Greening Frogtown, July/August 2015

The latest issue of the newspaper devoted to making Frogtown greener.

The latest issue of the newspaper devoted to making Frogtown greener.


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JULY-AUGUST <strong>2015</strong><br />

Inside…<br />

IYer It’s a Park!<br />

A makeover-by-bulldozer turns<br />

empty lot into new park & farm.<br />

Details on Page 6<br />

Change at<br />

West Minne<br />

Bilal Muhammad<br />

heads up rec center.<br />

See Page 4<br />

Above: Yer Vang and friends are creating the Asian-American Elders Garden on Dale Street.<br />


Don’t Miss the Garden Tour!<br />

Saturday, <strong>July</strong> 11 from 10 am to 2 pm: fifteen gorgeous, green sites<br />

Have you ever wished you could tour<br />

your neighbors’ gardens? Wondering<br />

what’s up with all the farm fields on<br />

Dale Street? Satisfy your curiosity on<br />

the <strong>Frogtown</strong> Garden Tour.<br />

This year’s Tour higlights more than<br />

a dozen vibrant urban farms, small<br />

parks, community gardens and home<br />

gardens. The know-how and creativity<br />

of <strong>Frogtown</strong>’s gardeners, arborists<br />

and urban farmers will be on display<br />

this year.<br />

Sites include the Twin Cities’ largest<br />

urban farm, an Asian elders demonstration<br />

garden; a front yard overflowing<br />

with native plants and pollinatorfriendly<br />

flowers; and more, including<br />

a visit with <strong>Frogtown</strong> Park & Farm’s<br />

public artist on the site of the new<br />

park.<br />

The <strong>2015</strong> Tour starts at 10 am from<br />

the office of NeighborWorks Home<br />

Partners, at 533 North Dale. Tickets<br />

are a suggested donation price of $5,<br />

and will be on sale beginning <strong>July</strong> 1<br />

at the office. The Tour was a wellattended<br />

tradition from 1999 through<br />

2006. This year <strong>Frogtown</strong> Green is<br />

partnering with NeighborWorks to<br />

bring it back, better than ever. More<br />

info at www.frogtowngreen.com.<br />

The <strong>Frogtown</strong> Garden Tour builds on our growing reputation as “the greenest neighborhood in Saint Paul.”<br />

Two urban farms, parklets and a monarch sanctuary are part of the Tour, along with five lovely home gardens.<br />

City Dough<br />

for Local<br />

Projects?<br />

Citizen panel gives<br />

thumbs up to parks,<br />

road, housing, theater.<br />

See Page 8<br />

Green Giant<br />

Marketplace chief is<br />

the neighborhood’s<br />

first green hero.<br />

Since September, 2013, dedicated<br />

See volunteers Page 7 with our<br />

resident-driven initiative,<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong> Green, have published<br />

Everyone<br />

a bimonthly newsletter<br />

called <strong>Greening</strong> <strong>Frogtown</strong>. We’ve<br />

delivered<br />

Invited<br />

copies door-to-door,<br />

to<br />

to <strong>Frogtown</strong> households and<br />

businesses.<br />

Iftar<br />

Local mosque opens<br />

We’ve looked at the paper as<br />

a way its doors to tell some for post-fast of the good<br />

news<br />

meal,<br />

about<br />

info<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong><br />

on Islam.<br />

and to<br />

promote the development of<br />

green Page space 5 in our neighborhood.<br />

We see that as a critical

Big Ideas<br />

The Peace Pole Gateway<br />

Melvin Giles sees a neighborhood portal that welcomes everyone and promotes peace<br />

