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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. 

Mar 20

March 20, 2020

Posted on March 20, 2020 at 4:56 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK

 

Meetings and Announcements:   

 

The next City Council meeting and workshop will be held on March 23rd.   PLEASE NOTE THE TIME – The Council will be conducting the meeting via teleconference and the meeting will begin at 7:00 pm. You will get an email from Mychal Fowlds by Monday noon, as to how to dial in from home. There will be no workshops scheduled for the foreseeable future. We will be trying to prioritize our work and the work before you and minimize our meeting time for the next weeks. I will continue to update you daily on our operations.

I have asked each department to provide an update about the work happening with adaptions to how we are working in these trying times. See updates below. 

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

The HR team continues to support its employees.  In an attempt to ensure the health and safety of the community and staff we have implemented the following changes:

  • Work from home program for staff able to work from home
  • Mandatory self-quarantine protocols for employees who have travelled recently
  • Established temporary PTO banks for employees/family who contract or are directly exposed to COVID-19
  • Established mental, physical, and emotional health tips for staff

We continue to monitor the situation and work to support staff in support as they continue to deliver service to the residents.

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

 

Community development is continuing to provide all of core development services, but in some cases, in new and different ways. All employees that can work from home are doing so. Employees that have in-office responsibilities are working staggered schedules to reduce the number of people in the office.  

 

Trash and Recycling Services

Republic Services and Tennis Sanitation are continuing residential curbside collection per their normal schedules. Both companies have continuation of operation plans to ensure essential solid waste collection occurs without interruption.

 

Building Inspections and Code Enforcement

Building and code enforcement continue to operate with modifications to inspection practices to ensure health and safety of city staff and the community. The city is continuing to issue building permits. Inspections are continuing to be performed for all critical facilities – hospitals, nursing homes, group homes, and food service, unless we are denied access due to a health quarantine. Lower risk inspections are also continuing, which include new construction sites that are not occupied and exterior residential inspections. Interior residential inspections are being done via photos and videos, and non-critical inspections are being delayed. Inspectors are avoiding entering all occupied residences.

 

Health Inspections Ensuring Compliance with Governor’s Executive Orders

This week Governor Walz issued multiple executive orders requiring the closure of bars, restaurants, fitness centers, places of public accommodation which include salons, barbershops and similar establishments. In turn, the city’s health inspector has spent much of the week conducting inspections ensuring compliance with the executive orders. Staff has inspected all swimming pools in the city to ensure they are closed – this includes public pools like at the YMCA and pools in places such as apartment buildings. All salons have been visited to ensure they are shut down. Restaurants that are offering take-out or delivery services – as allowed by the executive orders – are continuously being inspected to verify their take-out procedures are in compliance. The good news is the inspections team is finding everyone (public and food establishment workers) have known about the order and staff does not foresee any willful non-compliance. If the council has any questions about the inspection’s procedures or about a specific establishment please contact staff. 

 

IT

IT Response to COVID-19

This week has largely been spent enabling employees to work remotely.  First and foremost, I want to thank Nick, Mike and Alex for the amazing job they’ve done this week.  Each of them has gone above and beyond in their support of City staff by staying late, coming in early and generally doing whatever is needed to help employees maintain the ability to do their jobs remotely. 

 

We’ve supported the use of laptops in all departments over the past 4-5 years so we are fortunate in that almost everyone that has been asked to work remotely already had a laptop to do so.  In the event an employee did not have a laptop we’ve been able to accommodate all requests to equip them with one.  We still have a few in reserve and have placed a planned replacement order of laptops to continue to ensure we have what we need to weather this storm.

 

It’s been a whirlwind week but the last item of note is that we’ve subscribed to Zoom to handle the Monday night Council meeting.  I’ll be sending out call-in instructions no later than Monday at noon.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

The communications division is dedicated to providing accurate city news to our community, letting people know what services are still available, what alerts have been issues and keeping them connected to their local government operations. 

