Blue Moon Coffee’s WiFi Controversy: The Note

If I’ve learned one thing from InTouch magazine it’s that, “If you’re going to talk about Britney being fat, you need to accompany the story with a fat picture of Britney.”

With that in mind, I found it odd that The Rake ran a story about a note posted in the bathroom at Blue Moon but didn’t show the note. Instead, they included a wire service photo of a guy at a computer.

After reading the story curiosity got the best of me, so made a trip to the Blue Moon bathroom – with a stop for a Cappuccino and Rice Krispy bar to go.

Here’s the note:

Blue Moon Coffee's WiFi Note
Click the image to access larger, readable versions.

In my mind, I was picturing a hand written passive-aggressive note, but that’s not at all what I found.

What’s in that Video Lease Building?

I’m pretty sure Video Lease is the only place in Longfellow where you can buy porn videos. That is, if you don’t count the 10,000 Internet connections. However, if your taste in porn involves VHS tapes, Video Lease is your only answer.

Adult & Regular Movies

But did you know that you can also buy artwork at Video Lease? No, this isn’t some sort of joke about two girls with a cucumber being art. They really do have artwork at Video Lease. After passing through the front door past the VHS collection of mainstream movies, you’ll find a door to your left. This will take you to the porn stash.

However, on your way to the porn stash, you’ll find a display of Island Art:

Island Art & Adult Films

I bet the revenue per sq ft is the highest for “Adult Films”.

Here Comes the Neighborhood – Frattallone’s ACE Hardware in Longfellow

Frattallone's ACE Hardware - Longfellow

I don’t think gentrification is the right word for this, but it’s close.

How would you describe the opening of new businesses that could be a sign of an upswing in the local micro-economy? For now, I’ll use the phrase, “Here comes the neighborhood” which I’m pretty sure I first heard on an episode of “Mr Robinson’s Neighborhood” on Saturday Night Live.

In this case, the change is the additional of a Frattallone’s ACE Hardware to 39th & East Lake Street in the location formerly occupied by CH Anderson Co. CH Anderson seemed to run a good business, but East Lake seems like a better fit for a retail establishment like Frattallone’s than an industrial supplier. CH Anderson appears to have relocated to Eagan.

Frattallone's ACE Hardware - Longfellow

Here’s a peak inside:

Frattallone's ACE Hardware - Longfellow

It looks like this will be Frattallone’s 14th location. They have a blog, although they haven’t been updating it very frequently.

Other examples of “here comes the neighborhood”, in my opinion, would be Lund’s opening in Northeast Minneapolis and Pizza Luce opening on West Selby in St. Paul. What are other examples?

Lake-8 DFL Caucus Results

Lake-8, for those of you not familiar with the term, is a made up name for section of Longfellow between Lake & 38th St E. For more on this check out Jackalope Ranch.

Lake-8 roughly represents the area of SD 12-1, which I believe runs from 36th Ave S to the river, and 36th St E to Lake St E, to more like Lake-6.

Here is what it looked like heading into the caucus in the Sanford Middle School auditorium:

Signing In

Once inside:

Getting Ready

And here are the results:

DFL Caucus Results for 12-1 (Northeast Longfellow Neighborhood)

Statewide, it looks like Obama’s going to end up with something close to 66% of the vote. However, the smarter and more sexy residents of SD 12-1 threw down a whopping 71.4% for Obama.

Can you beat that?

I’ve found two:

SD62 W-9 P-08 (West of Hiawatha for ~12 blocks between 35th & 39th St). 77% Go Tillie’s Bean!
SD62 W-2 P-02 (in Richfield from Portland to 35@, Crosstown to 68th St) 77.6% Go Holy Angels!
Whittier – localhuman at 9:19 PM said his precinct went 84.3% for Obama.

Best Little Whorehouse in Longfellow

The Minneapolis Issues List has an interesting discussion about prostitution on Lake Street. Apparently, there was a recent bust at a “health club” at 515 E. Lake Street. Wizard Marks has some background on the history of prostitution along East Lake near 35W in the thread.

