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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. 

May 23

May 20, 2022

Posted on May 23, 2022 at 12:52 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: May 20th, 2022

Meetings and Announcements:    

The next regular City Council Meeting will be on May 23rd and will begin at 7 pm.  We will have a report from staff at the Y/MCC under presentations at the Council meeting. We will have a workshop at 6:30pm to discuss General Fund Surplus Allocations.

PUBLIC SAFETY 
Public Safety Week
“In honor of Police week, Retired Maplewood Police Officer, Steve Heinz came and played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes to honor the officers who are currently serving and remember the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice. We thank Steve and all that attended this service. 

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
2022 Arbor Day Event

Maplewood’s May 14 Arbor Day Event, held at Maplewood Nature Center, was a success. The event ran from 10:00 am through noon.

Event stations included:

  • Tools of the Trade: tree care tools and equipment
  • Tree Identification and Planting Instructions, including information on climate resilient trees for our area and a drawing for a free tree
  • Craft Station
  • Snack Station
  • Selfie Photo Stations; Tree City USA Banner and scattered Selfie Stations
  • Tree Trek Hike debut; courtesy of the Friends of Maplewood Nature
  • Fire Department bucket truck rides 

A steady trickle of participants of all ages attended.  Winner of the Honeycrisp apple tree was Liz Jefferson!

A huge thank you to our Parks and Natural Resources, Fire and Police Department staff and 11 volunteers for a job well done!  

Thank you letter from a resident. Always nice to receive these
Hi! I wanted to take a moment to write you all at Maplewood Parks and Rec a love letter. I am a Maplewood resident and the nearest neighborhood park is Pleasantview. It is such a sweet and well maintained park. I want to voice my support for how the park is currently being maintained.

I am absolutely opposed to the casual and cosmetic use of herbicides (both in my own yard and in public spaces). Thank you for creating a safe space for pollinators, birds, frogs, pets and people! I love seeing the pretty flowering field and watching my child run around and explore a park that supports her health through its management practices. 

You may get complaints from the occasional grumpy person about dandelions and other things like that (Weeds! Long grass! Rabble rabble rabble!) and I wanted to say that I (and many other neighbors) love the beautiful field of dandelions and other flowers. I don’t know if you are doing No Mow May or what, but it’s great. I love the natural beauty that is allowed to shine at our park and I wanted to say “thank you” and keep up the great work.

Martha DeSante
(612) 321-6913
marthadesantedc@gmail.com

PARK MAINTENANCE
The park maintenance crew began restriping the parking stalls at the MCC/YMCA this week. They will continue to work on this over the next week or two.

PUBLIC WORKS 
Frost Avenue Streetlights
Copper thieves have stolen the copper wiring for the streetlights on Frost Avenue west of East Shore Drive.  We had left the system energized to help prevent the copper wires being stolen out of the light poles.  This time it appears that they broke into a junction box (see picture below), cut the power lines, and removed the wires that run underground to the streetlights.   Staff is looking into options for securing the junction boxes to help prevent this from being a reoccurring issue before repairing the damage.    

MnDOT Highway 36 Project Update
Starting Friday night and running to early Monday morning, MnDOT will be working on the eastbound lanes of Highway 36 between Highway 61 and Interstate 694.  During this time, the eastbound lanes will be closed to traffic.   MnDOT will have this section opened back up in time for Monday’s morning commute traffic.

For more information about the project, please see MnDOT’s project website listed below.  https://www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/hwy36littlecanada-stillwater/index.html 

IN THE NEWS

Maplewood police ask for help finding robbery suspect - KSTP.com Eyewitness News Ref: Lt. Joe Steiner


Have a great weekend everyone. I will be on vacation beginning next Wednesday, the 25th and returning on Thursday, June 2nd. Mike Darrow will be Acting City Manager. However, I will be in northern Minnesota and will have cell phone coverage should something require my involvement.

Melinda

 

May 16

May 13, 2022

Posted on May 16, 2022 at 8:53 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: May 13th, 2022

Meetings and Announcements:    
The next regular City Council Meeting will be on May 23rd and will begin at 7 pm.  We will have a report from staff at the Y/MCC under presentations at the Council meeting. We will have a workshop at 6:00pm to discuss General Fund Surplus Allocations.

 ADMINISTRATION
Groundbreaking at SPRWS
I attended the St Paul Regional Water groundbreaking event on Thursday. The utility is set this year to start on the new facility after the first water treatment opened in 1916. There were also additions added in the 1920”s, 30” and late 1950’s. The project will not be completed until 2026.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Ramsey County has released funding recommendations for their housing solicitation. The county is releasing a total of $27.1 million county-wide that will allocate federal CDBG and HOME funding as well as county HRA Levy, ARPA, and GO Bond funds. Maplewood is receiving a significant amount of funding towards important projects in the city. In total, projects in Maplewood are receiving over $6.3 million in funding. Here is the list of projects that are recommended for funding: 

  • Gladstone Village – JB Vang Partners
  • 1310 Frost Ave E, Maplewood
  • $3,026,338