Melvin Giles has been in the peace<br />

pole business for nearly 20 years,<br />

planting well over 100 of the six-foot<br />

tall markers throughout the city and<br />

state. Now he’s got a vision for a new<br />

version — a pair of massive, illuminated<br />

peace poles that could provide a<br />

grand entryway to <strong>Frogtown</strong>.<br />

The poles typically come with the<br />

message, “May Peace Prevail on<br />

Earth,” in English and three other<br />

languages. They’re an embodiment of<br />

what <strong>Frogtown</strong> has always been about<br />

— a place where people from all over<br />

the Earth have settled, too frequently<br />

to escape conflict in their first homes.<br />

The idea of Peace Poles comes from<br />

Japan, where Tokyo-born Masahisa<br />

Gori was appalled by the devastation<br />

of Hiroshima. After a period of meditation<br />

and prayer, he came to believe<br />

Not there yet, but they could be. Melvin Giles, Peace Poles on Victoria.<br />

that promoting the message, “May<br />

Peace Prevail On Earth,” provided<br />

a means of bringing people of different<br />

cultures, faiths, and traditions<br />

together in the spirit of love. Since the<br />

first peace poles were planted outside<br />

Japan in 1983, more than 100,000<br />

have spread to over 180 countries.<br />

“If we can get just one percent of the<br />

people to think of peace, that helps<br />

to create a critical mass in our homes<br />

and communities,” says Giles.<br />

But he also sees this new version of<br />

a peace pole as a memorial to his life<br />

partner, Mary Salter, who died last<br />

year after an illness at the age of 45.<br />

“It’s a way to carry her legacy on and<br />

help with my healing. It’s a continuation<br />

of my journey with her spirit.”<br />

Can it really happen? Public arts<br />

money associated with city-financed<br />

development projects is one source of<br />

funding. The ongoing Green Linerelated<br />

grants by the Knight Foundation<br />

and others could be another. One<br />

answer to the question is, why not?<br />

PAGE 2 JULY-AUGUST <strong>2015</strong>

Green Giants<br />

Hmongtown Tackles Wasteful Waste<br />

Summer interns help a busy market owner save money through recycling, composting fixes<br />

With all the pressures a business<br />

owner faces—making payroll, attracting<br />

customers, tracking inventory—<br />

it’s easy to put off thinking about how<br />

to make a business more environmentally<br />

sustainable.<br />

“We have 150 vendors under one<br />

roof. We’re pretty busy keeping track<br />

of today. We don’t have a lot of time<br />

to think about tomorrow, much less<br />

about how climate change will affect<br />

our business in the future,” admits<br />

Toua Xiong, owner of Hmongtown<br />

International Marketplace.<br />

But this summer Xiong is making<br />

the time, with the help of a trio of<br />

students from Macalester College.<br />

Together, they are discovering ways<br />

to do business that are both profitable<br />

for the bottom line, and protective<br />

of the environment. The offer of free<br />

grants to do so provides even more<br />

Samuel Zieve confers with sustainability consultant Greta Rittenhouse<br />

incentive. Biz Recycling, a non-profit<br />

organization, provides a connection<br />

to grants for up to $10,000, to businesses<br />

that work to reduce the amount<br />

of garbage they send to a landfill.<br />

On a recent Friday morning, Xiong<br />

and the three students—Jessica<br />

Timerman, Rowena Foo and Samuel<br />

Zieve—were talking trash. Specifically,<br />

they were learning how doing<br />

sorting and recycling trash could save<br />

significant bucks for the market.<br />

“This is pretty good,” said Zieve,<br />

peering into a slightly fragrant<br />

trash container in the Marketplace’s<br />

bustling food court. The container<br />

was appropriately filled with nonrecyclables.<br />

This was not the case for<br />

the Market’s giant dumpster, however,<br />

which was piled high with intact<br />

cardboard boxes.<br />

“Here’s an easy win,” said Greta Rittenhouse,<br />

a consultant from Minnesota<br />

Waste Wise. She was touring the<br />

Marketplace looking for ways to<br />

(Continued, next page)<br />

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JULY-AUGUST <strong>2015</strong> PAGE 3

