanded bike lanes, etc. I for one support those ideas and give the Mayor credit for his leadership in those areas. That being said, I will admit some frustration with how the Mayor and/or the city are approaching this issue of the Climate Crisis. Similar to what our state, nation, world community and many individual people are doing, the issue is looked at as yet another priority to address. It is looked at as yet another issue to get in line for the funding stream. When the reality is that it is THE issue of our time, present and future.
If we looked at climate change as priority number one, I think the reality of its daunting nature and its solutions would be easier to see. We would see that our concerns about education, poverty, violence, immigration are all tied into this issue. We would also see that any and all decisions made about those other issues need to be made looking through the lens of the Climate Crisis. In looking through that new lens we would see that must stop looking at what can we afford to do but rather what we need to do. To compare this to other issues, let’s pretend we have a sick child. None of us would ask the doctor what can we afford to do, what is the most pragmatic, etc. We would ask what do we need to do regardless of cost.
So with that in mind, I want to thank the city of St. Paul for their leadership but also throw some specific challenges and/or questions their way. It has been estimated that Saint Paul has the solar capacity for 800 MW of energy, yet we are planning to develop only 300MW of that by 2050. Why? When we look at new building/new developments (ie the Ford site) we are still seeing the use of natural gas. Why? As the new green economy develops, our city, the nation and the world will need the workers to fill those green jobs. How are we as a city being a leader in giving our residents ( adult and youths) the skills to become those green workers? I will end with a quote shared by the Climate Justice Now movement. “We need everyone, everywhere doing everything all the time as quickly as possible.” Saint Paul nice job so far but you are on the clock and it’s time to keep moving.

Thomas Lucy

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PowerPoint Presentation

Development Roundup September 2019

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Two area district councils are asking for more affordable housing units in the development planned for Lexington and University.

STAR requests OK’d
On Aug. 21, the St. Paul City Council approved more than two dozen Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) requests, including Midway projects.
None of the area projects were affected by changes made by Mayor Melvin Carter. About $2.6 million in grants and loans won approval.
Co-Motion Center for Movement at 655 N. Fairview Ave. received a $40,000 loan and $40,000 grant, with a $180,000 match. The fund would be used for building improvements, by Element Boxing & Fitness.
New Vision’s new headquarters in St. Paul at 860 Vandalia St. was awarded a $105,424 grant will be matched with $105,424 to build out the facility, which also houses the Tech Dump electronics recycling program.
The Community Involvement Programs-ALLY People Solutions agency at 1515 Energy Park Drive was awarded a $100,000 loan and $50,000 grant, with a $150,000 match.
A new Playwrights’ Center at 711 Raymond Ave. obtained a $100,000 grant and $50,000 loan, with $7.625 million match to convert an old warehouse into a playwrights center.

Lexington-University project faces pushback
Two area district councils are asking that a planned mixed-use development near Lexington Parkway and University Ave.include more affordable units. Summit-University Planning Council and Frogtown Neighborhood Association are asking that the Alatus LLC project include more affordable units. Those two district councils are asking Union Park District Council (UPDC) to vote against the two current proposals for 411 Lexington Parkway. The requests were discussed by the UPDC land use committee Aug. 19. That committee took no action but took the request under advisement.
How much say UPDC can have isn’t clear. Alatus needs no zoning changes or variances, and isn’t seeking public subsidy.
Two redevelopment plans would each have a six-story mixed-use building with a grocery store and east-west bicycle-pedestrian connection through the structure. Both plans offer about 21,000 square feet of space for a grocery store. The number of apartments, ranging from efficiencies to four-bedroom units, would be about 226. There would be about 180 parking spaces, underground and on the main level. Both plans also call for the building to have two outdoor amenity decks. One plan calls for all market-rate apartments, as well as 5,000 square feet space for smaller community coworking or a business incubator space.  The second plan calls for what Alatus representatives describe as privately subsidized/affordable units, with six to 12 units allocated to people who meet income restrictions.
Frogtown and Summit-University district councils are asking for more affordable units, noting that development along the Green Line light rail has already forced renters out. That include Tia Williams, co-director of Frogtown Neighborhood Association. She and others said the need for more affordable housing has to be considered.
Ward One Council Member Dai Thao has also joined in the issue, asking that property owner Wilder Foundation only sell the development site for affordable housing.
Wilder officials have pushed back, saying they are selling property to cover the costs of their social services mission. The Lexington site has been for sale for several years and hasn’t found a buyer yet.

