District 10: Timeline shapes up for Como Avenue reconstruction

By Michael Kuchta

St. Paul city officials now say reconstruction of Como Avenue between Snelling Avenue and the Raymond/Cleveland intersection is scheduled to start in early September, presumably after the conclusion of the Minnesota State Fair.

Meanwhile, reconstruction of Como Avenue between Snelling and Hamline avenues is now scheduled for 2021.

While rebuilding the road, the city and Ramsey County are reconfiguring much of the right-of-way to add the Como Avenue trail, an off-street bicycle and pedestrian trail on the north side of the road. Between Raymond and the University of Minnesota Transitway, the street will largely remain as it is now: one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction, parking on each side of Como, and an on-street bike lane in each direction.

Between the Transitway and Snelling, Como Avenue will be narrowed to one lane of vehicle traffic in both directions, an on-street bicycle lane in each direction and a center turn lane. (During the State Fair, this stretch will be restriped to handle two vehicle lanes in each direction similar to what occurs now.) Between Snelling and Hamline avenues, bike lanes disappear from the street; there will be one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction and parking on both sides of Como.

In other District 10 Community Council related news:

Community Council plans absentee voting

The Como Community Council planned to vote May 19 on how to allow absentee voting for 2020 board elections. An advisory committee was recommending a two-week window in June during which community members could vote by mail or by using an online ballot.

Under a draft proposal, eligible community members in District 10 would request a ballot, then return it before June 16. Ballots could be requested online at: www.district10comopark.org/ballot_request.html. The District 10 website also will have information about candidates.

The ability to vote absentee will allow community members to participate in the district council elections more on their own timeline.

District 10’s previous bylaws required that community members vote only in-person during the council’s annual meeting, which was originally scheduled April 21. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board postponed the meeting and elections, in order to comply with Minnesota’s ban on public gatherings. Changing voting procedures requires changing the District Council’s bylaws, which the board expected to do May 19.

The District 10 annual meeting likely will take place by video and phone conference at 7 p.m. June 16. Community members who want access information to participate should email the District 10 office at district10@district10compark.org, or call 651-644-3889.

Citywide Drop-Off canceled (for now)

Due to the state’s currently banning large public gatherings because of COVID-19, St. Paul is canceling its Citywide Drop-Off events originally scheduled for June 6 at the State Fairgrounds and June 20 at Washington Technology Magnet School. The Como and North End district councils are working with the city’s Public Works Department and vendors to try to reschedule one drop-off at the Fairgrounds in August or September.

News updates

• New apartment building: At the Bugle’s press deadline, the St. Paul City Council was scheduled to vote May 20 on whether to approve rezoning 1015 Bandana Blvd. from B3 commercial to T3 traditional, to allow construction of a 152-unit apartment building atop an existing parking ramp. The city’s Planning Commission voted 12-0 on May 1 to recommend the rezoning.

• Get appointed: Currently, the city of St. Paul has 20 committees, commissions and specialized boards that have vacancies waiting to be filled by community volunteers. Some of the vacancies are set aside exclusively for members of the Como neighborhood. Take a look at the District 10 website for an overview of what’s available, where to find out what the panels do and how you could apply.

• Rezoning request: The city’s Zoning Committee was scheduled to vote May 21 on whether to recommend rezoning 978 Front Ave. from B2 community business to T2 traditional neighborhood. The property, at the southwest corner of Front Avenue and Chatsworth Street, now is mixed use—with a dog-training business on the first floor and residential use on the second floor. The property owners say the rezoning would give them more residential options than they have now. The request also must go through the city’s Planning Commission and City Council.

Fresh bike path builds on local input

A newly rebuilt bicycle and pedestrian path in Como Regional Park begins implementing recommendations from the Como Community Council’s Pathways Project. The path stretches roughly two-thirds of a mile from Schiffman Fountain, across Lexington Parkway, then along the golf course and up the hill toward Montana Avenue.

The portion west of Lexington Parkway was dug up and repaved. The portion east of Lexington was widened to 12 feet; it now officially allows two-way bicycle traffic through that stretch of the park.

Those improvements are among recommendations from the Pathways Project. The project’s final report gives the city Parks and Recreation department specific suggestions for, among other things, improving the condition and function of pedestrian and bicycle paths in the regional park.

Other recommendations include: Upgrading signs and creating maps, kiosks and other “wayfinding” tools. The recommendations were the result of more than a year of study, including ideas from more than 300 park users.

The Community Council now is talking with Parks staff on how to incorporate more recommendations when the department rebuilds the parking lots outside the Lakeside Pavilion and the golf course. That construction is penciled in for fall 2020 or early 2021.

Submitted by Michael Kuchta, executive director of the District 10 Community Council.

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