Publish date:

Maplewood Nature Center closing indefinitely, staff laid off

The city said it had to make a "tough financial decision."

The Maplewood Nature Center, which has been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be closed indefinitely. However, the pond and trails will be maintained so people can still use the area. 

City spokesperson Joe Sheeran told BMTN the city had to make a "tough financial decision" to close the center after most of the center's programming was canceled due to coronavirus and there were some unforeseen things in the city's budget. 

Over the summer, the nature center will wind down services, including the virtual programming the center started amid the pandemic.

As a result of closing the center, three part-time nature staff were laid off and one staff member took early retirement. That person will stay on through September to continue virtual programming and help wind down programming, Sheeran said.

Why it's closing 

The Maplewood Nature Center, which has been around for 40 years, is closing indefinitely in an effort to lessen the expected burden on taxpayers.

"Over the last several months, the city has been examining our financial outlook. With the economic downturns, we want to help ensure our actions don’t lead to additional financial hardships for our taxpayers," according to a letter from Maplewood City Manager Melinda Coleman that was sent to nature center volunteers. "We have tried to be creative about service delivery and put off the most painful decisions until we truly understood long-term impacts."

The letter says COVID-19 has made a "significant impact" on the city's budget with the cancellation of most programs and events. 

That, coupled with the city expecting to collect fewer property taxes due to the hit commercial businesses have taken, led to the Maplewood City Council to direct department heads to deliver a 0 percent increase in the 2021 property tax levy in an effort to ease the financial burden on homeowners in Maplewood, the letter says.

Other budget constraints are also having an impact, with Sheeran telling BMTN that there's a $300,000 increase in worker's compensation premiums and a $200,000 increase in debt service payments. 

In addition to closing the nature center, the city is also putting off park upgrades, equipment and vehicle purchases and reducing functions of the Parks and Recreation and the nature center, the letter said. 

City is committed to environmental education

Despite closing the nature center, the City of Maplewood is still committed to environmental education and natural resources protection, Sheeran said. 

Not only will the pond and trail at the nature center remain open and maintained, but the Maplewood City Council has directed staff to examine ways to partner with other entities to provide environmental education. 

What that will look like is still being figured out. 

Next Up

Joel Eriksson Ek

Eriksson Ek's hat trick completes Wild's rally over Jets

A late review helped the Wild win their home opener.

Screen Shot 2021-10-19 at 8.11.35 PM

Watch: Marcus Foligno starts fight with a superman punch

Foligno was not messing around in the first period.

Union Gospel Mission graffiti side by side - Duluth PD

Vandals target longstanding Duluth soup kitchen, transitional housing site

Union Gospel Mission has been operating in the city since 1922.

i-94 crash st. michael - 2021.10.19

At least 1 dead after 'serious crash' on I-94 in St. Michael

That side of the highway is expected to be closed for at least a few hours.

House for sale

The crazy Twin Cities housing market is showing signs of slowing down

Agents are seeing fewer multiple offers and no inspections are less prevalent.

Ben Simmons

Simmons' reunion with 76ers lasts mere days, chance for Wolves?

Woj says the Sixers remain "steadfast" in their plans for Simmons.

mitchell ottinger

Sub teacher involved in 'sextortion' of more than 10 minors pleads guilty

Some of the minors he knew from the school district where he worked.

flickr ice castles new brighton 2020 - Greg Gjerdingen

The Ice Castles, a winter favorite, are coming back to the Twin Cities

The popular attraction was canceled last winter due to COVID.

joey meatballs

4 new vendors coming to Rosedale's POTLUCK food hall

Three restaurants and a VR company are opening soon.

flickr - Lorie Shaull - Line 3 pipeline Palisade July 2021

Enbridge misses deadline to fix its groundwater blunder

The company had 30 days to stop the leak it caused by not following its submitted plans.

wikimedia commons - the beach boys 2019 - joergens.mi

Beach Boys bringing 2021 holiday tour to Minnesota

The iconic band's "Holiday Harmonies" tour stops at Treasure Island just before the new year.

Related

Wood Lake Nature Center - 10

Twin Cities Escapes: Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield

A "small park with a big feel," right in the middle of the city.

Image

Twin Cities nature centers adopt digital to keep informing during lockdown

The learning curve has been steep, but nature centers are adapting to life in a shut down.

Screen Shot 2020-05-14 at 9.01.35 AM

Salvation Army closes Maplewood adult daycare program

The program cited financial hardships and uncertainties caused by COVID-19.

thomas beach, bde maka ska - lake calhoun

2 Minneapolis beaches temporarily closed due to high E. coli levels

The park board will sample the water at the beaches again on Wednesday.

Hundreds laid off after closure of Science Museum, Children's Museum

The layoffs are temporary until the museums can re-open.

rochester pool

Rochester pools closed due to fights, disregard for pool rules

Other swimming areas in Minnesota are struggling to hire lifeguards.

wabasha street caves

Wabasha Street Caves closing for good in November

The haunted caves have been an event venue for years.

minnesota zoo

Minnesota Zoo launches activities to get people embracing nature

The zoo is hosting a pumpkin scavenger hunt and a "Do the Zoo, Not Zoom Day."