Tom Madden’s post was most interesting to me. His office, which used to be a “house of ill repute,” is three blocks from my home.

Last prostitution business on Lake St.

While I don’t know the details on those two in particular, I was quickly brought up to speed on the history of prostitution on the eastern end of Lake Street as I worked on renovating my office space.

My office is located in a former house of ill repute on Lake Street not far from the river. The renovation process uncovered interesting items including an escape hatch that had been boarded up many years ago. A packet of money envelopes (alas – no money in them) dating back to 1972 that fell from behind a wall we tore down. When pulling down the ceiling, in addition to a bottle of holy water, I did find a $10 check from an individual dating to the early 1970s. I often wonder what would happen if I drove the check to the person at that check’s address to return it to them.

During the renovation, many neighbors came and shared stories of their joint ongoing efforts to get rid of this particular prostitution house. We have many thanks to give to those who worked so hard to clean up this part of Lake St.

Tom Madden
Lowry Hill
Longfellow office

I second Tom’s thanks to those who worked to get rid of this prostitution house. I get the impression that the Longfellow neighborhood, has changed a LOT over the past decade or so.

You may be wondering, “Where is Tom’s office?” Fine, I’ll tell you: It’s at 2945 44th Ave S, which puts it in the building behind the Dairy Queen.

View Larger Map

Seriously. That building used to house a prostitution business called Riverside Health Club. I’ve heard nuggets about this from neighbors of mine in Longfellow, but would love to hear more from people who lived around here at the time it was there.

For now, here’s a clip from a 1996 CityPages when someone from their staff stopped by to learn about membership fees:

City Pages – All New! Page 3

Riverside Health Club
2945 44th Ave.

“We don’t have any exercise equipment. I can’t let you inside unless you’re going to pay.” Kim, the trainer who answers the door at the Riverside Health Club is apparently in the middle of her own fitness regimen; she is in no mood to answer the queries of a prospective member. Located in a residential neighborhood directly behind a Dairy Queen, the lobby of the Riverside is decorated with a plastic ficus tree and a silver-and-black deco mirror. It matches Kim’s shiny negligee and robe. As anyone will tell you, nonrestrictive clothing is essential during a vigorous workout. What about monthly rates and introductory discounts? “I don’t have to answer you,” Kim says, conversant in how to exercise her Fifth Amendment rights if nothing else. Though the slight fitness experts, hefty rates, absent equipment and restrictive admissions may be discouraging, the endurance of these businesses suggests that a loyal core clientele have been satisfied. This is known: Day or night, one need never have cause to “work out” alone.

3533 E Lake St used to be home to another “health club”:

East Lake Health Club
3533 E. Lake Street

“We offer a sauna, a shower, and a rubdown for $45,” Sadie explains from behind a Plexiglas window at the East Lake. A competitive price. So how does the equipment measure up? What about a monthly rate? “Um… we have other ladies working, would you like to meet them too?” Why not–a good rapport with a trainer can make all the difference. We meet the other ladies; they strut past the window in bikinis, like models at the end of the runway: “Hi I’m Kathy, how are you.” “Hi, I’m Penny, would you like to come in and try a session?” Their own phenotypic fitness is unremarkable. In the corner of the room is a 35-inch television– possibly used to show videos for aerobics. There is no exercise equipment on-site and no advertised relationship with either Dayton’s or the YMCA. One of the club’s neighbors, R.O. “Dick” Johnson, president of Local 7200 of the Communication Workers of America, notes that the Health Club has been in the community for nearly 15 years. “It seems more active this year than it has been in the past. I don’t know what they’re offering now.” Perhaps those aerobics videos?

Family & Children’s Service has a Longfellow branch at 4129 E Lake St with a program called PRIDE (from PRostitution to Independence, Dignity and Equality) designed to help get women out of prostitution, and an additional program called TeenPRIDE designed to help teens avoid getting into prostitution and deal with online sexual advances.

