NEWS | EDITORIAL

The Family That Volunteers Together | 12.10
by Chloe Briel
Volunteering can be a great way to get involved in your community and even boost your self-esteem.
    Furthermore, if you volunteer as a family, those benefits can reach even more people. When you volunteer as a family, you are helping the community while spending quality time with your child or children and exposing them to a positive environment and positive role models.
With several holidays occurring this time of year, often the best gift to give is your time. If your family is one that that enjoys being in the kitchen, the West 7th Community Center is looking for kitchen assistants. As a kitchen assistant you and your family would help put together meals for more than ninety recipients.
    If cooking is not quite your niche and you are more musically inclined, there is a volunteer opportunity to be a caroler at Lyngblomsten. Lyngblomsten is a continuing care retirement community in St. Paul. This is a fantastic opportunity to lift the spirits of the residents that reside there and give back to the elderly.
     If you are looking for a more date-specific event, your family could attend "Cute as a Button" where children as young as ten can volunteer when supervised by an adult. "Cute as a Button" takes place on December 14, 6:30-8:30pm in New Brighton. As a volunteer, you are helping to create bundles of clothing, bedding and other baby care items for families in need.
     If you are interested in a volunteer opportunity that is year-round, you can look no further than Partners for Violence Prevention's Paws 4 Peace program. Paws 4 Peace is entirely volunteer-based and is an innovative program that utilizes certified therapy dogs to teach children who reside in domestic violence shelters about peace and nonviolence. Paws 4 Peace works with those who have witnessed and/or experienced abuse and is a critical program to teach empathy and positive social skills to young children, a key step in breaking the cycle of violence.
     Visit partnersforviolenceprevention.org or call 651-241-5868 for information.


2010: Another Busy, Productive Year | 12.10
by Pat Lindgren, Council Member Dave Thune’s Legislative Aide

January, February, March
The Jefferson Avenue bike boulevard proposal kept us on an emotional merry-go-round the last few months. It was killed. It was resurrected. It was threatened. Amber Dallman, new chair of the Mac-Groveland District Council’s Transportation Committee, revived it again by having a good discussion of the traffic calming measures in it and presiding over the vote to support it. Thune worked with Councilmember Pat Harris to modify or remove some of the more objectionable parts of the bike boulevard plan for people west of Snelling. The full Mac-Groveland District Council approved the revised plan. The Met Council’s Transit for Livable Communities, which was in charge of the federal grant money, approved the new plan. A large community meeting was attended by West Seventh neighbors Dave Wickiser, Jim Vanelli, Chris Tierney, Mike Weber and Quincy Young. City Council vote to approve scheduled for May 5. We are hoping for good things.
     Angry constituents called for help in getting the giant freeway-sized Michelin sign on West Seventh cut down to size. The Board of Zoning Appeals heard the bank’s appeal on April 5 and voted to “take that sign down.” The issue comes to the City Council next.
     Thune referred the District 9 Small Area Plan back to the Fort Road Federation to bring it up to date with current zoning guidelines that allow nonconforming duplexes that were vacant for more than 365 days to revert back to the underlying zoning. With house sizes smaller than most modern homes, many residents had asked for fewer duplexes that were too small to be real homes.
      Thune requested help from Parks with repairs to the gazebo in Irvine Park, and was told that they had already scheduled a roof replacement due to age and condition. Thune has been meeting with West Seventh neighbors on the Fort Road Federation task force looking at design of the new Victoria Park. It will be a long public process.

April, May and June
Thune and staff have been working with the West Seventh/Smith block club on their 1% for the arts project in conjunction with this summer’s street paving project in their neighborhood. The neighbors identified a triangle lot at the junction of Douglas Avenue and the bike trail running along I35E, but needed help from the Ward 2 office to discover who owned the lot, and then later to negotiate with MnDOT for the right to install an art work on it. Thune advocated for, and won, the right of the local district council to manage this project as a pilot. Contracts have been sent out and we are all hopeful that a beautiful piece of art done by a local West End artist will be installed there before the end of this year.
     Thune met with West Seventh neighbors, Fort Road Federation board members, and Parks & Rec staff from the city on a now-stalled effort to create a city park at the Victoria Park development that meets the requirements of the lawsuit settlement with Exxon Mobil, which was the previous owner of the site.
     Thune worked with our now Police Chief Tom Smith and Upper Town neighbors to clear a squatter out of a vacant, foreclosed house on McBoal. Another good collaboration between neighbors and the city.
The expanded and remodeled library inside the West 7th Community Center reopened May 6, complete with artwork done by local children under the guidance of West End artist Nance Derby-Davidson.
     Thune spent some tense weeks working with Ward 3 Councilmember Pat Harris to get a Met Council grant to create a Jefferson Avenue bike boulevard, which will bring a new sidewalk and some great traffic calming features to Jefferson in Ward 2. Fort Road Federation President Dave Bredemus gave testimony at the May 5th City Council hearing. But the push for safety improvements on Jefferson really started with neighbor Mike Weber.
     Paulette Myers-Rich led a determined band of West Enders in attending hearings and speaking out in favor of demolishing the abandoned, giant “Michelin” sign at 414 West Seventh as well as in opposition to granting a conditional use permit to allow an auto-related business at that site. (The site is zoned B2 and auto-related businesses are allowed by right only in B3 and higher zones.) At the May 5 City Council hearing, Councilmember Thune recused himself from voting because he was the original complainant about the abandoned sign, but the Council voted 6-0 to order the nonconforming sign removed. St. Paul ordinances require any business sign abandoned for one year to be removed; and this sign had been abandoned for more than three years. The zoning issue never made it to the Council because the property owner decided not to pursue it. Fort Road Federation board member Will Wilson and Myers-Rich have been working on identifying a more compatible retailer for that site.
     At the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which Thune chairs, the board approved the transfer of $500,000 to the Smith-Douglas Invest St. Paul (ISP) project being managed by the Fort Road Federation.
     Thune has been working with Scenic Saint Paul and Planning Commissioner Bob Spaulding on regulating dynamic display signs, two-sided dynamic display signs, window signs (dynamic and static), and banners on the exterior of buildings. The City Council passed a resolution requesting the Planning Commission to study the issue, and it is still under review by that body.
     Thune has been working with the condo associations for Blocks #1, #2 and #4 at Upper Landing and Public Works to create a permit parking district, and to install parking meters in the parking lot intended for park and trail users.
     Thune called in representatives from Dominium housing development company, Welsh property management company, and Fort Road Federation to explore whether the three of them could form a consortium to put together a feasible plan to redevelop the now-empty Schmidt Brewery site. It’s too early to make predictions, but all signs point to promising.
     Visit www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?nid=2246 or call 651-266-8620 or email dave.thune@ci.stpaul.mn.us for information.
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