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Monitor In A Minute September 2019

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Survey on frontage roads
The St. Paul Department of Public Works is conducting a survey, prior to resurfacing the Concordia and St. Anthony avenues’ freeway frontage roads. The survey was posted in August on Twitter.
The 2021 project will include St. Anthony from Snelling Ave.to Victoria St., and Concordia from Lexington Parkway to Marion St. “Share your thoughts on how we can make these streets safer at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/94frontageroads,” the post stated.
The five-question survey asks how safe people feel walking, biking and driving along the streets. Both lack sidewalks in places. Neither has consistent bike improvements from end to end.
One survey question is, “What would make walking, bicycling or driving feel safer for you on St. Anthony and Concordia?” Survey-takers are also asked to identify where they live, by zip code.
Public Works will use the survey input to help shape plans and then take the plans out for community meetings at a later date.

Stormwater management eyed at Midway Center
A key piece of the Midway Center superblock and Allianz Field redevelopment went into place Aug. 7. The council approved the Snelling Midway Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management District, to outline management of and responsibilities for the extensive stormwater and drainage improvements done as part of soccer stadium and site redevelopment.
Putting the district in place establishes connections and ongoing operation and maintenance charges for property and uses served by the district’s stormwater infrastructure. The district and improved water runoff management practices have been in the works since stadium and area redevelopment planning got underway a few years ago.
The agreement involves Minnesota United FC and Midway Center owner RK Midway Shopping Center, LLC, RK University Midway, LLC and its affiliates. It governs the block bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues.
The sustainable stormwater management system was agreed upon in 2017, by the team and shopping center ownership. The agreement acknowledges that as the site continues to be redeveloped, any future development must pay to connect to this system as well as pay for the long-term maintenance of the stormwater management system. Water runoff is collected, filtered and reused at the site.
City officials studied a number of stormwater systems before one was chosen and installed. It is hoped that the district and its environmentally sustainable practices become a model for other redevelopment sites in St. Paul. A city ordinance passed earlier this year sets up regulations and payment structures for future districts.

Gabe’s obtains license change
Gabe’s by the Park, 991 N. Lexington Parkway, can play music over a speaker system on its patio. The St. Paul City Council Aug. 24 approved the changes to business licenses, dropping a longstanding condition banning music outdoors.
Added license conditions state that any activities taking place outdoors including those taking place on the outdoor patio seating area – such as music being played over a speaker system – shall comply with applicable state and local rules and regulations, including the city code. The patio speakers shall be turned off when the patio is closed and/or there is no food/beverage service provided directly by waitstaff. Amplified sound shall be controlled at all times so that it will not be audible at the residential properties across Lexington Parkway
The change has a recommendation of approval from Como Community Council, but did generate neighborhood objections, sending the issue to a legislative hearing this summer.
Two existing license conditions will remain. The patio will close by 11 p.m. and Gabe’s will not contract with Topline Credit Union, 976 N. Lexington Parkway, for use of its parking lot.

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Garden to Cafeteria launched

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

On Aug. 19, 16 St. Paul School district teachers, staff, University of Minnesota representatives in food safety and gardens, and representatives from Urban Roots toured three different SPPS school gardens to learn more about the Garden to Cafeteria (G2C) program.
“It is a chance to get the students in touch with their food and know where it comes from. It promotes healthy living, not only nutritionally, but in actively gardening in the fall and the spring,” said Kirsten Saylor, SPPS garden coordinator. Garden to Cafeteria is a program that will start this year, where these teachers, trained in the process of safely harvesting and handling food, will start to bring the student grown and student harvested food, like cherry tomatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach, and other vegetables into their cafeteria in a way that is safe for students to eat.
There are 24 of school gardens/orchards in SPPS, and this group of teachers went to visit several of them to learn more about the process of starting a garden, sustaining a garden, and how to properly bring the food into the supply chain of the school cafeteria for the salad bar.
Kris Wirtz, school cafeteria supervisor at Murray, was willing to pilot the protocols last spring at Murray with student grown lettuce. She, along with Mr. Chase, a science teacher who had students grow lettuce in the school, supervised the students in harvesting, washing, and prepping it for the lunch line salad bar. “If we are going to promote sustainability in the district, this is a great way to teach it, and the team has come up with a set of protocols that will assure food safety and provide a paper trail of what food was harvested when and how it was served,” she said.
Over the past two years over 500 pounds of produce has been donated to the local food shelf out of the Murray garden. Teacher Tim Chase, who has been working with students on the garden, is excited to bring the food into the cafeteria, and hopes to use food, agriculture, sustainability, and culture to build understanding across the diverse population at Murray.
“We will be inviting several local chefs into the classroom too to tie culture and food together with hopes that the thread of sustainability is a natural way of thinking in many cultures when it comes to food,” he said.

