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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. 

Sep 04

September 4, 2020

Posted on September 4, 2020 at 4:01 PM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: September 4th, 2020

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

The next City Council meeting will be held next Monday, September 14th.  We will have an EDA Meeting prior to the City Council meeting. The EDA meeting will begin at 6:00 pm. At the Council Meeting we will be holding a public hearing for the business subsidy for HyVee and the TIF Agreement for Maple Ridge Shopping Center. We will also be approving the 2021 Preliminary Levy.

We will 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. That will be scheduled for the end of Council meeting.  Other Council items include:

  • Development agreement for Maple Ridge access improvements
  • Appeal of CDRB decision for HyVee
  • PUD Ordinance Amendment
  • Development application for new hotel on the last parcel in Legacy Village
  • CUP for dog day care at Plaza 3000 north annex
  • CUP and home occupation license for 2510 Carver

At the City Council meeting on September 28th will hold a workshop prior to the Council meeting to conduct interviews for opening on the following commissions: Planning Commission, HEDC, HPC and ENR. We have strong interest and several applications for your consideration.

Here are the updates from various departments below.


Updates from Staff and Council:

 

ADMINISTRATION

Back Pack Drive and Mall Donation –

In a collaboration among the City, our Public Safety Department, and the YMCA, we have successfully collected donations of $2867. to fill  over 100 backpacks for Maplewood Area students. We’d like to thank Big Brothers Big Sisters who donated about 30 filled packs and the Maplewood Mall who donated $500 in gift cards and extra backpacks. We handed out the packs Thursday, Friday and will continue handing them out at our social distanced, small scale, Pop Up Freeze Pop events. This is grand example of our wonderful partnerships and what an impact we can make in our community.

 

Public Safety Department Finalist in St. Paul Area Chamber’s Local Government Awards

Since 2017, the Maplewood Police Department had been emphasizing community outreach, racial equity, and diversity in hiring.  This coincides with the City of Maplewood’s overall strategic priority of “Community Inclusiveness,” which has led to systematically changing hiring, training and promotion of all staff, with an emphasis on Public Safety. Among other metrics, the department has achieved a 125% increase in hiring non-traditional police officers (women, people of color) and has increased police-community outreach from a few dozen hours annually to more than 2000. This emphasis has built accountability, trust and transparency and benefits the department and the entire Maplewood community.

The awards will be announced Thursday, September 17 at a virtual conference.

 

Wellness updates

The City of Maplewood’s Wellness Committee strives to promote a culture of health and well-being that encourages and supports employees and their families. This year, we are offering two Flu Shot Clinics for employees and their spouses and dependents onsite. We typically offer one Flu Clinic each fall, but with the added risk of COVID-19 and flu season, the committee and staff have decided to offer additional opportunities for employees to have convenient access to get vaccinated and stay healthy. We will offer the first clinic on September 24th 1-4pm and the second clinic October 21st 7-10am.

 

LMC Legislative Summaries

The League of Minnesota Cities has published its 2020 Legislative Summary. This year’s new laws deal with a range of city issues related to the Open Meeting Law, liquor laws, elections, health, pensions, and more. There are also several laws related to COVID-19 response, including workers’ compensation claims, small business assistance, and more. You can view here: https://www.lmc.org/advocacy/law-summaries/current-law-summaries/

 

MnDOT Releases New Trunk Highway Bridge Guidance

MnDOT has recently released guidance and put into effect a Process to Determine Bridge Ownership & Bridge Ownership Responsibilities to determine the ownership and financial responsibilities of new and rebuilt bridges over Trunk Highways. The guidance applies to new and replacement bridges that carry local roads and infrastructure over a trunk highway and does not provide access to the trunk highway. This can include streets, pathways and transit infrastructure.

In most cases MnDOT will own and bear responsibility for all bridges that carry facilities over Trunk Highways, except for bridges where responsibilities are shared as directed by this new process. For bridges that are determined to be used by only local interests, MnDOT will be listed as the owner but financial responsibilities are likely to be partially or fully the responsibility of the local government. MnDOT and the local government, including cities, must agree on responsibilities before they would go into effect.

To view the Process to Determine Bridge Ownership & Bridge Ownership Responsibilities document, click here. Metro Cities’ Transportation and General Government Policy Committee has had discussion on this issue and will hear from representatives of MnDOT about the new process at its September meeting.

 

PUBLIC SAFETY

Nuisance Calls for Service Update

In Late 2018 the Maplewood City Council passed an ordinance that sought to address repeat nuisance calls for service in the city, and the Maplewood Police Department began enforcing this ordinance in January of 2019.  At the Direction of the Public Safety Director, the Police Department recently did a comprehensive evaluative study of the ordinance and how it has impacted the Maplewood community.  We want to acknowledge the work of Lt. Kerry Helle who was in charge of this study.  If there are any questions after reviewing the attached please contact Public Safety Director Nadeau.

