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Connect with community at Como Neighborhood Days

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

Neighborhood festival grows from 250 to 2,500 attendees in five years


Movie night on Fridays has consistently been one of the most popular activities of the 3-day festival.


Como Neighborhood Days (formerly called Como Fest) returns this year on Fri., July 11 to Sun., July 13.

“I love this event because it’s great to see how this community comes together – the people behind the scenes making the events happen and the neighbors that attend and support the event,” said AndreaLynn Johnson, who has been involved in the event since its beginning as “Staycation” in 2010.

She added, “The variety of activities offered throughout the weekend gets richer and more interesting each year. I have to agree with what I have heard about why people attend this event, and that is that it’s got a very ‘neighborhoody’ feel to it – inviting sense of community around family-friendly events.”

According to District 10 Administrator Ted Blank, “It’s a great way to enjoy the neighborhood, connect with your neighbors, and experience some uniquely creative performances.”



The campout at the park was so popular last year that it is being offered again in 2014.

The event was started in 2010 by the District 10 Como Community Council, along with several neighborhood organizations and businesses.

“The goal was to offer folks a weekend of affordable fun in their own neighborhood and to highlight neighborhood businesses and other amenities,” explained Blank.

Northwest Como Park Recreation Director Darcy Rivers remembers meeting in 2010 with Rhonda DeBough from District 10 to discuss what had been done in the past for National Night Out. “Rhonda suggested we do something before National Night Out to help promote that event and get the word out so we began Staycation,” recalled Rivers. “Because of the budget crunch, we figured people were not traveling as much and would like to do something in their own community.”

The first year it was a three-day event, July 23-25, 2010 and it drew 250 people. It began with a battle of the bands weekend event at The Coffee Grounds on Hamline Ave. Chelsea Heights PTO organized a flea market, Northwest

Como hosted a movie night and District 10 offered a bike ride, garden tour and art crawl.

As an active District 10 block leader at the time, Johnson was approached by then District 10 Community Organizer DeBough about participating in planning an art event during a greater community-building event. “We thought we could find ways for families to enjoy a fun yet budget-friendly weekend in their own backyard – a staycation!” Johnson remarked.

The second year was similar to the first, and attracted more attendees than the year before. The Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corp pitched in to help make things run smoothly.

“The third year we changed the name to Como Fest in hopes of reaching more people,” stated Rivers.

Several other businesses added to the line-up of events in 2012. Lyngblomsten Care Center hosted a Mid-Summer Festival. Black Bear Crossings Cafe offered a wine and cheese social on Friday night. Chelsea Heights PTO added inflatables, carnival games and concessions during the flea market on Saturday. Como Park Language and Arts Preschool organized Make and Take Art projects, the Como Block Nurse Program performed blood pressure checks, and Kinderberry Hill in Roseville offered free Kite Making for Kids. On Sunday, Como Park Lutheran Church held an outdoor worship service with a live band and organized a kickball tournament.

In 2013, the event continued to grow with the addition of event sponsors Linders, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and TopLine Federal Credit Union. There was a beer and wine tasting event at Como Park Grill. And the Friday night movie (with a jump castle, climbing tower, craft, concessions, bingo and the movie) expanded into a campout. “Families pre-register and bring their tents and camping supplies, enjoy a campfire after the movie, then hit their sleeping bags. We wake them in the morning, serve a light breakfast at 8am, then pack up and head out,” said Rivers.


Feat7_14ComoFest3“Como Neighborhood Days has grown and evolved over the years since it started as the Staycation,” observed Blank. “In 2012, the Lyngblomsten Mid-Summer Festival became part of our lineup, which brought a well-established neighborhood arts event on board. Venues for Como Neighborhood Days have changed, as businesses have opened and closed.”

“It has evolved to include a wider range of activities for children to grandparents, as well as more partners and venues, and promotes various businesses and services in District 10,” said Johnson. While some things have changed, with the bike ride and garden tour spinning off as separate events, others parts, such as the Art Fair with hands-on/take-away children art projects and carnival games/movie at North Dale Recreation Center, have stayed intact over the years. “The events have remained virtually free or at a low cost to families have been important for us to maintain,” said Johnson.

“Attendees enjoy the informal nature of the event, getting to have fun right in their own neighborhood, and sampling neighborhood businesses,” remarked Blank.

Last year 2,000 people attended the festival, and this year organizers expect to serve 2,500.

Rivers praised the people who volunteer to make this festival happen. “That’s one major reason why the event is so good,” she said.