If there is something you can’t answer directly, please refer them to our COVID-19 resource page:  MaplewoodMN.gov/covid19

 

PARKS

Parks and Recreation Work Update                                                                  

This has been an interesting week as staff began to work remotely or with limited office time and these are some of the ways that we are making it work for us both professionally and personally:

  • Using the uninterrupted time to do things that usually get pushed to the side (deleting old files, flyers, etc.)                  
  • Regular morning phone calls with staff to replace the normal in office check in chats that happen organically throughout the week
  • We hope to work with communications to do some Facebook live shorts
  • Had our first staff meeting on Tuesday using Zoom
  • It was and still is so difficult to have to cancel everything with public, volunteers and partners but now we can focus on projects such as grants, work plans, board walk and bridge estimates, trail and yard clean up and file purging 
  • Trying to keep normal work and home routines and going for walks with the family
  • Planning for summer programs
  • I set up my workspace in the kitchen, which is the sunniest room in the house
  • Writing up a work schedule each day that includes short breaks for stretching, yoga and check-ins with family. 

No Child Left Inside Grant Award From the Department of Natural Resources

 

Nature Center staff have received news that our grant application titled: Nature Fun for Everyone: creating enjoyable nature experiences for kids of diverse backgrounds by Maplewood Nature Center and City of Maplewood Parks & Recreation has been selected for funding in Phase 2 of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources No Child Left Inside Grant Program. The City of Maplewood has been awarded $24,767.20 in reimbursable grant funds.

 

We are excited and look forward to working with a number of school partners over the next 2 years including Higher Ground, Webster, Cowern and Edgerton to implement the grant goals.

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Public Safety Department continues to monitor and adapt to the changing situation in our State and Country during the COVID-19 outbreak.  We are continuing to educate staff and make efforts to ensure that they have the CDC recommended protection, and limit opportunities for exposure, to keep them safe.  Despite the COVID-19 related issues, public safety staff continue in their mission to provide for a safer community.  As an example, in the past week the Police Departments Street Crimes Unit (SCU) working with the patrol division made multiple arrests on two different groups who have been involved in the theft of Catalytic Converters, with Officers finding Catalytic Converters, cutting tools, and narcotics on the groups.  We found that some who were arrested have been arrested on multiple occasions and also had warrants for their arrest.

 

We will continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that public safety is a priority in the coming days, weeks and months.

 

FINANCE

The Finance Department will be able to perform almost every duty remotely.  The Payroll and Accounts Payable Clerks will only need to come in briefly to print checks as we will not be taking check stock home. 

 

The DMV employees are working both from home and at the office.  They are still doing dealer work and have taken on additional dealers from other cities who are not doing dealer work.  We are very close to capacity for transactions that we can handle, so we may have to turn some dealers away.  I think there is likelihood that some of these dealers will stay with us after the crisis, so we will need to be prepared for the extra business.  Employees are doing training during the time they are at home.  

 

We are establishing an online link for customers to pay for City services online.  This will help as we continue to find new ways to deliver services remotely.  

 

This has been a hectic week as we try to keep pace with our employee and community needs and at the same time, keep everyone safe.

Thank you for your leadership and support and we navigate the new “normal”. Be safe and stay well.

Melinda

 

Mar 17

February 7th, 2020

Posted on March 17, 2020 at 9:35 AM by Chad Bergo

Meetings and Announcements:   

The next City Council meeting and workshop will be held on February 10th.   Reminder that the Council will have a work session prior. 

The following dates for upcoming neighborhood meetings for our street projects: Steve will provide updated information on the outcome of the first two meetings at the Council meeting.

 ·       Dennis- McClelland Area Street Improvements
o   Neighborhood meeting on February 4th at 6:00 p.m. at the MCC
·       County Road B & Arcade Street Improvements
o   Neighborhood meeting on February 6th at 6:00 p.m. at the MCC
·       Schaller Area Pavement Rehabilitation
o   Neighborhood meeting on February 21 at 6 p.m. at the MCC 

EVENT: Join Us! Metro Cities Workshop with MN Housing

Join Metro Cities and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) on Friday, February 21 for a workshop with information for cities on accessing funding for housing programs administered by MN Housing. Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss funding priorities and application scoring criteria with MN Housing officials and to learn about:

  •  Funding programs and cycles;
  • Submitting a competitive application;
  • MHFA funding priorities; and
  • Single family and multi-family development and rehabilitation.

