Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Monitor in a Minute by Jane McClure

Posted on 08 January 2018 by Calvin

Noise restrictions eased?
Events in or near the Allianz Field major league soccer stadium would not have to obtain sound level variances if the St. Paul City Council exempts the arena from city noise regulations. The ordinance was introduced Dec. 20 and will be the subject of a public hearing at 5:30pm, Wed., Jan. 17 at City Hall.

The proposed change would exempt soccer matches and “other activities held in a municipal stadium” from the city’s noise restrictions. It would exempt “the playing and exhibition of any home game or league event within a municipal stadium operated pursuant to a playing and use agreement in effect between the city and a team.”

There would also be an exemption for “other events, activities, and operations conducted in connection with home games, league events, or other sporting events sponsored by a team or the city are also exempt within the municipal stadium or stadium site excluding, however, the following: musical performances and fireworks displays of any type; and any other commercial and entertainment events not related to home games, league events or not sponsored by the city.”

The team reference in the ordinance covers the Minnesota United FC. It would cover all pre-season, regular season, playoff, and championship home games and any international soccer games in which the team participates or controls. League events refer to any home game or soccer league-related event scheduled by the team or league, including all-star games.

Neither Union Park District council or Hamline Midway Coalition has had time to weigh in on the ordinance. Noise from the stadium was a concern raised when the master plan for the stadium and entire Midway Center superblock was discussed. Many people raised concerns about fireworks and late-night noise after games.

Lead Minnesota United FC Owner Bill McGuire told neighbors there would not be concerns about concerts in the stadium because they would want to ensure that the natural turf would not be damaged. But there could be concerts outside the stadium before and after games. There was also conflicting information presented as to whether fireworks would be shot off after soccer games.

Golf course agreement signed
A new 10-year management agreement with Envision Hospitality and Catering, for the Como (photo right by Tesha A. Christiansen) and Phalen golf courses, was approved Dec. 13 by the St. Paul City Council. The agreement continues a management partnership that began in 2014 with Prom Catering. Envision is that company’s name, which was changed in 2015.

While there was an outcry when the golf course and course food service management was handed over to a private operator, the new agreement was approved without comment. The city continues to own Como and Phalen golf courses and to own and operate the course at Highland. That will not change.

The original management contract was to be for two years but Envision requested and obtained a five-year commitment in 2014 in light of the investments ultimately made in both courses and their facilities.

The new contract is for 10 years. City Council documents indicate that Envision has met all the terms of its agreement with the city. The St. Paul Department of Parks and Recreation supported extending the agreement. A longer-term agreement is anticipated to bring more investments on Envision’s part.

There are no longer city employees at Como and Phalen. Those workers were either transferred to other city operations or went to work for Envision.

Como Friends make generous donation
Como Friends have again come through for the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. On Dec. 6 the St. Paul City Council accepted $402,558 from Como Friends for the MAC Roadmap project at the Como campus.

Since spring 2016 the Como Friends and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory have worked together to develop MAC Roadmap, an ambitious three-year initiative designed to transform Como’s visitor engagement strategies for the 21st century. It is modeled after a project at the Denver Zoo. It is intended to improve visitor engagement and to be a testing ground for program enhancement and delivery.

Como will create a new learning experiences division charged with leading the development of program content standards. Those standards will be the core of a new guest interaction guide, to help everyone at the Como campus have better and more meaningful interactions with visitors. A key goal is to improve educational outcomes and for the campus’s two million visitors, to foster individual awareness about the need to care for animals and nature, and to build on the template offered by the Denver Zoo.

The Council action accepted the funding for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation and set up a budget for the years 2018-2020.

Property can become a duplex
A Hamline-Midway property can be used as a duplex again, as a result of a Dec. 29 vote of approval by the St. Paul Planning Commission. Halima Duale wishes to convert 1508 Van Buren Ave. back to duplex use, but needed approval of re-establishment of a nonconforming use permit.

The property was in use as a triplex as long ago as 1954, according to city records. As of 2006 it was vacant and owned by a bank. Duale purchased the property in 2010 and converted the property to single-family use so that that permits could be pulled and repairs made to the building. Work on the building has continued, and Duale sought to have a duplex use restored.

The project hasn’t run into any neighborhood opposition. The duplex use was approved with conditions. One is that the separate rear unit is created, with its own bathroom and kitchen. A second is that the property has three paved parking spaces installed off the alley.

The Planning Commission decision was final unless it is appealed to the City Council within 10 days.


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