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 14

October 11th, 2019

Posted on October 14, 2019 at 10:03 AM by Chad Bergo


Meetings and Announcements:   


The next City Council meeting and workshop will be held on October 14th .   There will be a Maplewood EDA meeting at 6 pm  in lieu of a workshop. The Council meeting will begin at 7 pm.

Maplewood Business Council meetings (MBC) and the St. Paul Chamber Business Education Series schedule of events is listed below:

o   October or November                                   Maplewood Business Engagement Breakfast. Staff is working on holding a networking event in late afternoon/early evening in lieu of the breakfast format. This is based on feedback of past attendees and Mayor Abrams and Councilmember Smith. More details to come.

o   December 10 / 3-4:30 p.m.                          Business Education Series – 8 Metrics to Success (Roseville)

Nepali Market Opening- Saturday (tomorrow) at noon. 1700 Rice Street. I will not be able to attend but Ellie and other staff have indicated they will stop by for the opening.

Updates from Staff and Council:



New Maplewood Y/MCC Community Board

I wanted to let you know that starting in January, I will be the Chair of a newly created Maplewood Community Board. Previously, the YMCA Community Board served both White Bear Lake and Maplewood.  A decision was made earlier this year to go to two separate boards.

As such, I am looking for members to serve on the Board. I am reaching out to you to see if you know anyone who might be interested in serving. The specific commitments for serving on the Board involve being advocates and boosters for the YMCA, seek out community partners, connections and relationships and help with fundraising. The goal of the Board is to lead in planning, monitoring and evaluate YMCA programs and services. The Board meets every other month for an hour and a half at lunch time. 


One of my interest areas is enhancing our partnerships we have with our low income areas(such as Maplewood Ponds) and residents, including after school day care and providing food and other services. I am also interested in seeing if we can enhance partnerships with our schools.

If you know anyone who might be interested in serving with me, please let me know.

Thanks for your assistance, Melinda



New Connections with U.S Virgin Islands

On 10/9/19 the Public Safety Director and the Chiefs of Fire and EMS met with representatives of the U.S. Virgin Islands to discuss operational issues with a focus on Fire based EMS services.  It was a great conversation and exchange of information.  The Virgin Islands continue to look to improve services and were impressed with Maplewood’s capacity to respond to both Fire and EMS calls. 


The Maplewood Police Department was featured in the Minnesota Police Journal, which is the official publication of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.  The article highlighted how Maplewood is empowering our frontline staff in areas related to problem solving and strategic planning.


A copy of the article can be found online at: online.fliphtml5.com/grquv/yqvy/

If you like I can print out a copy of the article. 



Deer Management

Metro Bowhunters Resource Base (MBRB) will be conducting archery hunts on the following dates in Maplewood:


Battle Creek Archery Hunt- October 14-16, Nov 4-6

Priory- Oct 25-27, Nov 15-17

Fish Creek (on Ramsey County land)- Oct 25-27, Nov 15-17


The Parks will be closed during the hunts, and the entrance to Afton Heights will be barricaded during the Battle Creek hunt. Signs have been posted at the Priory, and letter mailed to the adjacent neighbors. Ramsey County is responsible for notifications and posting signage for the Fish Creek and Battle Creek hunts.



Pedestrian Crossing Policy

City staff and the City’s consultant, S.E.H., have started work on a pedestrian crossing policy.  Over the next several months we will be reviewing existing policies in use by other local agencies, review best practices, meet with various departments (such as public safety and community development), and draft a new policy for the City of Maplewood.  We are planning to present the draft policy at the January 27, 2020 City Council work shop as an update and to gather feedback on the policy from the City Council.


Thanks for reading this week’s FYI. Please call if you have any questions or concerns. See you on Monday! Melinda

Oct 07

October 4th 2019

Posted on October 7, 2019 at 10:18 AM by Chad Bergo

Meetings and Announcements:   
The next City Council meeting and workshop will be held on October 14th at 5:30 for the Workshop and
Council meeting at 7 pm. I am working with the Management team to develop the fall line-up for the Workshops. More details to come.

Updates from Staff and Council:
Lillie Newspapers Out of Business:
City staff is researching alternatives for a legal publishing paper. I have asked Attorney Batty to look at if there are any other options for posting meetings and other legal notifications. Clerk Sindt got a bid from the Pioneer Press and it is very comparable to what we were paying Lillie. See article below on the closing.

