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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. 

Oct 03

September 30, 2022

Posted on October 3, 2022 at 6:55 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: September 30, 2022

Meetings and Announcements:   
The next regular City Council Meeting will be on Monday, October 10th.  We will have a closed session to discuss the Compensation Study at 5:30 and then Commission Interviews for Park and Rec and HPC. There are three applicants and one opening on each Commission.

Our City Council meeting will follow at 7pm. 

ADMINISTRATION 
Advancing cultural agility work
I’d like to thank members of the SMT and MORE Team who met earlier this week to review the Community Inclusiveness goals in our City’s strategic plan. We looked at hiring practices, job descriptions and reaching out to people that have the skills needed to work in a diverse community. There will be an update on the DEI plan at the Council meeting on October 10th.

They are: 

  • Officer Noah Swetala
  • Chief Michael Mondor
  • Officer Benjamin Geiselhart
  • Firefighter-Paramedic Ray Crawford
  • Officer Emily Burt-McGregor
  • Steve Love
  • Officer Tony Gabriel
  • Audra Robbins
  • Officer Treana Cruz
  • Julia Winkelman
  • Barb Johnson
  • Joe Sheeran
  • Gina Kuchenmeister
  • Mike Darrow

Employee Picnic
We had a nice day for the Annual Employee Picnic on Tuesday. The Fire/EMS Department hosted this year. Thanks to all of the staff involved in the planning, especially Lois Knutson and Kayla Spande. The food was provided by two food trucks, there was pickle ball (New Mike was killing it on the net) great prizes and bucket truck rides. It is a great time to catch up with staff and enjoy the food and games. 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Frost Avenue Apartment Project – 1136 and 1160 Frost Avenue
Reuter Walton’s proposed five-story, 150-unit apartment building was reviewed on September 20 by the CDRB and Planning Commission. The CDRB reviewed the site and building design. A motion was made to approve the design review for the project with some minor modifications. Members voted 2-2; the motion failed due to a lack of a majority. A member of the CDRB then made a motion to direct the developer to reduce the unit count so all parking spaces could be underground – this motion was approved 4-0. As a point of clarification, the ordinance would not allow the city to require all parking spaces to be underground. Later that same evening, the Planning Commission conducted a well-attended public hearing – approximately 16 residents spoke. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to table the item until its October 18 meeting and directed the applicant to host an additional neighborhood meeting to allow for more conversation between the developer and the residents. As seen below, Reuter Walton is sending out postcards to property owners within the city’s notification boundary for a meeting to be held at 6 p.m. on October 3.

In addition, Reuter Walton is extending an invitation to any member of the City Council, Planning Commission or CDRB to tour its project in Roseville. If interested in taking a tour, contact Michael Martin at Michael.martin@maplewoodmn.gov to get a time scheduled.  

NeuroRestorative – 822 McKnight Road South
At the August 22 meeting, the City Council referred the applicant’s request for a conditional use permit for a residential rehabilitation group home to be further reviewed by staff and the Planning Commission. After the Council meeting, staff requested the applicant submit refined grading and site plans prior to any review by the Planning Commission. This week the applicant indicated they plan to proceed with their request and will be submitting updated plans. Because the applicant has waited so long the city needs a letter from the applicant stating it is extending its own review deadline. If the applicant does not submit this letter or any updated plans, Minnesota State Statute 15.99 requires the City Council to make a final decision on the conditional use permit request prior to October 26, 2022. In this case, the project will be brought back to the City Council for a final decision at its meeting on October 24. If the city does receive an extension letter and updated plans, the Planning Commission will review this project on November 15, 2022, with a City Council review to follow. 

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Fall Natural Resource Volunteer Projects
Century College Biology Lab student volunteer projects have begun for fall semester 2022.
On Thursday, September 29, Principles of Biology ll students cut fencing to make deer-protecting tree cages at Fish Creek Natural Area.  They also collected native prairie seed, some of which will be used in our City Hall Campus Restoration.

Century College Ecology students are helping with seven natural resources projects this fall.  Instructor Jeff Korpik incorporates service-learning projects into lab sessions for hands-on learning.  Retired professor Joy Cedarleaf, who began our partnership with the Biology Department, is also volunteering this semester. At City Hall, the class scattered native plant seeds and removed invasive Canada thistle and common tansy. Extra raingarden plants at Maplewood Nature Center  were collected for use at Legacy Park. Students also removed thistle and attended buckthorn identification and management training to prepare for a removal project at Wakefield Park.  Students will remove invasive plants, collect native seed, clear trails and put Edgerton Community Garden to bed in the weeks to come. 

MNC Buckthorn training
Thistle removal at Maplewood Nature Center        Buckthorn training at Maplewood Nature Cente 

Thanks to these volunteers for helping improve Maplewood’s natural resources!

