Summer heat has finally arrived and with people coming and going on vacations, it can seem like business is on the back burner. Actually, there was an article in a recent Strib about how it’s not just kids away from school for the summer who experience learning slippage, adults have trouble retaining and focusing during the upheavel of schedules that summer brings to many. Personally, I have always felt that heat & humidity slows down my brain synapses so I can’t think quite as clearly. Luckily, I write you from the air-conditioned confines of the Foundation’s 3rd Place co-officing space, so my synapsel (word?) efficiency should be no more muddled than usual. 

But I digress. My original point was that though it may look like things are not happening, they indeed are. Luther Seminary continues to sort its way through an evaluation of their property and how it can be developed to benefit our mutual communities. They have gotten counsel from various sources about possible structures and enhancements to their site. Now, comes the part where you run that all past potential developers and partners to see if that interests any of them and in what ways.  

While there is nothing solid yet, I can tell you that the foundation of their vision is in keeping with our Como 2030 Small Area Plan calling for “…single and multi-family housing options that support the diverse needs of residents; affordable office and retail spaces that encourage a vibrant local business community.”  

Anyone who knows me, or has read my blogs for a while, will be familiar with my drumbeat refrain that we are facing an extremely large group of neighbors seeking empty nester, senior and transitional care opportunities in our community. If they can’t find them here, we will lose them to other communities. We will also lose their years of expertise, their time, their energy, their faces and their spending power – all of which will create negative impacts in so many areas.  We also lose their homes as options for younger residents looking to move into our neighborhood, as they will stay in them as long as they can before moving away. 

The 2 dozen neighbors who sat on the Como 2030 committee and developed the plan with significant community input understood those realities and constructed a template for addressing the challenges. They unanimously agreed that status quo was not an option and set forth a vision for smart growth that respects our community’s character while encouraging the kinds of development that will help to preserve it into the future. That means managed change, but it does mean change. 

Not so coincidentally, the growing Transition Town movement in our neighborhood has followed a path driven by the arguably different goals of development based on environmental sustainability, and are arriving at similar outcomes. A sustainable future will require more people living in smaller spaces. That doesn’t mean tearing down our single family homes and putting up hi-rises, but it does mean finding ways to increase our housing options where we can. The seminary is in the unique position of having that kind of land available. Few other sites exist within walking distance of our retail community. We are very fortunate they understand the opportunity they have and embrace our community’s vision for the future. 

D12 – the Creative Enterprise Zone is the other giant that continues to awake to its potential as the Green Line moves closer to the first light rail cars. The CEZ Steering committee has split into several groups to promote solutions and opportunities in D12’s southside. On the horizon is a meeting of property owners to understand their perspectives on the area’s possibilities. Behind the scenes conversations have been going on at various levels to understand how this unique blend of industry and arts can grow into a neighborhood that continues to support all stakeholders. Now that we are less than a year away from light rail operation on the corridor, it’s time to agree on what’s needed to create a successful community… site plans for the market rate rental (with some affordable) property next door to the Dunn Bros on University Avenue have been submitted. It will extend the housing along the south side of University this way. Final approval by the council awaits the final financial packaging. 

Schools – The first Murray E2 Environmental Science class is up at Wolfridge this week and next. There are some 20 students learning all about the science of nature. I’m going to try to get up there for a couple days to see how it’s all going, but probably won’t be able to be on hand for their graduation ceremony. The Foundation helped find the money to support this exciting new program and it’s just fun to see the students in action. 

Listserv – more car break-ins and bike thefts. This is a pretty regular summer problem that the police take notice of and are trying to address. Report the crimes and also look around for the bikes, they sometimes are just used to get from one part of the neighborhood to another. 

StAPnotes – Construction of Monkey Island’s new play area is in full swing. You can see the outline of the plan coming together and while I haven’t heard a final date for opening, it must be relatively (several weeks?) close at hand. They just need to pave, add the equipment and landscape. Okay, maybe mid-August…The monthly Community Sings are becoming pretty popular. I’ve heard from a number of people, some of them non-singers, that the combination of social and singing is hard to beat. There’s another one coming up in mid-August, I believe, I’ll post more details as we get closer…JOTP Soccer is signing kids up for their fall programs , they are also beginning their fundraising for a very exciting vision of all-weather multi-use fields. More on that to come...the library is still hosting programs at the Methodist Church, look to the calendar below for upcoming events…Bugle editor, Kristal Leebrick is happy to publish any National Night Out (on Tues. Aug. 6) block info, contact her. Also contact D12 for info on the national event…Co-owners, Owners Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch invite you to the forthcoming Urban Growler Brewing Co.’s second open house July 18 and 19 from 5-8 p.m. Tour the space at 2325 Endicott Street, check out the architectural drawings and, of course, sample some tasty beer. Founding memberships are also being offered…Finally, there are more thanks to hand out for the wonderful 4th celebration we had last week. Kathy Magnuson, Judy Probst, Brenda Hansen and Nancy Olsen all played important roles in the festivities. John Magnuson did his usual solid job of running the morning races – this might have been the 4oth year for those, I’ll have to check. Also, they can use some additional donations as they came in a little short of costs this year. You can send a check made out to the Foundation to PO Box 8038, St. Paul, MN 55108 with “4th of July” on the memo line. Thanks! 

Thursday, July 18 – 5-8pm Park B4 Dark on Como Ave
Thursday & Friday, July 18 and 19 from 5-8 p.m. Urban Growler Open House
Friday, July 19, from 3-4 pm, the StAP Area Seniors Free Exercise Program. Enjoy fun, gentle exercises for adults, led by a qualified instructor.
Sunday, July 21st - SAP UMC Community Nursery School will host Open Eye Figure Theatre’s driveway tour at 4 p.m. on the UMC lawn at 2200 Hillside Ave.