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HRDC asks for events center consultant

The Bemidji City Council on Wednesday considered retaining Brian Schoenborn as a consultant on the events center. But about 10 minutes later, the council meeting was over.

During the Schoenborn discussion, Councilor Roger Hellquist pointed out that the agenda for Wednesday's City Council work session was limited strictly to the conversation with Bemidji State University President Jon Quistgaard.

Hellquist then made a motion to adjourn, Councilor Barb Meuers seconded the motion and the council voted unanimously to adjourn. The meeting was over.

Dave Hengel with the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, the project coordinator on the events center, had proposed that the council consider hiring Schoenborn as a consultant. Schoenborn, a St. Cloud attorney, came to Bemidji in late August to discuss his involvement with similar arenas.

Schoenborn would be better able to answer questions regarding what operations and maintenance costs would be for the events center, Hengel said.

Also, there is no one in the Bemidji community who can address issues such as naming rights, concessions and operations, Hengel said.

The fact that Schoenborn is both a mediator and attorney would also be helpful, he said.

Meuers said she didn't know Schoenborn and would be uncomfortable hiring someone she didn't now.

"'I'd like to wait on deciding this," she said, adding that she didn't yet see the need for mediation.

HRDC Executive Director Cliff Tweedale suggested that the council invite Schoenborn to a council meeting and get to know him better.

Mayor Richard Lehmann and Councilor Jerry Downs voiced support for at least talking with Schoenborn. Councilor Ron Johnson, who met Schoenborn when he visited Bemidji in August, said he would be in favor of hiring Schoenborn as a consultant.

Hellquist said he would like to consider other options, including others who might have knowledge about operations and maintenance of similar facilities. He said he receive some e-mails from people who did not support hiring Schoenborn as a consultant.

Hellquist then made a motion to adjourn.

At the meeting's end, it was unclear whether the council would invite Schoenborn to Bemidji or consider the proposal in the future. The cost of retaining Schoenborn also was not presented.