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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 11

October 8, 2021

Posted on October 11, 2021 at 11:20 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: October 8, 2021

 

Meetings and Announcements:    

• The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, October 11th

• 5:30 PM Workshop – Boards and Commission Interviews. We have openings on the ENR and HPC

• 7:00 PM – City Council Meeting

• Save the Date: Fire prevention week is October 3-9, 2021.  The fire department will be hosting an open house on Saturday October 9th from 11am-2pm.  There will be fire prevention demonstrations, food and activities for all ages.  A flyer with additional information is attached.

 

ADMINISTRATION

Assistant City Manager/Human Resource Director Position

We have interviewed 8 candidates and will be conducting 2nd interviews with 5 of them on Thursday, October 14th. We have some very strong candidates and will be making a decision soon after.

 

FINANCE DEPARTMENT

City Receives Award for 2021 budget

The City of Maplewood has received its 35th annual Certificate of Recognition for Budget Preparation from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for the City’s FY 2021 Budget.  The GFOA released the following press release:

 

Government Finance Officers Association is pleased to announce that City of Maplewood, Minnesota, has received GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget.

 

The award represents a significant achievement by the entity. It reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. In order to receive the budget award, the entity had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity's budget serves as:

 

  • a policy document
  • a financial plan
  • an operations guide
  • a communications device

 

Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four categories, and in the fourteen mandatory criteria within those categories, to receive the award.

 

When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to an entity, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual(s) or department designated as being primarily responsible for having achieved the award. This has been presented to Finance Department.

 

There are over 1,700 participants in the Budget Awards Program. The most recent Budget Award recipients, along with their corresponding budget documents, are posted quarterly on GFOA's website. Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.

 

Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) advances excellence in government finance by providing best practices, professional development, resources and practical research for more than 21,000 members and the communities they serve.

 

 

PUBLIC WORKS

Frost Avenue Boulevard Restoration

The boulevard areas along Frost Avenue between English Street and White Bear Avenue was restored with sod in 2019 as part of the street reconstruction project.  The recent drought was very hard on these boulevard areas and they are in need of some help.  Additionally, we have received several calls from residents about some of the properties not mowing/maintaining the boulevard areas.

 

The City generally fixes damaged sidewalks/trails and removes snow in the winter.  Property owners are responsible for maintenance of the boulevard grass areas.  This includes the watering and mowing the areas between the sidewalks/trails and the street.

 

In order to address these two issues a letter was mailed to the property owners this week (see attached letter).  The letter explains the maintenance responsibilities of the property owners and the City’s plan to help address the condition of the boulevard areas.  In the spring, the City will be removing the dead sod that lies between the sidewalk/trail and the street.  These areas will then be seeded and mulched to help re-establish the boulevard grass areas.  Additional communication will be provided this spring to keep property owners informed about the project and to provide tips on how property owners can best care for the seeded areas throughout the summer.

 

 

PUBLIC SAFETY- Fire/EMT

Construction Update

Contractors began installing precast walls at the North Fire Station this week.  Crews installed most of the exterior walls in the two story portion of the building and will be working into next week to install that apparatus garage and plank floors.  While the precast installation was delayed by one month due to COVID-19 spread at the precast plant, Kraus Anderson was able to accelerate other activities to keep the project largely on the expected timeline.  We are hoping to occupy the new station in June 2022.

 

Employee Recognition

One of the fire department’s initiatives involves training all of our EMT staff to become paramedics.   Firefighter Nick Danley attended paramedic school at Century College in 2020-2021 and was recently recognized as Century College’s Outstanding Student for 2021.  We are proud of Nick’s ability to represent the city and the department while completing a challenging program in the midst of a pandemic.

 

This is the news for the week.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.   I would like to thank the Mayor and City Council for their participation in the Council- Staff retreat. I know some of you had to take time from other jobs to attend, so thank you for that. I hope you found it to be helpful and productive. Have a great weekend.

