Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Penfield Grand Opening

On May 15th, Councilmember Dave Thune had the pleasure of seeing a long-term dream of his for downtown realized. He participated in the grand opening of the Lunds Store. He was able to purchase a can of Spaghetti-Os in downtown Saint Paul at a full service grocery store for the first time in several decades.

Because we just realized that we never included video of his speech at the Grand Opening of the market-rate apartments at the Penfield earlier in the year. Dave used some of his time to thank Joan Mondale for the all the work she did to get a percent for the arts requirement in all City-owned buildings passed by the City Council. Even though she was the wife of the Vice President of the United States, she walked the halls of City Hall lobbying each member of the Saint Paul City Council for their vote for this important piece of public policy. And the public art at the new Penfield is a testament to how important her work was and is.

Click here for the video.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pedro Park Update 2014

Public Art Saint Paul has created the first park-like setting in the Pedro Park space with its Urban Flower Field. The first event in the park took place in July. Look for future events sponsored by Public Art Saint Paul.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 Flood

The Year 2014 started out as the sixth (6th) coldest on record and the tenth (10th) snowiest on record. Then when Spring finally came, it started to rain and never stopped. 2014 gave Minnesota the wettest June in the weather record books. The week of June 22nd, the City of Saint Paul declared a flood emergency. We went out to see how Island Station fared when the Mississippi River hit 19 feet - 5 feet above flood level. This photo was taken on June 25th. The Mississippi River crested on June 26th.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Can Happen at the Heritage Preservation Awards Ceremony

Councilmember Dave Thune was asked to present a heritage preservation award to House of Hope Presbyterian Church for the fantastic work they did in restoring their iconic 150' bell tower with its fancy decorative pinnacles. House of Hope contractors painstakingly removed each stone in the pinnacle one-by-one, numbered them all, restored the ones that could be restored, and replaced with exact replicas the ones that could not be restored. It was an amazing job, and one for which this honor was richly deserved.

However, before his duties presenting the award at the May 20th ceremony, Dave digressed to let everyone know what kinds of serendipitous connections can be made at the Heritage Preservation Awards. We think you will enjoy this insight into how the largest development project ever in Ward 2 came together; click here to watch the video.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

March--April Update

Downtown Off-Street Bike Trail Loop That Will be Built On the Street
The downtown off-street bike trail (that will be built on the streets) was au courant in March. BOMA and the Chamber of Commerce held three meetings on the topic and came out with a joint letter urging planners to explore: (a) the use of a 4th Street Greenway rather than Kellogg Boulevard for the southern edge of the loop, and (b) the use of Wabasha rather than St. Peter as the western edge of the loop. The Ward 2 office had asked them to look into using 11th Street rather than 10th Street because there are a lot of businesses on 10th Street and Robert Street who are very worried about what the loss of an whole lane of parking along the entire length of 10th Street will do to their businesses. Too bad there isn't a business or chamber organization to advocate for those small businesses.

Beer Mural on West 7th Liquor Barrel
Dave met with Jon Kerr from Greening the Avenue to get a sneak peak at the winning entry in the mural contest for the Liquor Barrel mural on Saint Clair and West 7th. There were four entries in the contest. First prize winner was awarded the contract to paint the mural; second prize was awarded $150 and third prize was awarded $50. You may have seen the new mural taking shape.

Pat continued meetings with City Council and Mayor’s office staff about new guidelines for races/runs/events/festivals. Thune participated in a City Council policy work session about problems that have arisen with too many races and runs on the same streets (Summit/MRB/Shepard Road), on failure to notify neighbors about amplified noise, on lack of clarity on process for reducing or waiving fees, and on lack of good information about upcoming events to City Councilmembers. Thune will be introducing an ordinance change. If you are interested in speaking up about any of these issues, please shoot us an e-mail at

Cardenas LRT/Skyway Connection
Rick Cardenas from ACT called. He heard that the Mayor’s Council on Disabilities passed a resolution to rename the LRT Vertical Connection downtown as the Cardenas Connection because of all the work he did over a two-year period to get this vertical connection between the Central LRT station and the downtown skyway built. (Pssst, this is true, but please don’t let Rick know; we want him to be surprised).

