Blog module icon

All Blog

Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Jan 19

January 19th, 2018

Posted to City Manager Blog by Chad Bergo



Our next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, January 22nd, 2018.   Workshop will begin at 6 pm. We will have a discussion on the sale of the former Mancheski property.

Please join Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff to celebrate 50 years of partnerships that built success in the metro area.

Our region is stronger because we’ve collaborated on shared priorities and formed partnerships on clean water, transportation, parks, and housing. These partnerships will serve us well as we face the challenges of the future.

Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 | 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
McNamara Alumni Center, U of M
200 Oak St. SE, Minneapolis

Speech at 2 p.m. Panel discussion with former Council chairs and reception to follow.

Please RSVP at by Jan.19. Seating is limited.

Comprehensive Plan Open Houses- see EEDD info below.

?????????????????????????????? Updates from Staff and Council


White Bear Chamber Event
The White Bear Area Chamber had a great event at the MCC on Tuesday. They invited a panel to talk about the transportation revolution resulting from driverless cars. The presenters discussed the implications from this technology such as the insurance industry, new car sales, road maintenance, the need for rapid transit, road construction, auto industry, land use and other social implications.  The event was well attended and thought provoking. I was also impressed about the benefits this would have to our seniors. Automatons would allow more people to age in place as they could use this technology to get around. Fascinating and likely to happen in the next 10 years, sooner in certain cities.


2018 Retreat
I will be distributing a survey on Monday night to get your thoughts on content and dates for this year’s retreat.


Comcast Franchise Renewal
Mychal and I and Bob Vose met with representatives to begin discussions on the new agreement. We have tentatively scheduled the public hearing to get input from residents for February 26th. More to come on this and where we are with finalizing the Needs Assessment.


Lion’s Park Comprehensive Plan Meeting
Last week – January 11 – between 25-30 residents attended a neighborhood meeting at Carver Elementary to discuss the proposed future land plan for the Lion’s Park Neighborhood.  The draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan has this neighborhood proposed to be guided as Mixed Use – Commercial.  The city’s consultant walked through a presentation outlining the plan and process and the specific land use guide for this neighborhood.  The consultant and staff fielded and answered many questions during and after the presentation. As expected there is some apprehension regarding this proposed land use and staff has been having on-going discussions regarding concerns and questions with a few individuals that live in the neighborhoodStaff has let those folks know we are more than available to speak anytime and also have said we’ll set aside some time at the general comprehensive plan open house on January 25 to further discuss the Lion’s Park neighborhood.  This will be done at 8 p.m. on January 25. Update: I met with concerned neighborhood residents this morning and will be sending out a letter(attached) inviting them back for more conversation. I have agreed to meet with neighbors with specific concerns separately from the open house format.

In addition to the first public meeting, the planning commission conducted another review of the comprehensive plan at its meeting this week and gave favorable comments towards the plan and process thus far.  The city’s other board and commissions will also see the plan once more at meetings in January or February. 

Below is a summary of the remaining comprehensive plan public meetings coming up.

  • Hillside/Beaver Lake and Vista Hills Neighborhood Meeting
    January 25, 2018; 6 – 7 p.m. at Carver Elementary, 2680 Upper Afton Road – Focus on proposed high density residential land use changes at 1300 McKnight Road (Origination, Inc.) and 2501 Londin Lane (City-owned fire station site and vacant land to the west)
  • Community Open House #1
    January 25, 2018; 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Carver Elementary, 2680 Upper Afton Road – The Community Open Houses will be organized with information at stations so residents can come and go when it works best for your schedule.
  • Community Open House #2
    January 30, 2018; 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Maplewood Community Center, 2100 White Bear Avenue – The Community Open Houses will be organized with information at stations so residents can come and go when it works best for your schedule.

All property owners throughout the city that are within 500 feet of a significant proposed land use change have received a letter inviting them to one of the community open houses. These open houses were also publicized in the city newsletter and notices were published multiple times in the Maplewood Review. The entire Lions Park neighborhood was invited to the neighborhood meeting on January 11 and property owners within 500 feet of the two proposed high density housing sites were invited to the neighborhood meeting on January 25.


Rice-Larpenteur Gateway Vision Plan
A joint meeting was held on Thursday, January 18 between the Gateway Area Planning Committee (elected officials from Maplewood, Roseville, and St. Paul and staff from the three cities and Ramsey County) and the Community Advisory Group (appointed stakeholders).  The group reviewed the draft Rice-Larpenteur Vision Plan.  Since March 2017 the group has been working with consultants Perkins Will on an engagement process to come up with a revitalization strategy.  The purpose of the plan is to promote future growth in the corridor as an attractive destination with strong business and vibrant neighborhood.  Some of the big ideas presented include:

  • Connect Lake McCarron’s Lake to the Gateway
  • Enhance Streetscape and Lighting
  • Make it Walkable
  • Marion Gateway
  • The Park at the Heart
  • Tame the Streets
  • Redevelopment Opportunities

Rice-Larpenteur Development Alliance – form an Alliance with the purpose of ensuring the public realm and goals of the Gateway Corridor Plan are achieved.  Short term Alliance could be made up of members of the Gateway Area Planning Committee and an implementation committee.  Long term Alliance could be made up of elected officials from all three cities and county, and business/property owners or a nonprofit organization.  The Alliance could initially be funded by the three cities. 

The next step for the draft document is review by the Ramsey County Commissioners, final approval of the document by the Gateway Area Planning Committee, and presentation to the three Cities for inclusion in the comprehensive plans.  Maplewood City Council will review this document in February or March.

