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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. 

Nov 16

November 13, 2020

Posted on November 16, 2020 at 10:40 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: November 13th, 2020

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

• The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, November 23rd.   We do not have a workshop scheduled on this evening.

• Our current plan is to have one more Council meeting after the 23rd. Our final meeting is scheduled for December 14th. We will hold the public hearing on the 2021 Budget and CIP. We will also need to have an EDA meeting before year end. Jeff and I are hoping to get this scheduled for December 14th but we may need to schedule a separate meeting.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

ADMINISTRATION

Community Survey Update

Maplewood is in the process of wrapping up our community survey, which helps city leaders and councilmembers better understand our community’s overall perception of the services we’re providing. This year, we were able to ask additional questions around COVID Response and Police Community Relations. In using a national survey tool, we’re able to benchmark Maplewood’s responses to norms throughout the nation.

If you haven’t had a chance to view or take it, here is a link to the survey: https://bit.ly/maplewood2020community

 

Task Force Updates

The Nature Center and Parks and Recreation Task Forces continue to meet. The sessions have been productive and the teams are generating a lot of really good ideas. Thanks to Mike, Audra and Neil for their work in staffing the groups and providing the details needed. To learn more or to view the meetings you can go here:

  • https://maplewoodmn.gov/2038/Nature-Center-Task-Force
  • https://maplewoodmn.gov/2039/Park-and-Recreation-Task-Force

There are 2 meetings left before a report comes to the City Council. However, after 4 meetings the groups have identified the following categories to focus their recommendations:

 

Physical Assets & Infrastructure

The buildings, nature areas, and parklands are valuable and offer residents the most opportunities. It’s also the scarcest resource.

Defining Partnerships 

Who is our best partner in the short- and long-term in each area?

YMCA, schools, Athletic Associations, other non-profits, etc… will be a key area of focus for both.

Regional / cooperative models

Thinking about how our services match up with other cities can benefit everyone and expand our service area

Business / Service Model

Nature Center has Environmental Education

Parks and Recreation has Youth Athletics, Youth Programming, Adult Athletics, Adult Programming, and Virtual Programs

Financial Sustainability 

Fees, Sponsorships, Fundraising, Foundations, Capital Investments

Values / Philosophy / Strategic Alignment

How does this service fit with the City’s Strategic Plan and direction?

 

The other question that groups are looking at is timing for when to implement recommendations.

Here’s a rough time horizon:

Immediate: 3 months

Short-term: 18 months

Long-term: 36 months

We’ll continue to update you as we get closer.

 

New Council Orientation

I have reached out to our newly elected Council members, Nikki Vilavicencio and Rebecca Cave, to set up orientation meetings prior to their swearing in on January 11th. I will also start sending them the link to the City Council meeting packets and other documents and information. Staff will do our best to prepare them for undertaking the responsibilities on City Council.

 

PUBLIC WORKS

White Bear and Larpenteur Intersection Project

Ramsey County is leading a reconstruction project for the intersection of White Bear Avenue and Larpenteur Avenue (see project layout below).  The project includes the reconstruction of Larpenteur Avenue from Flandrau Street to Hazel Street, the reconstruction of North Saint Paul Road from White Bear Avenue to Ripley Avenue, and concrete pavement rehabilitation of White Bear Avenue from Larpenteur Avenue to Frost Avenue.  The project includes signal replacements, pedestrian improvements (such as new sidewalks/trails), and connections to Ramsey County Parks facilities.

 

Ramsey County had their kickoff Project Management Team (PMT) meeting on November 6, 2020.  The project team includes Ramsey County staff, the county’s engineering consultant (Kimley-Horn), North Saint Paul staff, Saint Paul staff, and Maplewood staff.  This kickoff meeting represents the start of design work on this project.  Design work will continue through 2021 and into the early summer of 2022.  It is anticipated that the project will go out for bid and start construction in August of 2022.

