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 18

October 15th, 2021

Posted on October 18, 2021 at 11:25 AM by Chad Bergo


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. 



 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.    


Open House

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.

Fun Facts:

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. 


Oct 11

October 8, 2021

Posted on October 11, 2021 at 11:20 AM by Chad Bergo



Meetings and Announcements:    

• The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, October 11th

• 5:30 PM Workshop – Boards and Commission Interviews. We have openings on the ENR and HPC

• 7:00 PM – City Council Meeting

• Save the Date: Fire prevention week is October 3-9, 2021.  The fire department will be hosting an open house on Saturday October 9th from 11am-2pm.  There will be fire prevention demonstrations, food and activities for all ages.  A flyer with additional information is attached.



Assistant City Manager/Human Resource Director Position

We have interviewed 8 candidates and will be conducting 2nd interviews with 5 of them on Thursday, October 14th. We have some very strong candidates and will be making a decision soon after.



City Receives Award for 2021 budget

The City of Maplewood has received its 35th annual Certificate of Recognition for Budget Preparation from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for the City’s FY 2021 Budget.  The GFOA released the following press release:


Government Finance Officers Association is pleased to announce that City of Maplewood, Minnesota, has received GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget.


The award represents a significant achievement by the entity. It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. In order to receive the budget award, the entity had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity's budget serves as:


  • a policy document
  • a financial plan
  • an operations guide
  • a communications device


Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four categories, and in the fourteen mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.


When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to an entity, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual(s) or department designated as being primarily responsible for having achieved the award. This has been presented to Finance Department.


There are over 1,700 participants in the Budget Awards Program. The most recent Budget Award recipients, along with their corresponding budget documents, are posted quarterly on GFOA's website. Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.


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.




Frost Avenue Boulevard Restoration

The boulevard areas along Frost Avenue between English Street and White Bear Avenue was restored with sod in 2019 as part of the street reconstruction project.  The recent drought was very hard on these boulevard areas and they are in need of some help.  Additionally, we have received several calls from residents about some of the properties not mowing/maintaining the boulevard areas.


The City generally fixes damaged sidewalks/trails and removes snow in the winter.  Property owners are responsible for maintenance of the boulevard grass areas.  This includes the watering and mowing the areas between the sidewalks/trails and the street.


In order to address these two issues a letter was mailed to the property owners this week (see attached letter).  The letter explains the maintenance responsibilities of the property owners and the City’s plan to help address the condition of the boulevard areas.  In the spring, the City will be removing the dead sod that lies between the sidewalk/trail and the street.  These areas will then be seeded and mulched to help re-establish the boulevard grass areas.  Additional communication will be provided this spring to keep property owners informed about the project and to provide tips on how property owners can best care for the seeded areas throughout the summer.




Construction Update

Contractors began installing precast walls at the North Fire Station this week.  Crews installed most of the exterior walls in the two story portion of the building and will be working into next week to install that apparatus garage and plank floors.  While the precast installation was delayed by one month due to COVID-19 spread at the precast plant, Kraus Anderson was able to accelerate other activities to keep the project largely on the expected timeline.  We are hoping to occupy the new station in June 2022.


Employee Recognition

One of the fire department’s initiatives involves training all of our EMT staff to become paramedics.   Firefighter Nick Danley attended paramedic school at Century College in 2020-2021 and was recently recognized as Century College’s Outstanding Student for 2021.  We are proud of Nick’s ability to represent the city and the department while completing a challenging program in the midst of a pandemic.


This is the news for the week.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.   I would like to thank the Mayor and City Council for their participation in the Council- Staff retreat. I know some of you had to take time from other jobs to attend, so thank you for that. I hope you found it to be helpful and productive. Have a great weekend.


Oct 04

October 1, 2021

Posted on October 4, 2021 at 11:25 AM by Chad Bergo



Meetings and Announcements:   

•The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, October 11th

•5:30 PM Workshop – Boards and Commission Interviews. We have openings on the ENR and HPC

•7:00 PM – City Council Meeting

•Please note that the City Council staff retreat will be held next Thursday, October 7th, 8:30 to 4:30. Location will be Wakefield.   

