Summer is in the air…soon we’ll be able to leave the snowmobile suit at home when we attend a Twins game. 

I attended the annual meeting of the Central Corridor Funding Collaborative this morning. For those who aren’t aware, the CCFC was formed by a group of local foundations that pooled a relatively large amount of money (millions) to leverage the impact of light rail along the central corridor. In the past few years, they have funded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of projects to either maintain or develop neighborhoods, businesses and planning along University Avenue. They have promoted community-building art and placemaking initiatives – for instance, partnering with the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation to support the visioning process for the Creative Enterprise Zone. 

Their impact along the corridor has been substantial and they have done their best to engage and encourage neighbor participation in all affected communities. Many members of those communities were on hand this morning to update attendees on their progress. There were stories of hard work, of challenge, but ultimately of success by the various cultures and communities represented. Little Mekong, Rondo, Midway, Lowertown, the Creative Enterprise Zone…all were mentioned as areas where community organization and energy are making a difference. 

Much to celebrate and look forward to, but the true test will come when the Collaborative shuts down and the ongoing health of these communities is determined by feet in the street. Is the economic soil rich enough to produce sustainable crops? Will the farmer/entrepreneurs be able to grow their fields and find interested buyers for their products? I am an optimist and feel light rail is a critical piece of infrastructure for the future of our metro, but I also am a little nervous about the lack of coordination I sometimes see between all of the players. I hope St. Paul finds the funding to hire someone to be a transit development czar and that they can find someone with credibility in all sectors who has the ear of the Mayor and City Council. There is so much at stake, this is no time to be pennywise and pound foolish. 

D12 – The Creative Enterprise Zone is official! The City Council approved adding language to the city's comprehensive plan identifying our southern district as a hub for light industry and artists. What does that mean? Well, it doesn’t mean we’ll be getting tax credits, special zoning or design standards for creative businesses setting up shop near or along University Avenue anytime soon, but it does mean there is a possibility of those types of incentives coming down the line. Most importantly, it means the city recognizes the enormous amount of community building that has been going on down there for the past few years to create an identity that supports the important intersection of business and creativity that makes the area unique. Kudos to D12, CEZ chair Catherine Day, and to the StAP Community Foundation for understanding the importance of working to bring consensus around a vision for the future. 

I was a part of a conversation facilitated by Lauren Fulner-Erickson, our D12 Community Organizer, about solutions for the challenging traffic situation on Como Avenue near the elementary school. Our city councilman, Russ Stark, his legislative aide, Samantha Henningson, and Beth & Jon Commers, nearby neighbors and parents of elementary school students, were on hand to look at ideas brought forward by the city to alleviate the high speeds and blind corners that endanger pedestrians on the Commonwealth to Cleveland strip of road. While no final decision was reached, it does seem as if moving the crosswalk at Commonwealth and putting up a median or something to slow traffic down around the school zone is the agreed on approach. Whatever is decided will happen next year in conjunction with resurfacing that stretch. 

SCHOOLS – In what is becoming a longstanding tradition, seven St. Anthony Park Elementary School teams competed at the Destination Imagination State Tournament last weekend. Two of the teams were invited to compete in the Global Finals in Knoxville, Tenn. on May 22-25. DI is an annual competition where teams create projects and presentations around selected themes. Don’t be surprised if a team member knocks on your door to see if you need any help with spring chores, they’ll need to raise some money to pay for transportation, food and lodging. Way to go, kids!...there’s a meeting tonight at 5pm at the elementary school to talk about the replacement trees donated by neighbors to replace those lost to the ash borer infestation. The Foundation coordinated the fundraising effort and has received a list of future losses in our parks from the city. More fundraising will be announced soon to cover the cost of those replacements…the St. Anthony Park-Murray Transition Committee held an event last night at Murray to talk about athletic opportunities for the incoming 6th graders next year. If you couldn’t make it you can call Principal Tim Williams directly at 651-293-8740 or online. There are a number of links to info about Murray for interested parents and students, here are a few: Murray Spring NewsletterMurray FAQTransition InfoBussing Info.

Como Park HS is hosting a Spaghetti Dinner on Fri, April 26 from 4:30-8 pm, sponsored by the Booster Club and hosted by Como Park Lutheran Church. It’s a fundraiser for the arts, clubs and athletics programs at Como. The jazz choir will be singing and there will be prize drawings. 

LISTSERV – The Schubert Club is bringing internationally acclaimed Soprano Jessye Norman to the Ordway next Tuesday, April 30. She is the real deal, tickets still available at 651-224-4222…St. Paul Farmer’s Market is kicking off the season on May 4. 7am-1pm Sat. and 8am-1pm Sun. until November…Two homes in our neighborhood will be on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Home Tour this weekend: 2286 Doswell (Flo McNerney); and 1384 Raymond Ave (David Burke). Times are 10-5 Saturday and 1-5 Sunday. For more information, look for the flyer at the local library or hereThe St. Anthony Park's Boy Scout Troop 17 is holding a Spaghetti Feed Fundraiser this Tues., April 30th, at 6:00 PM to send troop members to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia this July. The event is at the SAP United Church of Christ (Corner of Chelmsford and Commonwealth.) Cost is $10/person or $25/family. 

StAPnotes –The Schubert Club/Music in the Park Series will bring the Shanghai String Quartet to the St. Anthony Park Home on Saturday, April 27, at 10:30 A.M.  They will be at StAP Elementary School on Monday, April 29 at 9 AM. (These programs are funded in part by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund and the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation). The chamber music concert on Sunday at SAP UCC will feature music by Schubert, Bartok, Beethoven and Zhou Long…St. Anthony Park Neighborhood Sings! Is coming up on May 6 at 7pm. Local musicians, Dan Chouinard & Ann Reed will lead attendees in great American songs and requests. Lyrics will be provided. Social & gathering time starts at 6:30 at the Luther Seminary Olson Student Center, 1490 Fulham, 2nd level. Event is free, but they’ll pass the hat for the musicians. Co-sponsored by St. Anthony Park Community Council…Spring brings car break-ins. Don’t leave any valuables in your cars!

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