COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: April 23rd, 2021
Meetings and Announcements:
• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, April 26th with start time of 7 pm.
• We will have an EDA meeting at 6:30pm to review purchase agreements of city owned properties under a Closed Session
Updates from Staff and Council:
Sales Tax Exemption- North Fire Station
The Minnesota House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass the Omnibus Tax Bill. https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/Story/15923
The bill (HF 991) includes the City of Maplewood request for an exemption to the sales tax on construction materials for the new Fire Station. It’s estimated that this bill could save nearly $500,000 of project costs.
Affordable Housing Study
In other sections of the bill, there is a request for the Commissioner of Revenue to develop a report on affordable housing projects paid for in whole or in part by tax increment to be complete by January 2022. To learn more visit: https://www.lmc.org/news-publications/news/all/senate-omnibus-tax-bill/
Community engagement opportunity - Rice Larpenteur Clean Up, April 24, 9-11:30am
MnDOT Virtual Open House Meeting – Hwy 5/East 7th St. and Hwy 61/Arcade St.
MnDOT will be hosting two virtual open house meetings for their future Hwy 5/East 7th St. and Hwy 61/Arcade St. project. Work on this project is anticipated to take place in 2024. MnDot has mailed out postcards for the open house meetings to properties in the project area.
The virtual open houses will be held at the following times:
• Thursday, April 29, 2021 18 @ 5:00 p.m.
• Monday, May 3, 12:00 p.m.
To sign up for the open house meeting or form more information see the following link:
This project is still in the early stages of development. The project includes repaving, sidewalk repairs, and accessibility improvements. In Maplewood this project only effects about 0.5 miles of Highway 61 south of Roselawn Avenue (see map below). At these meetings MnDot is looking to get feedback on the following items:
• Pedestrian, bicyclist and transit user experience and comfort
• Vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian safety
• Access to homes, schools, businesses and other amenities
• ADA accessibility improvements
Maplewood Gardens Rehabilitation – 410 McKnight Road South
This last Tuesday the Community Design Review Board approved plans for a significant rehabilitation of the 29-unit Maplewood Gardens apartment complex located at 410 McKnight Road South. The property owner will be installing new fiber cement siding, windows and roofing to all existing buildings in addition to upgrading the exterior lighting and landscaping. The plans include a sizable amount of site work including the removal and replacement of all the existing parking lots and sidewalks to address existing site and stormwater management issues. In addition to the exterior work, the building interiors work will involve replacing all common area finishes and inside individual units providing all new kitchen countertops, cabinets, flooring, lighting, plumbing fixtures and appliances.
The project provides substantial improvements to existing rental housing units in the city and is due to the recent acquisition of the apartment complex by the Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation. Twin Cities Housing Development Corporation is a non-profit housing developer based in Saint Paul and have built or renovated more than 2,500 units of housing in the Twin Cities.
Homeless encampment behind 2501 White Bear Avenue. (From Chief Mondor)
Over the past month staff from the community development and public safety departments have worked with public and non-profit partners in an attempt to find alternate housing for unsheltered residents who were residing in the area west of 2501 White Bear Avenue (Hyvee-Maple Ridge Shopping Center) and east of 1801 Gervais Avenue (Carefree Senior Living).
Following outreach and partnerships, one of the non-profits (Radius) was able to place one of the individuals in housing on Wednesday 4/14/2021. Today, staff conducted outreach with the Mental Health Outreach Team’s embedded social worker to connect another individual with services needed, that individual has vacated the site and agreed to move their belongings out of the site by this evening. To our knowledge, the site no longer has any humans residing in either encampment.
Earlier this week, staff met with Cathy Huizar who represents property management from JLL (Maple Ridge) and Bruce Mogren and other representatives from Carefree Senior Living. Following that meeting, a cost sharing proposal was submitted to both property representatives. Clean-up activities represent an important element of addressing the challenges currently experienced at the site. At the time of this memo, JLL has not responded to e-mails or phone calls relating to the proposal. Bruce Mogren has verbally agreed to participate in the cost sharing as proposed by the city.
The public works department will begin working on site prep Monday 4/19/2021, beginning with the large shelter on the Carefree Senior Living Property. Debris removal is slated to begin on Tuesday 4/20/2021 and will remain concentrated on the Carefree Senior Living Property. Staff will reach out to JLL again on Monday to see if they are willing to participate in the cleanup effort. If JLL does not respond, the city will ultimately have to decide how to proceed early next week.
If both encampments are not fully cleaned up in a timely manner, staff believe that there is a high potential that the site will be re-occupied. Both JLL and Carefree Senior Living have been encouraged to clearly post no trespassing signs in accordance with Minnesota State Statute 609.605 in an effort to deter individuals from re-occupying the site.
Outreach at this site has been ongoing for over a month, we believe that the city has taken extreme efforts to advocate for the health, safety and well-being of the residents of the camp while also progressing towards a reasonable resolution for all parties involved. We will continue to provide updates as site cleanup progresses.
Staff will also be convening an unsheltered outreach workgroup initially consisting of city departments that have a role in working with unsheltered populations to further define and identify work lanes, strategies and best practices when responding to concerns related to encampments.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
These are the reports for this week. Please call if I can address any questions or concerns.