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Monday, September 30, 2013

Como's new baby giraffe

Como Zoo has a brand new baby giraffe! This little girl was born on September 1st to mother Clover and father Skeeter. The yet-to-be-named calf began her life standing 5 feet 8 inches and weighing 130 pounds. By the keepers’ best estimates, she has already grown 2 inches and gained 10 pounds.
It took more than an hour of coaxing from her mother, Clover, but the baby giraffe stepped out from her bedroom and into the outdoor yard for the first time to the cheers of visitors and zoo staff on September 8. With her mother always near, the baby giraffe is busy running and exploring all corners of her home.
She is the fifth calf born to mom, Clover, and the seventeenth giraffe birth at Como in the last 20 years. Como’s current herd consists of Clover, Daisy, Skeeter (father) and the yet-to-be-named female.

The calf and her mother are now on display regularly depending on the weather.


Friday, September 27, 2013

The Creative Enterprise Zone

Submitted by Councilmember Stark, Ward 4

The Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) is the brainchild of a diverse group of stakeholders working to ensure that the area around Raymond and University is widely recognized as a center of creativity and enterprise where people make a living by their creative capacity. The CEZ extends from the western city limits to Prior Avenue, and from I-94 to the railroad near Energy Park Drive. 
The genesis of the CEZ occurred several years ago when a large artists building full of studios and creative entrepreneurs on University Avenue was sold for redevelopment. The light rail is increasing pressure on traditionally low-rent spaces and threatening emerging start-ups and “makers” like videographers, architects, and others. The CEZ team set out to connect existing creative enterprises and draw in new ones, and finding ways to leverage light rail’s opportunity. Simultaneously, they are making the case to existing and new developers in the area about why maintaining the neighborhood’s creative vibe is good for business.

Photo credit: Zoe Prinds-Flash

One of the Creative Enterprise Zone’s ways of connecting people has been to host events called “Give and Take,” where speakers share information about their creative ventures, but there is also audience interaction so you get a better idea of the talent and possibility gathered in the room.

Learn more about the Creative Enterprise Zone here and track them on Facebook to learn about upcoming events where they highlight and connect local creative enterprises.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Preserving the Past, Creating a New Future at The Penfield

The Penfield
The block of 10th Street between Robert and Minnesota Streets has made quite a transformation since July 2012 when ground was broken on The Penfield, a 254 unit mixed-use development. The first residents will move into the building in late November and Lunds will begin build out of the commercial space in just a few weeks for their grocery store that will open in spring/summer of 2014.

Public Safety wall at the Penfield
The Penfield preserves a wall from the former Public Safety Building that once occupied the site and opened in 1930. That building at one time housed three city departments – Fire, Police and Public Health. The preserved wall has the words “Fire,” “Health” and “Police” engraved above the columns. A historical interpretive display of the Public Safety Building along with public art will be installed on the 10th Street side of The Penfield.

Terrace view
Apartment units at The Penfield will feature stainless steel appliances, in-unit washers and dryers, granite countertops, kitchen islands, wood floors, soaking tubs, custom closets and open, airy layouts. Community amenities include an 18,000 square-foot courtyard and green roof with an outdoor pool, hot tub, fire pit, cabanas, dog run, green space, sundeck, clubroom with gourmet kitchen, fitness center and enclosed parking.

For more information about The Penfield, visit, or call the leasing office at 651-333-4950.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Have an opinion about city cable? Let your voice be heard!

The City of Saint Paul and Comcast, the city’s franchised cable provider, are in the process of negotiating the renewal of the cable franchise.  The cable franchise, which was to expire this past July, has been extended through January, 2014.  Both the city and Comcast must adhere to the federal renewal process.   The public is invited to participate in a process where we assess the community’s needs and gather feedback about the current cable arrangement.  The Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), working with the city, is holding a series of six workshops on the future of cable service, community media and technology. The focus group workshops will be conducted by The Buske Group, a nationally-recognized public policy consulting firm hired specifically to help identify community needs and interests.

