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Monday meetings to offer information about events center

For those seeking more information about Bemidji's proposed regional events center, Monday will offer a day full of opportunities.

Meetings are scheduled throughout the day as officials and experts will discuss project plans.

The day kicks off at 7:30 a.m. at City Hall for a meeting with businesses, which also will be open to the public.

A similar meeting will be held at noon at City Hall, this one intended to be a public conversation with community members.

The Headwaters Regional Development Commission, which is acting as the project coordinator, scheduled the meetings to get more information to the public.

"It will be the beginning, but it won't be the end" of efforts in getting information to the public, said Dave Hengel of the HRDC during last week's City Council meeting.

The HRDC invited Brian Schoenborn, a St. Cloud attorney and expert on similar centers, to the meetings to discuss what can be expected for naming rights and operation and maintenance costs. Hengel said one of the looming questions that needs to be answered is what the costs will be to operate and maintain the events center.

"Quite frankly, that's going to take some experts," he said.

Monday's meetings will continue with a City Council work session at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall. The design team will present some preliminary plans for the events center. Schoenborn also is expected to attend.

The City Council said it would like to see public engagement on the issue. Councilor Ron Johnson said the HRDC should consider video-taping the meeting at noon Monday and replaying it, if possible, in the future.

Councilor Nancy Erickson said some community members may be unable to attend the noon meeting because they work during the day, and asked that the meeting scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Monday be open to the public as well as businesses. Hengel said it would be.

Hengel last week also stressed that two other important dates are on the horizon. Representatives from the Capital Investment Finance committee in the House of Representatives will visit Bemidji Sept. 18. Members of the Senate's Capital Investment Committee will visit the city Sept. 25. The visits will be with members of House and Senate committees who will review the city of Bemidji's bonding request.

The City Council has voted in support of a $50 million facility. Half of the funding for the project would come from the half-cent sales tax. If approved by the Legislature, the remaining $25 million would come from the state.