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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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Apr 01

April 1, 2022

Posted on April 1, 2022 at 1:44 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: March 25th, 2022

Meetings and Announcements:    
The next regular City Council Meeting will be on April 11th  and will begin at 7 pm.  We will have an EDA meeting at 5:15 pm and then workshop to discuss the status of Labor Contracts and that will begin at 6 pm.  Dinner will be available in the Maplewood Room at 4:30 pm. 

ADMINISTRATION
Career Day at North High
When you were in high school, did you know what you wanted to do for a living? That’s why the City of Maplewood took advantage of our invite to North High’s Career Day. The opportunity gave staff from several city departments a chance to connect with students about potential careers in the public sector and post-secondary education planning. The big question was: “How much do you make”? We hope this is just the start to a meaningful partnership with ISD 622’s career pathways program.

Star Tribune’s Juvenile Justice Series
Starting this Sunday, April 3rd, the Star Tribune will begin running its series examining Juvenile Justice in Minnesota. This is a wide look at all aspects of programing to keep young people out of the criminal justice system while finding ways to hold them accountable for what’s becoming increasing adult-level crimes. Maplewood came on the Strib’s radar after the stolen auto chase last September that lead to the death of two young people, one of whom lived at Emma’s Place the other in N. St. Paul. Several members of our Police Department and Mayor were interviewed for the series. I’m not sure which aspect or part of the series will involve Maplewood. We do know the Strib is highlighting at least one incident involving the younger brother of the boy who died in the stolen car case. Please reach out if you would like more context on this series and our involvement.   

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Birch Run Station
Just Sold: Arizona group pays $11.3M for troubled Maplewood retail center
By: Anne Bretts March 31, 2022 4:14 pm

Editor’s note: “Just Sold” is a Finance & Commerce feature based on the newest certificates of real estate value filed with the Minnesota Department of Revenue for commercial sales throughout Minnesota and reports of sales across the country involving local parties. Research includes company and broker documents, online real estate listings, F&C archives, Catalyst and other research.

Arizona Partners Real Estate, a firm specializing in improving troubled retail centers, has paid $11.3 million for Birch Run Station, a 278,347-square-foot retail strip center at 1715-1741 Beam Ave., just west of Maplewood Mall. The cash deal works out to $40.60 per square foot

Birch Run Station LLC, an entity related to Scottsdale-based Arizona Partners, closed March 24 on the acquisition from Voya Investment Management in Atlanta. The strip center, anchored by Marshalls, Burlington and JoAnn, was built in 1989 on 25 acres. It sold in 2014 for $27.35 million but had fallen into receivership.

It hasn’t yet redeveloped any of its property into housing or other uses, as some other retail centers have done.

Arizona Partners didn’t respond to requests for comment on its plans

The company’s website says its portfolio totals over 2.5 million square feet, mostly owned with partners in limited liability companies or as tenants-in-common, in a variety of ownership and profit-sharing structures. Past and present partners include wealthy individuals and the largest pension funds in the country.

The website doesn’t include any properties in Minnesota.
Place: 1715-1741 Beam Ave., Maplewood
Price: $11.3 million cash; $40.60 per square foot
Buyer: Birch Run Station LLC, Scottsdale, Arizona
Seller: Voya Investment Management, Atlanta
Date: 3-24-22

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Minnesota GreenCorps Host Site Application
The Parks and Natural Resources Department has applied to be a host site for a Minnesota GreenCorps member.   The program is coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and aims to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals.   Each year, the program places AmeriCorps members with host site organizations around the state to help communities increase resilience to climate change.  Host sites supply a work area, supervision, vehicle or mileage allowance for work travel, and up to $300 in training.  The MPCA announces host site selection in May, and members serve at their host site from mid-September 2022 through mid-August 2023.  

