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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. 

Jan 25

January 22, 2021

Posted on January 25, 2021 at 10:42 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK

 

Meetings and Announcements:   

• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, January 25th,  2021.  

At the meeting on the 25th, we will have a workshop at 6:30 to review the results of the City wide survey. At the Council meeting you will hear reports from the Nature Center and Park and Recreation Task force representatives. We will also have a tribute to Chief Lukin acknowledging his years of service and retirement.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

ADMINISTRATION

Update from SPRWS

Good morning Ms. Coleman,

As you may recall, the Nov. 9th meeting of the Maplewood City Council included a presentation from SPRWS on the upcoming McCarron’s Water Treatment Plant project.  Since that time, we have selected a Design-Builder for the project (Jacobs Engineering) and negotiated a contract for the design phase of the work.  Our design phase costs will be less than we’d originally budgeted, but we’re maintaining the same budget expectation for the project as a whole since most costs will be construction-based.

Prior to this point, we had not formally presented the project to the Councils of the other cities that we serve.  We’ve begun reaching out to those cities now to schedule presentations.

While we know a bit more now than we did in November, I don’t think that the new information probably justifies another presentation to the Maplewood City Council. 

I just wanted to provide a brief status update in case you start seeing us pop up on the agendas of other communities.  We’re just catching them up with information that your folks already know at this point.

Please feel free to reach out at any point for updates!

 

COMMUNICATIONS

Maplewood Retains GreenStep Cities - Step 5 Award

Maplewood and its community partners advanced in 12-key metrics to retain the GreenStep Cities Highest level award.  They include:

 

   Reducing energy use in city buildings

   Reduced greenhouse gas 18% in City operations

   Adding four new electric vehicle charging stations citywide

   Reduced commercial and residential water usage

   Increased composting by 28%

   Added 20 additional solar panel sites citywide

   Reduced energy used in street lights and traffic signals

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Ramsey County Economic Competitiveness & Inclusion Plan

Ramsey County has a draft Economic Competitiveness & Inclusion Vision Plan that will set the agenda for the county’s investments and programs related to housing, job growth, redevelopment, and workforce development for the next several years.

The county has invited elected officials to a joint meeting between the Ramsey County Board and municipal elected officials. The meeting is on Wednesday, February 3rd .

 

Ramsey County Board Meeting

Wednesday, February 3

4:00-6:00 pm ?Ramsey County Economic Competitiveness & Inclusion Vision Plan

 

Meeting Link:

https://zoom.us/j/94322034189?pwd=dUdJMFdNbE9GWC9KNnFIN2hKaVRKdz09

Meeting ID: 943 2203 4189

Passcode: 071988

 

Please RSVP and direct any questions to Martha Faust at martha.faust@co.ramsey.mn.us or call 651-358-4341

 

PUBLIC WORKS 

2022 MnDOT Project in Maplewood

MnDOT is planning a road resurfacing project on Highway 36 in 2022.  This project stretches 12 miles along Highway 36 between Edgerton Street in Ramsey County and Greeley Street in Washington County.  The proposed project will include the resurfacing of the pavement, updated pedestrian accessibility, improve traffic signal system, and drainage upgrades.

As part of this project MnDOT is proposing to line a large 36” corrugated metal pipe (CMP) that crosses Highway 36 from Maplewood into Little Canada.  This pipe takes drainage from Maplewood streets and Highway 36 and it then flow north into a pond system in Little Canada.  As part of MnDOT’s pre-project inspection they found that the CMP pipe is beginning to rust through and needs to be lined.  Maplewood is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the first 200 feet of this pipe.  Maplewood staff inspected this section and found it to be in similar condition and it is need of repair.   Staff is coordinating with MnDOT to have our section lined as part of MnDOT’s project.

MnDOT is also looking at constructing a missing segment of walk/trail along Arcade Street that will tie into the existing sidewalk on Arcade Street Bridge over Highway 36 to Spoon Lake Park.  This segment is in the City’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan as a Priority Pedestrian and Bicycle Project Corridor.  The proposed segment will connect the County Road B and Arcade neighborhood to Spoon Lake Park and to the trail system that leads east to City Hall.

The proposed project is estimated at $14.9 million and will take place from spring 2022 through fall 2022.