JULY 11-13, 2014

The 2014 lineup includes events at Northwest Como Recreation Center, Lyngblomsten, Como Park Grill, and Black Bear Crossings.

Friday, July 11
12 -10pm. Firkin Friday with Summit Brewing at Como Park Grill
6-9pm. Family Movie Night at Northwest Como Recreation Center

Saturday, July 12
11am-6pm. Lyngblomsten Mid-Summer Festival at Lyngblomsten
4-10pm. Patio Party at Como Park Grill

Sunday, July 13
10am-noon. Live Music at Black Bear Crossings
12-4:30pm. Art Fair at Como Lakeside Pavilion/Black Bear Crossings
12-2:30pm. Make and Take Children’s Activities at Como Lakeside Pavilion/Black Bear Crossings
3-4:30pm. Pops Concert at Como Lakeside Pavilion/Black Bear Crossings

Remember that each of these time blocks has multiple activities and participants—find the full schedule at www.district10comopark.org/neigh_days.html and its links.

“What’s valuable about this event is bringing together neighbors of all ages, as well as neighborhood businesses, to promote/celebrate the talents found within the community – all for low to no cost for families,” said Johnson.



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Small conversation leads to huge project

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

“Transforming Central” receives multiple grants and assistance as it improves the environment


Students work on plantings to beautify Central as part of “Transforming Central.”


Big ideas sometimes start with small conversations. In 2011, the Parent Advisory Council at Central High School, 275 Lexington Pkwy., looked around at the grounds of the school and started talking about what might be done to make the school’s campus a more welcoming and environmentally healthy place. The “Transforming Central” project was born.

“We looked at what hard shape things were in, such as packed earth, runoff and trees that needed to be trimmed,” said Julie Marckel, a member of the Council. “We started very simply, with bulb planting.”

Central connected with Metro Design Center (MDC) at the University of Minnesota. This organization created a document with a list of projects.


This is most recent plan development for Transforming Central as of press time; it may include slight changes as plans progress.

“MDC does front-end conceptual planning for sites,” Marckel explained. “It looks at the before, and how it could be improved for the after. MDC looked at samples of planting on other similar campuses and did an analysis of the way students move, with heavy periods at the beginning and end of the day, and where students gather. This was done in 2011 and 2012.”

In the summer of 2012, tiered beds of natives, perennials and grasses were planted in the front exterior stairway of the school.

Marckel said a survey was conducted and facilitated by National Honor Society members. Students were asked what they liked best about Central, what made them the proudest, and what could be improved. Parents and teachers also provided feedback, and the Transforming Central project built on that information.

In the fall of 2012, the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) awarded the school a $10,000 grant in services to analyze storm water runoff. This resulted in a conceptual design for improving aesthetics and solving environmental issues.


The tiered landscaping at Central High School presented some interesting and exciting platforms for the Transforming Central project.

“CRWD worked with the architect firm of Emmons and Oliver and did a site analysis,” Marckel explained. “The Watershed District began to propose solutions around water runoff and rain gardens. It looked at worn dirt paths and storm water issues and improvements.”

She said that with the assistance of Nate Zwonitzer, urban best management practices specialist with CRWD, Central received another $50,000 grant to help with a storm water retrofit project. This award will be used for design finalization to be provided to Central High School this year.

“This past year we have continued to work with the Watershed District,” Marckel said. “It is focusing on water issues, but we also hope to address other things, such as the arts, sculpture and more landscaping.”

She said the parents’ group supporting Transforming Central has developed a brochure and met with neighborhood community councils to share information about the project.

Central was also selected as a site for the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation’s Placemaking Residency, and had Gil Penalosa, an internationally known placemaking expert who is passionate about designing cities for all people, speak to the students in May. A selected group of students joined him for a walk through the neighborhood and a follow-up talk to share what they had seen and discuss ways to connect to the community.

“We’re now moving forward,” Marckel said. She said that information has been gathered about rain gardens and maintenance and the realities of snow removal. A goal for 2015-16 is to work on the front plaza areas.

“This is such a large project, and we’re just a small band of parent volunteers,” Marckel commented. “Our challenge is to keep letting the students and faculty know that we are working on it.”

She said Transforming Central is a three-pronged project, focusing on student experience, environmental impact and community connections.

Studies have shown that student interaction with the natural elements on their campus can decrease stress and increase achievement levels. The Central site is also in a very vibrant neighborhood, according to Marckel.

Zwonitzer said the Watershed District is trying to capitalize on Central’s efforts to improve the aesthetics of its exterior and also work on runoff solutions.

