COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: October 15th, 2021
Meetings and Announcements:
• The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, October 25th
• 5:30 PM Workshop – Staff does not have any workshop items for the 25th. We will not be serving dinner before the meeting.
• 7:00 PM – City Council Meeting, Board Appointments and Charitable Gambling Allocations
Assistant City Manager/Human Resource Director Position
I have a top candidate and will be checking references and other follow up to make an offer early next week. We are in a good place if the first choice does not work out with two other strong candidates. More to come on this.
Family Protest/march #2
The families of the boys tragically killed in the car crash on September 3rd on planning an event for this Sunday at 2 pm. The plans are not finalized but we know it will start at 2pm at the Maplewood Y/MCC and go up White Bear Avenue to end at Redeeming Love Church or at Casey Lake Park in North Saint Paul. The organizers have been in contact with Director Bierdeman and will give him more details as they are finalized. In addition, Police Officers will be prepared for the event and will contact area businesses to let them know. I have spoken with the Executive Director to inform him of this event as well.
I will be available on Sunday as well in case anything comes up and will let you know if this does not remain a peaceful march.
Any questions, please give me a call.
PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Update on Nature Center Re- opening
Staff will be moving in to the Nature Center next week. There is still some minor work to be done but the plan is to open the doors to the public starting Monday, October 25th. The building will be open the same hours as City Hall. Although staff will be working from home at times, our goal is to have two staff present during business hours as much as possible. Maintenance staff did a really nice job of painting and adding a new air purifier and more. There are also new workstations for the staff. They are Audra Robbins, Shann Finwall, Carole Gernes and Neil Breneman.
Harvest Park Native Seed Garden Open House
The City coordinated an open house on Thursday October 7 at the Harvest Park Native Seed Garden with Urban Roots. The garden is located on 1.5 acres on the north side of Harvest Park. Maplewood partners with Urban Roots on the seed garden, which incorporates a mix of native forbs and grasses. The seeds will be harvested from the plants to use in future restoration projects.
Staff videotaped the group as they discussed the native seed garden, tips for maintaining native plants, and demonstrated seed harvesting. Clips from the video will be used for educational segments on social media.
The City will review the Agreement with Urban Roots later this year. Look for future programming opportunities at the garden next season.
Maplewood Resident Shredding Event
For years, the City has been offering free shredding of confidential documents during its Spring Clean Up at Aldrich Arena. In 2020, the Spring Clean Up was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The one call that staff consistently received from residents after that cancellation was other opportunities for shredding. Based on that demand staff offered a free shredding-only event at the City Hall campus in the fall of 2020. We were able to create a contactless event to keep residents and staff safe. During the fall 2020 event, we collected 15,600 pounds of paper for shredding.
In 2021, we offered the free shredding during the Spring Clean Up as we had in the past. Due to the high volume of traffic and the large amount of bulky items brought to the event, residents who only had documents to shred waited in long lines, some driving off in frustration. During the 2021 Spring Clean Up we only collected 3,327 pounds of paper for shredding.
It was clear a shredding-only event was more successful than combing shredding with the Spring Clean Up. So this fall during the Fall Clean Up Campaign in October one of the program offers was a free shredding-only event on Saturday, October 9 at Aldrich Arena. The event was held at the same time as Ramsey County’s Household Hazardous Waste satellite collection site at Aldrich Arena. During the fall 2021 event, we collected 14,160 pounds of shredding. Thank you to Shred n Go who supplied the secure shredding trucks and staff, City staff that worked during the event, and the police who helped direct traffic.
Frost Avenue Streetlight Restoration
This past Monday, Public Works was contacted about wires hanging from the base of a streetlight pole located at the south-west corner of the roundabout at Frost Avenue and East Shore Drive. After inspecting, the area staff discovered that eleven decorative streetlights had been tampered with.
The City of Saint Paul provides maintenance for Maplewood’s decorative streetlights. Staff meet with Saint Paul electricians who informed us the tampering was done by copper thieves. He said the thieves pry open the inspection covers during the day, when the lights are not energized, and cut the wires. Then they return at night and attempt to pull out the wire that runs from pole to pole.
Staff asked about possible ways to prevent this from happening. The electricians said Saint Paul is struggling with the same issue and they do not have a good solution at this time. They tried to secure the inspection cover but it resulted in additional damage to the pole itself from the pry bar they use to gain access. Saint Paul attempted to secure the wiring inside the pole and this upset the thieves. The thieves would then cut the wire and conduit down to the ground. This resulted in having to remove the poles from the base so the damaged conduit could be replaced.
In Saint Paul, the streetlights in the Phalen corridor are currently out due to thieves stealing the copper wire for the streetlights. Saint Paul has stopped making repairs, because when they replaced the wiring it would be stolen again within 2-3 days. Saint Paul’s plan is to wait until we start to get frost in the ground before installing new wire in hopes the frost will prevent the thieves from being able to steal the wire.
Of the eleven vandalized streetlights, we currently have six streetlights that need wire run to them before they can be turned back on. Two of the poles are at the East Shore roundabout and four are located on the Frost Avenue Bridge. In order to replace the wires for the Frost Avenue Bridge, Saint Paul will need to rent a bridge/inspection bucket truck to make repairs. Staff will be coordinating with Saint Paul on the timing for installing the new wires. Staff will also be working with the Communications Department to put out information to our residents about why the lights are out and how they can help by reporting any suspicious activity (i.e. someone working on the light when there are no City of Saint Paul trucks in the area). We will continue to look for options that can limit this from happening in the future.
PUBLIC SAFETY- FIRE/EMS
The Public Safety Department hosted its annual open house on Saturday October 9th. The event was well attended and provided a meaningful opportunity for staff to engage the public while sharing important public safety and fire prevention messages.
Estimated 250 attendees
180 Hot dogs consumed
3 COVID-19 Vaccination Shots Given
32 Surveys completed to provide community feedback about mental health outreach services and embedded social work.
In addition to police and fire department staff, Ramsey County Social Services, Ramsey County Public Health and the Minnesota State Patrol partnered to make this an enjoyable and successful event.
This is the news for this week. Have a great weekend.