City staff and elected officials are welcome.

DATE: Friday, February 21, 2020
TIME: 9:00 - 11:00 am
LOCATION: St. Anthony Village City Hall, 3301 Silver Lake Rd, St. Anthony, 55418
RSVP: Please respond by February 14 to Kimberly@MetroCitiesMN.org

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

ADMINISTRATION

Council Staff Retreat

On Monday night, I will be distributing a proposed Agenda for the 2020 Council Staff Retreat. In addition, I will be providing a calendar for you to identify when you are available to attend a one day retreat.

 

Sales Tax Exemption – North Fire Station

The City of Maplewood has secured Chief Authors for legislation seeking a Sales Tax Exemption for construction materials, supplies, and equipment for the North Fire Station.

  • Sen. Chuck Wiger is the Chief Author in the Senate, with Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent as Co-Author.
  • Rep. Peter Fischer is the Chief Author in the House, with Rep Tou Xiong, and Rep. Leon Lillie as Co-Authors.

As noted earlier, this Sales Tax Exemption could save nearly $500,000 in total project costs. The Legislative Session begins Tuesday, February 11, 2020. More updates to follow.

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Global Environmental Conservation Program 

Representatives from Turkmenistan will be visiting Maplewood to review the city’s local GreenStep City’s initiatives.  The U.S. State Department in Minnesota hosts a yearly International Visitor Leadership Program.  Five visitors and two interpreters from Turkmenistan are participating in the Global Environmental Conservation portion of the program which will include a stop in Maplewood on Thursday, February 13 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the 1902 Building on City Hall Campus.  During their visit representatives from the Environmental Commission and Green Team will speak with them about the process of becoming a GreenStep City and how it helps achieve cost savings and reductions in waste and energy.  This will be accomplished through a presentation and demonstrations of some of the City’s sustainability best practices.   

 

Hillcrest Golf Course Master Plan Community Workshop – Wednesday, February 12; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The City of Saint Paul is hosting its first Community Workshop this coming Wednesday, February 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. – the presentation will start at 5:40 p.m. This workshop will take place in the cafeteria at The Heights Community School located at 1863 Clear Avenue East in Saint Paul. Postcards were sent to more than 4,800 residents living in proximity to the former golf course – including Maplewood residents. Please let Maplewood city staff know if you are planning on attending as we want to make sure the Saint Paul project managers know that Maplewood officials will be in attendance.

 

Maplewood city staff are members of the technical advisory committee which is working on the Hillcrest Master Plan. This plan will determine future land uses and a new street network for the 112-acre former golf course on Saint Paul’s East Side. According to the City of Saint Paul: “Community engagement throughout the process will outline how to build opportunity and community wealth on the redeveloped Hillcrest site – bringing more housing, jobs, and public amenities. The City is currently seeking feedback from the community to establish redevelopment priorities, from which concepts will be developed (alongside technical and policy considerations) for further engagement throughout 2020.”

 

MPCA Informational and Listening Sessions – February 25 to 27

The MPCA is hosting public meetings regarding the 3M settlement for PFAS contamination in the east metro. Representatives from each of the 14 affected communities, including Maplewood, along with MPCA, DNR, MDH, Washington County have been working together to identify long-term drinking water supply options for evaluation. The list of long-term drinking water supply options and recommendations are part of the Conceptual Drinking Water Supply Plan; a key component to ensuring that drinking water needs and options for the East Metropolitan Area are appropriately and thoroughly considered. The plan will take into account both public water systems and private wells, using a region-wide approach. 

 

The public meetings will share the long-term drinking water supply options and associated costs for those living and working in east metro area Meeting times at each venue are: 2 – 4 p.m. and 6 – 8 p.m. The format for each meeting will be a 30-minute presentation followed by a Q & A and open house.  Dates and locations are:

·       February 25: Prestwick Golf Club 9555 Wedgewood Drive Woodbury  

·       February 26: Lake Elmo Inn Event Center 3712 Layton Ave North Lake Elmo  

·       February 27: Cottage Grove City Hall 12800 Ravine Pkwy S.  

