NEWS | COMMUNITY


Mayor Coleman Unveils City’s New Electric Vehicle
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The newest addition to St. Paul’s vehicle fleet is the all electric Ford Transit Connect. With three electric vehicles coming to St. Paul, the City will reduce its carbon emissions by 3.5 tons and save an estimated $1,300 per vehicle each year on gasoline.

Xcel Energy is helping fund the vehicles for a number of municipalities, government agencies and businesses that committed to purchasing the vehicles and demonstrating this clean energy technology.

The event was hosted by Drive Electric Minnesota, a partnership of local and state government, Xcel Energy, private business and nonprofit groups working together to bring electric vehicles and plug-in charging infrastructure to Minnesota.

Currently, more than a third of all Minnesota’s air pollutant emissions come from cars and trucks. Electric vehicles produce zero emissions from the tailpipe, improving air quality and lessening the negative health risks associated with air pollution. Also, with a motor more efficient than a combustion engine, electric vehicles are less expensive to operate, costing only two to three cents per mile for electricity to power. For the Transit Connect, the fuel costs over six years for the gasoline powered model are estimated to be almost $10,000 compared to $2,600 in electricity costs to power the electric model, a savings of $7,400 per vehicle.

Drive Electric Minnesota is also in the process of installing 30 charging stations throughout the metro area in ramps, flat lots and on-street locations. Four to six of these public charging stations will be solar powered. Many of these plug-in charging stations will be located in the Energy Innovation Corridor adjacent to the light rail line between St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The City is using $286,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for the electric vehicles and charging stations. In addition, Xcel Energy’s Chairman’s Fund and the City will each contribute $60,000 toward the purchase of the St. Paul vehicles.



Union Depot Groundbreaking
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Echoes of the great days of passenger rail can be felt in the majestic old hall. Groundbreaking for the $243 million renovation of Union Depot began January 18. The work is expected to generate 3,000 new jobs and to transform the depot into a state-of-the-art transportation, retail and community hub.

Photo: Lou “The Photo Guy” Michaels








Water Quality Remains Main Concern for Crosby Lake
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by KELLY JONES HICKS

The second of three meetings for the Crosby Lake Citizen Advisory Committee (CAG) took place on December 7 at Homecroft Elementary School. The meeting provided an opportunity for community participants to share concerns and goals for Crosby Lake with members of the Capital Region Watershed District (CRWD). More than two dozen people attended this open dialogue.

Anna Eleria, project manager for CRWD, explained to the group that CRWD valued the opinions of those who regularly visit the park. She explained that these citizens who appreciate the park environment and want to preserve and maintain its natural state have much to offer the planning committee.

The participants were arranged into three small groups. Each person was asked to share their top three challenges and concerns for the long-term sustainability of Crosby Lake. They were also asked to suggest solutions and activities to resolve these issues.

Crosby Lake has been meeting the Minnesota standards for water quality of shallow lakes for the past several years. Yet protecting the water quality was the highest priority for participants. Other important issues included improving land area surrounding the lakes. Land area includes addressing bluff erosion and keeping natural versus paved park trails. Other concerns included wildlife management and looking at the park as an open lab for the community.

One visitor to Crosby Lake, who with his family, views the area as a sanctuary in the city, said he would like to see the lake return to a natural, clean lake. In this pristine state the growing and harvesting of wild rice would contribute to beneficial lake vegetation.

Water flow from the river to the lake during flood stage is another issue of concern. Overflow of mud and debris is left after such flooding. One suggested solution to this issue included installing culverts to constructively direct the overflow. Other issues discussed were negative environmental factors such as chemical pollutants, gas and oil spills carried over from the marina, runoff from nearby roads, and natural vs. storm water influenced erosion.

Possible solutions to these issues include: develop best practices to ensure that the water coming into the lake via storm water outlets are capped off or monitored; perform an analysis of the lake chemicals comparing the chemicals to those used at the Highland Golf course. Community outreach and education was also suggested as a positive solution. Education would include providing park goers with information about the history of Crosby Lake using kiosks placed around the lake.

The third and final meeting of the Crosby Lake Management Project will be sometime in March, when a draft of the completed plan is presented by CRWD.