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Minnesota United goes unbeaten for July in MLS action

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Minnesota United goes unbeaten for July in MLS action
By Matthew Davis
Minnesota United had its way with MLS teams in July.
The Loons (10-7-5) went 5-0-2 against MLS competition that month as the lone loss came against English Premier League squad Aston Villa in a friendly July 17 at Allianz Field in St. Paul. The unbeaten month helped the Loons stay strong in the playoff race at fifth in the Western Conference through July 27.
“It’s been an accumulation of a lot of things but mainly hard work and belief in what they’re trying to do,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said about the recent success following a July 15 win over FC Dallas, one of the biggest wins of the month.
Minnesota United entered July fresh off its biggest blowout win in the franchise’s MLS history. The Loons beat Cincinnati 7-1 June 28 behind goals from six different players. Defender Ike Opara led the Loons with two goals.
Minnesota United picked up where it left off July 3 in a 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. Loons midfielder Darwin Quintero got things going with a goal in the fifth minute. Midfielders Ethan Finlay and Miguel Ibarra assisted on the goal.
Earthquakes defender Tommy Thompson evened things up late in the first half with a game-tying goal unassisted.
Minnesota United answered early in the second half with a goal by defender Michael Boxall. Loons midfielder Kevin Molino gave his team some distance from the Earthquakes with a goal in the final minutes of the game for a 3-1 lead. Opara and forward Mason Toye assisted on the score.
The Loons kept the winning streak going with two unanswered goals at Montreal July 6 in a 3-2 victory. Finlay scored on a penalty kick to tie the game 2-2, and Toye scored the game-winner off an assist from Molino. Toye and Molino also connected on the Loons’ first goal of the game.
Angelo Rodriguez made things a little more comfortable for the Loons with a hat trick against the New Mexico United in a 6-1 win July 10. The Loons forward tied the game in the 10th minute on an assist from defender Hassani Dotson. Rodriguez and company rolled from there.
“Obviously, very happy because as a forward, I always want to score goals let alone a hat trick,” Rodriguez said after the game.
He scored again in the 18th minute with an assist from midfielder Jan Gregus. Rodriguez scored this third goal in the 45th minute unassisted. Quintero and Ibarra also scored goals unassisted.
Toye had the lone goal for the Loons in a July 13 win over FC Dallas, which came in the final minutes of the game. It extended the Loons’ winning streak to five games.
Minnesota United couldn’t keep its success going against Austin Villa in a 3-0 loss July 17. The Loons returned to MLS action July 20 with a 1-1 tie at Real Salt Lake. Quintero put the Loons ahead 1-0 in the 57th minute on assists from Toye and Gregus, but Real Salt Lake rallied to tie in the 70th minute with a goal from defender Marcelo Silva.
The Loons took another tie, 0-0, against Vancouver at home July 27. Loons goalkeeper Vito Mannone earned a spot on the MLS Team of the Week with his clean sheet performance, a shutout with five saves. He also helped the Loons sustain the unbeaten month with six saves against FC Dallas, seven against San Jose and four against Montreal. He needed only two saves against Real Salt Lake to preserve the 1-1 tie.
“We look at the positives (and) we have to focus on the next two months because it’s a long way to go,” Mannone said after the tie with Vancouver. “Still 12 games to go, and it’s important not to lose these kinds of games.”