 

PARK AND RECREATION

Lawns to Legumes: Your Yard Can BEE the Change Neighborhood Demonstration Project Grant

We are excited to share that our grant submission, Pollinators by the Yard - Maplewood Demonstration Neighborhood was selected and awarded for the full amount of approximately $39,000!

This two year grant is offered by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and our partner, Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District, agreed to supply the required match. The goal of this project is to provide funds to at least 15 homeowners to install native plantings within the federally endangered Rusty Patch Bumblebee habitat areas in Maplewood and to provide at least 8 educational programs per year on pollinators and the habitat needed. Kudos to the Nature Center staff and everyone involved for your hard work on this project!

 

2020 Maplewood Tree Sale

Plans for the 2020 Tree Sale are underway! Maplewood is partnering with Tree Trust again this year to offer trees to city residents for only $40. Residents can choose from 7 different species, including a fruit tree duo. The sale starts March 9th and pickup dates for residents will be Saturday, May 16 and Monday May 18th. To advertise the sale, a flier has already been included in the Recreation brochure and there are plans to advertise in Maplewood Living, on social media, and using targeted outreach.

 

 

PUBLIC WORKS

Xcel Energy Open House

Xcel Energy is hosting and open house meeting for their County Road B gas main replacement project.  At the meeting property owners will have the opportunity to learn about the project, expected construction schedule and anticipated traffic control measures.  The meeting information is as follows:

 Date:     Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Time:     5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (open house)
Place:    Maplewood Community Center

 

The HVAC system replacement project for the 1902 Building is underway and going well.  The old unit was removed and the new unit was put in place on Wednesday, February 5, 2020.

 

The contractor is now working on connecting the new HVAC unit to the buildings existing systems.  Bryan Nagel did a great job coordinating with the contractor and staff to make sure employees new about the project and relocated staff temporarily while the new unit was lifted into place.

 

RWMWD Pond Dredging

RWMWD has dewatered the two basins at the southeast corner of McKnight Road and Larpenteur Avenue.  This week the watershed district’s contractor has been excavating and removing the sediment that has built up in the basins.  These basins are two of the three City maintained basins that the City is partnering with the water shed district to clean out this winter.

 

 

Arlington Avenue Flooding Issue

With this week’s warm weather the wetland at the Arlington Avenue and Currie Street overflowed and flooded a section Arlington Avenue.  Flooding appears to be happening because the water from melted snow is unable to reach the outlet structure.  City crews have been working throughout the week to keep Arlington open and passable.  Staff has worked with RWMWD to receive a permit to allow our crews to go into the wetland and open up a path so the water can reach the outlet structure.  This work is taking place Friday, February 7, 2020.

 

 

2020 Street Improvement Projects Update

Staff held neighborhood meetings this week for two of our 2020 street improvement projects.  The public hearings for these projects are scheduled for Monday, February 10th. Staff expects a good turnout from these well-engaged neighborhoods.

 

Dennis-McClelland Area Street Improvements

A neighborhood meeting was held Tuesday evening for the Dennis-McClelland Area Street Improvement project. The meeting ran from 6 PM to 8:15 PM and included a short presentation followed by a questions and answer session. Many great questions were asked by a well-engaged neighborhood, with roughly 50 residents attending. The majority of the conversation revolved around two topics the residents are most concerned about.

 

The first topic includes a strong opposition from the residents whose property lies adjacent to Upper Afton about the proposed sidewalk along the north side of Upper Afton Road, between Afton Heights Park and Mayhill Road. Concerns with this sidewalk proposal included loss of driveway space for parking, loss of privacy, and a feeling that the existing system is working adequately. A petition was received at the meeting (see attached), noting these concerns.  The proposed walk is called out in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan as a missing segment.   This walk would provide connections to Afton Heights Park, pedestrian infrastructure on Century Avenue, consolidate the number of crossings to the trail on the south side of Upper Afton, and would include enhanced crossings.