 
Brush, stumps, rock, debris from excavation on park land | 2.11
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Contractors at 194 Goodrich approached St. Paul Parks and Recreation for permission to use the North High Bridge city park as a construction site as well as to dispose of construction debris from the excavation. Prior to any department response, the contractors dumped an enormous amount of snow, soil, brush, tree stumps, stone, etc., in the park and began to destroy its landscape. Neighbors were appalled, and Joe Landsberger, who is Chair of the North High Bridge Park Task Force of the Fort Road Federation/District 9 Community Council, communicated with Mike Hahm, Director of St. Paul Parks and Recreation, to request that he instruct his staff to stop the dumping; restore the park land to its prior condition; prevent construction vehicles from using the alley from Smith as access to 194; and prevent the removal of the boulders placed at the alley’s end by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Mr. Hahm was also asked to keep the neighborhood informed of his actions.

This property was discussed at the Board of Zoning Appeals, where neighbors and the Fort Road Federation/District 9 Community Council raised issues of water drainage in the park and how it adversely affects homes along the bluff. (See Letter to the Editor, page 2). Landsberger says that actions by the contractors aggravate this situation, and threaten the park with a mess in spring after snow has melted and the debris, tire tracks, etc., remain.

In responding for Parks and Recreation, Karin Misiewicz, Park Maintenance Supervisor III, detailed the actions that had been taken: “The contractor was told that they cannot use the vacated alley even with the property owner’s approval because it appears that there is not enough width between the existing garages and the city property to drive construction equipment from Smith Ave to 194 Goodrich. The contractor has agreed to follow this order. The contractor was told to leave the piles of snow on the city park property because they would cause damage to the grass while removing it (the frost was very shallow during excavation because of the thick snow blanket). The contractor was also told to remove any soils that may have spilled onto the city park while they were piling up the excessive soils during excavation. The new survey stakes show that there is a minimal amount of soil that spilled onto the city park, and I feel they should be able to remove that quite easily during backfill. The contractor has agreed to follow proper erosion control practices around the disturbed property before temperatures begin to melt the snow. These orders will be followed up in writing and sent to the owner. I am comfortable that all parties are aware of the sensitivity of this project and will be in constant contact with the designated building inspector with any changes or concerns.”

However, a neighbor reports there is still much brush, stumps, rock, debris from the excavation on the park land, and that the contractors have already used the alley to remove construction equipment and the boulders that blocked the way that were placed by the department to prevent any vehicular traffic.



Nova Classical Academy Brings Plans to West 7th/Fort Road Federation
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by Jerry Rothstein

Brian Bloomfield, Nova’s Executive Director, spoke with the Federation board at its January meeting to discuss the possibility of building a new campus for the highly regarded charter school in the Victoria Park development property, at Otto and West Seventh. He later spoke with the Community Reporter to elaborate on his presentation.

Nova has been operating in two locations, with the Lower Campus on Montreal and the Upper Campus in the St. Francis School Building on Osceola. For several years, in its long-term planning process, Nova has aimed to have a single K-12 campus to accommodate 839 students in three program phases.

The Victoria Park site is “Close to ideal as a single site solution,” Bloomfield points out. “It allows us to be part of and to support the vibrant West Seventh community — a supportive and engaged neighborhood.” Nova foresees collaborative relationships with the community, offering its resources for evening and summer activities, learning opportunities and community projects, as it has already begun to do at the Upper Campus.

Federation Chair Dave Bredemus expressed the desire that more West End children be able to attend Nova. Bloomfield commented that Nova already has students from the West End and the West Side, but is constrained by law from offering any kind of preferential admission by geography. (There is preferred status for charter school admission based on siblings or children of teachers.) When Nova has openings they are allotted by lottery among those who have applied, so the more West End parents who register their kids for admission, the more the West End population among Nova’s students will grow.

Bloomfield says that Nova plans to continue to work with the community to earn its support for the development. If they succeed, they are exploring two options for the financing, design and building process. He believes that each option is feasible so that the decision can be based on practical criteria like cost effectiveness, timeliness and quality.

Along with another developer’s proposal to build market rate housing on part of the property, the Nova concept means that at the moment there are claims on all the development land at Victoria Park.

