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City Manager Blog

Each week I send out an FYI Update to City Council and staff on the latest happenings within the City of Maplewood.  I would like to share this information with the residents of Maplewood, as well. 

Follow my blog if you would like to be kept up to date on the behind the scenes happenings within the City. 

Oct 19

October 16, 2020

Posted on October 19, 2020 at 12:27 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: October 16th 2020

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, October 26th.   We do not have a workshop scheduled on the 26th.

 

Updates from Staff and Council

 

ADMINISTRATION

YMCA/MORE Team Food Distribution – (Get your community service credit hours)

With the help of the Public Safety Department, Mayor Abrams, Councilmember Neblett and other volunteers from the City and Maplewood YMCA Community Center, we were able to distribute more than 1200 boxes of fresh produced, meats and dairy to families in need. The USDA’s Farms to Families Program selected Maplewood through the YMCA for distribution in our area. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Maplewood Y has delivered more than 50,000 meals.

 

We still need staff to help greet and load boxes for the next two distributions. They will be next Thursday, Oct 22 and the following Thursday, October 29th  from 9:45 to noon. This is a great opportunity to attain your community service credits for the year.  Contact Joe Sheeran joe.sheeran@maplewoodmn.gov to register.   Coverage of the event on WCCO

 

AB/Early Voting

By the end of day Friday, Oct 16, we, at city hall, expect to have received over 1400 ballots, either from in-person voting or ballot returns. Currently, almost 27% of registered Maplewood voters have cast their vote and over 50% have requested an absentee ballot. The AB turnout for Ramsey County as a whole and Maplewood individually can be viewed at https://data.ramseycounty.us/stories/s/qzeh-89k8. City election staff is receiving many questions about the election process and AB voting along with many appreciative comments for conducting a safe, pleasant voting experience. May I pass along that thanks to city management and the city council for allowing us to take over the chambers until Election Day. Starting Tuesday, Oct 27, the ballot counter will be available for those voting in person.

 

Election Judges

Our call for election judges was met with great response from our wonderful residents. We are grateful for all who responded and trained. We must work with party balance in polling locations and as a result not all those who responded, trained and otherwise, could be assigned to a precinct at this time. Those unassigned but trained judges will be called upon as Election Day approaches and openings occur.

 

No Sales Tax Exemption – Fire Station

The Minnesota Legislature passed a $1.9 million bonding bill that included some changes to tax law for businesses. Unfortunately, the city’s request for a Sales Tax Exemption for the new fire station was not included. We will continue to work with our local representatives on seeking this authority next session.

We will also partner with the League of Minnesota Cities staff and the other cities who are in the same position, so we may have some leverage later.

 

IT- message from Nick Franzen

Hello Everyone,

I’ve just been informed that due to the road construction projects happening in downtown North St Paul, some of the fiber optic cable resources will be relocated beginning on Monday at 10:00 PM.  Work is expected to be completed by 6:00 AM on Tuesday. I apologize for the lengthy email, but here are some of the services that will or may be affected:

 

Everyone

There is a possibility that we will lose Internet connectivity. Our partners are Metro-iNet are working to minimize that risk. If this happens, all email, VPN connectivity, and websites hosted in our server room will be inaccessible. Our phone system, Sharepoint, Teams, and Zoom will be unaffected if you are using them remotely. If you are working at most of the city buildings, you would still be able to access files on the S, P, or H drive.

These are the major services will be unavailable if we lose the Internet:

Email (sending, receiving, and access via the Outlook Web App)

Laserfiche Mobile App and Web Link

Timesheet software

SecureSend

Helpdesk

Zuercher (at City Hall)

 

Fire

We will lose all network connectivity to the South Fire Station and the Fire Training Center.

The phone system will be offline for users at the South Fire Station or the FTC.

I will contact Ramsey county to let them know the Station Alerting system will be down.

 

Police

No access to CJIS websites from PCs located at City Hall or the South Fire Station.

Zuercher will be unaffected from City Hall PCs unless we do lose Internet connectivity. Zuercher will be accessible from the MDTs over their Verizon connections

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Nick

 

These are the reports for this week.  As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. Thank you.

Melinda

 

 

Oct 12

October 9, 2020

Posted on October 12, 2020 at 11:49 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: October 9th 2020

Meetings and Announcements:  

The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, October 12th.  We will hold the public hearings on three street projects at this meeting. The Wood Springs Hotel will also be back for approval. According to Jeff Thomson, the owners have made significant changes since the first Council review.

 

Here are the updates from various departments below. 