 

Dennis-McClelland Project Update

The Dennis-McClelland Area Street Improvements, City Project 19-10 has been completed. Currently, the contractor is working on minor punch list items on the project. City Staff will inspect the project area in 2021 for any necessary warranty repairs. These repairs would be completed under the Contractor’s 1 year warranty agreement. Area residents will be notified in advance if it is anticipated that any warranty repairs would cause a major disruption. The Engineering Department is absolutely thrilled this project was able to be completed on time amidst a word wide pandemic. I want to extend a huge thank you to all the City & Contractor Staff who were involved in the project helping to see it to its completion.

 

NEWS FROM LOCAL AND REGIONAL PARTNERS

https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/530284470/david-a-singleton-of-maplewood-mn-launches-new-website - Mr. Singleton was a Council candidate this year but was eliminated in the primary.

 

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

Melinda

Nov 09

November 6, 2020

Posted on November 9, 2020 at 10:11 AM by Chad Bergo

 COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: November 6th, 2020

 

Meetings and Announcements:

The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, November 9th.   We do not have a workshop scheduled on this evening.

•We will canvass the Election results on Thursday, November 12th. The meeting will be hybrid style so you can call in or come to city hall. Thanks to all who responded to the survey that Lois sent out on preference for in-person or zoom meetings. The Mayor will be reporting on the findings on Monday.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

ADMINISTRATION

New Council Orientation

I have reached out to our newly elected Council members, Nikki Vilavicencio and Rebecca Cave, to set up orientation meetings prior to their swearing in on January 11th. I will also start sending them the link to the City Council meeting packets.

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

SPACC Award                                                                                                                               

Our Police Department took home the top prize in the Public Safety category, 2020 St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leaders in Local Government Award, for its community relations, transparency and hiring initiatives over the last three years. I think we are all proud of our department for their leadership in community relations and intentional hiring practices to increase the diversity of our work force.

 

PARKS

A Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa crew helped out with some invasive species removal at Fish Creek Natural Area this past week. The crew, which consisted of four young adults ages 18-25, worked diligently for several days and focused their efforts on the removal of buckthorn. Buckthorn poses a threat to the ecosystem due to its ability to rapidly spread and outcompete our native species. This work is critical to the protection of prairie habitat in the Twin Cities. The Conservation Corps crew had a blast exploring Fish Creek and leaving their legacy in the form of huge piles of buckthorn. The crew was provided at no cost to the city of Maplewood through a partnership with Mississippi Park Connection and the National Park Service. They hope to be back again next year! 

 

NEWS FROM LOCAL AND REGIONAL PARTNERS

https://www.twincities.com/2020/11/04/maplewood-city-election-results-marylee-abrams-leads-for-mayor-rebecca-cave-nikki-villavicencio-bill-knutson-for-city-council/  Pioneer Press Elections

From the Pioneer Press-Maplewood City Council to return to in-person meetings Nov. 9, with precautions

 

According to Mayor Marylee Abrams, the city has updated its safety procedures and protocols to make it feasible to have city staff, council and members of the public to be physically present for certain portions of meetings, including public hearings.

 

None will be required to attend in person, and participation via telephone will be provided.

 

The public will still be able to view live or recorded video of any of the meetings.

 

Some of the protocols that have been changed are the seating arrangements, changes to airflow and HVAC systems, technology upgrades and overflow viewing for members of the public extended to the lobby.

 

 

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

Melinda

Nov 02

October 23rd, 2020

Posted on November 2, 2020 at 10:11 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: October 23rd 2020

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, November 9th.   We do not have a workshop scheduled on this evening.

 

We will canvass the Election results on Thursday, November 12th. The meeting will be hybrid style so you can call in or come to city hall. I will have Lois reach out to all of you to get your preference for in person or zoom attendance at the upcoming meetings.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

ADMINISTRATION

Election Updates

The City of Maplewood elections team continues to see record numbers of absentee/early voting.

