Due to COVID, budget concerns Nature Center will not re-open
Pond and trails remain open and will be maintained.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made a significant impact on the City of Maplewood’s budget with the cancelation of most Nature Center and Parks and Recreation programs and events. We also anticipate a future reduction in property tax collections because of the hit to commercial businesses. City Council has directed department heads to deliver a 0% increase in the 2021 tax levy to ease the financial burden on homeowners.
On top of the pandemic’s impacts, several unforeseen budget constraints have arisen, including:
• $250,000 increase in worker’s compensation premiums; and
• $250,000 increase in debt service payments.
Over the last several months, the city has been examining our financial outlook. With the economic downturns, we want to help ensure our actions don’t lead to additional financial hardships for our taxpayers.
We have tried to be creative about service delivery and put off the most painful decisions until we truly understood long-term impacts. Now, with a clearer budget forecast and in consultation with members of council, we have decided on a number of measures. This includes putting off park upgrades, equipment and vehicle purchases, and reducing functions of Parks and Recreation and the Nature Center. Unfortunately, the difficult decision to not re-open the Nature Center will result in laying off current staff. We will wind down the virtual programing and other services over the summer.
Be assured this decision does not diminish the city’s commitment to environmental education and natural resources protection. Our environmental planner, natural resources coordinator and public works department will continue collaborating to carry out this mission. They will continue to working on existing grant programs. The pond and trail at the Nature Center will remain open and maintained.
At the direction of City Council, staff is in the process of putting together a task force to explore new uses for Nature Center Building. The city wants to ensure that the future endeavors will be fiscally sustainable. We are open to a variety of possibilities, including a regional partnership to continue environmental education, rentals for community gatherings, or other event programing.
On behalf of the community and city staff, thanks for volunteering your time, talent and environmental insight. We welcome your comments and invite you to participate on our programing listening sessions once they’ve been established.
Open 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset every day of the year. Trails, picnic area, and nature play yard are available to use every day of the year.
Nature Center Facebook, Twitter pages and educational Nature Center Videos
Please be advised that no pets of any kind are allowed in this Wildlife Sanctuary. Nesting birds, mammals and plants thank you for respecting this rule. As an alternative, you may enjoy taking your pet to the nearby Battle Creek Dog Park.