<strong>Frogtown</strong> News<br />

(Green Giant, continued)<br />

save money by handling trash better.<br />

“Rescuing recyclables like cardboard<br />

and bottles will result in less trash<br />

in the dumpster, which means lower<br />

trash bills, especially with a 70%<br />

trash tax for county businesses!”<br />

Rittenhouse and the students, who<br />

are interning with the Marketplace<br />

through <strong>August</strong>, carefully examined<br />

trash and recycling cans throughout<br />

the market, as well as a row of dumpsters<br />

in the back.<br />

A few weeks later, they carried out a<br />

“waste sort” to figure out what’s really<br />

in the Marketplace’s waste stream.<br />

“We sorted through everything in<br />

several bags of garbage to identify<br />

what percentage is recyclable, compostable,<br />

or even re-usable,” explains<br />

Timerman. Many recyclable items,<br />

like aluminum, paper, wood pallets<br />

and even some kinds of plastic can be<br />

sold, generating cash for trash.<br />

Compostable food items like vegetable<br />

scraps, coffee grounds and even<br />

wet paper napkins are comparatively<br />

heavy. If they can be kept of the trash<br />

and composted, that can save a business<br />

tons of money, so to speak. And<br />

the compost can be re-used to enrich<br />

gardens, another win-win.<br />

By <strong>August</strong>, the students will be<br />

working on an action plan that the<br />

Marketplace can implement through<br />

the fall and beyond. It may include a<br />

new composting system for the food<br />

scraps generated in the Marketplace’s<br />

restaurants, or a plan to pair recycling<br />

bins with every trash can. “People<br />

are much more likely to recycle if<br />

all the waste bins are in one place,”<br />

Rittenhouse observed. It also helps<br />

if there are clear, culturally familiar<br />

instructions on what goes where. Biz<br />

Recycling offers educational materials,<br />

including Hmong-specific labels<br />

for trash and recycling bins.<br />

The students peppered Rittenhouse<br />

with questions about how to apply for<br />

a grant, and what it could pay for, in<br />

addition to a cardboard baler. “Can<br />

we include a stipend for a student<br />

to keep working on this once we are<br />

gone?” Foo asked. “We don’t want<br />

to come up with a great plan that the<br />

Marketplace may not have the capacity<br />

to carry it out.” Xiong agreed; his<br />

small staff are extremely busy. But<br />

he is committed to improving the<br />

Marketplace and making it more sustainable,<br />

a destination that will appeal<br />

to future generations of customers.<br />

“We want to make the Hmongtown<br />

Marketplace an attraction for the<br />

entire city of Saint Paul,” Xiong says<br />

proudly. “To do this, we know we<br />

have to think of the future.”<br />

Hmongtown Marketplace, at the<br />

corner of Marion Street and Como<br />

Avenue, is open from 8 AM to 8 PM,<br />

seven days a week. For more information,<br />

visit www.hmongtownmarketplace.com<br />

or call 651-487-3700.<br />

Minnesota Waste Wise is a non-profit<br />

affiliate of the Minnesota Chamber of<br />

Commerce which provides environmental<br />

sustainability consulting.<br />

More information is at www.mnwastewise.org<br />

or 651-292-4653.<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong>’s Green Giants is a yearlong<br />