Movies at the Palace Theater? Yes, Please
The CapitolRiver Council passed a resolution to encourage movies at the Palace Theater after it is renovated. Yes! Thune is very supportive of this and is now advocating for it as well.

Capital Improvement (CIB) Committee
West Enders Diane Gerth and Darren Tobolt were reappointed to the CIB (Capital Improvement Budget) Committee at the March 15th City Council meeting.

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings
Pat met with artists in the Schmidt Brewery Lofts about their participation in the Spring Art Crawl; later Thune also met with them about Art Crawl. Thune purchased an advertisement in their Art Crawl brochure to help them on their inaugural Crawl, which ended up successfully drawing a real crowd. Pat took in “Live at 5” at McNally-Smith college of music. Thune met with Karen Reid about a new housing and retail development on Cesar Chavez. Dave attended AFSCME Day on the Hill and ran into West Ender Patrick Guernsey.

City Help Connecting to Sand Rock Sewer Tunnels
Ward 2 was busy this winter and spring trying to get the green light for people purchasing new vacant lots (after demolition) to be able to access the City program that provides up-front financing to connect to sewer and then collects payments plus interest on that property's real estate taxes via special assessment. The first person to bring this to our attention was a Saint Paul police officer who purchased a vacant lot in West 7th and wanted to build his dream house there. Then he discovered that connecting to city sewer would be 4 to 5 times more than in other areas of the city because of the drop sandrock sewer system. Sen. Sandy Pappas and Rep. Sheldon Johnson agreed to sponsor bills at the legislature. But then City Staff from the city attorney's office, finance, and sewers got serious about being helpful with this problem. Their central question revolved around whether the sewer service was new or a replacement. When it became clear that the sewer SERVICE was a replacement, they put their heads together and decided we can make that program available to people buying newly vacant lots where the previous house was demolished. Contact the sewer department or the Ward 2 office for more information.

Riverview Corridor Study
Pat attended interviews of consultants for the Riverview Corridor LRT study at Union Depot. The Public Advisory Committee (on which Dave Thune sits as a member) met the following week to choose the consultants. They chose AECOM of Los Angeles as the engineering firm to conduct the Pre-Project Development portion of the study. They will be partnering with ZAN Communications of Minneapolis who will work on community outreach and goal setting. The local Saint Paul team of Ted Davis and Mike Zipko were awarded the contract for the communications piece of the Riverview Corridor study.

Vets for Peace and Kellogg Blvd
Vets for Peace members called for assistance obtaining two Kellogg Boulevard signs for their booth at the Festival of Nations. They are also interested in doing something to get out more info about who Kellogg Boulevard is named after. Public Works is intrigued; not on board yet, but intrigued.

Pedro Park: Urban Flower Field
Dave met with Christine Podas-Larson and Amanda Lovelee from Public Art Saint Paul about an art installation Amanda plans to put into Pedro Park that will turn Pedro Park into a green space, introduce a hard-scape and benches, and provide two years’ worth of park programming on the site. Amanda has obtained a small City and Public Art Saint Paul grant to put in the paver circle, plant the sunflowers, add limestone benches, and put in painted poles on the south to keep cars from parking in the park. She needs some volunteers to form a Friends of the Urban Flower Field. Are there any individuals, groups, or condo associations that might be willing to put in some volunteer time on this Pedro Park project? Local yoga instructor Joe Costa has already volunteered to offer free yoga classes on Saturday mornings at the park starting in July.

Metal Sculpture Works
Thune met with officials from Dominium Development about the potential sue of a warehouse space at the back of the Schmidt Brewery as a permanent home for a community metal sculpture works that could be leased by any artists who need a very large space with a good load-bearing floor. It can also be used as a permanent home for iron pours and brass pours. Thune is now working with Springboard for the Arts to create a nonprofit or business to operate it.

