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Council OKs Nymore Days Street Dance

Get out your dancing shoes.

The Bemidji City Council on Monday unanimously approved Nymore Days Street Dance.

The event will be held on Sept. 7 in anticipation of Bemidji State University football's 10th annual Shrine Game on Sept. 8. Funds raised will benefit the Shriners Children's Hospital.

A pig roast and a street dance will be held on Central Avenue between The Garden Grill & Pub and the Corner Bar in a fenced-in and barricaded area.

Alcoholic beverages will be sold to those 21 and older from noon to 12:30 a.m. Sept. 7-8. Anyone younger than 16 will be required to vacate the premises after 10 p.m. Wrist bands will be used to identify patrons' ages.

Central Avenue Southeast will be closed from the Corner Bar to an alley past The Garden Grill & Pub, and Second Street Southeast between The Garden Grill & Pub and the Corner Bar.

During the meeting Monday, Mark Wilcox of The Garden Grill & Pub said he had already spoken with about 70 percent of nearby residents and they were OK with the street dance, at which a band will perform until 12:30 a.m.

Councilor Nancy Erickson said the event would take place in her ward.

"It is primarily a residential area, so I'm anxious to see ... what kind of calls we get when it is over," she said.

Erickson said she personally has no reservations about the event.

Councilor Jerry Downs, who said the event also will partly be in his ward, said he supports the street dance and commended organizers for the job they do in raising money for the Children's Hospital.

"It's a great cause," he said.

Parking was a concern for Councilor Ron Johnson, who noted that the Women's Expo will also be held on Sept. 8 at the nearby John Glas Fieldhouse.

Mayor Richard Lehmann noted that he received positive comments regarding the shuttle bus that took people to and from the waterfront for the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival.

Joe Dunn of the Headwaters Shrine Club said shuttle buses will transport people from hotels to downtown for the dance and football game.

"We're working on that right now," he said.

Erickson also noted that more and more such events are being planned. She said the council may wish to consider, at some point, whether organizers should help cover overtime costs for police officers who work the events.

Dunn said the Shrine Game this fall will feature a Beaver Bash as the Beavers from Minot State in North Dakota face the BSU Beavers. The game starts at 1 p.m. Sept. 8.

Baseball request

Bemidji Youth Baseball requested that the city waive $714 in fees for its $60,000 building project on the baseball field on the BSU campus near Bemidji Avenue.

The City Council voted to table the issue until next Monday's work session, at which it may take action to possibly develop a policy on such requests.

Erickson said she went back to the year 2000 researching similar projects for which the city waived the building permit fees.

In August 2000, she said, a former city manager waived a fee, and in July 2004, she said, the City Council waived building fees for the Girls and Boys Club.

Seven other similar projects did not receive a fee waiver, she said.

"I'm concerned about opening a door here that we tried so hard to keep closed on wavering (fees)," she said.

Erickson said she might feel a little differently if the project was not on the BSU campus and if the field also was not used by the college, high school, Legion, Babe Ruth and VFW teams.

If the baseball field was strictly being used by youth, she said, "I may be a little more tolerant of that."

Lehmann, however, said the council has received some criticism in the past for cutting programs and amenities for Bemidji's youth. He said the council, due to funding, eliminated the lifeguard position at the beach and has cut recreational programming for children.

"This is one of the ways we can support youth activities in the community," said Lehmann, adding that $714 is a "relatively small amount" of money,

City Manager John Chattin said the council may wish to enact a policy for the matter. If one is written, he said, staff could handle such requests in the future.