series on how <strong>Frogtown</strong> neighbors<br />

are preparing for climate change<br />

by protecting the environment. The<br />

series is funded through Ready &<br />

Resilient, a partnership of the Science<br />

Museum of Minnesota, the City of<br />

Saint Paul and Macalester College.<br />

Bilal Muhammad at the grill.<br />

At West Minne,<br />

He’s the Man<br />

Bilal Muhammad is newly in charge<br />

of West Minne Rec Center, and has<br />

big ideas for the neighborhood gathering<br />

place.<br />

“I want to invite all the people from<br />

the community to come here,” he said<br />

The <strong>Frogtown</strong>-based<br />

international aid group<br />

Mano a Mano<br />

is changing the world.<br />

Find out how they did it.<br />

Learn how you can<br />

do the same.<br />

Get Gaining Ground<br />

by Joan Velasquez at<br />

Amazon.com or<br />

BeaversPondPress.com<br />

PAGE 4 JULY-AUGUST <strong>2015</strong>

ecently while grilling burgers and<br />

hot dogs at the center. “I want it to be<br />

a place for young people, adults and<br />

senior citizens — a fully functioning<br />

rec center. It should be fun, active,<br />

and have a bunch of different types of<br />

programming.”<br />

West Minne will still be a place for<br />

sports programming, but it should<br />

offer more, Muhammad said. “I want<br />

to start doing arts programming,” he<br />

said. “Maybe robotics for kids who<br />

aren’t really active in sports. It’s<br />

whatever the community wants.”<br />

Muhammad came to West Minne by a<br />

circuitous route. He grew up in New<br />

Jersey, went to college in Arizona,<br />

then worked in a recreation-based<br />

program for oil company kids and<br />

locals in Saudi Arabia and the United<br />

Arab Emirates. He been affiliated<br />

with the Amateur Athletic Union<br />

through his children, who have been<br />

active, well, in everything. “Football,<br />

basketball, baseball, you name it,”<br />

Muhammad said.<br />

He’s putting a call out for volunteers<br />

who have ideas for programming.<br />

Reach him at 612-400-5714.<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong> News<br />

Park and Farm<br />

Selects Artist<br />

Progress continues on <strong>Frogtown</strong> Park<br />

& Farm, with bulldozers moving tons<br />

of earth every day, shaping future<br />

paths, grades and fields.<br />

In addition, Saint Paul sculptor and<br />

educator Gita Ghei has been selected<br />

to design and install three entranceways<br />

for the new park. Primarily a<br />

metal sculptor, Ghei’s work is varied,<br />

ranging from a large solar powered<br />

night light decorated with images of<br />

watery life forms like jelly fish, mushrooms<br />

and seaweed, to a temporary<br />

summer installation of tree seedlings<br />

planted in<br />

cans with<br />

a bucket of<br />

water nearby,<br />

offering<br />

passersby<br />

the opportunity<br />

to water<br />

the trees.<br />

“I think we’ll be pleased with Gita’s<br />

direction with <strong>Frogtown</strong> Park &<br />

Farm,” said Park and Rec department<br />

planner Kathleen Anglo. “She would<br />

like to respond to natural aspects of<br />

the site and possibly incorporate trees,<br />

nature, and plants in her art.” The<br />

entryways will be designed in time<br />

for the Park & Farm’s grand opening<br />

on October 3.<br />

Ghei says her mission is “to create<br />

public art which engages the public<br />

interactively to show both celebration<br />

of, and responsibility for, public space<br />

and resources.” She’ll be soliciting<br />

ideas and concepts for her entryways<br />

at several public meetings this summer.<br />

Look for her at <strong>Frogtown</strong> Park<br />

& Farm during the <strong>Frogtown</strong> Garden<br />

Tour, Saturday, <strong>July</strong> 11, as well as in<br />

other venues during <strong>July</strong> and <strong>August</strong>.<br />

Attend a Ramadan<br />

Iftar at Mosque<br />

Get a great meal and learn more about<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong>’s Muslim community as<br />

our neighbors celebrate the sacred<br />

month of Ramadan in <strong>July</strong>.<br />

As part of a series of open houses<br />

at area mosques sponsored by the<br />

Minnesota Council of Churches,<br />

Masjid Al-Ihsan, 955 W. Minnehaha<br />

Avenue, will open its doors to neighbors<br />

at 6:45 pm, Friday, <strong>July</strong> 10. You<br />

can register for the event online at<br />

mnchurches.org.<br />

Ramadan is the month on the Islamic<br />

lunar calendar during which Muslims<br />

abstain from food and drink<br />

from sunrise to sunset. The fast is<br />

performed to learn compassion, selfrestraint,<br />

and generosity. Each day the<br />

fast is broken with a meal called Iftar.<br />

There is no charge; this is an offer of<br />

hospitality.<br />

<strong>Greening</strong> <strong>Frogtown</strong><br />

is published six times per year by<br />

Health Advocates Inc.<br />

843 Van Buren Ave., St. Paul,<br />

and is distributed door-to-door<br />

in the area from<br />

Lexington Pkwy. to 35E,<br />

University Ave. to Pierce Butler.<br />

Publisher: Patricia Ohmans<br />

Editor: Anthony Schmitz<br />

Contact us at<br />

651.757.5970 (Patricia)<br />

patricia.ohmans@gmail.com<br />

651.757.7479 (Anthony)<br />

apbschmitz@gmail.com<br />

Ad rates & more at<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong>Green.com<br />