  • Gladstone House Project – Beacon Interfaith Collaborative
  • 1375 Frost Ave, Maplewood
  • $2,500,000

 

  • Emma’s Place – 2163 Van Dyke, Maplewood
  • Youth Support Services
  • Community Center Improvements
  • $512,505

 

  • Cobblestone Court Renovations – AEON
  • 2585-2613 Conway Avenue E., Maplewood
  • $141,774

 

  • Golden Sun Renovations- AEON
  • 1721 Marion Street, Roseville and 321 Larpenteur Avenue E, Maplewood
  • $125,350

 

  • TOTAL
  • $6,305,967

In addition to the specific projects in Maplewood, the county is also recommending funding for services in all of suburban Ramsey County that will benefit Maplewood:

Scattered Site Portfolio Acquisition - Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity - $800,000
Twin Cities Habitat is proposing to acquire a portfolio of single-family homes located in the communities of White Bear Township, White Bear Lake, Maplewood and Saint Paul. The homes would be renovated and sold to low-to-moderate income homebuyers. The project is recommended for an award of $800,000 of HRA levy funds. Acquisition is expected to take place in 2022. 

Rapid Stabilization Homeless Prevention - Ramsey County - $124,600
The Ramsey County’s Housing Stability Department (HSD) believes that using their rapid stabilization model and experience to the create a new Social Service program to serve families struggling with housing instability in suburban Ramsey County would greatly reduce the number of families entering and experiencing homelessness. HSD will utilize funds to pay for a new rapid stabilization employee to help clients identify a barrier reduction plan and then assist them with connecting to resources and completing their plan. Rapid stabilization works under the ideal that success is most achievable when people have the identified resources and encouragement to have an active role in paving their own pathway to success. 

PUBLIC SAFETY 
Sergeants Swearing in Ceremony
It is always so fun to get to meet our staff’s family and celebrate their promotions. New sergeants include: Rachel Murray, Derek Fritze, Brian Tauzell and Joe Demulling. Congratulations to all.

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Nature Center Programming Update
The Nature Center has hosted a few programs offered through our partnership with ISD622 Community Ed and we are excited for the upcoming offerings! We have had a birding hike and native plants seminar with the second birding hike taking place on May 14th.

From our bird hike instructor: The first bird hike of the series was a great success. With 12 participant’s eager to bird, we began our exploration around the nature center pond. The weather was sunny and beautiful, bringing to us quite a surprise of early migratory birds. Bird hikes offer participants the opportunity to enjoy the changing seasons, witness nature in action, and a chance to share a common interest with others.

ISD622 is also hosting classes at the Nature Center for their Community Bridge program, a program for adults with cognitive developmental disabilities. Maplewood's naturalists have offered customized classes at the Nature Center for Community Bridge participants for many years, and now we will continue the inclusion through hosting their own programs at the Nature Center. For example, this summer, Community Bridge staff are planning an Outdoor Adventure Hunt at the Nature Center where participants and staff/family will solve clues to figure out the items they need to find and then head off around the grounds to locate the items.

Spring Clean Up – Saturday, May 21, 2022, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Clean Up allows residents to recycle or dispose of large bulky items that are difficult to handle in the curbside trash and recycling service.  Modifications have been made to the pricing schedule and internal layout to address some of the issues we had last year.  Since we have not had long-term Covid-19 shutdowns similar to 2020 and were able to hold a Spring Clean Up in 2021, we do not anticipate the large number of vehicles and materials; but we will be ready if that happens again.

The City Council is invited to assist in the Spring Clean Up.  We now have a two-tiered entry gate system with Republic Services writing out the invoices, and City staff taking the money.  This makes the usual City Council greeting of vehicles challenging.   I would recommend greeting residents as they wait in line, and asking if they have any food shelf donations (cash or food) and distributing some materials from the City and County.  This would be a huge assistance, since last year we received a large amount of food and cash donations, all of which were handed to various people at the entry gate making the collection difficult.       

Edgerton Community Garden Art Project
The Parks and Natural Resources Department held a garden art project day at the Edgerton Community Garden on May 6.  Edgerton Elementary School is located right next to the Community Garden and creates a good learning opportunity.  Richard Wallin’s sixth grade class painted signs that will be installed around the Community Garden.  The highlight of the event was a tour of the Community Garden.  Several gardeners were present and stopped to talk with the kids and answer their questions about gardening.  One gardener offered to assist with the next program, which will be a garden pollinator-planting project later in May.

Gethsemane Playground Replacement
We are happy to report that the playground at Gethsemane is back open for fun after being closed down last summer due to an arson event. The students at Gethsemane Lutheran School are especially happy and were there to test it out the day it reopened.

PUBLIC WORKS
New CIP Project Communication Tool Coming Soon
Staff has been working on the development of a new communication tool for 2022’s street reconstruction projects.  The solution is very similar to the FIXIT program that was recently launched for receiving requests from the public on issues related to Public Works and Park assets.