DQ Site Sold to Tom Reids
Shingobee Developers called to inform us that they had sold the DQ site to the owner of Tom Reids.

April 2nd City Council Meeting a Busy One
At the April 2nd City Council hearing, Bulldog was given a sidewalk café permit and a liquor extension for same. On April 9th the City Council took up reducing parking in T1 and T2 residential apartment and condo construction from 1 parking spot per living unit to 0.75 parking spot per living unit. Councilmember Thune raised some questions about how finely the Planning Commission had studied parking around the T-zoned properties in West 7th Street, and failing to get a definitive answer, laid the issue over for 45 days in order to allow the Fort Road Federation to study it further and come back with a recommendation. At the same hearing, the City Council approved acceptance of a gift to pay for Mayor Coleman and his aide Joe Spencer to attend the Jazz Festival in New Orleans. And, being on a roll, Councilmember Thune introduced a resolution encouraging Congress to protect antibiotics by prohibiting its prophylactic use in the raising of animals, since over-use of antibiotics is the primary cause of the development of resistant strains of bacteria and super-bugs, both of which are major concerns of his wife who is a nurse.

Penfield Apartments Update
Leasing of apartments at the Penfield started in November. By April 10th, the apartments were 32% leased up, which was right on schedule for a planned 15-month lease-up period. By the middle of May, the apartments were 50% leased up, which is a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. By the end of May, 60% leased up.

Jane Addams School for Democracy
Derrick Johnson from the Jane Addams School for Democracy on the West Side contacted us about hosting a group of students who wanted to visit City Hall, observe a City Council meeting on April 16th, and have pizza. He had two groups and wanted Thune to meet with the Spanish-speaking group that came with their own wonderful interpreter.

Same Day:
Also on April 16th, the City Council approved additional points for Saint Paul residents in non-promotional employment exams, and provided liquor licenses for all of Saint Paul’s municipal golf clubs.

Dorothy Day ReVision Construction Project
Thune continued to work with Nancy Homans in the Mayor’s office on Dorothy Day’s ReVision construction project to create a continuum of care campus for the homeless in Saint Paul. Prospects looked dim when several East Side legislators decided that the Lafayette Office Park just east of downtown is the East Side and felt that their neighborhoods already have too many residential facilities. But a new location (or rather an expanded old location) was found and work continued.

Hazelden New Construction
A Hazelden board member called to ask for assistance. They are building a newer and larger residential and office facility in West 7th Street. They had asked to use their garage (really a carriage house) as temporary office space until the construction is complete. They could not get an OK from DSI. But with Dave’s help, they did get permission and construction has begun.

Vagrants and Panhandlers
The Ward 2 Office has fielded a number of complaints about loud and disruptive people who many describe as drunk hanging out near the I-35E bike trail between Palace and Armstrong. They walk through people’s back yards, drop trash, are unusually loud, and generally lead to uneasiness. We have also had complaints about the panhandling on the freeway entrance at Randolph by what appears to be a well-organized and collaborative group. Pat did contact the police who agreed to stop by during the hours they usually see vagrants returning to their base to roust them out. Please don’t hesitate to call about these camps.

Porky's on West 7th Street!!!!! I Know!
Thune and Brock met with Tryg Truelson about his plans to open a Porky’s in the Louise building on West 7th Street. He requested an extension of the downtown development zone to mid-block and help with getting approval for a protruding sign. Thune suggested that he approach the Fort Road Federation and seek their approval. Tryg did appear at the May meeting and received overwhelming support.

Fort Road Federation Annual Meeting
Thune and Pat attended the Fort Road Federation annual meeting at Summit Brewery. The guest speaker was columnist Nick Coleman, who colorfully discussed his formative years on the West End. Dave and Darren are wearing their Germanfest hats. Get them while they’re hot.