Flakes by Kathy Donovan<br />

Health<br />

Advocates<br />

Consulting Services<br />

Specializing in<br />

cross-cultural, immigrant and<br />

international health issues.<br />

651.757.7590<br />

www.healthadvocates.info<br />

JULY-AUGUST <strong>2015</strong> PAGE 5

Yer’s Field of Dreams<br />

The Asian-American Elders Garden will showcase agricultural traditions, produce and herbs<br />

The southeast corner of Dale Street<br />

and Van Buren Avenue may seem<br />

like an unlikely place for socializing,<br />

much less for farming. But if Yer<br />

Vang has anything to say about it, the<br />

lot along the busy street will serve<br />

both purposes this summer.<br />

“There are a lot of elderly Asian<br />

people who love to garden and grow<br />

things, but who don’t have a place<br />

to do it,” Vang explains. “I want to<br />

create a space where elders can be<br />

outside and spend time together doing<br />

what they know best how to do.”<br />

The creation of the Asian-American<br />

Elders Garden has been a team effort,<br />

involving Vang, <strong>Frogtown</strong> Green, the<br />

members of Unity Church-Unitarian<br />

(who donated funds to help the garden<br />

get started) and neighbors.<br />

Willie Brown, an experienced <strong>Frogtown</strong><br />

landscaper, spent more than<br />

eight hours recently, turning over<br />

the garden’s rich, black soil after it<br />

Willie Brown and Yer Vang at the Asian-American Elders Garden, post-tilling.<br />

received an early tractor tilling by<br />

friends from Stone’s Throw Urban<br />

Farm. Adjacent neighbor Brenda<br />

Albert has offered the use of her<br />

water and hose, as well as plenty of<br />

moral support. Students from the<br />

University of Minnesota were enlisted<br />

earlier this spring to research signage<br />

options for the garden.<br />

“I’m hoping the garden will showcase<br />

and honor the farming expertise so<br />

common among <strong>Frogtown</strong>’s older<br />

Asian residents, said <strong>Frogtown</strong> Green<br />

coordinator Patricia Ohmans, who has<br />

gathered support and resources for<br />

the garden. “In <strong>Frogtown</strong>, we see so<br />

many distinctive gardens that are obviously<br />

maintained by Hmong, Karen,<br />

Vietnamese or Cambodian gardeners.<br />

But not everyone knows what’s growing<br />

in those gardens.”<br />

The Asian-American Elders Garden<br />

will remove some of the mystery,<br />

with a labeled, front garden strip<br />

featuring some of Yer Vang’s favorite<br />

herbs. Some have traditional medicinal<br />

uses, for example, the plant called<br />

“duck feet.”<br />

“This herb is cooked in the chicken<br />

soup that is served to Hmong women<br />

after they give birth,” Vang explains.<br />

“We have a lot of herbs that are used<br />

in that traditional soup!”<br />

(Continued, next page)<br />

PAGE 6 JULY-AUGUST <strong>2015</strong>

A retired medical interpreter, Vang<br />

learned about gardening the way so<br />

many of us do—by watching her<br />

parents and grandparents.<br />

“Back in Laos, my mom and dad<br />

taught us about the plants that will<br />

help with high blood pressure, with<br />

diabetes, and with post-partum pain,”<br />

she says.<br />

Gallery of Gardeners<br />

Meet just a few of the folks working to make <strong>Frogtown</strong> green<br />