Updates from Staff and Council:

ADMINISTRATION

YMCA / Maplewood Fresh Food Distribution

In April, the USDA announced the Farmers to Families Food Box Program to help farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the impact of the pandemic. The USDA has approved contracts to suppliers for meat, produce, and dairy packaging and distribution to food banks, nonprofits and faith-based organizations.

 

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/09/29/farmers-families-food-box-program-surpasses-100-million-boxes

 

The food we will be receiving is from an organization called NYSUM and CityServe International.  They deliver food to locations through the Farmers to Families USDA Food Box Program.  Maplewood has been selected to receive 1 truckload of boxed produce and boxed dairy items on October 15th, 22nd and 29th.  We will receive 1000-1400 boxes of food to provide to anyone in the community each week.  The Semi trucks will arrive at 9:00am, we will unload the trucks to our parking lot and have food distribution in our parking lot from 10:00am-12:00pm.

 

This is a wonderful opportunity for community outreach and engagement. Scott Nadeau and Joe Sheeran are coordinating with staff from across the organization to help with distribution. Direct outreach to our multi-family housing communities will begin next week and we expect to have more information from YMCA staff as we get closer. Thank you to the Steve Love, Bryan Nagel and the Public Works Team for coordinating a forklift and pallet jack to help with unloading the semi-trailer.

 

Coat Drive – YMCA Partnership

Please see the attached flier for information on the upcoming Winter Coat Drive.  We will be partnering with ISD 622, ISD 623, the YMCA and non-profits to collect and distribute donated winter coats. The plan is to begin collecting coats in the next few days through October 30th. Thanks to Chief Mondor and the Public Safety Team for their work.

 

Parks and Recreation and Nature Center Task Forces

The two appointed Task Forces met again to dive deeper into the operations of each area. The members have been highly engaged and are focusing on the core areas for developing a recommendation for 2021 and beyond. The next meetings will center on surrounding communities and what they offer and/or what is their service delivery model.

 

Ramsey County League of Local Governments – Mental Health in our Communities

The RCLLG met on October 9th to discuss how in these uncertain and stressful times, citizens across all ages and demographics are struggling with mental health issues, which in turn challenges the services cities, schools and the county government provides. The Ramsey County League of Local Governments (RCLLG) is coming together as an organization to collectively address this issue. A first step in that effort is to share information and discuss possible collective solutions.

 

Leaders at the Northeast Youth and Family Services (NYFS), the Suburban Ramsey Family Collaborative (SRFC), Ramsey County Children's Mental Health Collaborative (RCCMHC) and Ramsey County Public Health and Social Services participated. They will be sharing information about the issues and collaborative strategies that can be used to support people in crisis as well as prevention strategies.

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Sandy Lake Neighborhood

St. Paul Regional Water Services sent a newsletter to the Sandy Lake neighborhood regarding their operations at the Sandy Lake site. The newsletter is attached.

 

Menards

This fall Menards will be demolishing the six single-family homes on County B that will be incorporated into the redevelopment of their site on Maplewood Drive. The construction of the new store is anticipated to begin in spring 2021 which is the same timeline that they originally provided to the city.

 

FINANCE

Accounting Position

The Finance Department will be interviewing for the accountant position next week.  The position has been open since March, so we are very excited about getting it filled.  The position was left open for 9 months to help with budget pressures this year.  Six applicants will be given a Zoom interview on Tuesday, when we will narrow it down to two or three finalists.  Final interviews will be scheduled in person after the initial interviews.  A start date of early November is expected, just in time to start preparation for the annual audit.

 

New Walkup Line is Open at the DMV

The new walk-up line was opened unofficially on Friday.  A total of 92 additional customers were served on that day. An additional 234 have been served this week up to noon on Friday, with an expected total of over 250 for this week.  In addition, the DMV served an extra 15 driver’s license customers that did not have an appointment.  The walkup service has allowed the City to bring in over $2,000 more in revenue in the first week.  A special thanks to all the DMV staff for the excellent customer service that they have always provided.  This is a high-risk position, in terms of the pandemic, and the staff have always been more than willing to serve any and all customers that come to the door.      

 

PARKS AND RECREATION

Parks and Recreation Department

Park Maintenance has recently completed an expansion on the hockey rink at Afton Park. At only 98ft, the original rink was significantly smaller than the average outdoor rink. There were several large ash trees in the area that had to be removed as part of our ongoing Emerald Ash Borer removal program. Because of this, it opened up a large area to the north of the rink that allowed for the rink to be extended an additional 32ft. The users of this rink will love having more space to skate this winter. In addition to the extended skating surface, safety netting will also be installed on the north end of the rink to prevent pucks from crossing into or over the walking trail.

 

These are the reports for this week.  As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. Thank you.

