COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: April 9th, 2021
Meetings and Announcements:
• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, April 12th with start time of 7 pm.
• We will have a workshop at 5:30 pm to interview candidates for Advisory Board/Commissioners.
Updates from Staff and Council:
AFSCME Local 2725 voted to ratify the mediated collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday evening. The specifics of the Agreement are included in your Council packet, Item G-5.
Metro Cities Annual Meeting
Metro Cities Annual Meeting is held each April to conduct elections to the Board of Directors. This year’s meeting will be held as a virtual meeting Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 4:00 pm. The meeting will begin with guest speaker Rick King, Chair of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), followed by elections of Metro Cities Board officers and members and remarks by President Myron Bailey and Vice President Melanie Mesko Lee. Please mark your calendars! The slate of recommended officers and Board members was emailed to city officials. A quorum of members is required for the meeting. Call-in instructions will be provided in advance of the meeting. Please RSVP to Metro Cities’ Office Manager Jennifer Dorn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sales Tax Exemption Bill – Legislature
The full Taxes Committee is expected to unveil the initial draft of the full omnibus tax bill, which will include the language of the Property Tax Division report, shortly after this week’s spring recess. It’s expected that the request for a sales tax exemption for the North Fire Station will be included in the Omnibus Bill. HF 181 would exempt sales tax on construction materials for the project, which could save the city. To learn more click here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=House&f=HF0181&ssn=0&y=2021
Letter from Superintendent Osorio
Dear City Leaders,
As you know, our voters graciously approved a significant facilities bond referendum in the spring of 2019 that is providing for beautiful renovations to our school district buildings. As you know, our facilities master plan includes the closing of some schools, the expansion of others, and the complete construction of two new elementary schools. To refresh your memory, here is a link to our Facilities Referendum Presentation from back in 2019.
We are finally at the stage where we are announcing our new attendance boundaries, which will take effect beginning Fall of 2022. During this past winter and early Spring, we had a diverse committee of community members working to construct a thoughtful boundary plan for our schools. Their final recommendation was presented to our school board at a work session this week.
Yesterday, we notified our staff and families of the proposed changes and are currently in the public comment period. I wanted to share the message with you that was sent to our families, as I’m sure you may be contacted by community members that are upset. Boundary changes typically evoke passionate feelings from communities. Changing schools is never an easy process. Our committee was equity-focused during the process and did a wonderful job of balancing our schools while sticking to our guiding principles, which include:
Will be largely contiguous boundaries
Will balance socio-economic status
Will balance school communities of color and spoken languages
Will last for 5-7 years, but may need to be changed based on district demographic and housing trends
Will limit the time on a bus to 30 minutes, to the extent possible
Will keep walking distances to ½ mile for elementary school notwithstanding unsafe walking conditions
Open enrolled students will move to schools with their cohorts to the extent possible
Intra-district transfers will follow the current district procedures
Over the next few weeks we will be hosting informational meetings with our families while collecting feedback about these proposed changes. You can view the information by visiting our website www.isd622.org/boundaryproject.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Christine Tucci Osorio
Introduction to our new social worker
Amy Kuusisto-Lathrop has been a Ramsey County clinical social worker for 18 years. She currently works with both the children’s and adult crisis teams. She is originally from Minnesota and has two children. She graduated with her master’s degree in social work from the College of St. Catherine/University of St. Thomas. She has prior social work experience working for Allina and Fairview hospitals as well as with the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center.
Amy will spend her first week at the police department setting up her office and getting to know the officers and supervisors. She will be doing ride-along to better understand what challenges our officers face on a day-to-day basis. She will also be meeting with her peers in Saint Paul. In her second week, Amy will meet with the Mental Health Outreach Team (MHOT) for the first time and will be up and running shortly after that. Her primary role will be following up on mental health-related calls, working with the MHOT, and co-responding with officers in the field. Amy is excited to serve the city of Maplewood and is looking forward to partnering with Maplewood Public Safety to better meet our community's mental health needs.
Homeless camp behind the Hy-Vee (update from Molly Wellens)
Just an update to the homeless encampment behind Hyvee. This morning we had a meeting with the non profits and continue to work on a resolution. We believe that the individual in the van with the larger structure near CareFree Cottages has left. People Incorporated and Mac-V are working to find a place for the primary individual of the other encampment. There are 1-2 other individuals that come and go from that encampment but our understanding is they are not open to a shelter or alternative housing.
Representatives from Maple Ridge and CareFree Cottages and the City are going to meet this coming Tuesday, the 13th, to walk the site and have face to face conversations regarding who is willing to do what/pay for what. Both private property owners have expressed they believe the individuals at the encampments are trespassing and they do no want them there.
We have tentatively floated the time of 10 am on the 16th as a deadline for the area to be vacated. However, MDH will be bringing their mobile vaccination clinic to Maplewood on the 21st and 22nd so there is a desire to allow the site to continue through that time period.
Please reach out if you have further questions or concerns. If you have a strong preference as to when you would like the encampments vacated (do you want them out on the 16th or do you prefer they are allowed to stay through the vaccination dates or do you have another time frame?), please let me know that as well.
Hillcrest Master Plan – former golf course in Saint Paul
The City of Saint Paul is seeking public comment on its two finalist master plan scenarios, as well as a draft housing policy for the former Hillcrest golf course located at the southwest corner of Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road. To review and comment please visit stpaul.gov/hillcrest – comments are due by Friday April 16. The Hillcrest Master Plan will determine future land uses and a new street network for the 112-acre former golf course. Saint Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development has lead this master plan process, in collaboration with community members, consultants, and the Port Authority – which is the property owner. Staff from Maplewood have served on this project’s technical advisory committee, meeting at least monthly as this project has progressed.
HyVee Grocery Store Update
During the month of April, the contractor is providing the finishing touches on both the outside and inside of the building construction. Later in the month of April, they will be providing an overlay for the parking lot and finishing up all of the exterior building finishes. HyVee Construction is currently working on the placement of the store fixtures and equipment for the various areas and departments, and building inspections staff is working with the various contractors on closing out the building remodeling and the various mechanical, electrical, refrigeration and life safety systems. We are working with the contractor to address any outstanding items so we will be able to issue a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy by the end of April which will help facilitate the Department of Agriculture approval to allow stocking of shelves by the first week in May. Grand opening for the store is scheduled to occur on June 8th.
Spring Clean Up Volunteers - April 17, 2021, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Aldrich Arena Parking Lot (1850 White Bear Avenue)
Maplewood City Council members are invited to participate in this year’s Spring Clean Up. There will be some changes to this year’s event, including having have only one entry gate on the south side of the parking lot for greeting and taking payment. The City Council are invited to greet the vehicles as they wait, take in the food shelf donations, and distribute event giveaways. All will be done socially distanced with donations and giveaways distributed in a box extended toward the vehicle. The greatest need for entry gate volunteers is from 7:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. Vehicles start lining up at 7 a.m. Check out the details at www.maplewoodmn.gov/cleanups. Please consider joining us at the event! Please let Jeff or myself know if you are interested in volunteering and if so, what time you can participate.
These are the reports for this week. Please call if I can address any questions or concerns.