Maplewood Nature Center closing indefinitely, staff laid off

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

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

Antoine Winfield Jr.

Watch: Gopher alums Antoine Winfield Jr., Tyler Johnson make key plays in Bucs' playoff win

The Minnesota greats had a pair of highlights as Tampa Bay advanced to the NFC Championship.


Crews respond to fire at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights

It's reported that a greenhouse on the grounds was on fire.

Marcus Carr

Why the Gophers could be in line for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament

The Gophers are done with a brutal stretch and are poised to make a run.

police tape

Authorities ID man fatally struck by 'errant bullet' in Willmar

The man was working in his garage when he was fatally shot.


1 dead, 1 critically injured in head-on crash on Highway 169

The State Patrol says driving impaired may have been a factor in the crash.

Richard Pitino

Gophers game against Nebraska postponed due to COVID outbreak

The Cornhuskers have had 12 members of its team test positive for COVID-19.

Bob Kroll

What Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll said in Sunday radio interview

Kroll said that once he's retired he'll go "radio silent."

coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for Sunday, January 17

The health department provides updates daily at 11 a.m.

Sen. Julia Coleman

'No one's business': State senator calls out attack on her pregnancy

Sen. Julia Coleman represents Minnesota's District 47.



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.

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

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

wabasha street caves

Wabasha Street Caves closing for good in November

The haunted caves have been an event venue for years.

Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoo will reopen July 24 with safety measures in place

The zoo has been closed since March 14, except for a weeks-long drive-through experience that ended July 12.

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."

Screen Shot 2020-09-21 at 8.23.17 AM

Minneapolis restaurant Bardo closes for good

The restaurant switched from fine dining to a casual concept in hopes of surviving the pandemic.

Surly brewing

Surly Beer Hall to close 'indefinitely' in November

Pandemics and beer halls just don't mix, Surly said.