I have to lead off with a reminder that our 4th annual summer Third Thursdays Park B4 Dark series kicks off tomorrow evening from 5-8pm along Como Avenue. There are specials at a number of our retail shops, music on the Bistro patio and in Speedy’s parking lot, and Foxy Falafel’s food truck bringing some southside food love to the front of the Bibelot.  There’s also a wine-tasting fundraiser at the bank for the boy scouts. So, many reasons to venture down and enjoy our Como Avenue retail area, see you there! 

Speaking of the bank, last week I reported that Rick Beeson from Sunrise Banks was listed as one of the metro’s power brokers. This week we can celebrate with him on his election to chair the U of M regents. Rick bleeds maroon & gold and though he has only been a regent for a few years, he obviously has gained the trust of the other regents in that short time. He is just what the U needs and should help on the fiscal front as well as in its continuing efforts to connect with the surrounding communities. Congratulations to Rick, I know he will do an excellent job. 

Last week was also the annual get-together of community leaders at Luther Seminary. Interim President, Rick Foss and interim COO, Bill Frame, shared their vision both formally and informally surrounding the seminary’s recent reorganization efforts. While nothing has been decided yet, they are looking into their real estate holdings to understand the best way to be good stewards for their institution and for our neighborhood. They have been receiving support and suggestions from various community members, actually, so have I. People who may have plans for downsizing in the future are wondering if some of the seminary property might be developed into empty nester and/or senior housing. They are also mindful of our Como 2030 Small Area Plan, which encourages the seminary to consider these kinds of housing options. This unanimously approved plan resulted from a year-long process that involved a representative group of 20-some neighbors and solicited ongoing public input and participation, including design exercises using some of our existing properties like the seminary. As I have said before in this column, the seminary is listening and understands their importance in our community on a number of levels. As soon as they figure it out, they will share their plan publicly. 

D12 – I attended the first presentation of the West Midway Industrial draft last Thursday at the D12 board meeting. The plan seeks to ensure that the West Midway industrial area becomes “a major center of high value employment in the region, while enhancing the vitality of surrounding residential neighborhoods. It includes recommendations to retain businesses and help them grow, to attract new industrial investments, and to ensure compatibility between residential and industrial areas.” An evolving group of city, business and residential representatives have been chewing on this off and on for a year or more and the plan involves zoning, roads and access. Everyone is encouraged to read the document on the D12 website and try to understand the impact, especially to our southside and the Creative Enterprise Zone. 

The mayor is reaching out to St. Paul residents for feedback on the 2014 city budget. You can be a part of the process that determines how much and what for, just visit this link.  

SCHOOLS – There is a new principal coming to Murray. Stacy Collins will come on board this summer to handle the big transition to middle school. I’m meeting with her next week so I can fill you in with some more info after that. I’ve been told she is a good choice for Murray and the task at hand. Outgoing principal, Tim Williams, has been called on to move over to Capitol Hill, so will oversee the transition process there. He is a great guy and principal, so his new school is lucky to have him. He was responsible for important development at Murray and we will miss him…Both Ann Johnson at St. Anthony Park Elementary and Dan Mesick at Como High School will remain in place, which is good news, but everyone is a little apprehensive about how this fall will shake out. With the addition of 6th graders to Murray, that will mean an annual graduating class of 250 or so. If most of them go on to Como that would translate to a school population of about 1000, which is a nice, sustainable size. I’m sure it will take a few years for it to all work out. 

StAPnotes – there are a number of articles in The Line (an e-zine that features urban news) about new retail in our area. Heather O’Malley from Milton Properties is featured in one, talking about her latest venture, Thistle in Milton Square, which the Line describes as “an occasional shop that offers repurposed vintage furniture and other home accessories.”  There’s also a nice article about the coming of Urban Growler, our newest craft brewery/tap room slated to open this fall, and a piece on new businesses coming to the Green Line featuring Erica Strait and her Foxy Falafel restaurant in SSA. Check them all out…Alice Duggan from the branch library board wanted me to remind everyone that the library is closed until August (and the book return is closed too, so books cannot be returned there) but the library's summer programing for children is over at the Methodist Church, as is the baby lapsit story hour and the exercise program for seniors. Our branch librarian, Susan Henry, will be on site at the church on Tuesdays. 

Calendar:

  •         Thursday, June 20 - Park B4 Dark, 5-8pm Como Avenue
  •         Thursday, June 27th, 7 pm  - Open Eye Puppet Theater presents Molly and the Magic Boot,  at 2259 Carter Ave
  •        Saturday June 29, 10am-4pm - St. Anthony Park Garden Tour

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