Chuck Ahl to retire


After 30 years in city government, Chuck Ahl is retiring from his latest position as Maplewood City Manager. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Maplewood city manager heading to Florida after 29 years of government service

City Manager Chuck Ahl started his career in Maplewood, and three decades later he’s finishing his career in Maplewood. Despite a 14-year gap away from the city, he says confidently that his “baseball cap will have a Maplewood logo on it.”

After 29 years working in city government, mainly in the east metro, Ahl decided to hang up that hat, announcing his retirement at the Monday, April 28 city council meeting.

He has a wealth of knowledge about the city’s infrastructure and leaves behind an impressive track record, including overseeing the large-scale County Road D realignment and the number of attached projects that came along with it during his tenure as public works director.

Ahl’s work with the city dates back to 1983, when he was a Maplewood assistant city engineer for four years. He then made his way to Shoreview to take the role of director of public works and city engineer until 1992.

After a brief stint in the private sector, he was hired in 1994 as the Burnsville city engineer, a job he held until 2001. That same year Ahl returned to Maplewood, and he’s been a fixture in the city offices ever since, moving his way up to assistant city manager/community development director to eventually becoming city manager.

His last day at Maplewood City Hall will be Friday, May 30.

Before Ahl’s retirement announcement, there was a closed session on the agenda at the April 28 council meeting, with plans to discuss “allegations against a person under the authority of the city council.” The only city employee with that distinction is the city manager - a position currently held by Ahl.

Once Ahl’s retirement was announced April 25, the closed session was canceled.

Chuck Bethel, the city’s human resources attorney, said he couldn’t comment on the closed session, calling it “private data.” Bethel also said Ahl’s retirement benefits plan will be the same as every other employee of the city.

Prior to his time as Maplewood city manager, Ahl’s past in public service included a sexual harassment lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in 1993 in which Ahl was named as the lead defendant, along with 13 other Shoreview employees and officials.

The lawsuit was filed six months after Ahl resigned his position as public works director.

According to a Star-Tribune story published at the time, then-city employee Sharon Mentes accused Ahl of making sexual advances to her in person, via city email and in newspaper classified ads, hanging a “huge sign” in her work area referring to her as a “blonde bimbo” and chasing her around a desk and blocking her exit from a room. Mentes, who was Ahl’s administrative assistant, also named Shoreview City Council members, City Manager Dwight Johnson, who had also left Shoreview before the suit was filed, and other city officials in the suit, alleging she was demoted after her initial complaint and later complaints were ignored.

The suit was settled before going to court and Maplewood officials say the case has been sealed by a gag order.

At the time of his appointment to be Maplewood city manager, Ahl said the suit was resolved and settled by the Minnesota League of Cities with a finding of no fault. “Everyone has been aware of it when I’ve moved to new cities.”

Then-mayor Will Rossbach said that the lawsuit was a “non-issue” for the Maplewood City Council and staff.

“When Chuck was hired for the second time (in 2001), it was very out in the open and he made sure everyone in the city knew what the situation was,” Rossbach said.

Time for a change

Ahl’s retirement announcement brought forth some fond stories, with perhaps the kindest words coming from longtime city council member Kathleen Juenemann.

“There is no past for me as an elected official that doesn’t have a mark by Chuck Ahl. I have a hard time envisioning my position with you not here,” she said. “You have no idea how much of what goes on here is attached to Chuck’s efforts and dedication in some way. It’s going to seem far beyond weird for him not to be here.”

The decision to retire came during this year’s unusually harsh winter, the 59-year-old Ahl said. He and his wife Betsy own a residence in Florida, and because Betsy works from home, she has had the ability to work in Florida during the winter months. But Ahl’s duties as city manager didn’t allow him that option.

“I got my finances in order, and I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to spend another winter away from Florida,” he said. “I still have some roots in Minnesota, so I’ll still spend some time here, but the retirement for me is about Florida. It’s always been a dream. I’m ready to move on.”

The couple will be living in Fort Meyers, Fla., where Chuck intends to spend the majority of his time golfing, and, yes, watching spring training baseball. The Minnesota Twins’ spring training facility is located in Fort Meyers, and he plans to take advantage of the proximity.

As he gets ready to leave his post, the next city manager is yet to be determined. But Ahl has confidence in the people who will fill in until a new person is hired.

“We’ve got a wonderful staff here. I have no concerns about leaving things behind. The city will be in good hands.”

Tim Faklis can be reached at 651-748-7814 or tfaklis@lillienews.com.

 

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