 

National Night Out

From Director Nadeau. After thoughtful consideration and in doing research on how to safely conduct National Night Out (NNO) during COVID-19 recommendations and restrictions, the Public Safety Department has decided to cancel the 2020 NNO for Maplewood.  We know that this will be a disappointment for many of our staff and residents, but it does not appear that there was a way to control certain aspects of neighborhood gatherings and we want to ensure that we are doing our part in stopping the spread of the pandemic.  Public Safety staff continues to look at how we can have some smaller and COVID-19 friendly events and look forward to resuming this important event next year.  We will be announcing this decision to the public via our social media channels in the near future.

 

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 long weekend. Thank you.

Sep 01

August 28, 2020

Posted on September 1, 2020 at 1:54 PM by Chad Bergo

 COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: August 28th, 2020

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

The next City Council meeting will be held next Monday, September 14th.  We will have an EDA Meeting prior to the City Council meeting. The EDA meeting will begin at 6:00 pm. We will be holding a public hearing for the business subsidy for HyVee and the TIF Agreement for Maple Ridge Shopping Center.

 

We will 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. That will likely be scheduled for the end of Council meeting.  Other Council items include:

 

·      Development agreement for Maple Ridge access improvements

·      Appeal of CDRB decision for HyVee

·      PUD Ordinance Amendment

·      Development application for new hotel on the last parcel in Legacy Village

·      CUP for dog day care at Plaza 3000 north annex

·      CUP and home occupation license for 2510 Carver

 

Here are the updates from various departments below.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

FINANCE

FEMA and CARES Grants

The Finance Department has been working with Fire Chief Steve Lukin to submit all eligible Covid-19 expenditures to FEMA for reimbursement.  To date, we have submitted $104,856.49 in eligible expenditures.  We expect to receive reimbursement for 75% of that amount, or $78,642.37.  The CARES grant will cover the remaining $26,214.12.  We expect to be making another FEMA request shortly for nearly the same amount.  These grants will cover supplies, equipment, personal protective equipment and technology necessary to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic emergency.  These grants will also cover the change order for the County Road B project, since the expenditures were related to COVID response.

 

The Finance Department has processed liquor license refunds in the amount of $29,705.65 from the City’s CARES allocation.  The City Manager and Finance Director are working with the City Attorney to draft up the necessary agreements for the EDA to issue the $800,000 business subsidy grants to the YMCA.  We expect to process these payments at the next EDA meeting.  No agreement is necessary for the residual allocation of $86,000 to St. John’s hospital.  That payment will be disbursed before the November 15th deadline.  The remainder of the  $3,067,102 CARES grant will be allocated to the General Fund to cover wages and benefits for employees whose duties were substantially redirected to COVID response.

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

HyVee CDRB Appeal

The CDRB reviewed plans for HyVee’s proposed grocery store façade improvements and the revised east elevation of what will be the new HyVee convenience store. As part of the CDRB’s review, the board recommended HyVee be required to add additional architectural elements to the front and south elevations of the grocery store building as well as adding more brick to the east elevation of the convenience store building. Below are the designs of what HyVee proposed for the facades in question. Applicants have 15 days after a CDRB review to appeal any decision to the city council. HyVee is electing to appeal the CDRB’s recommendations and this item will be before the city council on September 14 for a final decision.

 

PUBLIC WORKS

Future MnDot Projects

A MnDot representative met with city staff to discuss two upcoming projects that will be partially within Maplewood’ boundaries.  MnDot is entering into the design phase along with initiating community outreach.

The first project is located on Hwy 5/Stillwater Blvd between McKnight Road and Century Avenue.  The project will include the repaving Stillwater Boulevard and will also include extensive repairs to the trail along Stillwater to make it ADA compliant.  The project is anticipated to be constructed in 2023.

The second project is located on Highway 61 south of Roselawn Avenue.  MnDot is in the process of studying a portion of the project for the possible conversion of parts of the road from a four to three lane road.  No lane configuration changes are proposed for the portion that lies within Maplewood.  The project is anticipated to be constructed in 2024.

Attached is a one page flyer about the two projects that includes a project summary, map, and link to a MnDot survey.  Maplewood’s Communication Department is coordinating with MnDot to help promote the public survey about the project.

 

PARK AND RECREATION

Bluebird House Eagle Scout Project

Aspiring Eagle Scout Sebastian Chounlamontry completed the building and install of 7 bluebird houses at 3 neighborhood preserves: Gladstone, Fish Creek and Maplewood Nature Center.

Naturalist Carole Gernes worked with Sebastian initially on the project and Sebastian and his team provided nesting sites to help increase the populations of the Eastern bluebird.  Bluebirds prefer open grassland habitat and will nest in cavities such as old fencepost holes, and dead snags near these open areas.

 

 

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.

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.