District 10: Community Council

Como Lake set for cleanup treatment

The Capitol Region Watershed District plans to inject aluminum sulfate into Como Lake in May to fight growing levels of phosphorus, which are three times state limits and the main reason for ugly, smelly algae blooms in summer.

Aluminum sulfate, more commonly known as “alum,” reduces phosphorus by converting it to a dense, stable compound that algae can’t use. The compound is commonly used to treat drinking water and can be found in baking powder and stomach antacids.

For up to 10 days, barges will inject furrows of the white alum below the surface. As alum descends, it begins a series of chemical reactions that capture phosphorus in the water and locks up phosphorus settled at the bottom.

Alum is the second tactic being tried this spring to re-balance the lake’s ecosystem. In April, the Watershed District injected fluridone. That aquatic herbicide is targeted to begin eradicating the destructive presence of curly-leaf pondweed.

The invasive pondweed, which grows under the ice in winter, has outcompeted native plants and now makes up 90 percent of the lake’s plants. Pondweed dies off in the heat of summer, causing a surge of phosphorus that feeds algae. April’s fluridone treatment was timed to attack the pondweed before it begins reproducing but when it’s too cold for native plants to start growing.

More information about the treatments is available at https://tinyurl.com/wdt9cuy.

Zoo won’t charge for parking

After months of study, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory says it will not implement paid parking this year, in 2021 or likely anytime soon. Research suggests that if Saint Paul charged for parking, zoo attendance would decline and visitors would spend less when they do visit.

Charging even $1 an hour for parking would drive down attendance by more than 20 percent during the summer, according to projections by Zoo Advisors, a Pennsylvania-based consulting firm hired by the city. Although parking itself would turn a profit, the revenue gain would not offset the income lost from sources such as voluntary admission donations, food and souvenir purchases, tickets to Como Town amusement rides and fundraising, according to the consultant’s projections.

“Some version of paid parking has been a topic in Como Park for many years,” says Michelle Furrer, director of the Zoo and Conservatory. “It was our intent to gather accurate data to inform decisions. The feasibility of this as a revenue source shows it would not be a long-term benefit to the city.”

Opponents said charging for parking would compromise the Zoo and Conservatory’s long legacy of free access where visitors are admitted regardless of their ability to pay.

District Council considering election options

The Como Community Council is likely to vote May 19 on whether to allow 2020 board elections to occur by mail, online, in person over an extended period of time, some combination of all three—or to simply delay in-­person elections until after the state lifts its ban on public gatherings.

Under District 10’s bylaws, elections were supposed to occur on April 21 at the Community Council’s annual meeting. The board postponed the meeting and elections to comply with Minnesota’s emergency mandates aimed at combatting the spread of Covid-19. Changing voting procedures requires a change to the District 10 bylaws, which the board had intended to discuss at its regular April meeting.

Any proposed bylaws changes will be posted on the District 10’s website well in advance of the May meeting at: www.district10comopark.org.

Metro Transit plans fewer stops on Route 3A

This summer, Metro Transit intends to eliminate four stops along the 3A Como Avenue route. Transit spokeswoman Karyssa Jackson said the changes are part of system-wide streamlining that eliminates low use stops to increase speed and reliability for routes overall. The stops being eliminated are:

• Como and Albert, which ­averages three riders a day

• Como and Arona, which ­averages six riders a day

• Como and Winston, which averages four riders a day

• Como and Fifield, which averages 10 riders a day

Jackson said the stops likely will disappear when Ramsey County reconstructs Como Avenue between Hamline and Raymond/Cleveland avenues this summer. Notices with the last dates of service will be posted on buses and at the phasing out stops.

Call or video in to D10 Meetings

District 10 board and committee meetings are continuing. But, for now, they are happening online rather than in person. Renters, homeowners and other community members are welcome to participate, either through video conference or by phone.

To obtain links, phone numbers or other information to join a meeting remotely, send a request by email to district10@district10comopark.org. Or call in your request to (651) 644-3889. Upcoming meetings:

Neighborhood Relations: Tuesday May 5

Land Use: Wednesday May 6

Environment: Wednesday May 13

Board: Tuesday May 19

All meetings begin at 7 p.m. Whenever possible, agendas are posted in advance in the “Board News” section of District 10’s website: www.district10comopark.org.

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

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