Robert Street Business Association
Pat met with the Robert Street business association which heard presentations from Amanda Lovelee about her Public Art Saint Paul flower field installation at Pedro Park this summer, and from Reuben Collins about the off-street bike trail that will be located on the streets downtown. This would take up one full street lane, removing all parking on one side of 10th Street. Several business owners requested that Reuben explore the use of 11th Street rather than 10th Street since removing parking on half of 10th Stret would be too disruptive to their businesses. They pointed out that they will also suffer from losing parking on Jackson Street, which is right behind their businesses on Robert. And 11th Street already has an unusually wide boulevard on the I-94 side of the street, complete with a double row of trees, where a bike trail would fit nicely, and would be greener.

Lights on Wall Street
No, not that Wall Street. Pat met again with the Public Works lighting engineer about instaling more lights on Wall Street between 5th and 6th downtown. This was requested at a well-attended community meeting held at Crane Ordway last fall. Residents felt that Wall Street on that block is darker than the other streets around it and feels unsafe. Last fall Pat and PW engineer walked that street after dark and agreed with the residents. The whole project will be about $92,000, a cost that will be assessed to the abutting property owners, unless someone comes up with a match from somewhere.

Big Pile-O-Dirt Across from Osceola Place
Pat set up a meeting at Osceola Place Apartments to talk to the residents there about the polluted Pile-O-Dirt across the street from their building. It was attended by 14 residents and the building manager. They LOVE the idea of planting trees to remediate the pollution. Heck they LOVE the idea of planting trees even if it doesn’t remediate the pollution. They are great watchers of birds, and other small creatures who live on the hill. They also requested a controlled burn to get control of the weeds on the hill and replace them with prairie grasses. The Youth Conservation Corp can do a controlled burn and can plant trees. We are now trying to figure out exactly which City department owns this land so we can get the bio-remediation in motion. Please call 651-266-8621 if you are interested in doing some planting on the big hill across the street from Osceola Place.

Locked Saint Paul Picnic Pavilions
Rick Cardenas called to find out why the small picnic pavilion at Harriet Island is padlocked shut. Parks said that all the picnic pavilions that have fences around them are padlocked shut because they don’t want people who have not paid anything to use the pavilions.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Arbor Day at Linwood-Monroe Arts Plus School

Dave had an opportunity to participate in the Arbor Day celebration at Linwood-Monroe elementary school this year. First there was a program in the gym that involved everyone pretending they were a tree with rustling leaves. The fellow in the royal blue shirt is the school Principal Bryan Bass. The 3rd grade student who won the City of Saint Paul's Arbor Day art contest was honored (we don't identify children on the blog without parental permission).

Then Dave ran into Smokey the Bear in the hallway on his way outside for the tree planting. Of course, when one runs into Smokey, one has to give him a high-five. The poster showcases the art work created by the poster winner.

Thune, Principal Bass, teachers, parents, and the 3rd grade class all re-assembled outside to plant a new tree for the school. Foresters from the City showed the children the proper way to plant a tree. The 3rd grade teacher led us in their very special Happy Birthday song because that day was the birth day of Linwood's newest tree. Then the children each got a chance (or two) to shovel dirt in around the tree, and water it in.

The poster contest art contest winner posed with Councilmember Thune, her sister, her parents, and her grandfather. She exhibited a keen artist's perspective and design aesthetic when she chose a location in front of her new tree for the photo. We are all so proud of her!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Antibiotics Protection Resolution

On April 9th, Councilmember Dave Thune introduced a resolution to protect antibiotics for medical treatment and to prevent antibiotics resistance. Emily Palmer and groups called Food and Water Watch and Bravely Be appeared to provide testimony about how important this effort is to save antibiotics for human medicine is to public health in general. She thanked Saint Paul for their efforts to protect antibiotics for human health.

The resolution pointed out that 80% of antibiotics sold in the USA are now used in livestock production to promote growth and disease prevention in a practice known as "non-therapeutic" use. Non-therapeutic use creates ideal conditions for the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and public health hazard since the 1960s. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at least two million Americans suffer from antibiotic bacterial infections each year and 23,000 Americans die from those infections. The medical costs of antibiotic-resistant infections in just one hospital for one year have been estimated at $13 million.

The City Council unanimously passed the resolution banning non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics in livestock production.

Get Microsoft Silverlight ">