While Nova’s thinking involves “Being part of and supporting the vibrant West Seventh community,” Federation members are asking whether the proposal does “serve the neighborhood.” These two perspectives seem very much aligned — watching the process unfold should be exciting.
  • The Trivium: Classical education rests on the concept of the Trivium — grammar, logic, and rhetoric — not as subjects, although these subjects are studied, but as the structure of every subject and discipline.
  • Grammar: Grammar is the foundation of a subject — the collection of its parts and the mechanics of how they work.
  • Logic: Logic is the organization of these parts into a whole and an understanding of the relationships among the parts.
  • Rhetoric: Rhetoric is the ability to apply the foundational knowledge and logical understanding of a subject purposefully and creatively to solve a problem, express an opinion with clarity or create something new.
Every subject we attempt to learn, at any time in our lives, has its grammar, logic, and rhetoric, from reading and math, to gardening and law, to music and auto mechanics.



A Glimpse of the Past: Key Stories from the Past Decade
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Here we capture a little history — from one, five and ten years ago as seen on page one of the Community Reporter.

February 2010
“Neighborhood House Returns to West End” by Jerry Rothstein covered the opening of a new resource center at 2431 West Seventh for police officers working in the Western Division that also serves the public with programs designed to meet the needs of families with young children. “Fantom Companies Have a Real Presence in West End” informed readers about the new store at 1086 West Seventh, and the customized products it offers to the public. “Be Sweet to Your Heart This Month” by Elizabeth McLister, highlighted the importance of diet, exercise, and programs available to West Seventh residents during February’s National Heart Month.


February 2006
In “Hate Crime Brings Community Together,” Maxine McCormick reported on the shock and anger that spread through the community after a cross-burning occurred at the Liberty Temple Church on Armstrong. Over 125 people joined Liberty Temple in a show of unity on the following Sunday, including clergy from neighboring churches. Rev. Thomas Mite of Liberty Temple said, “Thank God for the support of the community to stand with us. We stand united.”


February 2001
In “A Winter Dream, A Winter Carnival” Vanessa Schlenker viewed the St. Paul Winter Carnival from the perspective of community — how it brings together family and volunteers, and others to share common interests and camaraderie. “Trader Routes, Hill’s Railroad and The West Seventh Intersection — An Eagle’s View” by Suzanne Stenson O’Brien, described how transportation via the railroads helped shape our communities. She encouraged neighbors to become involved in then current planning processes such as the busway along West Seventh, Amtrak in regards to the Downtown Union Depot, and the possible impact it would have on the environment and future quality of life in our neighborhood.


 
ECHO: Emergency & Community Health Outreach | 2.11

In 2004, local and state public health and safety agencies founded ECHO Minnesota as a collaborative project designed to address the growing health, safety and emergency information needs of Minnesota’s rapidly expanding limited English speaking communities.A dozen bilingual community leaders became ECHO’s first team of community spokespeople, bringing vital information to African, Latino and Southeast Asian residents.

ECHO launched ECHO TV in partnership with St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) and Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) as the first and only series in the country dedicated to presenting health, safety, civic engagement and emergency readiness programs in multiple languages.

The mission of ECHO is to leverage partnerships to deliver vital health, safety, emergency and civic engagement information to help the ever-changing, diverse population integrate and become successful in our communities. ECHO’s vision is that all people are provided quality health and life saving communications.

As a leader in multilanguage health, safety, civic engagement and emergency readiness communication, ECHO bridges the gap for immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. Through close collaborations with health and safety experts, bilingual community leaders and talented spokespersons, ECHO crafts high quality programming for television and radio broadcast and phone, print, web, DVD and partner relay distribution designed to:
  • Reduce disparities in health care for immigrant and refugee communities thatface higher infant mortality, higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and shorter life spans. Promote preventive care by raising awareness of some of the most serious and costly diseases facing all Minnesotans. Increase access to life-saving emergency information by facilitating efficient mass-media messaging in multiple languages.
  • Facilitate the transition to life in Minnesota for immigrants and refugees, by providing civic engagement to help new Americans integrate successfully into our communities.
  • Ensure that over a half-million limited English-speaking Minnesotans have access to the information they need to make informed decisions affecting their well-being.
ECHO’s communication tools also function as an emergency infrastructure available to public health and safety agencies during a crisis. In the event of an emergency, such as a flood or a disease outbreak, ECHO has a proven system in place to deliver critical messages in the most urgently needed languages rapidly and effectively through television, radio, print, web and partner relays.

ECHO is supported by dedicated community volunteers, the generosity of its public health, safety, sponsorship and media partners, and with broad community support. This enables ECHO to work to ensure that everyone is fully informed and empowered with the tools that they need to be healthy, be safe and be ready.

For information and access to ECHO’s resources see echominnesota.org, 651-789-4342 or info@echominnesota.org


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