Elder relatives who will work the<br />

garden this year may share additional<br />

knowledge of medicinal and<br />

nutritious plants. <strong>Frogtown</strong> Green is<br />

installing signs and plant markers,<br />

along with eventual fencing.<br />

The lot is owned by the city of Saint<br />

Paul, but has been a garden site for<br />

many years.<br />

The Asian-American Elders Garden<br />

is a stop on the <strong>Frogtown</strong> Garden<br />

Tour this year. The mini-arboretum,<br />

ringed by colorful poppy plants, was<br />

installed in late June; a bit late in the<br />

gardening season.<br />

But Yer Vang is optimistic about the<br />

rest of the summer. “We will plant<br />

seeds and small plants also,” she<br />

promises. “The gardeners will work<br />

hard and it will be a beautiful place!”<br />

What do these four people have in common? A commitment to gardening for beauty, sustenance and social<br />

connection, for one thing.<br />

• Nicholas Livingston, left, works at the Wine Company, a Minnehaha Avenue business that recently invited a<br />

group of gardeners with Wilder Foundation’s Center for Social Healing to share their garden space.<br />

• Tiffany Keri, center, a mother and food activist, works to maintain a vegetable garden in the home she<br />

rents; produce is shared with neighbors.<br />

• Annie Sinner and Fue Heu, right, are shown admiring the commmunity garden at Mt Airy public housing in<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong>. Heu is a new Ramsey County Master Gardener, and Sinner, a college student, works this summer<br />

with the St Paul-Ramsey Department of Public Health.<br />

outreach<br />






MONDAYS 7 PM<br />


Animal Humane Society offers access<br />

to free and affordable pet care resources<br />

in your community.<br />

• Free spay and neuter of dogs and cats,<br />

including vaccinations<br />

• Free training sessions<br />

• Free pet food and supplies (while supplies last)<br />

• Free pet vaccinations at community outreach events<br />

• Information on pet care and wellness<br />

MN FEET<br />

Minnesota Family<br />

Environmental Exposure Tracking<br />

A new health research project, MN FEET, at the<br />

Minnesota Department of Health will help<br />

families protect their babies from 3 harmful<br />

chemicals: mercury, lead and cadmium.<br />

For more information: www.health.state.mn.us/mnfeet<br />

For more information, call Molly at (651) 788-4685, or text (612) 704-1738.<br />

JULY-AUGUST <strong>2015</strong> PAGE 7

City Dough for Local Projects?<br />

Panel recommends funding for <strong>Frogtown</strong> parks, road, housing, theater, but don’t count on money yet<br />

Not that anyone is spending the money<br />

yet, but a number of <strong>Frogtown</strong>related<br />

projects were recommended<br />

recently for funding in the City of St.<br />

Paul’s ongoing Capital Improvement<br />

Budget (CIB) process.<br />

It’s the bureaucratic equivalent of a<br />

rugby scrum, with city departments,<br />

district councils and neighborhood<br />

organizations all submitting proposals<br />

to develop or improve the city<br />

with long-term projects, then competing<br />

for the limited amount of money<br />

available. A citizen’s panel makes<br />

initial recommendations on who and<br />

what should get funded in 2016-2017.<br />

Those choices are considered by the<br />

mayor, rejiggered and sent on to the<br />

city council for approval.<br />

The money available is nowhere near<br />

the demand. This year the citizen’s<br />

panel recommended that $44.8 million<br />

be doled out from various pots of<br />

city, state and federal money. Another<br />

$116.4 million in proposals got a<br />

thumbs-down from the panel.<br />

Here are <strong>Frogtown</strong> projects that got<br />

the panel’s okay:<br />

Scheffer Rec Center: The panel recommended<br />

that the run-down facility<br />

at 237 Thomas Ave. receive nearly<br />

$1.3 million to begin funding a teardown<br />

and rebuild that will ultimately<br />

cost more than $8 million. The new<br />

building will hold a new gym and<br />

gathering spaces for large groups, be<br />

handicapped-accessible, and offer expanded<br />

programming. Improvements<br />

are overdue: Parks and Rec officials<br />

call Scheffer “the lowest rated recreation<br />

center in the entire city in terms<br />

of quality.”<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong> Park and Farm: The new<br />