 

The second topic of concern is the proposal to limit parking on the neighborhood streets to one-side only, as recommended by the City’s Living Street’s Policy. Residents in the area are opposed to this, citing concerns with overflow parking from events at Carver Elementary that result in numerous cars parking along neighborhood streets. The residents also note that many people within the neighborhood park on the streets on a regular basis. They feel the parking restrictions could require them, or their guests, to park further from their homes.

 

County Road B & Arcade Street Improvements

A neighborhood meeting was held on Thursday for the County Road B and Arcade Street Improvement Project. The meeting ran from 6 PM to 7:30 PM and included a short presentation followed by a questions and answer session. Roughly 40 residents attended the meeting. The majority of the conversation at this meeting revolved around concerns with the impacts the proposed walkways would have on resident’s properties, concerns over the loss of parking area in driveways due to the walkways, the necessity of these walkways, and concerns about assessments.

 

Gold Line Update
The Gold Line project has hit a new milestone by completing 30% design plans.  Staff is currently reviewing the plans and will be providing feedback/comments to the Gold Line project team in the coming weeks.

  

 

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  Have a great weekend. See you on Monday.

Melinda

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Melinda Coleman     651-249-2055

Maximizer | Communication | Responsibility | Woo | Ideation

 


Mar 06

March 6, 2020

Posted on March 6, 2020 at 3:50 PM by Chad Bergo

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

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

  • The next City Council meeting and workshop will be held on March 9th.   PLEASE NOTE THE TIME - The Council will have a work session beginning at 5:30pm. Workshop agenda items include a Closed Session for continued discussion on the Londin Lane Property Purchase Agreement and a report on the results of the Employee Survey
  • City Council Staff Retreat date has been set for April 29th. We will meet at the Wakefield Park Building and will start at 8 am and be finished by 4 pm.

2020 Legislative Conference

March 18-19 — St. Paul

Get ready to showcase cities at the Capitol! During this year’s conference, you’ll hear updates from state leaders, explore the bonding process, receive an update from Capitol reporters, and more. Just announced! Governor Tim Walz will address attendees on Thursday morning. Find out more in the finalized agenda. Make sure you register online by March 15 to take part.

Updates from Staff and Council:

ADMINISTRATION

Tax Hearing on Sales Tax Exemption- We will be presenting our testimony on Senate File 3370 on Wednesday, March 11th at 8:30 am. We will have our same speakers and discussion points for the Senate. I will let you know how it goes.

 

Election Overview

Here are a few stats from the Primary election, unofficial of course. Also, same day registered votes is not included here.

 

Maplewood votes totaled 5078

% of turnout was roughly 21%

DFL/Rep split was approximately 90-10

 

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Menards- On the agenda Monday night. There will likely be a few neighbors at the meeting. Staff has worked diligently to address the neighborhood concerns. Please review the very thorough staff report and if you have any questions, please call me or Jeff.

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

Good news to share. I wanted to share this email that was forwarded to the Mayor and I regarding a positive encounter between Captain Kubat and Shores of Lake Phalen.

 

Chiefs and Captains:

On Wednesday of this week my wife and I went to visit several assisted living facilities for possible placement of a family member.  One of them was the Shores of Lake Phalen (1870 East Shore Dr).  During our meeting with them, the business sales manager made it a point to highlight how wonderful the Paramedics with the Fire department are if transport is needed to a hospital.  She went on to say the Fire Department is respectful to not only the patients, but also the staff and they love working with us.  Another comment was they thought we are the best and they are thankful to have us in the community.   She did not know this is where I work and I did not tell her that I work for the department.  It was really great to hear those genuine comments and that they use that as a selling point for them.  It is a testament to all the hard work and professionalism of our crews.  I wanted to pass this along to everyone.

 In a follow up phone conversation the next day, she did find out I work for the Fire Department.  I did let her know we really appreciate her comments and that we also enjoy working with their staff as well.

 

Thank you,

Eric Kubat

Captain/Paramedic

Maplewood Fire Department

651-435-1192

eric.kubat@maplewoodmn.gov