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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. 

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Aug 25

August 21, 2020

Posted on August 25, 2020 at 9:28 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: August 21st, 2020


Meetings and Announcements:   

  • The next City Council meeting will be held next Monday, August 24th.  We will have an EDA Meeting prior to the City Council meeting. The EDA meeting will begin at 6:15 pm. In addition, we will have an update on the 2021 Budget at 6:30 pm. Council will also appoint members of the two Task Force Groups on Monday night.
  • We will need to have a closed session at our Council Meeting on September 14th to hear from our League appointed Attorney, Paul Reuvers, to discuss the upcoming Myth Mediation. I will be deposed on Tuesday via Zoom.
  • Here are the updates from various departments below.

Updates from Staff and Council:

ADMIINISTRATION

Charitable Gambling

This is the time of year where Lois begins the process of announcing the Charitable Gambling awards. In speaking with Finance Director Paulseth there has been a pretty dramatic reduction in funds this year. We have seen the proceeds dwindling the past couple of years and now our balance is about $15,000. Lois has done some research about how other neighboring cities are distributing the funds. I can share that information next week. One idea for your consideration is that the Council support fewer agencies this year. We saw in the survey Lois conducting that most cities support less than 10 agencies and some as few as 4.  This is something we can discuss at an upcoming Council meeting.


PUBLIC SAFETY

Mental Health Outreach Team and partnership with Ramsey County

In January of 2019, the Public Safety Department established the Mental Health Outreach Team.  The creation of this team was in response to the prevalence of mental health related illness in the community.  Each year, police, fire and EMS personnel respond to over 700 incidents that involve a primary mental health concern and an additional 2,000 calls that have a high likelihood of a mental health component.  The team consists of firefighter/paramedics and police officers who have received additional training in crisis intervention, crisis negotiations, motivational interviewing and community health.  The program objective is to assist with connecting patients in need of mental health assistance with specialty services while providing short-term case management to help stabilize patients while helping reduce the strain on public safety resources.

In the first year of the program, the team reviewed over 850 mental health related cases and conducted over 150 visits with 16 high risk residents.  While the program has celebrated anecdotal successes, there were several challenges.  These challenges primarily revolved around the complexity of the mental healthcare system and the communication, coordination and healthcare navigation required to support residents with varying mental health conditions.  The team is adequately suited to provide short term case management and support, but it was clear that additional support would be needed to meet the growing demands of the community.

In January of 2020, Mayor Abrams proposed the possibility of partnering with Ramsey County to imbed a social worker within the team in an effort to address the challenges that the team was experiencing.  COVID-19 caused a temporary disruption to the initiative, but this week Mayor Abrams, Chief Mondor and Sergeant Dugas from the Mental Health Outreach Team met with 12 representatives from Ramsey County, including Commissioners Reinhardt and Matas-Castillo to discuss the proposal.  After a 45 minute discussion, the response from Ramsey County was “We are in.”  In the next week, Maplewood Public Safety Staff will begin coordination with Ramsey County staff to finalize the framework for the project with the goal of having the model operational by January 1st, 2021.

Once implemented, this partnership will greatly enhance the Public Safety Department’s ability to provide those who are suffering from mental health related illness with the services and support that they need. From Chief Mondor

Congratulations to Mayor Abrams and Public Safety team for their work with Mental Health Issues and leadership in pursuing this partnership.

About a year and a half ago, Officer Markese Benjamin found a dog abandon on the west side of town by an apartment on Skillman Avenue. He was in bad shape. He took the dog to a nearby animal clinic, where veterinarians said had Mufasa been found any later, he would have died.  With a lot of medical support and love, he has been nursed back to health. The woman who adopted Mufasa, paid our PD a visit this week to let Officer Benjamin see how healthly and vibrant he is. Attached are photos from the event with links to local media coverage below:

Officer Benjamin– Good Deed with Dog

About a year and a half ago, Officer Markese Benjamin found a dog abandon on the west side of town by an apartment on Skillman Avenue. He was in bad shape. He took the dog to a nearby animal clinic, where veterinarians said had Mufasa been found any later, he would have died.  With a lot of medical support and love, he has been nursed back to health. The woman who adopted Mufasa, paid our PD a visit this week to let Officer Benjamin see how healthy and happy he is. Attached are photos from the event with links to local media coverage below:

Pioneer Press:

https://www.twincities.com/2020/08/19/a-maplewood-police-officer-got-a-slobbery-thank-you-wednesday-from-a-dog-he-rescued-in-2019/

Fox 9:

https://www.fox9.com/news/new-owner-of-once-neglected-dog-mufasa-hosts-gathering-with-supporters-and-the-officer-who-saved-him