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PowerPoint Presentation

Alatus plans at Lexington and University, TCGIS, Met Council funds

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Alatus plans meet mixed response
Two redevelopment plans for a vacant lot near Lexington Parkway and University Ave. would offer a six-story mixed-use building with a grocery store and east-west bicycle-pedestrian connection through the structure.
But Alatus LLC’s plans drew objections July 15 during a sometimes raucous meeting of the Union Park District Council (UPDC) land use committee. Several people criticized the project for a lack of affordable and family-friendly housing, saying it adds to the problems already seen due to gentrification.
Both plans call for a building where Lexington and Fuller Ave. intersect. Both plans offer about 21,000 square feet of space for a grocery store. The number of apartments, ranging from efficiencies to four-bedroom units, would be about 226. There would be about 180 parking spaces, underground and on the main level. Both plans also call for the building to have two outdoor amenity decks.
One plan calls for all market-rate apartments, as well as 5,000 square feet space for smaller community coworking or a business incubator space.
The second plan calls for what Alatus representatives describe as privately subsidized/affordable units, with six to 12 units allocated to people who meet income restrictions. But that plan calls for eliminating building features including the 5,000 square feet of community space, dropping energy-efficiency and technology features, eliminating resident transit passes and increasing rent for parking spaces.
About two dozen area residents attended the meeting, raising a range of objections to the project. Worries were voiced about increased traffic and parking demand, and potential home structural damage due to new construction. But most objections were about the proposed rents and the project’s lack of affordable housing.
But how much input district councils and neighborhood residents can have is limited. The project meets its underlying zoning and doesn’t need any variances. Nor is Alatus seeking any public subsidy. The developers hope to go through city site plan review during the third quarter of this year and start construction early in 2020. The district council could ask for a site plan review public hearing before the Planning Commission, but affordable housing isn’t an issue the commission can address under current city zoning regulations.
The development site is zoned for Traditional Neighborhoods 4 use, which is intended to provide for high-density, transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development. The zoning was changed when property all along University was rezoned several years ago in anticipation of redevelopment spurred by Green Line light rail.
Chris Osmundson, director of development for Alatus, said the developers have struggled with balancing project costs and the wide range of issues neighbors have raised over the past few months. If the developers sought bonding or other types of affordable housing subsidies, that would push the project back at least one year. The site at 411 Lexington Parkway has been for sale for a decade, and at least three other proposed projects have failed.
Neighbors weren’t mollified, saying that too many projects are being built for newcomers and not for people who want to stay in the area. Some want senior housing, with others wanting to see units that are larger, yet affordable for families. Others asked why another grocery store is needed, when an Aldi store is nearby.
One red flag for UPDC committee members is how the market-rate rents would be structured, with the three and four-bedroom units rented by the bedroom rather than as a total unit. That’s more akin to student-oriented housing, instead of housing for families. Affordable family housing has been raised as an issue during the past three project meetings.
A four-bedroom unit would be $3,432 per month, with three bedrooms renting for $2,829. Two-bedroom units are $1,900 to $1,930, with efficiencies listed between $1,000 to $1,030.

Met Council awards funds
The Metropolitan Council July 24 awarded $3 million in grants that promote redevelopment and economic opportunity to five cities, through its Livable Communities program.
Pollution investigation and cleanup, and redevelopment grants were awarded.
Funds were awarded to five cities for 14 projects this funding round. The grant awards will help clean 27 acres, increasing the net tax base by $1.9 million, and encourage millions more in private investment.
“These grants will help create 1,000 jobs and support the development of more than 800 new homes, including 160 affordable homes, at a time when housing is so desperately needed in the region,” said Council Chair Nora Slawik.
441-453 Snelling Ave. is in line for $199,700 for environmental investigation, asbestos abatement, and soil remediation at a 0.6-acre site with three vacant buildings. The site will be redeveloped to include 134 market-rate apartments, three affordable apartments, and 7,000 square feet of retail space. Scannell Companies is the developer.
A Seeding Equitable Environmental Development (SEED) grant to promote redevelopment went to 1433 University Ave. The grant of $19,300 is for environmental assessment and related environmental oversight on a 0.4-acre site that’s being leased to nearby businesses for surface parking.

TCGIS receives bonding nod
The planned new Twin Cities German Immersion School, which has been the subject of a pitched battle over historic preservation, got a financial boost from the St. Paul City Council July 24. The council, acting $9 million in conduit lease revenue bonds.
The bonds will be used to build a new school at 1031 Como Ave. School officials and community members have clashed as to whether or not the historic St/. Andrew’s Church there should be torn down or remain in place. Demolition was to start the first week of August.
The school currently serves grade K through 8 with projected enrollment for fall 2019 of 593. In 2013, they acquired their current site at 1031 Como Ave. Planned is a three-story, 23,500 square foot addition for classrooms, special education instructional spaces, administrative offices, a gymnasium and cafeteria. The site plan also includes an expanded play area and underground infrastructure to manage storm water run-off from the building addition. The site plan is predicated on the removal of the existing church (St. Andrews) and east surface parking lot. The project is estimated to cost $7.41 million, and the current estimated bond principal amount is $6.455 million.
Construction of the project will commence immediately following the closing on the financing and will be completed late summer of 2020.
This is the second time that TCGIS has sought city assistance. In 2013, the HRA issued bonds for the school in the amount of $8.545 million, with $8.135 million still outstanding. The 2013 bonds were issued to finance the acquisition and construction/renovation of the school’s current facility and former church building.
The vote was 4-2, with council members Amy Brendmoen, Mitra Jalali Nelson, Dai Thao and Chris Tolbert in support, and Kassim Buseri and Jane Prince against.

