COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: December 4th, 2020
Meetings and Announcements:
• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, December 14th.
• We are hosting a virtual reception for Councilmembers Neblett and Smith that starts at 5 pm. I hope you can join in on the zoom reception.
• We will hold the public hearing on the 2021 Budget and CIP. We will also have an EDA meeting at 6:30 pm. The purpose of the meeting is to review CARES Fund expenditures and to review two LOI’s for the City Fire Station on Londin Lane.
Updates from Staff and Council:
Maplewood Barber Survives- great comeback story. See link below.
MORE Team Coat Drive
Throughout October the MORE team gathered over 150 new and gently used coats from collection sites around the city, including the YMCA. Public safety staff inspected the coats and bunched them for adults, children and men and women. Coats were then donated to People, Inc., Merrick Community Services and ISD 622 for distribution to those in need this winter.
A big thank you to our community for stepping up and donating coats and to the MORE Team for organizing the drive.
FROM THE PIONEER PRESS LETTERS TO THE EDITOR- PONDS OF BATTLE CREEK
Once it’s gone it’s gone
I was struck when reading the op ed about the destruction of Grey Cloud Island by Aggregate Mining (Nov. 25) how it so parallels what the Ramsey County board has for Ponds of Maplewood Golf Course. Our commissioner Victoria Reinhardt opposes its closing and sale. I am not a golfer but have been advised by golfers that the Ponds is the jewel of courses. That it has varying degrees of difficulty from beginners on up. It also has a driving range not available at other Ramsey County golf courses in districts that “its commissioners” intend to keep open.
This was a secret held so close that not even the Maplewood City Council knew about the Ramsey County commissioners’ plans. Only our commissioner Reinhardt was in opposition. However when it was finally made public a town hall was held at the Ramsey County Library. The building was filled to over capacity with many standing. Citizens were allowed to speak. Nearly 100 percent were opposed to closing and selling off the property. Once it is gone it’s gone forever.
The County Board recently proposed changing the Charter to allow the Board of Commissioners to select the sheriff rather than allow the citizens to choose, by voting, who the sheriff should be. Sheriff Fletcher’s performance may not be in line with what the commissioners want but he has the citizens’ support. As it should be. Change the charter to allow the citizens of Ramsey County to vote for the entire Ramsey County board of commissioners. The Highland Park commissioner affects me and I want the right to vote for or against her or him for decisions affecting me and my neighbors in South Maplewood.
This entire Ponds of Maplewood golf course deal smells as bad as the Grey Cloud mining deal does. Follow the money, as they say. In the next election I will be a one-issue voter. The Maplewood City Council has total control of zoning. The Ponds is has been zoned agricultural which allowed for the golf course. Council members who change that designation will not get my vote.
David Arnold, Maplewood
Keep these spaces open
We are in danger of losing two tracts of county-owned open space and wildlife habitat in southeastern Ramsey County:
A 77-acre tract bounded by Battle Creek Regional Park (on two sides), and by Century Avenue, and by the correctional facility on Lower Afton Road
The Ponds at Battle Creek golf course, bounded by Lower Afton Road on the north and Century Avenue on the east. (The county has decided to terminate golf operations at this site by the end of 2020.)
The city of Maplewood has initiated plans for development of these properties. Both properties provide wildlife habitat, water collection, climate regulation, and opportunities for passive recreation and nature study. These properties have far greater value for the metropolitan area in their current state than they would have as housing or commercial developments.
It is hard to believe that the county would consider selling the 77-acre tract, which is especially valuable as grassland habitat for birds and other wildlife. (The National Audubon Society reports that grassland species are among the most imperiled birds in the U.S.) The tract harbors bird species (including American Kestrel, Clay-colored Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, and Dickcissel) that are in steep decline in Minnesota and North America. A complete biological inventory should be undertaken to inform management of this tract.
The county should 1) expand the boundary of Battle Creek Regional Park to include the tract adjacent to the park, to be managed as grassland wildlife habitat, and 2) retain ownership and management of The Ponds at Battle Creek as open space with passive recreation.
The county is accepting comments on a new master plan for Battle Creek Regional Park through Monday, Nov. 30. For more information, and to take action, go to tinyurl.com/77acres.
Julian Sellers, St. Paul
These are the reports for this week. Slow news week from the departments as most of us are wrapping up tasks and projects for end of year. Please let Ellie know if you want a paper copy of the 2021 Budget and CIP. As always, please call if I can address any questions or concerns. Thank you.