•Save the Date: Fire prevention week is October 3-9, 2021.  The fire department will be hosting an open house on Saturday October 9th from 11am-2pm.  There will be fire prevention demonstrations, food and activities for all ages.  A flyer with additional information will be distributed in the next week, but we wanted to get the event on everyone’s calendar.



Assistant City Manager/Human Resource Director Position

On Thursday two panels of 5 staff/department heads and myself interviewed 5 candidates for this position. The panels agreed on the top two candidates and we will be doing second interviews the week of October 11th. I will have updates for you after the interviews are conducted.



Fall Natural Resources Volunteer Projects

In September, volunteer groups completed projects at Fish Creek Natural Area, and Maplewood raingardens.


A corporate service group, coordinated by Mississippi Park Connection and the National Park Service, planted 100 pollinator-supporting native shrubs at Fish Creek.  A small mesh cage protects each shrub from browsing animals.


Mississippi Park Connection volunteers planting shrubs at Fish Creek

Century College’s Ecology class is back on board, helping with six natural resources projects this fall.   Instructor Jeff Korpik incorporates service-learning projects into lab sessions for hands-on learning.  Two rain garden clean-ups have already been completed.   Rain Gardens capture rainwater, allowing it to percolate slowly into the soil, filtering out sediment and pollutants.   Students will also remove buckthorn, collect native prairie seed, clear trails and put Edgerton Community Garden to bed.


Fall 2021 Century College Ecology Volunteers

Century College students at Wakefield Park rain gardens

A huge shout-out to these volunteers for helping improve Maplewood’s natural resources!



Sanitary Sewer Lift Station Maintenance

The City owns and operates nine sanitary sewer lift stations. In order to keep the lift stations operating efficiently the sanitary utility crew must perform annual pump maintenance and cleaning at each station. This annual maintenance occurs in the fall, starting in mid-September and finishing in mid-October.

The annual maintenance consists of changing oil in each pump, checking all electrical components, inspecting each pump, and cleaning of the wet well.  The pumps are lifted to the surface for maintenance using a truck with a mounted crane.

Six of the lift stations can be cleaned from the surface with our Jet/Vac machine. Three of the stations require a utility worker to be lowered into the wet well and manually shovel grease and debris to the Jet/Vac suction tubes.

The attached pictures show the annual pump maintenance being performed on lift station #6 at 1035 Lakewood Dr N. This is the largest volume sanitary sewer lift station in the city. The 40 horsepower pumps weigh about 900 pounds each and are over four feet tall. This station pumps over 5,625 gallons of sewage each hour.

This critical maintenance work helps deliver a reliable service to the property owners of Maplewood.   A big thank you to the sewer crew for all the work they do.


Last Spot Paving of the Year

The section of VanDyke Street that lies between Larpenteur Avenue and North Saint Paul Road is roughly 980 feet long and is four lanes wide.  The most recent Pavement Condition Index (PCI) rating is 25 out of 100 (with 100 being a brand new road).  While having a very low PCI rating this street currently lies outside of the City’s proposed 5 year Capital Improvement Plan.  This made it an ideal candidate for spot paving.


The first picture below shows that the crews have finished paving the two outside lanes.  This picture also gives you a good idea of what the condition of VanDyke Street was.  The second picture shows the final product after our crews did a great job with the last spot paving project of the year.


While spot paving does not fix the underlying issues of the existing pavement, it provides relief for motorists that travel on VanDyke Street.  Additionally, the spot paving work improves the challenges of performing winter maintenance, reduces the amount of time spent filling potholes throughout the year, and frees up time for the crew to perform other needed maintenance work on our streets and storm sewer system.

This is the news for the week.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  I will be attending the ICMA Conference that is in Portland, Oregon virtually, Monday through Wednesday next week. I look forward to the Council/Staff retreat on Thursday.

Have a great weekend.