The program has a map each project showing the project area streets.  Property owners will be able to select a location, type in a description of their request/concern, add a picture, and provide their contact information.   The red dots show new/open reported requests and the green dots show closed requests.  The dots shown in the picture below are issues we entered as we tested the system and trained staff.  Below is a screen shot showing what the site will look like.

The system is tied into Cartegraph our asset management program.  When a new request is enter into this system Cartegraph will send out an email notifying the City’s project management and inspection team.  This year we have two project being managed by City staff and one by Bolton and Menk (City Consultant).  We have also setup this system to provide notifications to Bolton and Menk staff who are managing and inspecting the McMenemy Street Improvement project. 

We anticipate wrapping up testing and training in the next few weeks.  After that, we will be including a link to this solution on project webpages and in future communications to property owners within the project area.

MnDOT Highway 36 Project Update
Starting Friday night and running to early Monday morning MnDOT will be working on the westbound lanes of Highway 36 between Highway 61 and Edgerton Street.  During this time, the westbound lanes will be closed to traffic.   MnDOT will have this section opened back up in time for Monday’s morning commute traffic.
For more information about the project, please see MnDOT’s project website listed below.  https://www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/hwy36littlecanada-stillwater/index.html

IN THE NEWS
Ramsey County- Arden Hills Land Use plan: Pioneer Press and Star Tribune Articles
https://www.twincities.com/2022/05/10/arden-hills-alatus-come-to-general-terms-on-long-stalled-rice-creek-commons-project-but-county-has-yet-to-weigh-in/ 

Have a great weekend everyone,

Melinda

Apr 25

April 22, 2022

Posted on April 25, 2022 at 9:14 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: APRIL 22nd, 2022

Meetings and Announcements:   
• The next regular City Council Meeting will be on April 25th and will begin at 7 pm.  We will have a closed session workshop at 5:30pm to discuss Labor Agreements and to discuss Ponds at Battle Creek Land Proposals from Ramsey County. 

• At the City Council meeting on May 9th, we will have a workshop to hear a Presentation from the Humphrey School on Scattered Site Housing Program. At the City Council meeting we will have an update on Emma’s Place. This update will provide information on the Safe Summer Program and Police calls for service since January.

ADMINISTRATION
Finance Updates:
Certificate of Achievement for the 2020 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report
Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the City of Maplewood for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020. The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) advances excellence in government finance by providing best practices, professional development, resources, and practical research for more than 21,000 members and the communities they serve.

Minnesota Opioid Settlement
Maplewood will receive $416, 296.33 over the next 18 years as part of a nationwide opioid legal settlement.  The payments will begin as early as next month.  The funding allocation is more heavily weighted on the front end, rather than 18 equal installments. 

Minnesota is part of a broad multistate coalition that reached nationwide settlements with the three largest opioid distributors – AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson – and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The settlements resolve investigations and lawsuits against these companies for their role in the opioid crisis.

The default payment structure for these payments is 85% to State governments and 15% to local governments; however, the MN Office of Attorney General reached an agreement with local governments to vary the allocation model in order for local governments to receive 75% of the funding directly, while the State receives the remaining 25%.  The League of Minnesota Cities and the Association of Minnesota Counties worked closely with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office on funding strategies and reporting models.    

Funds can only be spent on approved uses, which broadly include strategies, programming and services to abate the opioid epidemic.  For Maplewood, some examples of permitted uses may be costs related to embedded social workers, Narcan supplies, and drug task force funding.   

Elections
Over the years, Maplewood has used a variety of buildings as polling locations including city buildings, churches and public schools.  The city has not paid for the use of these buildings and recently found out that Ramsey County does offer a standard payment of $50-100 per time. 

One of our churches has now asked for a similar payment from the city in order to remain a polling location to help cover expenses of having the building open for election activities.  As we have 3 churches which serve as polling locations, we believe it will be proper to offer this payment to each one as they are valuable partners and available stable polling locations are difficult to find.  

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Annual Easter Egg Hunt
The Parks and Natural Resources annual Easter Egg Hunt took place on Saturday, April 16th and while it was chilly, it was still a great day for a hunt!

Over 130 participants and their families joined us at Edgerton Park/Community Gym for breakfast treats, games and activities but most importantly to visit with the Easter Bunny and hunt for eggs and candy!

Once they were done hunting, each child was able to trade in a special egg for something from the prize table and had their names entered in a drawing for an awesome Public Safety prize basket.

The Easter Egg Hunt was a collaboration between Parks and Natural Resources and Public Safety who helped with anything and everything needed! It was awesome to have the extra help before, during and after the event.  Our attendees loved touring the Public Safety vehicles and many included Public Safety staff in their Easter bunny photos. The event was a great success and we look forward to continued partnership with Public Safety in the future!

PUBLIC WORKS
Council staff report correction
Staff found a mistake in the agenda report for item K2 – Gervais Street project.  On Page 290/303, in the first paragraph we say “the estimated project cost is $4,687,300, approximately $574,000 below the current financing plan”.  This should have said above the current funding plan.  Staff will plan to let council know of this mistake during the presentation on Monday. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns with the content of the FYI or Council packet. Enjoy the weekend and see you all on Monday. 
Melinda