What’s making news in St. Paul, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to richard.meryhew@startribune.com.

Posts about Urban living

St. Paul gets EPA grant to plan West Side Flats cleanup

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: April 13, 2015 - 6:03 PM

St. Paul is getting a $200,000 federal brownfields grant to plan the future cleanup of the West Side Flats, a 120-acre riverfront area opposite downtown that the city hopes to turn into a mixed-use urban village.

The Environmental Protection Agency grant, announced Monday by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum and Mayor Chris Coleman, will pay for development of a plan to address pollution in the area, much of it now vacant after decades of industrial use.

According to a master plan adopted by the city last year, the city hopes that the area will develop into a mix of residential, commercial, industrial, office, institutional, entertainment and recreational uses.

"Developing housing and job opportunities along the riverfront for the people of St. Paul has long been part of our vision for the city. This grant allows us to take the next steps toward making that vision come to life in a way that benefits all residents," Coleman said in a prepared statement.

The area is bounded by the Mississippi River on the north, Hwy. 52 on the east, Plato Boulevard on the south and Wabasha Street on the west. It's called the West Side flats because it occupies the level floodplain on the river's west bank.

In 2003, U.S. Bank opened a $60.5 million operations center off Robert Street in the flats area, a development that required millions in public subsidy to clean the polluted site.

Harding student has his pick of the Ivy League -- and then some

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: April 10, 2015 - 4:37 PM

By Blair Emerson

blair.emerson@startribune.com

As it turns out, there's more than one student in Minnesota faced with a choice of which Ivy League school to attend.

Alexander Roman, 17, a senior at Harding Senior High School on St. Paul's East Side, was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools — and then some. Starting in January, the acceptance letters have been pouring in. In all, he’s been accepted to 20 colleges and universities across the country.

“At first I was hesitant [to apply to 20 schools], because it just seemed kind of like a lot,” he said. “But then I kind of got encouraged by many people to kind of just [apply to] the schools that I think I would enjoy myself at.”

Alexander said he couldn’t believe it when he started getting accepted to big name schools like Harvard and Yale. “The first reaction I had, especially the Harvard one, was like, ‘Is this really happening?’” he said. “Right away I told my family, ‘We’re going to go out to eat!’”

They got Chinese.

Alexander said he’s currently weighing his options and plans to do several college tours in the coming months to find the best fit. He took a summer program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology during his junior year and enrolled in a few courses, including calculus and physics. After the program, Alexander said his interests grew in fields like the sciences and math, but he said he still plans to explore other subjects.

At Harding, Alexander is involved with the Knight Crew -- a student group that helps younger students make the transition to high school, and the Genius Squad, a tech help group. Alexander also played as the starting first baseman for the school’s baseball team until his junior year. He is a youth leader at his church.

Alexander said he will be the first in his family to graduate from college. Alexander's father was a teenager when he emigrated from Mexico. Alexander said his dad's excitement has grown with each acceptance letter.

“Just the first [letter] he was really excited … and then right after that getting the Harvard one he was really ecstatic because it really is a really big deal,” Alexander said.

Ralph Alexander, the director of Harding's College and Career Center, said in his 12 years on the job he’s never seen a student get accepted to all Ivy League schools. “He’s the consummate perfect kid to have this happen to,” he said. 

Blair Emerson is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.

Open house to review Rice Park plans

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: April 8, 2015 - 11:49 AM

St. Paul Parks and Recreation officials are holding an open house Wednesday afternoon from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on plans to revitalize Rice Park.

The open house will be held at Landmark Center, across from the park, in room 317.

Members of the public will be able to review the current concept plan, ask questions and leave comments.

The open house schedule:

5pm-5:30pm – Plans available for review
5:30pm-5:45pm – Presentation by Anne Gardner
5:45pm –6:00pm – Questions & comments
6:00pm-7:00pm – Additional plan review

A user's photo.

Ramsey County seeking Earth Day cleanup volunteers

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: April 7, 2015 - 3:27 PM

Ramsey County is seeking volunteers of all ages for the annual Earth Day Cleanup, held April 25 at 9 a.m.

About 300-400 volunteers are needed to pick up trash and prepare the parks for the busy spring and summer seasons. Volunteers are specifically needed for Battle Creek Regional Park, at the park's Maplewood and St. Paul locations. 

Individuals, families, scout troops, schools and community groups all are invited to participate.

To register, contact Jennifer Fink at jennifer.fink@co.ramsey.mn.us or 651-748-2500 ext. 333.

Calling all train photographs

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: April 1, 2015 - 3:06 PM

Hey there train and photography enthusiasts, the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority is seeking photographs to display in what it hopes will become an annual amateur and hobby photographer’s exhibit at Union Depot.

The display will launch at this year’s Union Depot Train Day event on Saturday, May 9 and run for one month.

Photos of historic and modern train equipment – engines, passenger cars, freight cars and light rail at Union Depot – will be considered. For more information, go to: Newsroom at uniondepot.org.

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