Gang Activity at Longfellow Park

Apparently, some gang members didn’t get the memo that gangs aren’t welcome to the East of Hiawatha.*

via SAFE 3.4:

I am writing in regards to a gun being recovered at Longfellow Park on Sunday, October 21st.

On Sunday, October 21st, a park officer responded to a disturbance call to the park. When he arrived, he observed a group of Sureneo 13 gang members having a meeting. The officer noted that the garbage can nearby appeared to have been moved. When he checked under it, he located a loaded revolver. The group was then all searched, ID’d, and released. No further weapons were found. The gun was inventoried and will be held for prints.

But the main reason for my email is to have you possibly share this with your email lists/block club leaders especially the ones located very closely to the park grounds. We need all their help and assistance to deter this type of activity in our neighborhood. They apparently have been meeting a majority of the time during the late weekend hours (when the park is not open and no staff are present). The police are asking the community to just call 911 when they suspect anything out of the ordinary.

Please give me a call also – so we can briefly chat and if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you very much for your cooperation,

Nikki Friederich
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Recreation Supervisor
Longfellow Community Center
3435 36th Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406
612-370-4957 (Voice)
612-722-3828 (Fax)

View Larger Map

* This is not meant to suggest that gangs are welcome to the West of Hiawatha, but reflect on the thoroughfare’s arbitrary boundary between Longfellow and neighborhoods to the west.

Arsenic Pollution in South Minneapolis

Arsenic is polluting South Minneapolis yards. Should it be cleaned up? If yes, how clean is clean? I hope this helps explain the current situation.

For some perspective, have you ever been in a situation where your car was making noises but you decided not to go to a mechanic because you could afford the repairs? What’s the point if you’re not going to be able to pay to fix problems the mechanic identifies, right?

There are similar issues facing the arsenic clean-up policies in South Minneapolis.

For those of you not familiar with the issue, several companies used to (1938-68) manufacture pesticides on a 5-acre lot at the NW corner of Hiawatha Ave and 28th St East. While the companies are long gone, the arsenic from the plant remained and disbursed well beyond the boundaries of the property.

South Minneapolis Arsenic Area

26 years passed and nobody did a thing about it. People went about their lives breathing in arsenic dust while their kids played in arsenic laden dirt.

In 1994, arsenic contamination was discovered on the former plant’s site.

11 years passed before the former pesticide plant property was finally cleaned up.

How will arsenic kill you? It’s a known carcinogen (can cause cancer), and has been linked to lung, skin (non-melanoma), bladder, and liver cancer. More info:

Exposure to low levels of arsenic can cause nausea and vomitting, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of “pins and needles” in hands and feet. Ingesting or breathing low levels of arsenic for a long time can cause a darkening of the skin and the appearance of small corns or warts on the palms, soles, and torso. Skin contact with arsenic may cause redness and swelling. Several studies have shown that exposure to high levels of arsenic can increase the risk of several types of cancer.

What About the Neighborhoods?

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) tested the soil on residential properties for arsenic levels, and created this pretty map. The green diagonal line is Hiawatha Ave and the horizontal grid bar follow 28th St E:

Arsenic Dispersion Boundary Map
You can click on the map and the “All Sizes” link from the Flickr page to view larger versions.

A few quick observations regarding the above map:

  • It’s not clear to me how the radius of 0.8 miles came to be the boundary limit for testing.
  • It’s also not clear why that wasn’t expanded further East after finding high levels of arsenic in yards just within the arbitrary boundary.
  • Dark blue dots signify yards with low levels of arsenic. Most yards fall into this category.

What is a High Level?

Minneapolis City Councilman Gary Schiff sent out a newsletter earlier this week where he explained that properties with “very high” levels of arsenic are being cleaned up, with 160 out of 200 done to date.

Since 2004, the EPA has collected soil samples from more than 3,000 properties in the area. To date, nearly 200 properties have shown very high arsenic contamination levels, requiring emergency cleanup. Of these, about 160 will be cleaned up by late October.

