It's November folks, so now the official EYRT (End of the Year Rapid Transit) begins to gain some steam.

Don't forget this Thursday 5-7 pm is the Foundation's annual open house at Park Midway Bank on Como. Munchies, beverages, music and grantee updates are all on tap as well as a chance to schmooze with your neighbors. Please come, you'll have fun and be informed!

I had an interesting lunch with Tanya Bell, from Wellington Management, Geoff Warner (Architectural Alchemy & CEZ) and Catherine Day (CEZ Chair.) Tanya, who is a veteran and active developer in the entire metro was kind enough to spend some time with us talking about how you design a neighborhood from her perspective. The challenge, of course, is the distance between building to existing market and building toward a desired vision. The City certainly plans their zoning to accomplish that, but the reality is that developers build for what they know is waiting to fill the spaces, not what a community might wish was out there. And millions of dollars are in play, so one mistake can spell the difference between staying in business - or not.

So, the ball seems to be in the community court to locate tenants and development that wants to be a part of your vision in your neighborhood. A tall order for a largely volunteer crew, but one that the CEZ group might want to take on as they seek funding and consensus for a vision that after all, had its genesis in the City's corridor-wide vision of the Toronto Design team that led the early stages of this massive project. Now, it's been left to the neighborhoods to lead the charge to figure it out with the city in a support role. Unfortunately, due to a colorful and long history of contention between developers and neighborhoods, the trust that needs to exist to work together is in short supply. And if the city doesn't have the horses (staff & dollars) or the relationships to facilitate that discussion it leaves a vacuum not easily or quickly filled. Minneapolis has hired a reportedly well-regarded and creative former developer and turned him loose attracting business and development to the corridor and environs. St. Paul does not seem to have his equivalent nor have they rushed to explain the new landscape after effectively pulling the plug out from under the Pelham developer and the Port Authority.

As I've said before, I don't think the communities and developer were that far apart but negotiations did not succeed and now everyone is waiting to understand what that means. What Tanya suggested it means for the CEZ community is that we have to work especially hard to create an atmosphere of collaboration and consensus of vision. We have to get a brand out there that leverages our major assets of centrality, vibe (and eventually light rail.) Then we have to start beating the bushes in search of tenants/partners who are attracted to the potential of the neighborhood and want to be a part of its future. That might be one way to break the "bird in the hand" approach which in these economic times is tough to argue against. I do appreciate the opportunity to talk frankly with people like Tanya who are loyal to St. Paul, supportive of the creative community and yet honest about the challenges. We'll have similar challenges along Como but with less development interest.

D12 - The final hearing for the Raymond Avenue traffic calming is happening this afternoon. Another situation where business got pitted against cyclers and peds. Hopefully, that will get worked out so parking isn't waiting out there like a leftover Halloween monster waiting to pounce...last night was our area's chance to talk about corridor housing development. Tonight it will move further east for a second round...Thursday night Land Use will get a brief presentation from a group that wants to buy the building Anodyne Theater (Carleton St) and keep the company but add to the mix...

Schools - Murray will be getting a new math teacher next week, a vacancy not filled since the start of the semester due to a variety of apparently unforeseen circumstances. It sounds like filling the position is way overdue, those kids will have some catching up to do over the holidays...otherwise the school is off and running smoothly. I haven't heard from Cindy Thrasher about the need for tutors, but I can't imagine she wouldn't be happy to have you call and sign up. 651-293-8740...St.AP elementary is bustling as well. I heard their annual school carnival went well, that was always fun when my kids were younger.

listserv - was buzzing about leaf removal and the least expensive, most environmentally friendly way to do it. I'm not sure how it eventually ended up, but there were good points for mass city removal as well as individual composting. I'm guessing not much will change anytime soon. A great idea floated on listserv was to pile your leaves up in a big boulevard pile and put out a sign encouraging people to jump in. Sounds like legal trouble to me, but fun...also an exchange student from Kazakhstan was lost briefly in the community trying to find his host family. He had left all his info at school but luckily found hospitality until he could get to his new home - thats our 'hood...Austin Granger had some pretty entertaining pumpkins at his parents house Monday night. Austin is a very talented young man who developed a program to run projected light for a series of fun songs. Check them out on Youtube here: 

St.APnotes - there have been some items in the news recently about Muffuletta's attempt to charge its wait persons for tips put on credit cards. Obviously, restaurants get charged high fees by banks for the privilege of using credit cards and since they take pretty good care of their staff, they thought it not unreasonable to have them share in the hurt. Outrage followed from some quarters and while I won't get into the pros and cons, one way agreed on by all to avoid this is to tip in cash. As I thought about it, I also decided to try and use cash for all our small businesses as much as possible because, of course, they pay those same high user fees on every transaction. Just a thought...The Scouts are going door to door to sell their holiday wreaths, swags, arches and garlands. If they miss you, contact Clay at in_the 10ring@hotmail.com...finally, Kiki and Warren Gore are trying to find adoptive parents for their hibiscus plant. Kiki claims it's been a lovely child, but it's reached adulthood and isn't as easy to move around as it used to be. Sounds like my daughter. Contact Kiki at gorex002@umn.edu

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