The GreenCorps application requested a Community Readiness and Outreach member position to serve at the Maplewood Nature Center.  The goal of this position will be to strengthen Maplewood’s capacity and community resilience to impacts of climate change by advancing sustainable practices through education and outreach.  They will serve as the City’s Environmental Ambassador, assisting with programming, events, and mobilizing volunteers.  Maplewood hosted a GreenCorps member in 2014/2015 in the Energy and Air Quality focus.   This member focused on the City’s Energize Maplewood! Partners in Energy project.

Update on the MPCA Planning for Community Resilience Grant
In December 2021, the Parks and Natural Resources Department submitted a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) planning grant for community resilience.  The $32,480 grant funds were requested to complete a critical and final piece needed in the City’s climate resilience planning, creating climate mitigation strategies to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas and impacts to our changing climate.

On March 22, 2022, the MPCA notified us that our application was not selected for funding.  They state the grant was extremely competitive with high-quality proposals.  A total of 49 applications were received asking for approximately $3 million, more than three times the amount available for grant awards this funding round.   This reflects the growing need to develop and implement climate action plans that will mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Update on the MDA Urban Agriculture Grant
In January 2022, the Parks and Natural Resources Department submitted a Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) urban agriculture grant for the Edgerton Community Garden.  The $50,000 grant funds were requested to achieve one of the City’s Climate Adaptation strategies of creating better access to healthy foods by building and expanding community garden opportunities in parks and schools.  Improvements and programming proposed would have helped the City advance both youth agriculture education and urban agriculture community development.

On March 7, 2022, the MDA notified us that our application was not selected for funding.  They state more proposals were received than they had resources to support.  This is again a reflection on the large need for organizations and communities to obtain the materials, services, and funding necessary to improve climate resiliency by creating more local food opportunities and education.

PUBLIC WORKS
Pervious Pavement
Council requested staff to look into the use of pervious pavements as part of new or reconstructed streets.  Pervious pavement, much like raingardens and underground infiltration systems, can help reduce the amount of storm sewer runoff and improve downstream water quality.     There are several types of materials commonly used for pervious pavement.  This includes porous asphalt, pervious concrete, and concrete pavers. 

These types of materials allow storm water to either pass through gaps in the material (porous asphalt and pervious concrete), or pass through the material that lies in the gaps between the concrete pavers.  The water then enters a rock reservoir where it is stored to infiltrate into the underlying soils (see image from researchgate.net).  It is very important to know how well the underlying soils can infiltrate water because this can greatly affect how the system performs.   This is very similar to how we decide where a raingarden can be installed.

Pervious pavement can be susceptible to clogging caused by sediment or organic material.  A regular maintenance program that includes periodic vacuuming is essential for preserving the performance of the system.   Other maintenance activities such as the use of high-pressure sprayers and other regenerative methods may be needed to keep the system from clogging over time.

Additional factors to consider are underground utilities and pavement management strategies.  From time to time underground utilities (public and private) require maintenance work.  Water main breaks, sanitary sewer service maintenance, and extensions of new utility services to a property often require the removal of street pavement.   How the road is restored after excavation can affect the performance of the system.  Some pavement management strategies will also not be suitable for pervious pavement such as fog sealing, spot paving, and traditional pothole filling.

What the expected usage of the surface will be is also an important consideration.  Permeable pavements were often not recommended for high traffic volumes, heavy vehicles, or frequent starting and stopping conditions.   Bikeways, trails, parking lanes, sidewalks, parking lots, or alleys were common areas listed for pervious pavement use.

The City has used pervious pavement in a few areas such as parking lots and sidewalks to help reduce runoff and meet stormwater management requirements.  Other methods, such as raingardens or underground infiltration systems, have been more widely used to meet similar goals as pervious pavement, with more cost-effective maintenance strategies.  Pervious pavement is another tool that can be used if the conditions permit.   Planning for additional long-term maintenance is essential when choosing pervious pavement.

Please let Steve or I know if we can provide additional information or if you have any questions.

Hope you have an enjoyable weekend. Please call or email if you have any questions or concerns with this content or upcoming Council meeting agendas.

Melinda