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. 

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Nov 06

November 2nd, 2018

Posted on November 6, 2018 at 10:42 AM by Chad Bergo



Meetings and Announcements:   

Our next City Council meeting and Manager Workshop will be held on Tuesday, November 13th.  The workshop will start at 6:00 p.m.  We will be discussing the EDA Programs and Responsibilities.


Rush Line Bus Tour – November 14, 10 a.m.

Members of the Rush Line BRT Project advisory committees have been invited to attend a tour of the Rush Line BRT Project on November 14, 2018 starting at 10 a.m. This tour will start at the Maplewood Mall Transit Center, which is located at 1793 Beam Avenue, and will travel through the entire proposed transit corridor. 

Rush Line project staff have indicated to Maplewood city staff that there is room for additional people to attend this tour. Mayor Slawik is the council’s representative to the Rush Line project and has indicated she will be attending.  If additional Maplewood City Council members would like to attend the tour please let staff know that you will be attending.                


Updates from Staff and Council:


Interim Environment & Economic Development Director

With the recent departure of DuWayne Konewko, Mike Martin has been appointed to step in to the Interim role of EEDD Director. The position will be posted soon and we want to thank Mike for agreeing to step up in this leadership role. Mike has been leading on many of our planning and economic development projects and know he will do an excellent job in this new role.

Chris Swanson Resignation

Chris has accepted a job offer and will depart Maplewood at the end of November.  We congratulate Chris on his new endeavor with the City of St. Paul as their Solid Waste Programs Supervisor.  


Comcast Cable Franchise Renewal Update

Staff and Comcast continue to meet on a regular basis.  The attorney for the City, Bob Vose, will be attending the November 26th City Council Workshop to give an update to the Council.

RWSCC Litigation Update

RWSCC filed for summary judgement on Maplewood’s claim to the funds in the reserve fund.  We will update Council on this matter when we know more.



RFP for Municipal Advisors

On Friday, November 9, the City will interview three municipal advisory firms for services beginning January 1, 2019.  The primary role of an independent municipal advisor is to provide advice to the City relating to the issuance of general obligation bonds.  The municipal advisor will also provide economic development services, typically involving the creation of tax increment financing districts.  They may also provide special services as needed.

Proposals were sent out in September.  Four responses were received on the due date of October 19.  Finance staff have completed a financial analysis after reviewing the proposals.  The proposals are currently being reviewed by a team of five people including, City Manager Melinda Coleman, Finance Director Ellen Paulseth, City Attorney Ron Batty, Community Development Coordinator Mike Martin, and Assistant Finance Director Joe Rueb.  The team will interview three of the four respondents and evaluate them for qualifications, related experience, and cost.

The City’s current independent municipal advisor is Springsted, who has served the City well for approximately forty years.  The City has not conducted an RFP for municipal advisors in at least that long.  The RFP for municipal advisors is consistent with the City’s financial policies and the City Council’s goal of periodically reviewing the cost and qualifications of all consultants. 

Financial Transparency Product for the City’s Website

This week Finance Director Ellen Paulseth and Communications Coordinator Chad Bergo met with a representative of ClearGov, a company that provides a financial transparency product for local governments to host financial information on their websites.  ClearGov provides a more streamlined, cost-effective product compared to the other financial transparency products we have reviewed.    This product has a user friendly platform for the City to present financial and demographic information with state and national benchmarks on its website.  It also includes a component to present the City’s budget in a high-level understandable format.

ClearGov is prevalent in many states, but is relatively new to Minnesota.  We have the ability to try the product, risk-free, for 3 months.  If we don’t like it, the City owes nothing.  There is typically a $1,200 set-up fee, which will be waived for the first 20 cities in Minnesota to purchase the product.  Maplewood would qualify for the waiver of this fee.  In addition, there is a $7,500/year annual fee.  The first 20 cities will also be given a 40% discount for the first year.   Therefore, the cost for the first year is $4,500.  The City has the ability to cancel any time.  Anyone wishing to see a short demonstration of this product, please contact Ellen Paulseth 249-2902 or Chad Bergo 249-2060.

We would like to try the product on our website, beginning January 1, 2019.  We think it is a cost-effective way to get important financial information out to our community.         


City Hall Rain Gardens

The City Hall Rain Gardens are starting to take shape! This week our contractor, Outdoor Lab Landscape Design, began creating the rain gardens in front of City Hall.   Work will continue through next few weeks.  Staff also took a field trip to Lisa Elias’s Studio to check on the progress of the sculpture – it is coming along beautifully! Lisa is doing a bit more tweaking and then will send it on for finishing.