“One of our big roles is to manage and treat storm water runoff,” he said. “The water at Central goes into a storm drain and is not treated at all, going into the river. We are trying to find ways to treat the water and get it to soak in the ground.”

He said there are different ways of capturing storm water in underground storage systems, and the agency is trying to figure out which approach will work best.

“There’s a big toolbox of ways to capture runoff,” he continued. “There are rain gardens and permeable pavers with gaps in between the pavers, so that the water soaks into the ground.”

Zwonitzer said his agency has reached the stage where it is starting to incorporate ideas and plan.

“There’s a lot in the mix,” he noted, “including our organization, the faculty, community, parents and the City of Saint Paul. It all takes time.”

“What’s happening at Central is a good example of something we are trying to do district-wide,” added Tom Parent, interim director of facilities at St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS). “We’re at the beginning phase of a master plan for the district, and we have been part of that conversation at Central since its inception.”

Parent said SPPS is looking at how schools’ grounds and community can be an extension of classrooms.

“We want to be welcoming, inclusive and accessible to students from the moment they step off the bus,” Parent said.


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Quick decision saves company for 4th generation

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66


Kari Rihm stands in front of one of the trucks her company sells, as son JB and daughter Libby join her.


For Kari Rihm, taking over a trucking business was a decision that had to be made quickly.

Rihm Kenworth, 2108 University Ave., had been in her husband’s family for three generations. The original Rihm Motor Company was founded in 1932 by his grandfather, JB Rihm. The company became a dealer for Kenworth trucks in 1949. JB’s son, Walter, operated the dealership until passing it on to John W.

However, John W. died from brain cancer in the fall of 2010, after being ill for only three and a half months.

“There was a level of urgency, because we are a franchise,” Kari Rihm explained. “I had 180 days to decide what to do.”

A contractor friend asked her what would become of Rihm. “I took a deep breath and told him that was a good question,” she said. She responded to him, “I own a business. I had better get to work.”

Rihm had been a stay-at-home mother for the previous 17 years, and her only participation with the company had been as a board member.

She applied to be the dealer, making the case for her to be a successor to her husband.

“It was just a realization that I should not even think about selling it,” she said. “JB, our son, had some interest and I knew the business had a significant value. I started coming in to work on a part-time basis, and JB started six months later.”

She said there were a lot of challenges. “I had to learn about an industry that I was not very familiar with,” she said. “And just getting back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom was a challenge in itself.”


Rihm Kenworth’s location on University Ave. carries new and used trucks for sale, as well as parts and service. (Photo by Jan Willms)

But since her take-over as president and dealer principal of Rihm Kenworth, the company has added another location and increased its employee count by 60. Besides the University Ave. location, the trucking company has locations in Albert Lea, Superior and Sauk Centre. It has 160 employees.

The company was named dealer of the year in both 2011 and 2012. It also received the National Women’s Business Enterprise Certification for its diversity. In 2013, Rihm Kenworth received the Family Business award in the resilience category.

“The company has been resilient,” Rihm said. “It was founded during the depression and stayed open through the Second World War. Only one other Kenworth company in the United States has been owned by one family, and that company is a little older than ours.”

“We’ve weathered economic storms over the years,” Rihm continued.

The dealership, which sells new and used trucks and provides parts and service, has purposely built its medium-duty business, according to Rihm. She said this has helped the company weather the economic upheavals over the past few years.

With medium-sized trucks, drivers are delivering their own product and continue to come in. They continue to purchase parts and get their trucks serviced.

“We also have a vibrant export business and export parts all over the world,” said JB Rihm, who serves as the global sales manager and market analyst for the company.

“Currently we do, or have done, business in 56 countries,” he noted. “We are dealing with oil and gas industries. The Middle East and China are our two biggest markets. We export truck parts to those regions for Kenworth and other brands. I believe Minnesota is one of the largest export states.”

He continued to say that the truck industry is behind the car industry in a lot of aspects, but by using social media and updating its technology, Rihm Kenworth is trying to grow its customer base and awareness.

Kari Rihm said she has never had second thoughts about taking over the business.

“It really feels like I did the right thing,” she said. “I learn something new every day, and it is good to be connected with the people I had heard about for years.”

She said some of the employees have been with the company for 30 years or more, and she really enjoys meeting retired employees or customers who can remember the founder.

“A customer brought in a 1974 truck that he said needs a new paint job,” she said. “He remembers coming in when he was little, with his father.”