Mike

 

Oct 05

October 2, 2020

Posted on October 5, 2020 at 9:18 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: October 2nd, 2020

Meetings and Announcements:  

The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, October 12th  We will hold the public hearings on three street projects at this meeting. The Wood Springs Hotel will also be back for approval. According to Jeff Thomson, the owners have made significant changes since the first Council review. More detail in CD info below.

Here are the updates from various departments below.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

ADMINISTRATION

From Attorney Batty on the upcoming Special Election

Special rules will apply to two candidates who win election to the city council on November 3.

 

Because of circumstances surrounding the city elections in November, 2018, two vacancies on the city council (the mayor and one council member) were filled by appointments shortly thereafter. A special election will be held on November 3 at the same time as the general election to fill the last two years in office of those seats. Candidates elected at a general election assume office on the first Monday in January of the following year. The rule is different for candidates elected in a special election. Those persons may be sworn in as soon as they qualify for office. That could be in late November or early December of this year.

 

The election will be held on November 3. Mail-in absentee ballots postmarked by election day will be counted if received no later than November 10. Election results will be finalized by Ramsey County shortly thereafter. The city council is required by state law to canvass (certify) the election results within 10 days and is tentatively scheduled to do so on November 12.

 

Election results may be contested through a recount. Candidates have seven days following the canvass of the vote to request a recount. That period will end on November 19. After that date and assuming there is no recount, the city clerk will issue a certificate of election to the candidates who win in the special election. They are then eligible to take the oath of office and assume their duties. If there is a recount, things will be delayed until it is completed. The terms of those serving in appointed positions end as soon as their successors take the oath of office. There may or may not be any actual change in the individuals serving on the city council depending on who wins in the special election. The persons winning the two council seats in the general election will assume their offices in January. Please let me know if you have any questions with this.

 

Thursday, October 1st was the Drive By Celebration for Maplewood Care Center with a 3:30pm Red Ribbon Cutting.  Mayor Abrams attended this event as well as our Public Safety Staff that participated in the parade. Congratulations to the Care Center.

 

Name new school- Josh Anderson 622

ISD 622 is in the final stages of naming the new elementary school in Maplewood, which is being built on the current Maplewood Middle School property

Here are the options, we’re asking members of the public to rank their choices in order.  There’s more information in the link below. Choices are due by Sunday, October 4th.

 

top 5 are (in alpha order)

  • Alan Page Elementary
  • Holloway Elementary
  • Lakewood Elementary
  • Maplewood Elementary
  • Woodland Elementary

 

We're getting ready to share this information out on our platforms, but I wanted to pass it along to the city of Maplewood as well. Please feel free to share.

 

Thanks,

Josh

------

Josh Anderson

Director of Communications and Technology Innovation

School District 622

North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Ponds at Battle Creek

City staff held the initial meeting with Perkins & Will and Ramsey County staff to discuss the community engagement process for the Ponds at Battle Creek and the land adjacent to the correctional facility. County staff indicated that the county still plans to close the golf course at the end of this season but indicated the county board may consider extending the closure to next year as part of its 2021 budget approval. A preliminary timeline has been established for the community meetings and city council updates for the redevelopment plan:

Mid-November – Community Meeting #1 – Visioning Workshop

January 11, 2021 – City Council Workshop

January 2021 – Community Meeting #2 – Design Workshop

February 2021 – City Council Workshop

End of February – Community Meeting #3 – Open House

March/April – City Council Approval of Redevelopment Plan

 

We will keep the council informed as we have additional information on the format of the community meetings and the community engagement strategies that will be utilized.

 

WoodSpring Suites Hotel – 1744 County Road D East

The council will continue its review of a proposed hotel at 1744 County Road D East at its meeting on October 12. The applicant has updated its design plans to incorporate the additional brick the CDRB had requested – samples of renderings are below – full-sized copies of the renderings will be included in the staff report for the council meeting. The applicant has also provided additional information to the city regarding the management company that would operate this site. The applicant selected this management company after what it called an “extensive vetting process” and wants to emphasize that neither the applicant nor this management company have any affiliation with the other WoodSpring Suites that currently exist in the Twin Cities. More background information on the management company will be included in the staff report. Lastly, the applicant will continue to ask the council to consider 9-foot wide-spaces. Requiring the project to commit to 9.5-foot-wide spaces will result in the loss of 10 parking spaces which is a concern to the applicant and city staff.  In a survey of neighboring cities, staff found the minimum parking width – for all uses – in Woodbury, Roseville and North Saint Paul is 9 feet. In White Bear Lake is 8.5 feet. In Maplewood the minimum parking widths are 9.5 feet and 10 feet – depending on use.

 

These are the reports for this week.  As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. Thank you.

Melinda