Apparently, “very high” levels of arsenic is defined as 95 parts per million (PPM) or higher.

Schiff went on to explain the situation regarding properties with high, but not “very high” levels of arsenic (lower than 95PPM, but higher than what would be considered normal or safe):

The EPA is completing a health risk assessment of the affected neighborhoods this year, and will set a final cleanup goal. Superfund money will be made available for cleanup of residential properties that are below an arsenic concentration of 95 parts per million, but the final level of cleanup remains undetermined. Community input will be sought throughout the process. Click here for more information on the EPA’s activities.

So, the EPA is going to clean up yards beyond those testing above 95PPM. But how many? What’s the standard for removal?

What’s a safe level?

I don’t know, but I think I have a good idea of what a “normal” level is. 10PPM or less. That’s based on my observation of hundreds of blue dots on the map showing that yards without pollution seem to fall into that range.

Will all properties testing higher than 10PPM be cleaned up to reach that standard? Not likely.

Here’s how I think this is going to go down:

The EPA has a certain amount of money available to work on this project (referred to as a “cost ceiling”). They also know how much it costs to clean up a yard. With those two numbers in mind, they know how many yards they can afford to clean.

Let’s say they have enough money to clean 500 yards. If that’s the case, do you think they’re going to tell 1000 property owners that they’re living on poisonous property? Probably not. Clean-up or not, they should provide information to residents so they can make informed decisions on things like having a vegetable garden in arsenic contaminated soil.

What has the EPA done in other areas of the country?

I reviewed the EPA’s reports on other arsenic clean-ups around the country to find out what arsenic concentrations were used. Here is what I found ranked from least to most clean. Minneapolis current clean-up level is 95 ppm.

In Montana, an EPA clean-up was done on properties hitting 80 ppm (they’ve done better than Minneapolis):

On October 26, 1998, excavation and stockpiling of the contaminated arsenic soil and tailings pile was begun (Arsenic is the contaminant of concern; and, as determined by EPA toxicologists, the cleanup level is set for 80 parts per million);

In Colorado a clean-up addressed properties hitting more than 70 ppm for arsenic:

Lead and arsenic were the two metals identified to be of potential concern in some yards. Based on the investigation, EPA issued its final cleanup decision in 2003. EPA then began removing and replacing soil in yards where sampling results showed more than 400 parts per million (ppm) for lead and/or 70 ppm for arsenic.

It’s noted in a GE clean-up letter than Massachusetts defines arsenic levels of 40 ppm as a “potential Imminent Hazard”:

The preliminary pre-design investigation results indicate the detection of arsenic in two surface soil samples at concentrations that exceed the threshold set forth in the Massachusetts Contingency Pian (.MGP) for reporling a potential Imment Hazard for arsenic (40 ppm).

In Illinois, they treated properties with arsenic parts per million in the 20-40 ppm range:

PNA, under U.S. EPA oversight, began a time-critical removal action at the two yards in December 2003, excavating arsenic-impacted soil above about 20-40 milligrams per kilogram (“parts per million” or “ppm”) and disposing of the impacted soil in an off-site landfill.

In El Paso, TX, the EPA decided that 24 ppm should be the safety screening level, but ran into issues when the number of properties hitting that criteria exceeded their alloted clean-up budget (sound familiar?):

Since the signing of the current AM on July 10, 2002, the EPA has received validated laboratory results from approximately 1,843 residential properties and has determined that approximately 1,050 properties exceed the EPA and TCEQ screening levels of 500 ppm for lead and/or 24 ppm for arsenic (with 83 properties over 60 ppm arsenic and 39 properties over 1,500 ppm lead). Due to the large number of residential property soil sample results that exceed the screening levels, the removal costs will exceed the current $2 million ceiling. At the time of the signing of the original AM the number of properties in need of a removal action was not known.

In Washington, DC, arsenic clean-up of residents was conducted all the way down to 20 ppm:

The site-wide soil cleanup standard for arsenic has been finalized at 20 parts per million (ppm) by EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Washington DC Health Department.