Rihm said the company is hosting an event in August featuring Kenworth products and celebrating its 65th anniversary as a Kenworth dealer.

She reflected again that she could never have sold the family business, as the fourth generation becomes a part of it.

“I consider myself a 3rd generation placeholder,” Rihm explained. “And now JB is working here, and my daughter Libby has taken a break from school and is working here.”

“It’s fun to grow something,” she said. “Even the challenges are fun.”

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Black Bear calls it quits at Como Pavilion

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

District Court rules that it was the city — not Black Bear — that breached agreement


Daoua Vue fishes one summer evening across Como Lake from the Pavilion, enjoying the Sunday night concert. He walks regularly down to the lake to fish. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)


Black Bear Crossings on the Lake at the Como Pavilion won the legal dispute between the restaurant and the city of St. Paul, but they’ve decided to close at the end of 2014 anyway.

Citing a breach of the management agreement, last fall St. Paul decided not to renew its contract with Black Bear Crossings. On May 15, 2014, the district court in Ramsey County ruled that it was the city that had breached the management agreement with Black Bear Crossings by denying Black Bear’s request for an extension to continue operating through 2018.

The court also ruled that the city “is liable to [Black Bear] for any money damages caused by its breach of the agreement.” Citing the “bitter dispute” over the city’s breach of the agreement, however, the court did not require the parties to continue doing business together.

The court found that the terms of the agreement were “clear and unambiguous” and that the city had “failed to come forward with evidence” that would justify its refusal to extend the agreement. In a previous ruling, the court found that statements the city made to the local media about Black Bear caused “irreparable harm” to Black Bear’s business.


Black Bear Crossings in the Como Park Pavilion is calling it quits despite the fact that it won its lawsuit against the city for breach of contract. The court also found that the city caused “irreparable harm” to Black Bear’s business. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Specifically, the city had alleged that Black Bear paid its rent late for the past four years; did not provide the city with three bids for each project it undertook; and submitted receipts two years late. Additionally, the city had said that Black Bear did not submit its financial records to the city for review in a timely manner. The city requested the records on May 15, 2013 and expected them within 15 days. They were provided in August 2013.

The city had also pointed out that there are almost 4.4 million visitors at Como each year, and expressed concern that the cafe had not shown the level of sales that would be expected from a successful establishment in that location.

Pamela and David Glass (a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe) opened Black Bear Crossings in 1997 and moved to the Como Pavilion in 2000. During the Glasses’ tenure, a patio was built on the lakeside of the pavilion, and two perennial gardens created. A concession stand was added on the lower lever of the pavilion, and the cafe also handles paddleboats and canoe rentals.

“For 17 years, Pam and I poured our heart and soul into Black Bear to make it a destination for the community worthy of Como Park’s rich heritage. We received countless awards and accolades for our service and now a court of law also recognized our contributions,” said David Glass.

“The Glasses will pursue damage claims against the city to compensate them for the irreparable harm that the city caused to their business both in breaching the contract and making erroneous statements to the media that their breach was justified, which a court has now found to be without merit,” said Black Bear’s lawyer Jan Conlin of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P.

City Park and Recreation staff opted not to comment on this issue, citing the city’s policy of not commenting on pending litigation due to legal constraints.


Events can still be booked with Black Bear Crossings through the end of 2014; however, no new bookings will be accepted for dates after Jan. 4, 2015. All events already booked for 2015 or 2016 will continue to be honored by the city (and the new partner). Customers may also elect to cancel their event and request a full refund.

Over the next several months, the city will complete a competitive selection process for finding a new vendor for the management of the Pavilion. In June, the city collected feedback and ideas via an online survey. Browse http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?nid=1146 to stay informed.


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From Midway to Minnehaha:

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

Plot Your Green-Blue Adventure


Jeremy Iverson with a tray ready for delivery at Sea Salt Eatery in Minnehaha Park. (Photo by Jill Boogren)


With the Green Line getting all the attention for connecting our two downtowns, it’s easy to overlook the Blue Line. But more than just a route to the airport and Mall of America, the Blue Line gets you to an area of south Minneapolis that is rich with award-winning eats and treats, vintage shopping, renowned parks, and entertainment – all within a short walk from the stations.

In the mood for sushi? Or piping hot Indian food? Or maybe you want to take a leisurely stroll in a park or catch a music festival. Go exploring by train, and you’ll feel like you’re taking a vacation right here in the city. Get a day pass and hop aboard!



