COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: September 8, 2023
Meetings and Announcements:
Our next Council meeting and work-session will be on Monday, September 11th. The workshop will start at 5:45 with a presentation from Ramsey County on their Emergency Operations Plan and a presentation on the EAB Grant application process. There will be an EDA meeting at 6:45. At the Council meeting there are 3 public hearings and the Approval of the 2024 General Fund Levy/Budget.
Reminder that you are invited to the City Employee Picnic on Wednesday, the 13th. It will be held in the Police Garage from 11am to 1pm. Hope you can join us.
Moving the Heritage Preservation Commission to quarterly meetings
The Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) is an advisory body to council. Its members serve to ensure Maplewood is tracking and working to preserve potentially historic structures, parcels, items and culture. In March of 2012, Maplewood was designated as a Certified Local Government through the U.S. Department of the Interior, as recommended by the State Office of Historic Preservation. This designation grants the city broader authority to make local designations.
All HPC work is advisory, City Council takes all formal action regarding preservation efforts.
While the HPC serves a noble purpose, Maplewood’s overall building stock tends to lack architectural and historic significance, relative to many of the communities that have Certified Local Government status. The HPC and its staff liaison have been working from the Maplewood Historic Context Study, which was conducted in 2014 to identify potentially historic structures and parcels. In looking through the list trying to identify potential sites for more formal historic designation, it’s become apparent that few such structures are left in the city. Most of the stock in the city that could be deemed historic has fallen into disrepair or has been significantly altered to render it no longer historically significant.
For these reasons, staff is recommending to the City Manager resetting HPC meetings from monthly to quarterly. This would ensure all meeting have a purposeful agenda. It would also give staff and commissioners time to fulfill the State Historic Preservation Office’s requirements to maintain Maplewood’s Certified Local Government Status. If and when a pressing HPC matter arises, a special meeting can be called.
The move would also save the city nearly $1,800 in meeting fees and allow the staff liaison to spend time on other core communications functions.
As the Council is aware, Metro Transit has had to largely start over with their due diligence for the Purple Line configuration now that the White Bear Avenue realignment is under consideration. Due to that fact and the rationale listed below, the initial timeline for the project will need to be extended. As a part of that, they are seeking letters of support from their municipal partners, Ramsey County and their congressional delegation for inclusion in what they call their Project Development (PD) Phase Extension Request. They need to submit the request to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) asking for the extended timeframe to complete their due diligence. The draft letter of support is purely related to timing and in no way is affiliated with recommendations or any other aspects of the project. I’m planning on signing it and sending on behalf of the City. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Rationale for extension request:
- Public feedback through community engagement has led to recent policy direction to explore a route alternative for the northern portion of the BRT project.
- As such, an extension of time, beyond the original 24-month PD Phase set to expire in early December 2023, is needed to complete the PD Phase requirements. Met Council is seeking a 22-month time extension, 10 months longer than the typical PD Phase Extension granted by FTA.
Specifically, a time extension is needed in order to:
- Evaluate the White Bear Avenue (WBA) route alternative to inform a policy decision on whether to advance this new route alternative as the Locally Preferred
- Alternative (LPA) for the BRT project. A policy decision could be received by September 2024.
- If WBA supported as the revised LPA, advance preliminary engineering of the White Bear Avenue route alternative sufficient to support the analysis for the environmental review process. Preliminary design plans could be completed by June 2024.
If WBA supported as the revised LPA, prepare and publish the federal environmental review document, and obtain an federal environmental decision. Environmental decision could be obtained by September 2025.
Please see attached letter supporting the time line extension. I can sign the letter unless Council has concerns. If so, we can discuss under Council Calendar on Monday night.
PARK AND NATURAL RESOURCES
University of Minnesota Ecological Restoration Planning and Management Student
Service Learning Scheduled at City Hall Campus
Dan Shaw, Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources, will be bringing his Ecological Restoration Planning and Management Course Students to work on the pollinator restoration project at Maplewood City Hall. Sara Nelson of Great River Greening will lead the project, scheduled for the morning of September 18. Students will gain experience through hand-seeding native plants in bare areas and removing invasive plants such as yellow nut sedge. Thank you to all involved in our continued restoration work!
Note of Thanks
The residents of Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood have been working with staff to help pick up trash around the pond at Legacy Park. Several of them kindly took the time to send us a note of thanks. We love it when we can partner with the community to take care of our parks and open spaces!