Long Lines Persist but Improving at Driver and Vehicle Services
At the end of a challenging year for Minnesota deputy registrars, problems persist with the new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS).  While software glitches are slowly being identified and fixed, functional obstacles with the MN LARS system are still causing customer service delays.  The system is slow and cumbersome and is often down for several hours at a time.  This has created frustration for Maplewood customers, who sometimes wait up to an hour or more to be served. 

Incremental improvements to the system are expected over the next year; however, much of the delay in processing transactions is due to the design of the system.  Transactions are being entered into the system in real time.  This means that the time and resources for entering these transactions has been shifted from the State to the deputy registrars.  Previously, licensing and title work was mailed to the State for processing.  Now transactions are being entered into the State system by the deputy registrars, which results in additional time processing the transaction.  The goal of the new State system is to allow for timelier recording of transactions, rather than waiting several weeks for the ownership and/or licensing status to be updated.  This will benefit law enforcement officers and other agencies who need the information.

Most of the Maplewood’s license clerks are part-time employees, who generally work less than 32 hours per week.  They have been working more hours for most of the year to cover vacancies and handle the extra workload.  Because there were temporary vacancies, expenditures for personnel costs are only about $7,000 over budget for the year 2017.  Despite the extra hours and frustrations with the system, we continue to receive compliments and praise for the service given at the Maplewood license counter.  In addition, the City has retained work from two more dealerships in the area.  This work has helped make up for lost revenue, related to customers who mail their renewals into the State to avoid a wait in line.  Unfortunately, the State turn-around time for transactions has also slowed considerably - resulting in time delays in processing mailed transactions.  Those customers then come into the license center to ask for help, creating an even deeper backlog. 

Overall the situation has improved since the rollout of the new system; however, delays in processing have become the new “normal.”  The staff is working very hard to operate in the new environment as efficiently as possible.  This includes the addition of another express line for tabs only.  The lobby and licensing area is being remodeled this spring with a more efficient layout, which should allow for improved customer service opportunities.       


?????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????? 

News From local sources and agencies :
KSTP story on Part Time Fire/EMS. In case you did not see this last night I have attached the link. I think the piece was ok, the firefighters did not go on camera and reporter kept it to very basis information. Chief Mondor did a great job. I saw it on the 6 o’clock news and I have told that the story got shorter for every segment. It was not on the front page of their web site this morning.


League Events & Training

JANUARY SPOTLIGHT! Experienced Officials: 2018 Leadership Conference
Jan. 26-27—Brooklyn Park
As a city official, a key part of your job is to keep calm and communicate as you work with residents, reporters, and fellow city officials. During this two-day training, you'll explore how to become a more effective communicator by focusing on developing key messages, how to communicate during a crisis, and more!

Newly Elected Officials: 2018 Leadership Conference
Jan. 26-27—Brooklyn Park
Get a strong start in your new role during this two-day conference! Join other newly elected city officials as you learn about your role in governing the city, get tips on working effectively with residents and other city officials, and discover your legal responsibilities.

Free Webinar: 2018 Legislative Preview and City Advocacy
Feb. 14—1-2 p.m.
What can cities expect during the 2018 legislative session? Set a date this Valentine's Day for this free webinar to preview the upcoming session and get tips on how you can effectively advocate for cities.

2018 Legislative Conference for Cities
March 22—St. Paul
Once the 2018 legislative session is in full swing, join your city colleagues in St. Paul for the 2018 Legislative Conference for Cities. Focus on how city priorities are faring at the Capitol, get tips on how to advocate for cities, and more!


Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Have a great weekend. Melinda

Mar 01

The New Guy - Bryan Smith

Posted to Council Account by Chad Bergo

When I got the assignment to write an article for this month’s Maplewood Living, I really didn’t want to write “the new guy” article. The reality is, however, that I have now been sworn in for about six weeks, I have attended 3 council meetings, and have been working hard to learn the ins and outs of Maplewood operations and how to be the best councilmember I can. It feels strange to be writing this so early; I am the new guy after all…

We have all been the new person: new kid at school, new person at work, or the new family on the block. It can be a tough time of uncertainty and anxiety, but it is also a time of opportunity for new friends, new skills, and new knowledge. I have felt all of these feelings since being sworn in. In fact, I am not only the new guy here, but also am the new guy on the Gateway Corridor Commission and a number of other groups for which I now represent the city.

As I have begun this journey, there are a number of life lessons I reflect on and hold in my heart:
1. Be grateful: I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to serve our city, and also for my colleagues on the council, the mayor, and many leaders from the city staff who have all been generous and patient while teaching me and answering all my rookie questions.

2. More elephants and fewer hippos: Picture it: elephants have huge ears and small mouths while hippos have huge mouths and small ears. I know I can tend to be more of a hippo, more apt to speak than I am to listen carefully. I am doing my best to be more of an elephant, and it takes a great deal of energy for me to slow down, shut my mouth, and listen. I am doing my best, and when I am successful, I find it serves me quite well.

3. Be kind: I have never regretted being kind to someone – I have, however, regretted being unkind almost every time. My wife and I have always expected our son to show kindness to others, and at 7 years old, he is now my role model. I hope I can grow up to be as kind and empathetic as him.

While I really didn’t want to write the new guy article, I think that I just did. One thing I have learned in my career is that people typically feel “new” a lot longer than they are seen as “new” by others. Hopefully you still see me as “new” – I know I still feel it. I am looking forward to the challenge ahead, to getting to know you all better, and to working to make our city the best it can be.

Tag(s): Bryan Smith