Learn about the cable franchise renewal process.  See examples of how community media is being used in the digital age.  Share your ideas.  Participate in one of these workshops. 

Learn and share -- and have an impact on your community.

Ø  Local Government departments, agencies and boards
Ø  Wednesday, Oct. 2, 10am – Noon,  City Hall, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd, Room 42

Ø  K-12 schools, colleges, teachers, staff, & parents
Ø  Wednesday, Oct. 2, 4pm-6pm, Location TBA

Ø  Community nonprofit, arts, culture, & heritage organizations
Ø  Thursday, Oct. 3,  Noon-2pm, Northwest Area Foundation, 60 Plato Blvd

Ø  Neighborhood & civic organizations
Ø  Thursday, Oct. 3,   7pm-9pm, SPNN, 375 Jackson, Suite 170

Ø  Health, human services, seniors, & faith-based groups
Ø  Friday, Oct. 4, 10am-Noon, Rondo Library, 461 N Dale St, All-purpose room

Ø  Youth, youth organizations, & advocates
Ø  Friday, Oct. 4, 3:30pm-5:30pm, SPNN, 375 Jackson, Suite 170

If you are planning on attending one of these sessions, please RSVP by September 25 with the workshop of your choice. Click here to sign up online, or call us at 651-224-5153.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

As the Green Line comes closer, investment increases

More than 90 percent completed, construction on the Central Corridor—now known as the Green Line—is coming closer to completion, and businesses are investing at a record pace nearby.
With still one-third of the year left, Saint Paul has seen a 5-year high in economic investment along the line, having already issuing $143 million in development permit valuations. That puts 2013 already ahead of 2012 by $1 million, and figures for the last few years  overall show a 49 percent increase in permit valuation activity since 2008.
As the Green Line comes closer and closer to being open and running, more and more businesses are investing along the green line, and getting ready for the thousands of passengers the train will bring to their doorstops every day. On Sunday, University Avenue closed to motor vehicles for Saint Paul Open Streets, an event where people on foot, bikes or skates could come experience the community and local businesses along the line. Check out a video of the event here:

Monday, September 16, 2013

City’s Procurement Process Moves Online in 2014

In 2014, the City of Saint Paul will be transitioning to a new strategy to utilize our electronic resources in a smarter way.  Online and paperless procurement processes are in the works for supplier bid responses, purchase order submissions, PO tracking, and contract management!  The city and Infor (previously Lawson Software) have been busy working on the launch of a new enterprise resource planning system. 
One element of the new design is an online procurement process, which will be accessed by a new web-based Supplier Portal.  The new Supplier Portal will replace Demandstar.  The portal will become fully operational in January, but users will have the opportunity to register on the Supplier Portal in November.  
To do business with the city of Saint Paul in 2014 and beyond, businesses must be registered on the Supplier Portal.  Additional functionality will be available when the business is registered, including:
·         The ability to set up email alerts based on selected commodity codes
·         24/7 access to view opportunities, respond, change, or update responses, check on status of award, review electronic purchase orders, and more.
The city is asking vendors to communicate this new process, especially the change to electronic purchase orders, to their teams.  Vendors are asked to review internal business processes to ensure that they are able to receive, process, and submit electronic documents to and from the City of Saint Paul.  For additional questions about the new Supplier Portal, please email 
The city looks forward to sharing more exciting news about the new paperless procurement process in the coming weeks and months.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Is today the day before?

By: Mike Lovas, Saint Paul Emergency Management

The day before the Joplin, Mo. tornado was like any other day. Graduation ceremonies and parties were held across the city and neighboring areas. There were no signs that the very next day their communities would be ripped apart by Mother Nature. Emergency preparedness is an important step in safety and can make a difference when disasters strike. September is National Preparedness Month. 

Police, fire and rescue personnel may not always be able to reach you quickly in an emergency or disaster. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care. Not only will it help keep you safer or help you better react to situations, but will help the community recover faster. Take time today to prepare for tomorrow.