PUBLIC WORKS
Traffic Delineators
Street crews installed traffic delineators to extend the effect of the island at the intersection of Barclay Street and Grandview Avenue.  Residents have been concerned with southbound drivers moving over into the oncoming traffic lane to take a left on Grandview.  We are trying out these delineators to see if we can help prevent drivers from taking this action and improving the safety of the intersection. 

Annual Lift Station Maintenance
Sewer Crews were out last week doing annual pump maintenance on the City’s lift stations.  I got a chance to see the new crane truck (see picture) in action.  This is a great upgrade over the previous version.  I could not believe how little effort the crane seemed to need to pull out one of the 900 pound pumps.  I really like the custom tail gate that our staff, Jeff W. and Mark H., made.  The original one was simply a divider that had to be slid into place by hand.  The new one is attached to the truck and folds down to provide a work surface for staff to use as they maintain the City’s assets.

PUBLIC SAFETY
Congratulations to several public safety staff for attaining advanced degrees and certifications 

• Ken Nielsen recently completed paramedic school with a 4.0 GPA and is now recognized as Firefighter/Paramedic. Because of his experience and leadership skills he was class captain for his paramedic cohort. cid:image003.jpg@01D8D40A.6CADCA80Ken started his career with the City of Maplewood as a paid-on-call firefighter in December 2008, he became a part-time firefighter/EMT in 2011 and was hired as a full-time firefighter in March 2018.  

• Deputy Police Chief Dan Busack recently attained a Master’s Degree in Justice Administration from the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. UC is currently  ranked #7 in the nation for the best Masters in Criminal Justice Programs. Deputy Chief Busack joined the PD in 1999. 

• Lt. Mike Dugas is set to graduate from Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff & Command this week.  It’s “an intensive leadership and management education program” geared toward advanced law enforcement leaders. Upon completing the program, students are prepared for success in senior command positions by being better prepared to think globally, initiate and successfully complete team-oriented projects, mitigate legal risks.  

This is the news for the week. Next week Mike Darrow will be sending out the FYI as I will be out of town. Enjoy the weekend. Melinda

Melinda Coleman

Sep 19

September 16, 2022

Posted on September 19, 2022 at 9:12 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: September 16, 2022

Meetings and Announcements:  
The next regular City Council Meeting will be on Monday, September 26th. We will have an EDA meeting at 6 pm. It is not a closed session.
We will have a closed workshop on October 10th to discuss the status of the Compensation Study.
Our City Council meeting will follow at 7pm. 

ADMINISTRATION
Maplewood Ambassador Program- We held our second cohort of our MAP program this week.  MAP is intended to celebrate our new employees and pair them with a Maplewood Ambassador (existing staff-member) for support and mentorship during their first year as a new employee. Kudos to our amazing Ambassadors for sharing their “Why Maplewood Stories.”   Thank you to our amazing ambassadors, new employees and Mayor Abrams for attending! 

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Ramsey County Master Gardeners to the Rescue
The Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteers share researched-based, eco-friendly gardening with all residents of Ramsey County.  To maintain their certification, master gardeners must complete 25 volunteer service hours of county-specific public education per year.  The master gardeners have volunteered at the Edgerton Community Garden on three occasions this year.  In the spring, they conducted a garden planting demonstration for all of the new gardeners.  In the summer, they assisted with the solarization project, reinstalling clear plastic sheathing to heat the soil and kill weeds and seeds on the north side of the garden.  Most recently, the master gardeners assisted with a weeding project.  Four hard working master gardeners spent two hours weeding the pollinator and live edge gardens to ensure the native plants can thrive and support our pollinators.  Interested in learning more about Ramsey County Master Gardeners, or taking one of their garden classes – visit www.ramseymastergardeners.org.

PUBLIC SAFETY
Embedded social worker program featured on national podcast
The national podcast Call to Mind, recently highlighted an MPR story that followed our embedded social worker Amy Kuusisto-Lathrop, LICSW for two days on the job. As you know, our Mental Health Outreach Team began a partnership with Ramsey County in 2021 to embed social workers in the public safety department. Last year alone, more than 1600 Maplewood calls for service involved a mental health crisis.  The MHOT with the embedded social workers (Amy and Dean Miller) have improved outcomes for people in our community and has given our public safety team another tool to keep community members and first responders safe.  The podcast takes an in depth look at mental health and suicide. Amy’s portion starts at 34 minutes and lasts about seven minutes.  calltomindnow.org/988-a-call-for-crisis-care

This is the news for this week. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

I am out of the office next week visiting my grandson in Spokane. Mike will be available Monday through Wednesday and out also on Thursday and Friday. Please feel free to contact me if something comes up. There will not be an FYI next week due to Mike and I both being out of the office. Melinda

 

Sep 06

September 2, 2022

Posted on September 6, 2022 at 11:25 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: September 2, 2022

Meetings and Announcements:  
The next regular City Council Meeting will be on Monday, September 12th. The Council meeting will begin at 7pm. Prior to that we will have an EDA meeting to set the 2023 levy and a closed session to discuss the just received Proposal from Ramsey County on the South Parcel. The agenda will be set on Tuesday and the time will be indicated in the packet. We will likely start at 6 pm.