Model Cities’ Central Exchange project at 839 University Ave.<br />

park and urban farm got approval for<br />

over $500,000 to build what planners<br />

dub “a nature-based play experience<br />

(that) lets children explore through<br />

free play and discovery. New gear<br />

will replace dated equipment on the<br />

property near Van Buren and Victoria.<br />

The Victoria Theater: The long-vacant<br />

historic theater at 825 University<br />

Ave. got the panel’s nod for $400,000<br />

to fund the purchase and fix-ups necessary<br />

to transform the building into<br />

a neighborhood center for performing<br />

and visual arts, plus arts education.<br />

The Central Exchange: This Model<br />

Cities project at 839 University<br />

Ave. will offer 33 units of affordable<br />

housing — mostly one-bedroom<br />

units — plus nearly 8,000 square feet<br />

of ground floor commercial space on<br />

currently vacant property. The total<br />

cost is estimated at around $10 million;<br />

the panel recommended a city<br />

contribution of $400,000.<br />

Pierce Butler Extension: This longdiscussed<br />

project is a hook-up between<br />

Phalen Blvd and Pierce Butler<br />

Route that relies on a connection<br />

south of the BNSF railroad tracks.<br />

The intent here is to extend the existing<br />

Empire Drive, link the West Midway<br />

to the East Side, and move truck<br />

traffic off residential streets such as<br />

Minnehaha and Como. The $4 million<br />

recommended would help build the<br />

section between Grotto and Arundel.<br />

Housing Loan Programs: Two housing<br />

improvement programs for low<br />

and moderate-income homeowners<br />

targeted at <strong>Frogtown</strong>, Green Lineadjacent<br />

and other core-city neighborhoods<br />

got approved for $900,000<br />

in funding. Facelift loans will focus<br />

on deferred repairs, energy improvements<br />

and the removal of health hazards,<br />

and are offered at below-market<br />

rates with repayment due on sale or,<br />

in some cases, forgivable. The Green<br />

Line-related programs are aimed at<br />

underwater homeowners, and will<br />

feature relaxed lending standards that<br />

make it easier for self-employed or<br />

part-time workers to qualify. The programs<br />

are administered by Neighbor-<br />

Works Home Partners, which incorporated<br />

the former Greater <strong>Frogtown</strong><br />

CDC.<br />

This is a process that creates winners<br />

and losers. Among <strong>Frogtown</strong> applicants<br />

left empty-handed:<br />

• a NeighborWorks program to<br />

expand home ownership opportunities<br />

in <strong>Frogtown</strong> and<br />

nearby neighborhoods;<br />

• city improvements to the<br />

streetscape along Rice Street<br />

between University and Pennsylvania<br />

Avenues;<br />

• further improvements to the<br />

Charles Avenue bike and<br />

pedestrian corridor that would<br />

have added traffic circles, stop<br />

sign changes and mid-block,<br />

traffic-calming bump-outs;<br />

• a Little Mekong Market plan<br />

to improve alleys and sidewalks<br />

on side streets parallel<br />

to University between Mackubin<br />

and Galtier. The idea was<br />

to use landscaping, gardens,<br />

public art, walkways and<br />

signage to make the Asiandominated<br />

commercial zone<br />

seem safe and inviting.<br />

Predictably, the fight for scarce<br />

resources sets off battles where the<br />

poor square off against the poor.<br />

At a public hearing in early June,<br />

proponents of a East Side street<br />

project questioned the amount of<br />

money going toward the derelict<br />

Scheffer Rec. Former school board<br />

member Tom Goldstein later attempted<br />

to offer some perspective.<br />

There’s an elephant and gorilla<br />

not in the room, Goldstein said.<br />

They are the Saints stadium, with<br />

its $27 million price tag, and the<br />

downtown Palace Theater re-do<br />

at $15 million — a total roughly<br />

equivalent to the amount under<br />

consideration by the CIB panel.<br />

The process, said Goldstein, pits<br />

neighbors against each other.<br />

“These are the priorities we have<br />

made,” Goldstein declared. “We<br />

have too few resources because<br />

we have a lack of priorities.”<br />

<strong>Frogtown</strong> Kayak<br />

Traditional. Handmade.<br />

frogtownkayak.com<br />

PAGE 8 JULY-AUGUST <strong>2015</strong>

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