6th Annual Maplewood Rec Run 3K/5K
The morning of our started out chilly but quickly warmed up and turned out to be perfect running weather. Runners participated in pre-race fun which included games, activity stations, public safety vehicle tours and a pre-race warmup with Superman (PD’s very own Derek Fritze)! We had a great turnout and were able to raise $1,600 for our Youth Scholarship Fund.

A huge thanks to the volunteers, Parks & Rec Staff,  and the Public Safety Department that helped make the event a success!

  • David Grupa Portrait
  • Suburban Sportswear
  • Patrick’s Trophies
  • Brueggers Bagels
  • GoGo Squeez

It was a busy week at the Nature Center - Highlights include:

  • 6 preschool classes visited the Nature Center this week along with a busload of high-school students – we were excited to have them join us!
  • Hosting an Emerald Ash Borer Program  -  Education about this issue is a critical step toward helping reduce the spread of the disease and more effectively managing the ash borer. 
  • Nature Center staff and volunteers are participating in the 3M Visiting Wizards Teachers Workshop, at the 3M campus on Friday night.  This is a great opportunity to meet teachers, network, and to represent the City and the Nature Center. 

Hillcrest Golf Course Redevelopment Master Planning Process
The City of Saint Paul has kicked off its master planning process for the Hillcrest Golf Course. The Saint Paul Port Authority is the property owner of the former golf course and is working with Saint Paul on developing a plan for future use of this land. The golf course is completely within the City of Saint Paul but borders Maplewood to the north and east. Maplewood staff is serving on the technical advisory committee for the planning process. This committee had its first meeting this week and will meet monthly throughout the entire process. In addition, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carver appointed 12 citizens to serve on the Hillcrest Community Advisory Committee. Two of the 12 are Maplewood residents – Linda Martinez-Higgins and Tiffany Scott Knox. The Hillcrest Community Advisory Committee will hold its first meeting later this month. Both the technical and community advisory committees will initially be focusing on establishing priorities for the site. Staff will be providing regular updates to the council as this process progresses. The entire planning process is expected to take 18 months.
Here is the news from this week:
 This is a wonderful article about Officer Bergeron’s work to create a mental health outreach team. 
Reference:  Maplewood Police Officer
An incredible story about one of former staff, Tammy Young. Her twin sons wives gave birth to boys on the same day. This is a happy news piece from KARE 11.

Rosedale Center's $100M 'lifestyle center' project will begin next year - Jim Buchta, Star Tribune
Mall owners across the country are looking for creative ways of transforming vacant department stores into more appealing Main Street-style lifestyle centers.
If all goes according to plan in Rosedale Center, the former Herberger’s building will receive last rites as a retail space after the pop-up Haunted Basement closes after Halloween.
The $100 million — or more — of work will begin to transform the building and an adjacent parking lot into Roseville’s latest neighborhood. Owner Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) wants to transform the 50-year-old mall into the metro’s latest retail and entertainment lifestyle center with apartments and amenities beyond stores.
“People will live here and eat and work here,” said Lisa Crain, Rosedale’s general manager. “This will become more than just a shopping center.”
While the project is aimed at helping inject new energy into the middle-age mall, such redevelopment projects are happening at shopping centers across the country — and major world centers. Dozens of mall operators have given their shopping centers radical makeovers aimed at reimagining the way people live and shop.
The reinvention is a must as traditional brick-and-mortar retailers compete with online stores — and the mall mainstays, particularly department stores, are struggling.
“It’s really important that places like Rosedale reinvest in these markets and make sure they’re anticipating the changing demands,” said Pat Trudgeon, Roseville’s city manager.
The Rosedale plan is the latest iteration of what’s happening at Southdale, where apartments have replaced parking spaces and there’s a new Life Time fitness, Restoration Hardware store and community library, said Peggy Lord, assistant director at the Center for Retail Design & Innovation at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design’s Retail Merchandising Program.
“The consumer today is looking for experiences and adding upscale restaurants, fitness centers, pop-up stores and new retail concepts that improve the quality of the shopping experience [while] making it more interactive,” Lord said.
Lord said the key to success for owners trying reinvent their regional shopping centers is making it an experience that drives traffic to that mall.
The International Council of Shopping Centers in its “Envision 2020” report listed the community concept as one of the biggest retail changes that have seen success. Basically, the idea is to fully integrate the mall into the surrounding community, becoming another town center.
For example, Liberty Center near Cincinnati has traditional retail and restaurant options, but it also has office and residential buildings, fitness centers, a library and event spaces including a chapel.
Earlier this year JLL announced plans to add hundreds of market-rate and age-restricted rentals, a hotel, offices, restaurants and new shops on the mall’s south side. There will be green space, too.
This week, Crain released new preliminary renderings of the project and said the team has lined up several partners who have committed to helping the firm tackle various aspects of the project. The company said it will present its plans to the city in the next few weeks.
Roseville’s Trudgeon said plans have been quietly discussed for several months at the city level and that he supports the project. Still, JLL will have to request a conditional-use permit for the housing component of the project, which would be built in several phases.
“Having a variety of uses and strengthening the retail core, but making it more experiential place for people to go, including housing, really strengthens their position in the market and in Roseville,” Trudgeon said.
He said the city has been fully developed for several years and that the mall update will likely become the city’s biggest development project.
Because Roseville is a fully developed suburb, he said, developers have been canvassing the city for potential redevelopment sites like the one at Rosedale. Such projects are important because the needs of the city have changed.
For example, even though Roseville is in the midst of a record year for construction projects, it has been at least 30 years since anyone has built a market-rate apartment building, and many residents are aging out of their single-family housing and are ready for more updated rental options.
Hye-Young Kim, an associate professor at University of Minnesota and retail merchandising director at the U’s Center for Retail Design and Innovation, said redevelopment efforts like Rosedale’s have the potential to help people living healthier lives.
Recent research shows restoration from mental fatigue and chronic time pressure can be achieved in such lifestyle centers that include manicured gardens, plants, fountains and walkways that are paired with trendy retail, dining and entertainment spots.
“That is what today’s lifestyle shoppers want,” she said. “They are not just wealthy, upscale experience-seeking shoppers.”
Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376
District 622 e-news for Thursday, October 3, 2019
At a glance
·  No School on Friday, October 4 (classes held for Adult Basic Education)
·  Upcoming Immunization Clinics
·  Fall Productions from Tartan Theatre and North Drama
·  Alumni News
·  Community Education News
Visit the e-news webpage or open the attached PDF to read this week's District 622 e-news.