As of Friday morning, over 11,000 Maplewood voters had already cast a ballot. Volumes of voters in city hall remains strong - 282 in-person votes on Thursday, October 29th and we’ve already seen 90 voters by 11:00am Friday.

City hall is open for absentee/early voting tomorrow and Monday.

With 25,000 registered voters, it seems likely that more than 50% of Maplewood residents will have already voted by election day!

 

From LMC

Good morning,

Late Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overruled the State of Minnesota's approved consent decree extending the deadline for submitting an absentee and mail ballots. The consent decree had changed the deadline from requiring absentee and mail ballots to be received by Election Day to being postmarked on or before election day and received within the next seven days.

 

The Court of Appeals ruling means absentee and mail ballots must be received by Election Day in order to be counted. Deadline to drop it off in person is 3 p.m.; deadline for mail or delivery service is 8 p.m. Elections administrators still have an extra day (two instead of one) to process the ballots under the law passed by the state legislature. Absentee and mail ballots received after Election Day should be segregated and held until additional instructions are provided by the Secretary of State's office.

 

Cities should consider ways to communicate with voters this change. Email distribution lists and social media are good options considering the short timeframe before Election Day. Tell your voters what locations are available for dropping off absentee ballots in-person (i.e. county elections office, city hall and/or designated drop-off locations). Sharing the available dates and times when these locations will be staffed will help voters feel confident in returning their absentee ballots timely. The Secretary of State would appreciate cities sharing the following message with their community:

 

Next Steps for Voters

Voters should no longer place their absentee ballot in the mail. Instead, voters have several options to ensure their vote is counted in the November general election:

• Voters who have already put their ballot in the mail can track their ballot at http://www.mnvotes.org/track . If their ballot has not yet been received the voter can vote in-person either by absentee, or at their polling place on Election Day.

• Voters can deliver their ballots to their county election office by hand (or have someone they trust hand-deliver it for them).

• Voters can cast their vote in person with an absentee ballot at their local election office up until November 2, 2020.

• Voters can cast their votes in person on Election Day, November 3. Use our Pollfinder Tool to find out where to vote.

 

The Secretary of State has prepared updated instruction sheets to be used when issuing new absentee ballots.

 

The League of Minnesota Cities will continue to provide updates if there are more developing elections issues.

 

Amber Eisenschenk, JD/MPA | Research Manager

Phone: (651) 281-1227 | Mobile: (612) 750-4825

aeisenschenk@lmc.org

 

League of Minnesota Cities | 145 University Ave. West | St. Paul, MN 5510

 

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Ponds at Battel Creek Planning – First Community/Stakeholder Meeting to be Held on November 19

City and County staff have been meeting with Perkins Will to setup the beginning stages of the planning process that will work to identify potential future land uses for the Ponds at Battle Creek Golf Course. We are starting our preparations for the first Community/Stakeholder Meeting which will occur on November 19 from 4-6 p.m. We are working to fully utilize the virtual meeting capabilities to ensure a productive and informative meeting. In addition, due to the virtual format we will be able to record all meetings and post on the project website to allow interested parties to engage with the materials and provide feedback at any time. Meeting announcements for the November meeting will start to be distributed next week. Below is a timeline of the three main community meetings.

 

Community/Stakeholder Meeting #1 - Visioning Workshop                   November 19 – 4-6 p.m.

Community/Stakeholder Meeting #2 - Design Workshop                        Late January 2021

Community/Stakeholder Meeting #3 – Open House                                 Mid/Late March 2021

 

In addition to the Community/Stakeholder Meetings, we are planning on holding focus group meetings with a more narrow audience, i.e. immediate residential neighbors to the course, in order to get additional input. And as with our 2040 Comprehensive Plan and North End Vision processes the project website will be a place for people to provide feedback and to learn more about this project. As the project develops the website will become more robust with information. The project website can be found at www.maplewoodmn.gov/Ponds.