Melinda

Oct 04

October 1, 2021

Posted on October 4, 2021 at 11:25 AM by Chad Bergo


COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: October 1, 2021

 

Meetings and Announcements:   

•The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, October 11th

•5:30 PM Workshop – Boards and Commission Interviews. We have openings on the ENR and HPC

•7:00 PM – City Council Meeting

•Please note that the City Council staff retreat will be held next Thursday, October 7th, 8:30 to 4:30. Location will be Wakefield.   

•Save the Date: Fire prevention week is October 3-9, 2021.  The fire department will be hosting an open house on Saturday October 9th from 11am-2pm.  There will be fire prevention demonstrations, food and activities for all ages.  A flyer with additional information will be distributed in the next week, but we wanted to get the event on everyone’s calendar.

 

ADMINISTRATION

Assistant City Manager/Human Resource Director Position

On Thursday two panels of 5 staff/department heads and myself interviewed 5 candidates for this position. The panels agreed on the top two candidates and we will be doing second interviews the week of October 11th. I will have updates for you after the interviews are conducted.

 

PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Fall Natural Resources Volunteer Projects

In September, volunteer groups completed projects at Fish Creek Natural Area, and Maplewood raingardens.

 

A corporate service group, coordinated by Mississippi Park Connection and the National Park Service, planted 100 pollinator-supporting native shrubs at Fish Creek.  A small mesh cage protects each shrub from browsing animals.

 

Mississippi Park Connection volunteers planting shrubs at Fish Creek

Century College’s Ecology class is back on board, helping with six natural resources projects this fall.   Instructor Jeff Korpik incorporates service-learning projects into lab sessions for hands-on learning.  Two rain garden clean-ups have already been completed.   Rain Gardens capture rainwater, allowing it to percolate slowly into the soil, filtering out sediment and pollutants.   Students will also remove buckthorn, collect native prairie seed, clear trails and put Edgerton Community Garden to bed.

 

Fall 2021 Century College Ecology Volunteers

Century College students at Wakefield Park rain gardens

A huge shout-out to these volunteers for helping improve Maplewood’s natural resources!

  

PUBLIC WORKS

Sanitary Sewer Lift Station Maintenance

The City owns and operates nine sanitary sewer lift stations. In order to keep the lift stations operating efficiently the sanitary utility crew must perform annual pump maintenance and cleaning at each station. This annual maintenance occurs in the fall, starting in mid-September and finishing in mid-October.

The annual maintenance consists of changing oil in each pump, checking all electrical components, inspecting each pump, and cleaning of the wet well.  The pumps are lifted to the surface for maintenance using a truck with a mounted crane.

Six of the lift stations can be cleaned from the surface with our Jet/Vac machine. Three of the stations require a utility worker to be lowered into the wet well and manually shovel grease and debris to the Jet/Vac suction tubes.

The attached pictures show the annual pump maintenance being performed on lift station #6 at 1035 Lakewood Dr N. This is the largest volume sanitary sewer lift station in the city. The 40 horsepower pumps weigh about 900 pounds each and are over four feet tall. This station pumps over 5,625 gallons of sewage each hour.

This critical maintenance work helps deliver a reliable service to the property owners of Maplewood.   A big thank you to the sewer crew for all the work they do.

 

Last Spot Paving of the Year

The section of VanDyke Street that lies between Larpenteur Avenue and North Saint Paul Road is roughly 980 feet long and is four lanes wide.  The most recent Pavement Condition Index (PCI) rating is 25 out of 100 (with 100 being a brand new road).  While having a very low PCI rating this street currently lies outside of the City’s proposed 5 year Capital Improvement Plan.  This made it an ideal candidate for spot paving.

 

The first picture below shows that the crews have finished paving the two outside lanes.  This picture also gives you a good idea of what the condition of VanDyke Street was.  The second picture shows the final product after our crews did a great job with the last spot paving project of the year.