Exceptionally high water has made for a raging Minnehaha Falls this year. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Why not start here? It’s been a banner year for the park, with the falls raging and President Obama dropping by. Besides, it’s summer time, and there’s no better time (okay, autumn is pretty sweet, too) to visit Minnehaha Park. We don’t always think about taking transit to visit our parks, but we should. Here, it’s especially easy. Get out at the 50th St. Station, cross the street, and you’re in. No parking headaches, no waiting in traffic.

Minnehaha Falls is at the north end of the park. Check out the waterfall from above, or descend the stone steps to catch a view from below. While you’re down there, walk along the creek to where it pours into the Mississippi River (wait ‘til flood waters recede).


Madison and Leon Navarro return from riding a Wheel Fun Rental bike at Minnehaha Park. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Pedal the trails on a Wheel Fun Rental bike (for single and up to eight riders), or listen to free music at the bandshell (7pm Wed.-Fri. www.mplsmusicandmovies.com). In the Wabun Picnic area at the east end of the park is a frisbee golf course and a brand new fully-accessible playground.

Be sure to grab a drink or bite at Sea Salt Eatery (4801 Minnehaha Pkwy). Housed in the historic pavilion beneath majestic oaks and just a stone’s throw from the falls, Sea Salt is situated in one of the most picturesque settings in the Twin Cities. Serving seafood from Coastal Seafoods, Sebastian Joe’s ice cream, Surly and other local beers, wine, and Peace Coffee, they make it pretty easy to camp out a while. Try their grilled catfish po’boy for a mouth-watering feast. Or if it’s a Wednesday, try a Sri Lankan dish served up by The Curry Diva. Kick back and enjoy the view and, if you’re lucky, music performed on the patio steps. Open daily.

Tip: You place your order at the counter, and the line for food gets very long on gorgeous weekends. Grab a beverage at a separate counter first and enjoy a drink while you wait in line. Ice cream is available at a separate counter, too.

If you want to do more exploring, there’s a great bike ride from Minnehaha Park to Fort Snelling (see “Bike ‘N’ Ride: Minnehaha Falls to Fort Snelling,” pg. 10)


A block north of the train station, you can take a walk along the creek well above the falls. Or cross over Hiawatha Ave. to Minnehaha Ave. The Pink Closet (4024 E. 46th St.) carries consignment clothing for men and women. Open Tues.-Sat., closed Sun.-Mon. Kitty corner the King Taco food truck serves tacos, tortas, burritos, and quesadillas. There’s a fruit stand, too, if you want to add to your picnic.


There are tons of food options, here, and thrift shops, too. At the station you can’t miss the Cardinal Restaurant & Bar (2920 E. 38th St.), which hosts pool leagues and karaoke nights. Open daily. A block west is Ted Cook’s 19th Hole Barbecue (2814 E. 38th St.), offering up pit-smoked barbecue and soul food (take-out only). Try hickory and cherry-smoked barbecued beef and JoJos potatoes with hot sauce. Open Tues.-Sun., closed Mon.

Need a beer? In another short block, Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub (2716 E 38th St.), named Best Brewpub by City Pages in 2013, makes craft beer and house-smoked meats. Grab a seat at a picnic table outside and admire the hop vines climbing. Try the Reuben, with smoked corned beef, smoked Swiss cheese, homemade sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on marble rye. Get your crunch fix with house-made potato chips. The Big Jim IPA always satisfies, and look for seasonals, too. Open daily. A Cupcake Social (3800 28th Ave.) across the street will satisfy your sweet tooth. Open Mon.-Sat., closed Sun.

Shopping vintage? East of Hiawatha and a block south on Minnehaha Ave. is E’s Emporium (3911 Minnehaha Ave.). Stepping inside this retro shop is like going to an estate sale for the coolest granny ever. But check the calendar; it’s an occasional shop, open Fri.-Sun. the first and third weekends only.

Next door is SOSA Foods & Deli (3909 Minnehaha Ave.). The food truck for Taqueria Mi Guanajuato serves as a billboard for their walk-up counter inside, where you can get tacos, burritos, gorditas, quesadillas, tortas, and tamales. Add whatever heat sauce you like, and dig in. Open Mon.-Sat.

TNT This ‘N That (3869 Minnehaha Ave.) is a second-hand shop whose profits benefit Stepping Stone Farms, which offers therapy and life-skills through horses. Open daily. Amble up the block a bit more to Paris Apartment Antiques (3721 Minnehaha Ave.), where the goods aren’t all from Paris, nor are they all antiques. Across the street at Selam Coffee Shop grab a cup of Ethiopian coffee and a sambusa made in-house.



