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Seven to form BREC board

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Seven people will constitute an advisory board for the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

The Bemidji City Council on Monday voted 6-0 to appoint Councilors Ron Johnson and Greg Negard to the board along with City Manager John Chattin, Finance Director Ron Eischens and one representative each from Bemidji State University, VisitBemidji and the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce.

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The City Council will approve the representatives from BSU, VisitBemidji and the Chamber based on recommendations from those organizations.

Chattin noted that newly hired BREC Executive Director Bob LeBarron will arrive in Bemidji next month.

"I think it's appropriate to get this board formed as soon as possible," Chattin said.

He expects that the board may be required to meet weekly during startup of the facility and then, perhaps, monthly thereafter.

The BREC Advisory Board will be charged with working with VenuWorks, the management firm for the BREC.

The council compromised on having two councilor representatives following Chattin's recommendation of one and Councilor Greg Negard's suggestion of three.

"I think with my recommendation we will still get good representation and keep it in-house," Negard said.

City Attorney Al Felix said the Open Meeting Law could become a consideration if more than one city councilor served on the board.

Councilor Jerry Downs, who was acting mayor pro tem in Mayor Richard Lehmann's absence, stressed the need for public meetings.

"I think it's important to keep this open," Downs said.

To avoid potential problems with meetings that must be held on short notice, Downs suggested that weekly meetings be held on a regular basis.

"We only get the chance to do this once," he said.

Chattin had recommended one member each from the Chamber and Downtown Development Authority, but Negard had suggested that the board be composed without either group's inclusion.

The council opted to instead include one member of the Chamber, who could potentially also be a member of the DDA.

Councilor Kevin Waldhausen said the initial BREC feasibility report determined that the facility could enhance the business community.

"I fell it is important ... that we do have representation from the Chamber on this committee," he said.

Algoma park

The City Council also voted 6-0 to appoint Councilors Down and Waldhausen to a newly formed committee to discuss the future of Northern Township Park.

They will meet with Northern Township representatives to discuss issues surrounding Northern Township Park, a 7-acre park on Algoma Street Northwest that is within the ring of properties eligible for annexation next year.

According to the Orderly Annexation Agreement, the city will assume maintenance and responsibility of the park, but ownership is not specified.

Discussion in recent months has focused on whether Northern Township should be compensated for the park. But city officials have said they do not have the money to do so.

BEDA meeting

The Bemidji Economic Development Authority, composed of city councilors, voted 6-0 to sell three lots in the south shore redevelopment to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for $2.3 million.

The action was a formality, as the BEDA already had accepted an offer from the DNR to purchase the lots.

Two of the lots will be used to construct and connect the Paul Bunyan Trail. The other lot will be preserved as an aquatic management area.

The DNR and BEDA have negotiated a Joint Powers Agreement that would govern the relationship between the entities and manage the use of the property.

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