Thanks for reading this week’s FYI. Please call if you have any questions or concerns. Enjoy the very fall like weekend. Melinda

Sep 30

Communications from the Week: September 27th, 2019

Posted on September 30, 2019 at 10:41 AM by Chad Bergo

Meetings and Announcements:   

  • The next City Council meeting and workshop will be held on October 14th at 5:30 for the Workshop and Council meeting at 7 pm. I am working with the Management team to develop the fall line-up for the Workshops. More details next week.
  • The White Bear Chamber Award Luncheon is next Tuesday, October 1st – 11:30 to 1 pm at Keller Golf Club. Please let me know if you wish to attend.
  • Roseville Area Schools has invited you to attend a groundbreaking ceremony at Harambee Elementary School on Friday, October 11, at 2 p.m. You will receive a formal invitation in the mail. 

Updates from Staff and Council:


Charitable Gambling Scoresheets

If you have not done so, please return your Charitable Gambling Scoresheets by October 4th.

Police Advisory Commission

Mayor Abrams and myself met with the PAC on Wednesday night. We discussed changing from a commission to a Multiple Cultural Advisory Committee. Staff will be bringing the PAC/Staff recommendation to an upcoming Council Manager workshop. Please call if you would like to hear more about this.  


Nature Center 40th Anniversary

The Maplewood Nature Center celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a public event on Saturday, Sept 21st.  There were crafts, games, live music, a history trail, shadow puppets, face painting, a cider press, and, of course, anniversary cake.  Senator Wiger presented the City with a Senate resolution honoring and congratulating the Maplewood Nature Center on its 40th anniversary and its legacy of environmental education.  Mayor Abrams accepted the resolution on behalf of the City, along with City Manager Coleman and Nature Center staff.  


McKnight Road Improvements

Ramsey County Public Works is planning road improvement project on McKnight Road in 2020 and 2021.  The proposed improvements include resurfacing, signal upgrades, stormwater management improvements, and a review of pedestrian crossings.  The county will also be considering a 4 lane to 3 lane conversion in select location on McKnight Road.  An open house meeting is planned for October 22nd from 5:50 to 7:30 p.m. at Gethsemane Lutheran Church. 

MnDOT Signal Replacement Project

MnDOT is planning on replacing the ramp signals at the intersection of Highway 36 and White Bear Avenue in 2020.  This work will include replacement of the signals, portions of the sidewalk along White Bear, and ADA ramp upgrades.