Patrick’s Cabaret, east of the Lake St. Station, with neighbor Harriet Brewing will host the 4th Annual “Roots, Rock, and Deep Blues Festival” July 19. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Get past the chain stores and fast food, and you’ll find some treasures here. Cross Hiawatha Ave. under the overpass to Minnehaha Ave. On the corner is Patrick’s Cabaret (3010 Minnehaha Ave.) who, with Harriet Brewing (3036 Minnehaha Ave.), is hosting the 4th Annual Roots, Rock, and Deep Blues Festival July 19, noon-10pm. 30 bands on five stages, plus DJs, dance, arts, crafts, food, and beer. Tickets $20: www.rootsrockdeepblues.com (after the festival Patrick’s Cabaret closes for one month for construction).

Harriet Brewing’s Belgian-styled and inspired beer can be sampled at the festival and in their taproom Tues.-Sat. Entrance is in the back. You’ll often catch live music and food trucks here.


The artist- and community-created mosaic at Mosaic Cafe, just east of the Lake St. Station. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Mosaic Café (3019 Minnehaha Ave.) is across the street. Serving sandwiches on house-baked bread (vegan options available), local beer, and wine. Try their delicious custard, available plain or with toppings – brownie, cookie, or cereals of the old Saturday morning cartoon variety. Enjoy great patio seating with the community-created mosaic on the south-facing wall as a backdrop.

Around the corner is Midori Floating World Café (2629 E. Lake St.), serving sushi, tempura, noodles, tea, and sake cocktails. Open Tues.-Sun., closed Mon.

Across the side street, Gandhi Mahal (3009 27th Ave. S.) serves scrumptious Indian cuisine with a focus on sustainability. Their Moghal Saagwalla is exceptional; try it vegetarian or with lamb. Their nan and other breads are fresh-baked in a traditional tandoor clay oven. Fair warning: food here is spiced India hot not Minnesota hot, so order accordingly. Open daily. Live music Wed.-Sun. evenings.


The 50-seat Trylon Microcinema and Peace Coffee, a couple of blocks south of E. Lake St. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

In the mood to wander? Don’t miss these gems two long blocks south on Minnehaha. Take-Up Productions’ Trylon microcinema (3258 Minnehaha Ave.) is a 50-seat cinema that shows classics like “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” “The Jerk,” “Metropolis,” and anything by Alfred Hitchcock. July is Jackie Chan month. Next door enjoy a cup of fair-trade Peace Coffee (3262 Minnehaha Ave.), open daily. Around the corner is Moon Palace Books (2820 E 33rd St.) with new and used books, open daily, and across the street is Plum Crabby Vintage (3263 Minnehaha Ave.), open Fri.-Sun. first and third weekends only.

The next train station is at 38th St., so decide if you want to keep going or head back to the Lake St. Station. Whether you pick one station or more to explore, have a great trip!


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Bike ‘N’ Ride: Minnehaha Falls to Fort Snelling

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66


The MRT Trail from Minnehaha Park to Fort Snelling State Park. (Photo by Jill Boogren)


Have a bike? Or want to use a Nice Ride? Take the Blue Line to the 50th St./Minnehaha Park Station and then pedal the short distance to Fort Snelling, where you can visit the historic fort atop the bluff or the state park along the river bottom.


The Nice Ride station overlooking the Mississippi River at Historic Fort Snelling. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

To get to Historic Fort Snelling, take the little road from 54th St. (at Minnehaha Park’s southern end) to Coldwater Springs, then follow the bike trail that runs parallel to the highway about a mile to the fort. Inside, costumed interpreters, demonstrations, and exhibits tell the story of Minnesota’s native people, soldiers, settlers, traders, and servants from 1820 until 1946, when it closed. Even if you don’t go in, you can still enjoy sweeping vistas of the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline in the distance.

If you love fife and drum music or want to experience canon and musket firings, you may want to visit on “Civil War Weekend: 1864″ to take place Sat., Aug. 16 through Sun., Aug. 17. Otherwise, regular hours are Tues.-Sat. (admission: $11 adults, $9 seniors, students, active military personnel, $6 children 6-17, free for age 5 and under and Minnesota Historical Society members). www.historicfortsnelling.org

When it’s not under water, Fort Snelling State Park (closed as this went to press due to flooding) is a great place to explore. To get there, follow the trail marked “MRT” (Mississippi River Trail) that begins at 54th St. just steps east of the Nice Ride bike station. Here you’ll ride a beautiful shaded trail overlooking the Mississippi River 1.6 miles until you reach the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center. Park your bike and head indoors to learn more about life in a forested flood plain. Outside is a memorial honoring the 1,600 Dakota people who were imprisoned at Fort Snelling after the 1862 U.S. Dakota War. Take a walk on Pike Island to the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Bald eagles, deer, and wild turkeys are spotted regularly here.