 

2023 & 2024 MnDOT Projects in Maplewood

MnDOT is planning two future projects in Maplewood.  The first project is scheduled to be constructed in 2023 on Stillwater Road (see attachment for project map).  The second project is scheduled to be constructed in 2024 on Highway 61 (see attachment for project map).  Staff is in the process of reviewing the project scope and coordinating with MnDOT’s project team.

MnDOT’s project team is beginning their public engagement process.  Starting next week their team will begin contacting business along the project corridor.  There are two planed identical virtual public open houses planned for the Minnehaha Avenue/Stillwater Road project.  The meetings are being planned for the following dates:

 

·         March 18, 12:00 – 1:30

·         March 23, 5:00 – 6:30

 

MnDOT is working on preparing digital and paper invites to the meetings to announce the dates more widely.  They anticipate sharing this information with us sometime next month.  Attached is a short one page flier about the proposed projects.

 

PARKS AND RECREATION

Deer Management Activities Planned for Southeast Ramsey County

Saint Paul, Maplewood and Ramsey County have partnered again on deer management south of I-94 this winter, pursuant to the 2020-2021 Ramsey County Deer Management Program. In this area, the current deer population exceeds the amount of sustainable deer habitat, which may result in an unhealthy, stressed herd. Overpopulation of deer also results in damage to ornamental and garden plants, high rates of deer/vehicle collisions, and damage or excessive browsing to native trees, shrubs and plants. During January-April of 2021, deer management activities will be accomplished in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Wildlife Services division. All deer removed in this program will be donated to underserved residents of Ramsey County in coordination with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

 

Wildlife Services sharpshooters will be operating on or adjacent to public lands where permission from affected landowners has been obtained. The management locations have been selected with safety for firearms discharge as the number one priority. Wildlife Services will coordinate their activities with local law enforcement. Control activities will take place primarily after dark, utilizing special precautions including the use of night and thermal vision equipment.  The removal program will cost approximately $15,000 and is being funded jointly by the Ramsey County, the City of Maplewood, and the City of Saint Paul.

 

These are the reports for this week. As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns.

Melinda

Jan 19

January 15th, 2021

Posted on January 19, 2021 at 2:15 PM by Chad Bergo

Meetings and Announcements:   

• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, January 25th,  2021.  

At the meeting on the 25th, we will have a workshop at 6:30 to review the results of the City wide survey. At the Council meeting you will hear reports from the Nature Center and Park and Recreation Task force representatives. We will also have a tribute to Chief Lukin acknowledging his years of service and retirement.

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Environmental Health Inspections

Minnesota Department of Health has received threats to health officials that are involved in enforcing the governor’s executive orders. After consulting with Ramsey County and Washington County health departments, city staff has made the decision to stop in-person health inspections for next week. This is being done to safeguard the health and safety of our staff. We will reassess next week and consult with MDH as well as the county to determine when it is safe to return to the field. In the interim, we will continue to work with Maplewood restaurants and businesses via email and phone to ensure safe operations during the pandemic.  

         

 

PUBLIC WORKS

Street Project Update

Staff has been working on the feasibility reports for this year’s proposed Capital Improvement Projects.  This includes the Montana-Nebraska Area Pavement Rehabilitation project, City Project, 20-08 and the Southcrest-Ferndale Area Pavement Rehabilitation project, City Project, 20-09.       

 

It is anticipated that the feasibility reports will be brought to the January 25th City Council meeting.

 

Sterling Street Bridge Funding Update

The Sterling Street Bridge is a wooden bridge that crosses Fish Creek just south of Carver Avenue.  The bridge was built in 1942 and is in need of replacement.  Staff started developing a plan to replace this bridge in 2016.  Originally, the project was going to be a 200 foot long bridge which would have been nearly 30 feet tall.  This design would have meet the watershed district’s requirements for no impacts to the flood plain and required the road to be significantly raised to meet State Aid vertical curve requirements.  The project was originally estimated at over $2,000,000. 

 

Staff and our consultant, Bolton and Menk, worked to reduce the size and scope of the project by utilizing a box culvert system instead of a standard bridge.  This plan required a variance from State Aid to allow us to keep the road at the existing vertical curve height.  The variance significantly reduced the amount of fill needed and thereby reduce the impact to the flood plain.  By reducing the impact to the flood plain it helped us secure a variance from the watershed district for the remaining minimal flood plain impacts.  The box culvert design also reduces the long-term maintenance that a standard bridge would require and would be less susceptible to scour issues. 