We will be adopting the Preliminary 2023 Budget at the Council meeting. 

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Celebrate Summer Event at Edgerton
Maplewood Parks and Natural Resources hosted the final Celebrate Summer event on Wednesday August 31st at Edgerton Park. The theme this month was “End of Summer Celebration” to give attendees one last fun summer event before everyone is off to school! Neither the state fair nor temps kept people away as we had the largest turnout of the Celebrate Summer Events.

The crowd came hungry and ate a whopping 600 +hotdogs along with chips, water and GogoSqueeZ fruit packs! Guests also had the option to buy ice cream from the Milk Mart Ice cream truck, which is donating 10% of proceeds to the Maplewood Youth Scholarship fund.

In addition to the inflatables and food there was a variety of other activity stations and vendor booths providing free swag and activities to those in attendan

EVENT BOOTHS/ACTIVITIES:

  • Inflatables – Obstacle courses, giant slide, baseball speed pitch, jumper/slide combo
  • Public Safety – Fire Department obstacle course and dress like a cop and fire fighter stations
  • YMCA – Club information, free swag and temporary tattoos
  • 3M Visiting Wizards – Variety of science on the go activities
  • Ramsey County 4H – Program information and fun trivia and family activity
  • GoGo SqueeZ - Free fruit pouch samples
  • Cub Scout Pack 9050 – Foam archery course
  • Other Information Booths - Ramsey County Health (Child/Teen Checkup), Community Dental Care
  • Other Activities - Temporary tattoos, krazy hair spray, and yard games

Parks and Natural Resources wants to give a huge thank you to staff from other departments, partners, and sponsors that helped make this event a success. We also want to take this chance to recognize the hard work of our special event staff that contribute in a major way to all of these events and without them these would not be possible.

 Special shout out to City staff Scott Christenson for helping out at every celebrate summer event! 

Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair
Cities participating in the GreenStep Cities program volunteered at the Eco Experience, a project of the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  Visitors are immersed in everything green and learn how they can support a healthy ecosystem.  At the GreenStep Cities booth, people were interested to find out if their city participates in the GreenStep Cities program.  If not how they can encourage their city to become involved, if so what more their city can do to help the environment.  During her three-hour shift, Shann Finwall met several Maplewood residents who were proud to know or find out that their city has been recognized as a Step 5 GreenStep Cities and are working on solutions to our environmental challenges.            

PUBLIC WORKS
Roselawn Ave and McMenemy Intersection Closure
In the next few days advanced warning signs will be put into place to notify the public that the intersection of Roselawn Avenue and McMenemy Street will be closed on September 14th.  The closure will last about 1 week and will allow the MeMenemy project contractor to complete the water main and storm sewer work in this intersection.  Additionally, the contractor will be able to bring the gravel up to the design elevation in preparation for curb and gutter and pavement that will follow soon after.  Metro Transit, ISD 622, and ISD 623 have also been notified of the pending intersection closure.

Local News
From the Pioneer Press
Sainted

A belated sainting to our neighbors, Nicki and Karen, who once again hosted our Neighborhood National Night Out. Almost daily we notice many of our neighbors walking down our street and we’ll often wave or shout a quick hello, but it’s amazingly rewarding to meet face to face and have the time for friendly conversation.

And what a joy to see the diversity growing in our area and the many new young couples with their children. 

Also sainted are the admirable and hard-working police officers and firemen who took the time from their scheduled duties to meet and mingle with those they so bravely protect. We are truly blessed to live in such a caring area!

Stacie and Mike Hafner

Sainted

Recently my home was compromised by a visit from a person who smashed his way into my space. Positioned himself in a bedroom and frightened me to death.

Called 911 and Maplewood Police responded ASAP.  Thank you, officers. What peace of mind and body to see them arrive and handle the situation in a very professional manner. I can’t say thank you enough in too many ways or words.

Our community is well served.

Karla Sand, Maplewood

More from the Pioneer Press

Free backpacks, back-to-school haircuts as Black officers’ association works to build trust in St. Paul – Twin Cities Ref: Officer Rae Brown

This is the news for this week. Enjoy this beautiful weather and the long Labor Day Holiday weekend.

Melinda