Great to have a feel good story- Thanks Officer Benjamin for a job well done.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Rental Licensing

City staff continues to implement the rental licensing program. On July 8, 2020, an initial letter explaining the rental licensing program was sent to all multi-family property owners.  In addition to giving an overview of the program, the letter gave a deadline for application and payment submittal of August 12, 2020. As of August 19, 2020, we have received 40 applications, which is more than half of the multi-family properties in the city.  Several properties have been contacted to schedule inspections.  Four properties have already been scheduled with one inspection completed and passed at this time. All properties that have not submitted an application and payment by August 24, 2020, will be sent a second letter giving them an additional two weeks to submit before any further action will be taken.

Fall Clean Up Campaign and Shredding Event

The 2020 Spring Clean Up was canceled due to Covid-19 safety concerns.  Staff reviewed the option of rescheduling that event to the fall.  However, with continued safety concerns and no availability at Aldrich Arena the event will not be rescheduled.  The 2021 Spring Clean Up is scheduled for Saturday, April 17, 2021, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Aldrich Arena.

Maplewood will hold its annual Fall Clean Up Campaign during the first four full weeks in October.  Bulky items will be collected curbside by the City’s contracted trash hauler, Republic Services, at a reduced rate (20 percent discount).  In addition, the City is scheduling a shredding event for Saturday, October 10 from 9 a.m. to noon.  The City usually offers this service for free during the Spring Clean Up event.  These events will be advertised in the September edition of Maplewood Living, Fall edition of Seasons, and on the City’s website and social media.

Development Summary

Community Development is processing a number of land use applications. Below is a summary of the more notable projects.

Woodspring Suites – 1744 County Road D East

SOTA Partners is proposing to build a new four-story hotel with 126 rooms on the last vacant piece of land within the Legacy Village development. The hotel building was designed to blend in with the nearby residential architecture. This building would have a pitched roof with asphalt shingles, a brick facade and lap siding. The lap siding would have three different colors. The city council will review this item at its meeting on September 14.

Apartment Building – Vacant Land Southwest of County Road C and Highway 61

Ayres Associates is proposing to build a 72-unit apartment building on vacant land directly north of Town and County Manufactured Home Park. The building would be a three-story apartment building with an additional full lower level parking below grade. The project will have a total of 144 parking stalls, with 72 parking spaces in the lower level parking garage and 72 parking spaces on the surface. The apartment building will incorporate common building amenities such as individual member storage, a community room with a kitchenette for gatherings, library and conference area, multi-purpose rooms, fitness room, dog wash room, and management offices. The exterior of the buildings will incorporate brick, stone, metal panel, and cementitious siding/panels with a flat roof. The building will be set back off the adjacent street and residential neighbors with landscaping buffers, walks and courtyards. The anticipated number of employees for this apartment building project will be approximately three employees. This will include a director, staff for marketing/activities, and maintenance staff. The apartment building is a permitted use and meets all zoning requirements and only requires review by the Community Design Review Board which will occur on September 15.

Dogtopia – 2015 Woodlynn Avenue East

Dogtopia will be opening at the Plaza 3000 North Annex Shopping Center. Dogtopia is a dog day care with an outdoor recreational area as an ancillary use. The outdoor recreational area requires a conditional use permit. The proposed outdoor recreational area consists of a 1,000 square foot artificial turf area enclosed by an 8-foot-high composite privacy fence. The city council will review this item at its meeting on September 14.

Other Projects

A home occupation license and condition use permit request at 2510 Carver Avenue will be before the council on September 14. At the September 15 planning commission meeting the group will be reviewing two requests – 1. A rezoning request at 680 Viking Drive (single dwelling to double dwelling) and public vacation of unused right-of-way at 1347 Frost Avenue(Maplewood Bakery). Both these projects will be before the city council on September 28.


PUBLIC WORKS

Ramsey County White Bear Avenue Maintenance

Ramsey County Public Works is planning a maintenance project on White Bear Avenue from Frost Avenue to Radatz Avenue.  The project is expected to begin on the week September 7, 2020.  The goal of the project is to help improve driving conditions over the next 4 to 5 years until a long term fix can be implemented.  

The project will include 3 days of removing the existing thin overlay that is beginning to fail from the road surface.  A new thin overlay will be placed over a period 3 days followed by striping.  The improvements will be done under traffic.  North and South bound traffic will be maintained with individual lane closures and the traffic signals will be set to flash red during this time.


These are the reports for this week.
  As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. I hope that you have a great weekend. Thank you.