 

The new design reduced the overall project cost to approximately $1,000,000.  Yesterday, staff was notified that application for Bridge Bond Funds was selected for funding in 2021 in the amount of $538,111.  The remaining funding is anticipated to come from Municipal State Aid Funds.  

 

These are the reports for this week. As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns.

Melinda

 

Jan 11

January 8, 2021

Posted on January 11, 2021 at 10:05 AM by Chad Bergo

COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: January 8th, 2021

 

Meetings and Announcements:  

 

The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, January 11th, 2021. 

 

City Clerk Andrea Sindt held swearing in events this week for our newly elected and re-elected Mayor and Council members. This was the legal oath of office for Mayor Abrams and Council members, Knutson, Vilavicencio and Cave but the oath of office will be redone at the zoom Council meeting on Monday for the benefit of our community members or others who may be tuning in.

 

Updates from Staff and Council:

 

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

Sales Tax Exemption – Fire Station

Last year the city sought an exemption from the sales tax on construction materials for the proposed Fire Station. This is a common request among cities and helps to lower the overall cost of the project. However, because of COVID-19 and other priorities, the legislature did not include our bill into the final tax bill.

The city has asked for the bill to be submitted this year for approval. The exemption would save nearly $500,000 from the overall cost of the project.

State Senators Chuck Wiger, Sen. Susan Kent, and Sen. Ann Rest were co-sponsors of last year’s bill in the MN Senate. Rep. Peter Fischer, Rep. Tou Xiong, and Rep. Leon Lillie were co-sponsors in the MN House.

 

Here is a link to last year’s proposed bill: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF3561&version=0&session=ls91&session_year=2020&session_number=0

New information will be updated with this year’s submittal.

Mayor Abrams, City Manager Coleman, Public Safety Director Nadeau, and Chief Mondor testified at the Capitol in favor of the bill.

 

FINANCE

 

Metropolitan Area Property Taxes and Values

Many of you may have noticed the article about metropolitan area property taxes in a recent Sunday’s Star Tribune.  Typically this article runs before the truth-in-taxation meeting, but it was reprioritized this year given the amount of other notable news stories.

 

The chart below illustrates the average tax increase (decrease), by county, for all cities with population over 5,000 in the metropolitan area for taxes payable in 2021.  The chart looks somewhat unusual this year as two counties have average decreases for all cities in the county.  The City of Maplewood’s average decrease was -0.3% for residents in SD #622.  The average decrease in Ramsey County was -1.5% for all cities combined.  The average increase for the entire metropolitan area by county is 0.5%.

 

Anoka County is somewhat skewed, due to a 14.3% increase in Lino Lakes.

 

While property taxes remain stable throughout the metro, market values are increasing for taxes payable in 2021.  The chart below shows the average increase in market value, by county, for all cities in the metropolitan area with populations over 5,000.  The average increase in Maplewood was 6.2% (median value home).  The average increase in Ramsey County for all cities was 5.2%.  The average increase, by county, for the metropolitan area was 4.0%.

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

 

Ramsey County Redevelopment Properties - Ponds at Battle Creek and County Correctional Facility

 

The City of Maplewood and Ramsey County have scheduled the second community forum for the South Maplewood – Century Avenue Redevelopment Properties which will be held virtually on January 27, 2021, between 4 and 6 p.m. All are welcome to join the online meeting, and those in attendance will have the opportunity to participate in the meeting. The meeting agenda is outlined below. Please see the project website – www.maplewoodmn.gov/Ponds - to register for the meeting and for additional project information. A link to the meeting will be emailed to all registrants prior to the start of the meeting.

 

Meeting Agenda – Wednesday, January 27, 2021 – 4 to 6 p.m.

 1. Welcome

 2. County Goals and Values

 3. Summary of Engagement

 4. Development Analysis

 5. Interactive Exercises

 6. Next Steps/Closing

PARKS DEPT

 

WARMING HOUSE UPDATE:

We are scheduled to open warming houses at Afton Heights, Gethsemane, Wakefield and Four Seasons Parks on January 11. Please visit: https://maplewoodmn.gov/221/Skating-Rinks for information on hours, COVID guidelines and more.

 

These are the reports for this week. As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns.

Melinda