Curb-side buckthorn pick-up

Maplewood completed its annual buckthorn curbside pickup this week.  31 households and one townhome association participated.  Our Public Works crews picked up 165 yards of buckthorn.  This is a joint project between the Nature Center and Public Works.   Nature Center staff provides a how-to demonstration and educational materials, communicates with participants, and handles registration.  The Public Works crew does the pick-up, which took about 1-1/2 days this year.  The residents that participate really appreciate this program.

Bruentrup Farm Boo Bash

We had a perfect fall day for the Bruentrup Farm Boo Bash on October 27! We lost count but I think it’s fair to say that we had almost 1000 people come through the farm on Saturday. There was something for everyone between the hayrides, puppet shows, crafts, games, sensory scavenger hunt, tattoo/ crazy hair stations and the Raptor Center Booth. The Maplewood Area Historical Society sold concessions, and the Fire Department brought the big rig and handed out hats and safety tips while the Police Department helped out with traffic control and made sure everyone made it safely across County Road D and up the trail.  (see more pictures attached!)

PUBLIC WORKS           

Gladstone Phase 3 Grant Update

Back in 2016 the City Council passed a resolution of support for staff to pursue a Local Road Improvement Grant (LRIP) which is administered by MnDOT’s State Aid division.  The City’s project was not one of the selected projects, however recently there has been additional funding added to the LRIP grant program.  Public Works is very excited to report that the City was notified this week that we have been selected to receive the maximum grant amount of $1,000,000 for the Gladstone Phase 3 project (Frost Avenue).  This brings the total amount of grant money for this project up to $2,068,000.  Staff will be bringing the feasibility study for the is project to the City Council at the November 13th council meeting.

Farrell-Ferndale Project Update

Construction on the Farrell-Ferndale project will be coming to an end for the season in the next few weeks. Due to delays caused by an extremely rainy fall and the gas replacement project managed by Xcel Energy, the reconstruction of 7th Street and Mayhill Road is being delayed until the spring of 2019. Delaying the construction of these streets until spring will allow the roads to be reconstructed during appropriate temperatures, ensuring a quality final product.

The City’s contractor, T.A. Schifsky and Sons, is currently working in the area south of Minnehaha Avenue. All utility repairs and installations have been completed in this area. Likewise, the majority of the concrete curb and gutter, along with the base course of pavement has been installed. The remainder of the concrete curbing and base course paving, mainly along the Conway Service Drive, is scheduled to be installed the week of November 5th. Boulevard restoration, including topsoil, sod, and mailbox installations, are well underway and should be completed in the next couple of weeks. The installation of the final layer of pavement will occur, as weather allows, over the next few weeks.

Staff will be sending out a project update letter to all project residents the week of November 5th. A change order will be brought to the City Council at the November 26th meeting to extend the dates of the contract into next spring for the portions of the project north of Minnehaha Avenue.

If you have any questions or comments on the project, feel free to contact Assistant City Engineer Jon Jarosch by phone at (651) 249-2405, or by email at jon.jarosch@MaplewoodMN.gov.

Last Public Work’s Paving Work of 2018

With fall firmly here and winter on the horizon the Public Works crews finished their last major pavement maintenance project of the year this week.  The pavement condition of Arcade Street between Highway 36 and the Spoon Lake Bridge has continued to deteriorate and is in bad condition.  This street is not identified as part of a future CIP project within the next 10 years.  Public Works crews overlaid the street with a thin layer of pavement which will act essentially as large band aid for the street until it can be reconstructed.  This is a temporary fix as the pavement failures below the overlay are still there and will eventually make their way to the surface.  This overlay will help hold the street together and provide some relief for the residents that utilize this road until it is reconstructed.     

City Consultant Pool

The Public Works Department, Environmental and Economic Development Department, and Parks and Recreation Department have been working on a process for sending out a request for Statement of Qualifications (SOQ’s) once every five years.  On Friday, October 26, 2018 requests were sent out to fourteen firms in the local area.  Staff has identified multiple service areas where the need may arise for use of outside consultants.  Firms are eligible to be retained in as many of the service areas for which they express interest and are qualified.  The goal is to review all the SOQ’s, conduct interviews as necessary, and bring forward staff’s recommendations for City Council consideration in January of 2019.  Moving forward it is the City’s plan to go through this process once every five years to ensure we are providing the best services for our residents.

News from local newspapers or other agencies.

Napali Resturant - Reference:  Mayor Nora Slawik


Have a great weekend! -Mike