A Cascade, Maryland Superfund site was reclaimed to 17 ppm:

A risk-based soil cleanup goal for arsenic of not to exceed 17 ppm was calculated to be protective of both child and adult residential receptors. This cleanup goal was met during the time-critical removal action. As a result, there is no unacceptable risk to human health for the current and future land use at OU9.

In Nebraska, a former battery recycling facility’s site is being reclaimed to “naturally-occurring levels” of 16 ppm:

Arsenic contamination would be cleaned up to naturally-occurring levels, with a calculated cleanup standard of 16 ppm.

As of today, Minneapolis’ clean-up efforts are represented by the big blue bar on the left side of this chart. Compare that to the standards applied elsewhere in the United States:

Arsenic Clean-Up border=

How Clean is Clean enough?

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the EPA and Minnesota Department of Health don’t plan on cleaning up arsenic to “naturally occurring background levels”:

What will the residential cleanup goal be for arsenic?
The emergency cleanups of residential properties by the EPA are presently based on an acute level of 95 parts per million (ppm).  While the local naturally occurring background level for arsenic has not been determined it is anticipated to be somewhere between ten (10) and seventeen (17) ppm.  The actual residential cleanup goal for arsenic in South Mpls is still under review by the EPA and MDH, but can be anticipated to be above the naturally occurring background level and below the acute level used for the emergency cleanups.

“Below the acute level” doesn’t sound all that great.

Does cleaner, but not clean, cut it for you? Is Massachusetts’ 40ppm “Imminent Hazard” guideline worth considering as a standard? Or, should Minneapolis receive the same treatment communities near Washington, DC  on in Nebraska received?

And, what about the areas East of the current testing boundaries? Many properties in this area likely test well above normal levels. Should we be pushing to have the testing boundaries extended?

When Gary Schiff says, “Community input will be sought throughout the process,” now you know why. It’s going to take public pressure to keep the EPA working on this issue in Minneapolis.

Free Stormwater Bus Tour

When it comes to making eco-friendly buying decisions, here’s how I roll:

– When a light bulb burns out, I replace it with an energy efficient bulb.

– When it’s time to buy a new car, I consider energy efficient models.

– If I had to buy a new toilet tomorrow, I’d look for an energy efficient model, but not too energy efficient in case Jeremy stopped by sometime in the future.

I define this as making passive environmentalism. Sure, I could replace incandescent bulbs with CF bulbs right away, but that takes more work and money more up front. Instead, I let the eco choices come to me.

However, I wouldn’t make good eco choices without being aware of what’s possible.

Which brings me to this upcoming bus tour being put on by the Longfellow Community Council. The morning bus tour (and lunch) is a good way to find out what’s possible so when it’s time to make eco choices you can make informed ones.

The focus here is on commercial property, so if you have some influence over this sort of this, consider taking a ride on teh Stormwater Express:

Stormwater Bus Tour: Rain Gardens, Green Roofs, and more!
Friday, September 28th
8:30 am – 1 pm

Longfellow Community Council brings you this free tour of commercial sites
around Minneapolis that have used best management practices to handle
stormwater on site. Corrie Zoll will be our guide as we view rain gardens,
green roofs, rain leader disconnects, and other practices at a mix of urban
sites from large to small. Lunch and discussion follow. Learn how you can
make changes to your property to earn credits on your stormwater bill.
Geared for businesses, commercial property owners and developers, but
open to all. Pre-registration required.

For more information or to register contact Hillary Oppmann at or 612-722-4529.

Video Rental Diversity in Longfellow

In an era when we’re seeing extreme specialization in Minneapolis businesses to the point of having both “Irish places with a European touch” and “British Isles style taverns” it’s kind of refreshing to see a few businesses hanging onto more generalist principals.

For example, Video Lease on East Lake St is promoting the fact that they offer Adult AND Regular movies:

Adult & Regular Movies

So you can skip the trip to the purist Blockbuster on your way back from Sex World. Get ‘er done in one stop at Video Lease.