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Bemidji City Council: One bus shelter might get moved

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City staff has been directed to look into the cost of relocating one of the two downtown bus shelters.

The Downtown Development Authority last month asked the council to remove the two shelters at the intersection of Fourth Street Northwest and Beltrami Avenue Northwest.

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But Councilor Greg Negard, who also serves as the executive director of Paul Bunyan Transit, said the shelters are used as a pickup point along a deviated route, through which buses travel a basic route, but pick up and drop passengers anywhere along that route.

The council then opted to keep the shelters in place.

However, Negard this week said he further researched the issue and suggested that the city keep one of the two bus shelters in place and relocate the other to the 600 block of America Avenue Northwest, where bus passengers frequently visit the Beltrami County Family Health Services building.

"We have three major pickups there," Negard told his fellow councilors during Monday's council meeting.

The bus shelter also would be located near Northland Apartments, a Housing & Redevelopment Authority of Bemidji property.

The council agreed that city staff should look into the feasibility of relocating one shelter.

"There will be costs involved in doing that," said Craig Gray, the city engineer/public works director. Gray did not have an estimate, but guessed that costs would not be too great.

What is the issue?

Dave Larson, the vice president of the DDA, told the council downtown businesses have reported loitering and "perceived behavior that would be inappropriate."

"The feeling was that if the shelter was relocated or removed, some of that activity would not probably take place there," he said.

Several councilors added their own observations of activity in and around the shelters: public intoxication, public urination, and possible drug activity. Other activities were less worrisome as much as bothersome, such as people running through the flowerbeds.

"We do have an issue downtown," Negard said.

But Councilor Barb Meuers asked, more than once, if it is a problem throughout downtown or if it is confined to the bus shelters themselves.

Mayor Richard Lehmann said he has encountered people at the bus shelters who have asked for money.

"That just happened to be where people were at the time I walked by," he said.

Councilor Roger Hellquist said there are problems downtown, even in entryways to businesses,

"I don't know if you can blame the shelter totally," Negard said.

Meuers noted that the problems go beyond the bus shelter, and Councilor Jerry Downs said it, perhaps, all leads back to the need for a local detox center. Lehmann wondered whether the issue will be, or could be, examined through the city's Quality Neighborhoods Initiative.

Y bwesley@bemidjipioneer.com

City staff has been directed to look into the cost of relocating one of the two downtown bus shelters.

The Downtown Development Authority last month asked the council to remove the two shelters at the intersection of Fourth Street Northwest and Beltrami Avenue Northwest.

But Councilor Greg Negard, who also serves as the executive director of Paul Bunyan Transit, said the shelters are used as a pickup point along a deviated route, through which buses travel a basic route, but pick up and drop passengers anywhere along that route.

The council then opted to keep the shelters in place.

However, Negard this week said he further researched the issue and suggested that the city keep one of the two bus shelters in place and relocate the other to the 600 block of America Avenue Northwest, where bus passengers frequently visit the Beltrami County Family Health Services building.

"We have three major pickups there," Negard told his fellow councilors during Monday's council meeting.

The bus shelter also would be located near Northland Apartments, a Housing & Redevelopment Authority of Bemidji property.

The council agreed that city staff should look into the feasibility of relocating one shelter.

"There will be costs involved in doing that," said Craig Gray, the city engineer/public works director. Gray did not have an estimate, but guessed that costs would not be too great.

What is the issue?

Dave Larson, the vice president of the DDA, told the council downtown businesses have reported loitering and "perceived behavior that would be inappropriate."

"The feeling was that if the shelter was relocated or removed, some of that activity would not probably take place there," he said.

Several councilors added their own observations of activity in and around the shelters: public intoxication, public urination, and possible drug activity. Other activities were less worrisome as much as bothersome, such as people running through the flowerbeds.

"We do have an issue downtown," Negard said.

But Councilor Barb Meuers asked, more than once, if it is a problem throughout downtown or if it is confined to the bus shelters themselves.

Mayor Richard Lehmann said he has encountered people at the bus shelters who have asked for money.

"That just happened to be where people were at the time I walked by," he said.

Councilor Roger Hellquist said there are problems downtown, even in entryways to businesses,

"I don't know if you can blame the shelter totally," Negard said.

Meuers noted that the problems go beyond the bus shelter, and Councilor Jerry Downs said it, perhaps, all leads back to the need for a local detox center. Lehmann wondered whether the issue will be, or could be, examined through the city's Quality Neighborhoods Initiative.

bwesley@bemidjipioneer.com

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