 

While spot paving does not fix the underlying issues of the existing pavement, it provides relief for motorists that travel on VanDyke Street.  Additionally, the spot paving work improves the challenges of performing winter maintenance, reduces the amount of time spent filling potholes throughout the year, and frees up time for the crew to perform other needed maintenance work on our streets and storm sewer system.


This is the news for the week.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  I will be attending the ICMA Conference that is in Portland, Oregon virtually, Monday through Wednesday next week. I look forward to the Council/Staff retreat on Thursday.

Have a great weekend.

Melinda

Sep 28

September 24, 2021

Posted on September 28, 2021 at 9:57 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: September 24th, 2021

Meetings and Announcements:   

• Please note that the date for the City Council staff retreat has been set for Thursday, October 7th, 8:30 to 4:30. Location will be Wakefield.  To help staff and the consultant prepare for the retreat, please send your survey responses back to Craig Rapp by October 1st. Thank you. 

• Save the Date: Fire prevention week is October 3-9, 2021.  The fire department will be hosting an open house on Saturday October 9th from 11am-2pm.  There will be fire prevention demonstrations, food and activities for all ages.  A flyer with additional information will be distributed in the next week, but we wanted to get the event on everyone’s calendar.

 PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES 

Goats at Jim’s Prairie Preserve

Parks and Natural Resources staff are working with Great River Greening to explore the use of goats as part of a restoration project of Maplewood’s Jim’s Prairie Preserve in an upcoming grant package that would utilize LCCMR and/or Outdoor Heritage Funds. Our goals include reduction of brush surrounding the wooded areas, removing invasive plants and improving diversity of native pollinator-supporting plants.

Staff recently met at the Preserve to discuss options, including the possibility of using goats to knock back undesirable vegetation.  Goats will eat shrubs, including buckthorn, plus weeds such as thistle. Goat hooves also work scattered native seeds into the soil, aiding germination.  Once grazing is done, additional follow-up methods will be used.  This site is already partially fenced which will make set up easier. The timeline for this project would begin in spring of 2022 but could be earlier if Great River Greening identifies other funding sources.

Great River Greening has partnered with Goat Dispatch and Minnesota Native Landscapes on past projects with good success. 

Why Use Goats? (From the Goat Dispatch website)

  • They are Eco-Friendly! No heavy, noisy machinery is used.
  • Goats naturally fertilize the ground as they eat and leave their droppings.
  • As goats eat the brushy vegetation, it provides control of mosquitoes and wood ticks due to reductions in their habitat.
  • Goats prefer broad-leafed plants so brush and invading field vegetation is eaten first while grass is normally left alone.
  • Goats have special enzymes in their gut so they are able to eat plants that are poisonous to other animals.
  • Through their grazing habits, goats reduce the production of seeds by consuming seeding stems. Therefore invasive plant species such as Buckthorn cannot sprout as the immature seeds consumed do not survive passage through the digestive tract.
  • Goats are agile and love climbing therefore they can graze areas that machinery and human beings can’t access.

NEWS FROM LOCAL PAPERS 

https://www.startribune.com/across-minnesota-police-chiefs-are-opting-for-early-retirement/600098625/?refresh=true  Reference:   Retired Chief Scott Nadeau

https://www.twincities.com/2021/09/20/minnesotans-with-disabilities-fight-for-the-future-of-remote-work-virtual-accommodations/  Reference:   Councilmember Nikki Villavicenci 

https://www.twincities.com/2021/09/21/family-friends-of-20-year-old-gunned-down-in-maplewood-plead-for-the-publics-help/  Reference:   Lt Joe Steiner

https://www.kare11.com/article/news/crime/reward-offered-maplewood-homicide-devinn-madley/89-a7c65488-7477-4e74-93c2-f795da9e932b  Reference:   Lt Joe Steiner

 

 

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

Thank you,

Melinda