Knowing about the local emergency contacts, plans for sheltering and evacuation routes will help you develop your household plan and will aid you during a crisis. By building a plan for your household members customized for where you live, work, attend school and frequent you will help reduce the impact of disasters and save lives. Remember to plan for people with disabilities, special needs, senior citizens who need additional time or support and pets. Make a plan for ensuring needed medication is on hand, babies and young children have necessary items such as diapers and formula and even a favored toy for young children.

Before a disaster, identify how you will be alerted of an impending hazardous event. NOAA Weather Radios are the best way to receive weather alerts. TV, Radio and now cell phone alerts are additional ways to receive alerts and warning messages. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are free, automatic text messages that will send emergency alerts, including weather warnings and AMBER Alerts, to your cell phone. This is a newer program and you may have already seen these messages or the monthly test messages appear on your phone. While they aren’t the only resource for alerts you should rely on, it is another tool to receive crucial information.

It is essential to be informed, make a plan and build a kit. A kit should be customized to your household’s needs, including non-perishable food, water, medication, clothing, blankets, NOAA radio, batteries, flashlights, whistles, closed-toe shoes, charging cables for electronic devices with a backup battery charger, baby care items such as diapers and formula, tools to shut off utilities and gas lines, and other essential items. For home safety, store important documents, serial numbers, images and even a video tour of your home in a fire-resistant safe on removable storage device you can update such as a “thumb drive” flash media device.

Is today the day before a disaster? We’ll find out tomorrow.
For more tips and helpful information visit:
What does a day before a disaster look like?  October 17, 1989: "The Day Before"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keep in mind: Nothing else happens if you don’t have water

Access to clean, safe water helps put Minnesota and the region at the No. 1 place to live in the country come 2032.
How important is water access? In western states, lawsuits over who controls water rights abound. Across the globe, access to water creates conflict where water is scarce.
Joel Barker, a Saint Paul futurist, thinks that water access should be weighed much more heavily in the assessment of livability rankings.
“The water issue should be looked at much more carefully,” Barker said. “Keep in mind: Nothing else happens if you don’t have water.”

Minnesota - and the region - ranks high in future livability, Star Tribune, Sept. 2, 2013
Mississippi River
To further illustrate that point, White Bear Lake in the east metro has lost nearly a fourth of its volume in the last 10 years. Saint Paul Regional Water Services could be part of two possible solutions out of several being discussed to address this issue. A conduit delivering raw water from the chain of lakes in the SPRWS water supply system to White Bear Lake is one idea. Another possibility is delivering treated drinking water to customers in the east metro by extending the SPRWS distribution system. SPRWS could provide 30 million gallons of water daily, using the river as its primary water source. A study is underway to examine the costs and feasibility of these options, among others.
The loss of lake volume is a symptom of the larger issue of water resources and use. Water is not an unlimited resource. We tend to take it for granted in this land of 10,000 lakes. But even here, we are tapping into and draining a massive underground aquifer that supplies water to most of the people living in the Twin Cities suburbs and provides irrigation for agriculture in several non-metro counties.
Right now, with the Mississippi River as its main water source, Saint Paul Regional Water has the ability to continue to provide safe, reliable drinking water to its customers well into the future. We have the capacity to expand our services to other areas, should the need arise.
But, like those living in White Bear Lake and implementing water conservation measures, we can all learn to use water more wisely. We can conserve where we don’t need to use as much, so that water continues to be available.

A Better John Ireland Boulevard

What a difference a couple of months can make.  Residents and commuters who drove, biked and walked along the stretch of John Ireland Boulevard between Kellogg Boulevard and Summit Avenue at the start of the summer can now look forward to a street that is safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Saint Paul Public Works designed and oversaw construction of the plan that, among other improvements, removed a vehicle lane in both directions and substituted bicycle lanes in their place. Studies of the traffic volumes along this portion of John Ireland showed that vehicle counts were too low to retain two lanes in both directions.

City Sustainable Transportation Engineer/Planner Reuben Collins noted that extending the Summit bicycle lanes all the way to Kellogg makes a lot of sense because it addresses a “gap in our bicycle network.” Hundreds of bicycle commuters use this route each day to reach downtown and the Capitol area. By extending the bike lanes to Kellogg, bicycle travel will be made safer.

