Thinking about Como 2030, the Small Area Plan for Como Avenue that was approved by the City Council last fall. Meetings are being planned to start the implementation process, but some of the goals have already been achieved, especially in the the area of non-motorized traffic safety. The new crossing lights are in and I believe they have the sound adjusted so the sound is more localized and doesn't wake people up at night a block a way. Of course, snow mounds, a major impediment to sidewalk and crosswalk access in the winter, haven't appeared due to the lack of...snow. That makes it easier for all of us to get around on Como and throughout the Park. The new bike lanes help to remind us that a growing number of our neighbors ride to work when the weather permits and they will hopefully make it safer for all riders, all year long.

Transportation options are another major goal of the plan and that primarily has to do with access between north and south St. Anthony Park, especially some way to connect easily to light rail. I envision some kind of commuter trolley that runs on a regular Como/Raymond/University/280 loop, but there might be other considerations that would alter or enhance that route. Financing it is the challenge and the possibility of city or county assistance is still TBD.

The final, and perhaps most important goal is increased housing along the avenue. If you know me or have read this blog regularly, you are aware of my dismay over the loss of neighbors who have had to leave the community to find empty nester, senior and transitional care options. The loss of these friends hurts our community in myriad ways and I don't believe we can afford to allow it to continue. Available sites within walking distance of our retail locations are limited and so our hope is to convince property owners along the avenue to consider developments that would ameliorate the situation and benefit the community. The beat goes on...

D12 - is still seeking new board members. There is more and more for communities to do and therefore more need for representatives from our community to be a part of those conversations. For more info visit their website...which also reports that charges were just brought against a ring of car thieves who sold vehicles for scrap metal last summer in St. Paul. Don't know if anyone in St.AP lost a vehicle to them, but apparently tow trucks would grab cars ID'ed by the thieves and they could be in a scrap heap within a couple hours, no questions asked. Tighter rules for accepting cars at the scrapyards are being crafted and will be proposed during the current legislative session...the D12 site also has a link to a video on how best to de-ice our sidewalks and driveways. Salt is overused and causes damage to the environment, but all of the de-icers could stand more efficient use. It's a good comprehensive video which features a couple of our community members, including Steve Garfield from the South St.AP Hardware Hank, a place that carries all the options.

listserv - conversations about internet service have popped up again with residents wondering why theirs doesn't work as well as others. If it's DSL, it has to do with distance from the main box which is something not always shared by servers in sales mode. At this point we have a choice between Qwest/CenturyLink or Comcast, basically phone lines or cable. Qwest/CenturyLink works great for some but Comcast seems to be the more consistent choice of broadband experts even though its service at times leaves something to be desired. There was a group that met over a year ago to try to figure out a way to bring higher speeds and lower costs to the Park, but it requires more than a single neighborhood can deliver at this point...a neighbor who teaches in Maplewood got a fair amount of info about raising chicks for her classroom. I wonder how our neighbors who have chickens in their yards winter them. Also wonder what happened to our turkey family...Speaking of birds, the Raptor Center has an interesting piece on their website about the influx of snowy owls from the north. A bigger than normal hatch surviving to maturity apparently accounts for the increase in sightings. They've come south to find food and apparently we have it around here. Bunnies beware...also talk of tree removal on private property when the city orders it due to Emerald Ash Bore. Apparently, no funding available from city for removal or replanting, but still checking...

StAPnotes - JOTP has a couple weeks left to sign up for their winter futsol tourney. Check their website. Also, they have a timely blog about concussions and soccer.  Ted Kroeten, the JOTP director, is a strong advocate for putting off heading actual leather soccer balls until high school and beyond. They always train with nerf or other softer balls for kids. Ted reports he rarely sees players even at high school levels who are heading properly. Definitely something to think about with your kids in any sport. I believe we are starting them in physical play too early. I've heard of tackle football programs starting as early as 6 or 7 - that's crazy. We're lucky to have an organization in our community that is as dedicated as our Booster Club to making sports fun and safe...Progressive Dinner is only a few weeks away on Saturday, Feb. 25. Clink on this link to register. It is a great event!

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.