By MICHAEL KUCHTA
A great idea blossoms into 50 volunteers, 1400 plants, and two gardens
The neighborhood is a little more beautiful, and Como Lake will be a little cleaner, thanks to more than 50 neighborhood volunteers who took the concept of a community garden to a new level on Oct. 1.
The volunteers, including more than 15 students from Murray Middle School, planted nearly 1,400 shrubs, flowers and grasses in two triangle gardens at the intersections of Horton, Churchill and Van Slyke avenues.
The triangles–the result of recent street reconstruction–were built as filtration gardens that will capture and clean stormwater runoff before it reaches the lake. The gardens carry on, and expand, the tradition of the old “Churchill Garden,” which Warrendale neighbors built and maintained for more than 15 years.
The final product is the result of collaboration among neighbors, St. Paul’s Public Works and Forestry departments, the Ramsey Conservation District, the Capitol Region Watershed District, and the District 10 Como Community Council.
Here’s your chance to do more than talk about it
District 10 is seeking candidates to fill board vacancies from Sub-District 2 and Sub-District 4. If you live in the north part of the district, or the south part of the district, think about it!
For Sub-District 2, you must live in the area between Hamline on the west, Larpenteur on the north, Victoria on the east, and the BNSF tracks on the south.
For Sub-District 4, you must live between Dale on the east, Snelling on the west, and between the BNSF right-of-way north of Front and Energy Park Drive, and the BNSF right-of-way north of Pierce Butler Route.
Representatives from businesses or institutions in those areas also are eligible. Candidates must be at least 18 years old.
The elected candidates will:
• Serve the remainder of the vacant terms, which expire in April 2018
• Get to be directly involved in issues affecting our neighborhood’s quality of life
• Even get a table card with their name on it
A special election to fill the vacancy is Tues, Oct. 18 at 7pm, before the monthly board meeting. To submit your name or to find out more, contact the District 10 office at 651-644-3889, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another gathering of the seeds
It’s harvest time in our gardens, which makes it a perfect time to reconvene the Como Community Seed Library. The volunteer group is holding a free harvest open house on Sun., Oct. 16, 1-3pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station. At this “skill share and harvest exchange, “ you can:
• Join an exchange of seeds, recipes, and canned and fresh harvest
• Swap stories
• Learn the perfect crops and tools to extend your growing season
• Get answers from a Master Gardener
• Find out how and why to add biodiversity to your garden
• Create seed-inspired art
• Make connections with neighborhood gardeners and gardening groups
Special guests include Judi Petkau of Wild Ones and Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen of Seed Sages. For more information, follow Como Community Seed Library on Facebook.
Pancake breakfast Oct. 29
District 10’s annual Community Pancake Breakfast is Sat., Oct. 29, in the cafeteria of the Humphrey Job Corps Center. The breakfast–which features pancakes, eggs, bacon, and juices–runs from 8:30-11:30am. In honor of Halloween, the morning also features a children’s costume parade.
Tickets are $7 for teens and adults, $4 for children ages 3-12.
Backyard fire ban a hot topic in survey
Respondents to a District 10 survey overwhelmingly oppose banning recreational fires in St. Paul. But many survey participants say there should be more courtesy and education about the use and impact of “backyard fires.”
District 10’s Land Use Committee conducted the survey after a neighborhood resident contacted the committee about the impact that recreational fires have on her health. More than 500 people filled out the online survey. Here are some results of the survey:
• 16 percent of survey participants say they support a ban on recreational fires; 81 percent oppose a ban.
• 20 percent of survey participants say they support limiting the number of recreational fires individuals can have in one year; 70 percent oppose such limits.
• Nearly two-thirds of survey participants say they have recreational fires in their yard; slightly more than one-third do not. Among those who have fires, more than 99 percent oppose a ban. Among participants who do not have fires, 41 percent support a ban.
• Nearly one-quarter of survey participants say smoke from recreational fires bothers them, and nearly as many say smoke affects their health.
Recreational fires are legal in the City of St. Paul, if they meet certain conditions. The challenge is that smoke from the fires does travel into surrounding homes and can affect neighbors in the general area. Many survey participants pointed out that, to be good neighbors, residents should burn only clean, dry wood, or install a fire ring that uses natural gas. Other comments highlight other themes and contradictions surrounding backyard fires:
• The same fire that allows some neighbors to enjoy themselves prevents other neighbors from enjoying their property, or from enjoying nice weather. Instead, smoky fires force them indoors behind closed windows.
• Fires can enhance community and friendship for some people, but cause health problems for others.
• Current laws already outlaw burning trash, construction materials, or yard waste. But these laws are poorly enforced.
Many survey participants (including many who support fires) urged neighbors to be more respectful of how fires impact others. They suggested that conflicts could and should be worked out courteously, face to face. Among their ideas:
• Notify neighbors before you start a fire
• Have fires only during colder times of the year
• Do not have fires late at night
• Pay attention to weather conditions, including wind, air inversions, air quality alerts, and dry conditions, before deciding to have a fire
• If fires bother you, let neighbors who have fires know that fact
Organics recycling made easier
You asked for it; you got it. We’ve now made replacement bags for organics recycling available free of charge at our 24/7 drop-off site in Como Park. The bags are in a mailbox attached inside the gate. Please, limit yourself to two bags each visit.
Also, a reminder: Because of construction in the McMurray Field area, the only way to access the drop-off site is from the west. From the T-intersection at Hamline and Jessamine, head east on Jessamine, then turn left at Beulah. The drop-off site is on your left, just north of the Humane Society.
Finally, if you are new to organics recycling, stop at our office and pick up your free starter kit, which includes a bag, refrigerator magnets, and other information and supplies to help you succeed in reducing your waste footprint.
You’re Invited to Sit In
The District 10 board and standing committees meet monthly. Community members are always welcome to attend, participate, and speak or raise concerns. The schedule:
• Land Use: Typically meets on the Monday before the first Wednesday, 7pm (however, because of the holiday, the committee will meet on Tue., Nov. 1.)
• Neighborhood Relations and Safety: First Tuesday, 7pm
• Board: Third Tuesday, 7pm
• Environment: Last Wednesday, 7pm
All meetings are at the Como Park Streetcar Station, at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.
Get recycling gear here
The Como Park Streetcar Station is open from noon-4pm on the first Sunday of every month through the fall and winter. We’ll have a District 10 board member on hand to distribute blue recycling bins, organics composting bags, or just take your comments and suggestions. The Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.
Put It on Your Calendar
• Thur., Nov. 10: Community Forum–Dealing with Problem Properties. Details to follow on District 10’s website.