Athletic Field Marking

This week our Park Maintenance crews were out marking athletic fields for fall sport activities such as soccer and softball.  The frequency of marking often depends a lot on how often the fields are being used and how wet of a year it is.  With this year being one of the wettest years on record it has kept our crews very busy with making sure the fields are in good shape.  

Maplecrest Tennis Court Removal

At the request of the neighborhood staff had a professional court restoration company review the Maplecrest tennis courts to see if they could be resurfaced.  Based on the existing conditions and the poor underlying soils these courts were not a candidate for restoration and removal was necessary.

This week Park Maintenance crews were assisted by Sanitary Sewer Maintenance crews with removing the fencing, nets and the court surface.  A big thank you to our sewer crews for helping out on this removal.



Reference:  Myth/City Council pulls from Agenda

Counterpoint: Developers' studies misrepresent role of fees in housing costs
David Unmacht, Patricia Nauman, James Hovland, Bradley Peterson and Mary McComber

Two recent reports by a builders’ industry group called the Housing Affordability Institute — funded by the Builders Association-Housing First (BATC) — paint an incomplete and inaccurate picture of the role development fees, particularly building permit fees, play in housing costs. Both reports have received Star Tribune coverage (“Builders say cities are overcharging for permits,” Aug. 21).

While city governments and developers have historically worked hand in hand when it comes to new development, each operates with different motivations. Cities provide essential services to ensure the health, safety and welfare of residents. Developers and builders are private businesses motivated to construct housing with a goal of maximizing profit margins. Successful collaboration relies on each party’s acknowledgment, respect and understanding of the other’s primary objectives.

Cities in our state approach these partnerships in good faith and with a consistent guiding principle — new development should pay for itself. Public infrastructure that serves the new development — safe streets, sewer service and utilities, for example — generally should not be subsidized by existing residents through their property taxes but instead should be included in the development cost.

That is why cities collect development fees that are mutually negotiated by both parties, and that reflect the unique characteristics of each project. Those fees offset the city’s costs to make sure that development functions as intended and meets safety standards.

With the release of its reports, BATC has launched a campaign designed to pin complex and multi-varied housing challenges onto city government and shift the cost of new development to existing taxpayers.

The first report claims that city fees are the primary driver of high housing costs, but the report’s own data and narrative do not support this. The report’s contents instead show that the largest variables in the cost of new construction are labor and materials followed by land costs — all three of which are dictated by market forces and not cities. The authors claim city fees account for “up to” 30% of the cost of a newly constructed home when, in some cities, that number calculated with publicly available data was between 4% and 6%.

Four to six percent is not what separates the market cost of new single-family construction and what the report vaguely refers to as “affordability.” It does, however, secure the safety and functionality of new neighborhoods that will stand in our communities long after the builders have sold off the last lot and moved on to the next project.

In its latest report released on Aug. 20, the institute cherry-picks data collected by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) to accuse cities of willfully overcharging for building permit fees.

That report, though, failed to account for several facts:

  • State rules dictate that building permit fees are based on valuation of the construction project, not on the fee-for-service pass-through framework claimed in the report. This is a fundamental flaw and indicates a lack of expertise or a purposeful diversion by the report’s authors.
  • Builders and developers are involved in setting that valuation.
  • Building permit fees do not adequately account for city costs — to fairly analyze the data, all development fees as well as city administrative, engineering, planning and zoning expenses should also be considered.
  • The report only uses data from 2014-2018. If the snapshot were for the previous five years, it would instead show that many cities made the difficult decision to use taxpayer money to cover costs related to new development during a recessionary period.

The report went on to assert that several cities in the state have failed to file yearly development fee reports to DLI. However, municipalities are not required to contact the state if they do not collect more than $5,000 in fees. The League of Minnesota Cities is working with cities who failed to meet the submission deadline to ensure they understand compliance responsibilities going forward.

We respectfully reject the Housing Affordability Institute’s “us vs. them” strategy. Legislative leaders who might be considering legislation that would undermine local control should reject this approach as well. Our associations believe that paying for local development across all of Minnesota’s 853 cities is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. These are policies that should be set by local elected leaders — not dictated by private builders and developers whose motives might be inconsistent with the best interests of the communities.

David Unmacht is executive director, League of Minnesota Cities. Patricia Nauman is executive director, Metro Cities. James Hovland is president, Municipal Legislative Commission. Bradley Peterson is executive director, Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Mary McComber is president, Minnesota Association of Small Cities.

Thanks for reading this week’s FYI. Please call if you have any questions or concerns. Enjoy the weekend. Melinda