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Choir to Carnegie Hall, Cadet to D.C., French contest, Glam event

Choir to Carnegie Hall, Cadet to D.C., French contest, Glam event

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Erik Erickson

Rosmery Moran-Osorio and Spanish teacher Ms. Angela Butler attended a ceremony to honor Rosmery’s recognition as a Semper Fidelis All-American. They will participate in the Marines’ Battles Won program this July in Washington D.C. (Photo submitted)

Semper Fidelis All-American
Rosmery Moran-Osorio, a Como Park junior and leader within the Marine Corps JROTC program, was selected as a Semper Fidelis All-American. The award comes with an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. in July for participation in the Marines’ Battles Won Academy. All cadets may choose one mentor to participate in the program with them, and Rosemery has selected her Spanish teacher Ms. Angela Butler.
The Semper Fidelis All-American recognition is rare and highly coveted. It honors high school students who have faced serious challenges and overcome obstacles to excel academically and be leaders in their communities. Rosmery is a first-generation American student and will be the first in her family to graduate from high school. She has achieved a 3.5 grade point average through her junior year at Como.
Her essay in the competitive application process revealed her perseverance and her initiative to succeed in her mother’s new country. “Leaving Guatemala, being born in the U.S. and making a fresh start in the United States has been a God-send for my family,” said Rosmery.
While in Washington, the students and mentors will be active in high intensity daily workouts at Marine Corps Base Quantico, participate in community service events, engage in team-building outings, and tour our nation´s capital. The selected Semper Fidelis All-Americans from across the nation will also have the opportunity to network with an elite circle of speakers from various industries and walks of life who will share their inspiring stories.
As a Semper Fidelis All-American, Rosmery will be eligible for select scholarship opportunities.


A Vous la Parole French contest
27 Como students participated in the annual A Vous la Parole French speaking contest held in Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota. Sponsored annually by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French, with the support of the University of Minnesota Department of French and Italian, the contest recognizes excellence in French speaking skills. This year’s contest drew 1,220 entries among students from across the region.
The various categories include prose and poetry recitations, theater presentations, song performances, extemporaneous reading, extemporaneous conversation, as well as original skits. Students are given ratings based on a four-star system with four stars earning blue, three stars earning red, two stars earning white and one star receiving recognition of participation.
The following Como students earned blue or red awards at this year’s contest:
4-star blue: Sophie Lancaster, Deborah Iranezereza, Soe Reh, Fiona Hatch, Emilie Pagel, Diane Sabwe, Amera Abou-Shenab and Kevin Iragaba.
3-star red: Kayla Selbitschka, Maddie Neal, Ian Brudnak Voss, PanRa Lee, Lily Sticha, Tess Turner, Kaeden Warnberg-Lemm, Jillian Brenner, Molly Swanson, Nick Jacobsen, Sawyer Wall and MaiSeng Thao.

Cougar journal published
The third annual edition of the Cougar Journal, a student-produced arts and literary magazine, was released with an event in the school library on May 29. Senior Cadence Paramore was the editor-in-chief, organizing the publication which features artistic works of writing, poetry, drawing, painting and photography.
The release party included the first viewing of the collected artwork, as well as authors reading their pieces. Assisting editors included Lily Raschke, Kajsa Andersson, Caroline Raschke and Theo Lucy. The striking magazine cover was designed by Ivy Buck.

New fashion club holds event
The Como Park Fashion Club was formed this school year and held their inaugural “Fashion Glam Event” after school on May 30. Master of Ceremony Roselyn Yeboah and President Ly Xiong worked with other club members and the school community to stage an extravaganza including dance, music, and Como students as runway models on the “red carpet” at the base of the Cougar Forum.
Promotional announcements and flyers hyped a special guest appearance – and the Fashion Club delivered with Miss Hmong Minnesota in attendance as part of the show. Over 100 tickets were sold for the event enjoyed by Como students and staff.