A rider breezes past Historic Fort Snelling.(Photo by Jill Boogren)

Check the website www.dnr. state.mn.us/state_parks/fort_snelling for updates. If the park is closed, you can still ride the MRT and access the path that takes you up to the fort (most people have to walk their bikes up this one).

Tip for using Nice Ride Minnesota: The Minnehaha Park Nice Ride station is at the roundabout where Minnehaha Ave. meets Minnehaha Pkwy. Grab a bike here, then another at Coldwater (1.2 miles south at 54th St.). Park the bike at the fort (there’s a station at the state park, too, that is currently out of service). Remember to dock your bike within 30 minutes of each ride to avoid fees. Must be 18+ (16+ if included in adult membership) to use Nice Ride bikes (www.niceridemn.org).

Tip if you have your own bike: Train cabs have vertical slots for parking your bike. If your bike needs servicing, The Hub Bicycle Co-Op (3020 Minnehaha Ave., two blocks east of the E. Lake St. Station) is open daily.

Happy pedaling!


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Green Line Celebration!

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

It was an exciting day on June 14 when the Green Line opened, with celebrations and a party mood along the line. At the Hamline Ave. Station and the Raymond Ave. Station events were planned for the whole day. The Hamline Ave. Station used a “fair-like” theme, while Raymond Ave. Station called attention to themselves as the “Creative Enterprise Zone.” Despite the nasty cold and wet weather, MTC reported that more than 107,000 free rides were taken on the opening weekend. (Photos by Kyle Mianulli, Raymond Ave. Station, and Julie Caruso, Hamline Ave. Station)









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Green Line 101:

Posted on 11 June 2014 by robwas66

Your Guide to Riding the Rail



The Green Line is fast approaching. Here’s what you need to know to hop aboard.

Where can I go?


A man uses the ticket machine at the Downtown East Station in Minneapolis. This station is the first opportunity to change to the Blue Line (to travel to the airport and Mall of America). The Green and Blue Lines share stations from here to Target Field. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

The Green Line will go from Union Depot in Downtown St. Paul to Target Field in Minneapolis. The Blue Line goes from Target Field to the Airport and Mall of America. You can switch to the Blue Line anywhere from the Downtown East (former Metrodome) Station to Target Field. In all, the Green Line has 18 stations, plus the five it shares with the Blue Line.

A map of the route can be found at www.metrotransit.org/greenline. Route maps are also posted inside every rail vehicle.

How long does it take?

Travel between the two downtowns will take 48 minutes. From the Snelling Ave. station it will be 28 minutes to Union Depot and 20 minutes to Target Field. Stations are 2-3 minutes apart.

How much does it cost?

Single trips are $2.25 at rush hour (Mon.-Fri. 6-9am and 3-6:30pm, except holidays), $1.75 other times of day. Tickets are valid for 2.5 hours.

Reduced Rates of $0.75 are available for non-rush hour travel for youth (age 6-12), seniors (age 65+), and Medicare card holders. Persons with disabilities always pay $0.75. Children age 5 and under are free with paying customer.

Adults can buy an Event 6-Hour Pass for $4 on weekdays, $3.50 on weekends ($3 weekdays, $1.50 weekends for youth, seniors, Medicare card holders and Mobility customers). You can also get a Day Pass for $6, good for 24 hours.

How do I pay?

There are no fare boxes on trains; you must pay before getting on. Police officers will randomly ask to see proof of fare payment on trains and stations.

Pay at the station by feeding dollar bills ($1, $5, $10, and $20), coins, or a credit card into the ticket machine. Select ticket/pass. Insert payment. You can buy for more than one person if it’s the same ticket type by selecting “Purchase additional tickets.” Pick up ticket(s) and any change from the tray at the bottom of the machine. Keep your ticket with you as proof of payment.


Go-To Card (Photo by Jill Boogren)

For added convenience (and savings), get a Go-To Card. This lets you store an amount (or a pass) on the card, so instead of hunting for change on the platform you just press your card against the Go-To Card machine. You can add more value at your convenience, or even sign up to have value refilled automatically. Purchasing stored value greater than $5 gets you a 10% bonus.