Motorists will like the new turning lanes installed at the intersections of Kellogg, Marshall Avenue and Dayton Avenue. Turning lanes help to reduce bottlenecks and improve safety by shifting turning vehicles out of the path of travel of thru vehicles, an important consideration during rush hour periods.

Pedestrians will benefit from the improvements that include tightened radii at the crosswalks that will shorten the crossing distance. The new crosswalks are also now ADA compliant replete with audible pedestrian signals and truncated domes.

Civil engineer David Kuebler, who was intimately involved with the project commented, “the implementation of the John Ireland project is the culmination of a lot of work by the City to improve the safety and livability of the Boulevard for all users.

“What started out a number of years ago as a much simpler project to complete a gap in the bikeway network, a gap made more evident when the bike lanes were installed on John Ireland north of Kellogg, evolved into a more complex project by taking a more holistic approach to the corridor.  The benefits resulting from the project are truly in keeping with the City’s mission and transcend City boundaries.”

Kuebler credited Public Works project design engineer Bill Vos as one of those who merit accolades for a design will that live on in other projects as the city expands its network of “complete streets.” As the title to this post alludes, we now have a better John Ireland - for all users.

Friday, September 6, 2013

We Have Fish! - Ward 7 Welcomes its Newest Residents

Submitted by Saint Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry, Ward 7

Tilapia at Urban Organics
On August 15, there was big excitement on the East Side as Urban Organics received its first shipment of 4,000 young tilapia fish at the rehabilitated stock house building on the former Hamm’s Brewery campus at Payne and Minnehaha. The fish are making their new home in one of several tanks specifically outfitted for their needs. They will grow up to become a tasty dinner option at local restaurants and grocery stores and their by-products will also help fertilize the organic vegetables that will be grown by Urban Organics in the same building.

Fish Tanks
We are told that the fish are enjoying their new home on the East Side - particularly the sky blue water in their tanks which comes from a re-opened well on the Hamm’s site.  This same sky blue water will be used by Flat Earth Brewing and Mill City Distillery which will be opening in other buildings on the Hamm’s campus. If the fish are really lucky, they may get to enjoy some of the by-products from the adult beverages that will be made in the neighborhood. That should make for happy fish indeed.

It is great to see all of these new neighbors working together to provide fresh, locally made food and beverages for our community. We are happy to welcome them and we can’t wait for the National Night Out party on their block! 

Bringing in the fish tanks.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Coca-Cola Donates Recycling Bins to City

It’s now a little easier to recycle in Saint Paul parks thanks to a recent recycling bin donation from Coca-Cola. Earlier this month, representatives from the Coca-Cola Company and the Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation gathered at the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom for a recycling bin donation ceremony and park clean-up.

During the ceremony, Coca-Cola donated 20 recycling bins which will be used to encourage recycling at large events held in Saint Paul such as the Winter Carnival, Jazz Fest and the Flint Hills Children’s Festival. 

Coca-Cola Recycling Bins

Even before a can or bottle is dropped into the new recycling bins, these new bins have helped promote sustainability and recycling efforts. Each one of the newly donated bins is made from one of the concentrate barrels used to make Coca-Cola products.

A large part of Coca-Cola’s mission is sustainability and as a result Coca-Cola is committed to expanding community recycling programs. Since 2008, Coca-Cola has placed more than 150,000 recycling bins throughout North America and this recent donation to the Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation adds to that figure.

After the ceremony, volunteers from Coca-Cola and Saint Paul Parks and Recreation pitched in to clean up brush, garbage and other debris at Como Regional Park. Thank you to everyone who participated in this event and to all those who are helping to make Saint Paul the most livable city in America!

For more information on recycling opportunities available in Saint Paul click here and for information on how you can volunteer in Saint Paul Parks click here. Be sure to keep an eye out for the new red recycling bins while attending all of your favorite events in Saint Paul.