The people have spoken, and the name for the Como Zoo's new baby zebra is -- drum roll, please -- Ruckus.
Officials reported Tuesday that, after nearly 3,000 votes in all from Facebook fans of the popular St. Paul zoo, Ruckus was the clear winner from among three nominated names. It took 42 percent of the vote, putting it well ahead of ZigZag (33 percent) and Mayhem (25 percent).
Ruckus, a male, was born on September 7 to mom Thelma and pop Ulysses. The other two members of Como's zebra herd are Minnie and new foal Melee, born July 27.
Como's herd consists of Grant's zebras, found on the grassy plains of east Africa in countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia. Ruckus is available for sponsorship, officials said.
Signs long have been a heated issue in St. Paul, perhaps more than most cities.
A local group called Scenic St. Paul has vigorously championed billboard removal and tighter sign regulations. The City Council typically has balked at allowing large and flashing signs to advertise products or companies; most of those seen now, such as the iconic “1st” on top of the First National Bank building, have been around for a long time and were grandfathered in.
But the council may be ready to carve out an exception for the new city-owned Lowertown ballpark, recently named CHS Field, where the St. Paul Saints will play starting next season.
An ordinance has made its way to the council that would amend city code to permit two roof signs at the ballpark. Roof signs are defined as either those mounted on a roof, or projecting above the top of a building.
The first version of the ordinance would have permitted roof signs anywhere downtown, subject to a conditional use permit. That was too much for City Council Member Dave Thune, who asked last week that the ordinance be reworked to permit only the ballpark signs. The council agreed with Thune, striking out what could have the most controversial of the signage ideas.
The council is making other provisions for CHS Field. The proposed ordinance would allow sponsor signs at the new ballpark and let them be bigger than usual, as well as advertising signs.
City Parks Director Mike Hahm told the Planning Commission that a roof sign “will be a great identifier for the ballpark and the neighborhood. Saints Vice President Thomas Whaley said ballpark roof signs “will add to the visual experiences of fans attending events at the park and visitors to the neighborhood.” Whaley wanted a four-sided sign, which the current ordinance version doesn't permit.
The ordinance also would allow sponsor signs at transit stop stations and for bike sharing facilities, such as Nice Ride. The council is expected to vote on the ordinance next week.
Want to get fit this fall? Or, at least fitter?
St. Paul Parks and Recreation is extending its free outdoor fitness program, Fitness in the Parks, thanks to popular demand.
The program, which started in June, will now run well into autumn.
“Our goal for the Fitness in the Parks program was to give people another reason to get outdoors and exercise,” said Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm. “The success of this program has exceeded our expectations, and the public has expressed a lot of interest in seeing this program continue for as long as weather will permit. We are pleased to offer classes through the end of September.”
Summer program classes included martial arts, dance, yoga, boot camp, Pilates, Zumba and CrossFit. Classes scheduled for September include yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cherokee Heights Park, CrossFit on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Harriet Island and boot camp on Saturdays at Indian Mounds Park. Classes are taught by people with local Saint Paul businesses who have partnered with the City of St. Paul.
No prior registration is required and classes are free and open to all ages and fitness levels. For more information including the most recent schedule, visit stpaul.gov/FitnessintheParks.
St. Paul will host a tour Friday morning of the lakeside pavilion at Como Park for vendors interested in managing food and recreational services there.
That wouldn't be especially interesting, except for the fact that the City Council a couple weeks ago agreed to spend $800,000 to sever ties with longtime pavilion manager Black Bear Crossings.
Black Bear's owners, David and Pamela Glass, had sued the city for breach of contract, claiming that parks officials had wrongfully prevented them from renewing their lease.
A Ramsey County judge ruled they were entitled to damages from the city, which led to the settlement approved by the City Council -- the third largest in St. Paul's history.
Black Bear will close at the end of the year, so St. Paul officials want to get a new manager in place to launch a new cafe and take over the busy banquet calendar at Como.
That's why, at 9 a.m. Friday, they'll conduct tours of the pavilion facility and take questions from interested parties. They're looking for someone to manage all aspects of the pavilion, including food and catering services, rec services on or around the lake, and facility maintenance.
For more information, click on www.stpaulbids.com/.
St. Paul leaders are taking the first steps towards a full-scale renovation of Rice Park, the downtown square that fronts on the Ordway and Landmark centers.
On Monday morning, the St. Paul Garden Club is giving the city a $46,000 check to begin the planning process for the 120-year-old park, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful urban squares in the country. Its fountain and large leafy trees provide the backdrop for numerous events and festivals.
Officials and community leaders said, however, that more events and more visitors are taking a toll on the park. The Ordway is adding a $75 million concert hall and the Landmark Center is undergoing a $4 million restoration, making it the right time to take a new look at how the park functions, said Amy Mino, president of the Rice Park Association, a private group dedicated to enhancing the park area.
"Rice Park is a jewel in downtown and requires a commitment from both the city and neighborhood groups to keep it looking beautiful," Mino said.
Following a public engagement process, a conceptual plan will be developed for the park that includes an estimated cost and a timeline for how the plan would be implemented.
The St. Paul Garden Club first planted 1,700 tulips in Rice Park in 1927, and has helped maintain the park’s growth since. Most recently, it purchased and installed 140 yew shrubs in the park.