Multi-Day (31-day and 7-day) and 10-ride passes are also available. Be sure to check at your workplace, college, or high school to see if they have passes for employees (Metropass), students (U-Pass, College Pass or Student Pass) and faculty.

Go-To Cards and other passes can be purchased online at www.metrotransit.org/passes-go-to-cards or at service centers (see sidebar). Call 612-373-3333 (to refill Go-To Cards only).

How do I ride?


People at the Downtown East Station in Minneapolis prepare to board a train. Stations are signposted by the direction the train is going, in this case to St. Paul (if Green Line) or the Mall of America (if Blue Line). (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Go to the side of the platform that is signposted with the direction you wish to go. The front of each train, above the operator’s cab, will be marked with a blue or green “block” to show which line it is, along with the destination.

When can I ride?

Green Line trains will run 24 hours a day at 10-minute intervals for much of each day. In early morning and late evening intervals gradually increase until it goes to hourly in the middle of the night.

At Snelling Ave. these 10-min. intervals are between about 5-6am and 9-10pm, depending on which direction you’re going. At other times trains come every 15-20 minute intervals then hourly between midnight and 4am (again, depending on direction). There’s a gap in service on the Blue Line in the middle of the night, too, so be sure to check the schedule.

The schedule shifts on the weekends, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday nights. Timetables are found at each station. Look at the direction you wish to go (i.e. to Union Depot, Target Field, or Mall of America) and whether it’s a weekday, Saturday or Sunday. Then find your departure time.

Schedules for the Green Line and all connecting buses are now posted online at www.metrotransit.org/green-line-buses. Printed schedules can be found on buses, at libraries, and at other public locations.

What if I use a wheelchair?

All rail cars are accessible by wheelchair, with level boarding so wheels roll directly onto the train. There are labels indicating priority seating near vehicle doors.

Can I bring a bike, or luggage?


Inside the train: Priority seating for persons with disabilities is situated next to the door. Bikes can be brought on board and parked vertically, held upright by a hook. Route maps are posted above each door. (photo by Jill Boogren)

There are four bike racks per car. Bikes are parked vertically, by pushing the back wheel forward and lifting the front wheel up into a holding arm. Luggage is carry-on.


There’s no wireless connection available on the train for your wireless devices.

Is there parking?

There is some paid ramp parking and street parking along the line, but no new park and rides.

“We anticipate that a large share of riders will connect by bus or walk up,” said Metro Transit Spokesperson John Siqveland.

Can I transfer to a bus?

Yes! Metro Transit expects that a third of Green Line riders will transfer to, or from, buses. Any ticket or Go-To Card is good for a bus. You can also hop on the train if you have a valid bus ticket. Ask the bus operator for a transfer, good for 90 minutes.

Look for major changes in bus service to go into effect once the trains start running. Changes involve 17 routes (see story on page 8), including the addition of a new bus line (Route 83) that will run along Lexington Pkwy. between the Roseville SuperTarget and Summit Brewery on W. 7th St.

Route 50 will be replaced by the Green Line, and buses 8 and 144 will be eliminated, but other routes will have expanded hours and direct routes to Green Line stations.

Trip planning assistance is available at www.metrotransit.org or by calling 612-373-3333. According to Siqveland, staff will be out at heavily-trafficked transit locations throughout June passing out schedules and materials.


Listen up! These trains are quiet. Unlike freight trains, you might not hear a light-rail train approaching, and it could come from either direction. Pay attention to all traffic signals and warning signs, and look both ways before crossing the tracks by car, bicycle, wheelchair, or on foot.

A key difference between the Green Line and the Blue Line is that along University there aren’t any signal arms like the gates at intersections along Hiawatha Ave. This means it’s especially important for motorists and pedestrians to watch and listen for all signals.

When a train is approaching, you’ll see a light rail train icon that flashes, and you’ll hear bells. Look both ways, every time, at every crossing. Pedestrians: cross only at designated crosswalks. At Snelling Ave., for example, this means east of the station, mid-block. Motorists: stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. It’s safe, and it’s the law.


According to Siqveland, 22 newly-hired full-time officers, in uniform and plain clothes, will be dedicated to patrolling the Green Line 24/7. These are in addition to those who already patrol buses.

At platform areas, there are multiple pan-tilt cameras, monitored remotely by supervisors, plus call boxes on stations for people to call if there’s any trouble. On board trains there are camera monitors, as well as call boxes where people can directly communicate with the rail operator.

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