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MN United Game I 016sm

Minnesota United continues success at Allianz Field

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Minnesota United’s 3-2 June 2 loss to Philadelphia Union ended an otherwise strong start for its first month and a half in its new digs.
The Loons went 3-0-3 in their first six Major League Soccer games at Allianz Field in St. Paul, which opened April 13, 2019. Minnesota United tied its first two game games against New York City FC 3-3 April 13 and the Los Angeles Galaxy 0-0 April 24. The United broke through for its first home win 1-0 April 24 against DC United.
Since, the Loons posted a 2-0-1 mark at home for May, not include a 1-0 friendly loss to Hertha Berlin. Minnesota United beat Columbus Crew SC 1-0 May 18 for its second home win and beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 for its third home win May 25.
After the first home win April 28, the United went back to tying matches at its new home. The Loons tied the Seattle Sounders 1-1 May 4. United midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and former Sounder scored the first goal of the game in the 26th minute.
Seattle tied the game 1-1 in the 42nd minute as midfielder Alex Roldan found the net. United midfielder Darwin Quintero missed a shot late in the 88th minute that would have won the game, but the Sounders escaped with a tie. Loons goalkeeper Vito Mannone faced only one shot by the Sounders.
Minnesota United lost on the road 2-0 at Chicago the following week May 11. Mannone faced six shots on goal and stopped four in the loss.
The Loons returned home to face Columbus and bounced back with a 1-0 win. Loons midfielder Ethan Finlay scored the game’s loan goal, assisted by defenders Romain Metanire and Brent Kallman. Mannone didn’t see any shots on goal in the shutout victory.
The United shifted to friendly action May 22 with Hertha Berlin coming to Allianz Field, the first time an international opponent came to the new stadium. Hertha Berlin scored only goal when defender Peter Pekarik found the net in the 43rd minute. United goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair took the loss in net.
Minnesota United rebounded to win its second-straight MLS home game May 25 in a 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. Metanire got the Loons going with a goal in the 20th minute, and Mannone stopped three shots for the shutout.
Things didn’t go as well for the Loons on the road in Atlanta, facing another team with a new home. Atlanta United FC routed the Loons 3-0 May 29. Mannone faced eight shots and mustered five saves in the loss.
The Loons tried to get back on track June 2 against Philadelphia but traded goals throughout in the 3-2 loss. Loons midfielders Hassani Dotson and Kevin Molino scored goals. Mannone stopped two shots but surrendered three goals, included Philadelphia’s game winner in the 86th minute.

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Development Roundup: Mixed-use, multi-family projects are moving ahead

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen


MISCO awarded city funding
A long-vacant University Avenue lot could be redeveloped in the future, if funding is obtained from Metropolitan Council.
In May the St. Paul City Council approved a Metropolitan Council funding application for 1433 University Ave. It is one of two city sites in contention for Metropolitan Council Tax Base Revitalization Seeding Equitable Environmental Development Grants. The other application was for a site on the city’s east Side.
Results of the application will be known later this year. The St. Paul applications will vie with requests from around the region, and go through a ranking and review process. Cities make the applications on behalf of developers and property owners.
If the grant is obtained, the current or future lot owner could use the funds to determine the extent of any pollution cleanup needed there. The public funding can be used to determine the scope and severity of contamination and development a cleanup plan and/or to assist with the cost of implementing a completed cleanup plan.
For several years Metropolitan Council has provided a wide range of grants to help redevelop urban and suburban sites. Several University area projects have received the funding, with some under the Livable Communities grants program. Other funded projects focus specifically on transit-oriented development.
Part of Livable Communities, Tax Base Revitalization Account or TBRA funding helps areas that have lost commercial/industrial activity ready and available for economic redevelopment. The grants provide funds for environmental site investigation and cleanup for redevelopments that enhance the city tax base, promote job retention or job growth and/or create or preserve affordable housing. Seeding Equitable Environmental Development or SEED grants are intended for applicants with sites within or directly adjacent to an area of concentrated poverty that show potential for future job growth or housing development but do not have a specific redevelopment project yet. The sites are or are perceived to be contaminated, according to the council. 1433 University is one of those sites.
The site at 1433 University was occupied for decades by various manufacturers and retailers, housed in a two-story brick and block building. For much of its history it housed auto-related businesses. The building was damaged by fire years ago and was torn down.
How it should be redeveloped has been a question for some time. In 2010 its site was used by photographer Wing Yung Huie to display his photos, as part of the University Avenue Project. The public art project featured hundreds of photos projected onto the adjacent building at night.
The site has been a parking lot in recent years. It has drawn neighborhood complaints from time to time for tall grass and weeds, and for the condition of a wrought iron fence that has repeatedly been damaged.

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