 

 

PUBLIC WORKS

Tree Planting Report -1 by Steve Love

Skillman Ash Removals

Edgerton Highland Apartments are located on Skillman Avenue between Bradley Street and Desoto Street.  This section of Skillman Avenue was lined with a large amount of ash trees.  These ash trees where in bad shape and the trees on the north side of Skillman Avenue were directly under the Xcel’s power lines.  To address this the apartment management team planted replacement trees, offset from the ash trees, last year.  The management team contacted the City to coordinate the removal of the boulevard ash trees.

Luanne Cortesi is Public Works Office Specialist, who plays a big role in the City’s EAB program and tree program, did a great job coordinating the removals with the Edgerton Highlands Management team.  Bryan Nagel, Public Works Street Superintendent, helped develop a plan for the removal of 35 ash trees along this section of Skillman Avenue.  This plan included coordination with Xcel Energy, Hugo’s Tree Services, Metro Transit (due to the bus route in this area), and our Public Works Crews.

Our Public Works Crews and Hugo’s Tree Services started work at 7:00 a.m. and by 9:30 a.m. the majority of the trees had been removed.  Our crews and Hugo’s where very efficient and did a marvelous job with the removals.  This hard work helped limit the impact on those who live in this area.   Everyone involved did a great job with the coordination, plan development, and removal work.  The photos below show the before conditions, removal work, and what a big project this was.

 

PARKS 

Tree Planting-2 from Audra Robbins

A little snow didn’t deter efforts to start planting replacement trees on Maplewood’s boulevards! As part of Maplewood’s Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) program, residents were given the choice to replace the ash trees that were removed from the boulevards in their neighborhoods. City staff worked with Margolis Tree service to plant 38 trees of diverse variety to help reduce the impact that EAB has had on the community. This effort was funded largely in part to a $30,000 Emerald Ash Borer Community Forest Response Tree Planting Grant that the City was awarded in February of this year.

  

City Wide Buckthorn Pick Up

The City Wide Buckthorn Pick Up took place this past week. Residents with more than a large truck full of buckthorn were able to register with the Parks and Recreation Department up until Friday, October 23 to be included on the pick- up schedule. Residents were given tips for removal and stacking and asked to work with others in their neighborhood to consolidate their piles. The Public Works Street Crew was responsible for picking up all of the buckthorn throughout the City and several residents made a point to let us know what a great service they thought this was for the residents of Maplewood.

  

NEWS FROM LOCAL AND REGIONAL PARTNERS

A thank you in the Pioneer Press last Saturday:  https://www.twincities.com/2020/10/24/maplewood-he-appreciates-your-trails-and-your-courtesy-sainted/  Reference:  Parks Crew

 

New 622 Elementary School named after Justice Alan Page

October 30, 2020 -- North St. Paul: At the October 27, 2020, Board Meeting, the District 622 School Board officially adopted Justice Alan Page Elementary School as the name for the new district elementary school in Maplewood, located on the current Maplewood Middle School site (2410 Holloway Ave E, Maplewood, MN 55109).

 

In naming the school, Superintendent Christine Tucci Osorio said that “It is a true privilege to be able to honor Justice Alan Page in such a meaningful way. Justice Page has been a friend to District 622 and a supporter to many of our alumni and staff of color in their pursuit of higher education. His legacy will have a positive impact on our school community for generations to come.”

 

The school is being built as a part of a district-wide improvement project after voters approved a $275 million bond referendum in 2019.

 

“We received 85 different name suggestions from the community which our naming committee narrowed down to five,” said Josh Anderson, the district’s director of communications. “After seeking further input from the community, our families, and our students, the committee made final recommendations to the superintendent’s cabinet. Naming the school after Justice Page, who is already involved in District 622 schools, was unanimously approved by the school board.”

 

The new Justice Alan Page Elementary School is scheduled to open in September 2022. Visit the district’s construction website to stay informed on developments with this project and other building initiatives in District 622.

  

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

Melinda