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City considers up to $14 million for south shore property, bond interest

How much will the south shore property cost? It could be well over $10 million.

The Bemidji City Council on Monday held the first reading of an ordinance that would authorize the Bemidji Economic Development Authority to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $14 million for the purpose of south shore acquisition.

City Manager John Chattin explained that the $14 million would not be just for property costs.

"That number would include all property acquisition that the city would be making and capitalized interest for the first two years," Chattin said following Monday's meeting.

The City Council hopes to purchase 130 acres along the south shore of Lake Bemidji to develop parks and trails, improve Nymore Beach and boat landing, and also provide a home for the proposed events center.

The cost to purchase all 130 acres is not yet known. The city has purchase agreements in place for two parcels, but is still negotiating with the largest landowner, ShoreQuest L.L.C., owned by John Zacher.

A telephone conference call is scheduled for this week with Zacher and his attorney, Chattin said, and he hopes to have a document in place in the following days.

The city now has purchase agreements for property owned by Joe and Vicki Waslaski for $125,000 and North Central Door, a 10-acre parcel, for $868,500, plus the assumption of more than $22,500 in outstanding assessments.

In addition to ShoreQuest, Chattin said the city also is talking with the Bemidji Area Schools about the potential for a land swap in the area.

The city hopes to recoup a chunk of the property costs for the 130 acres through the sale of some land to the Department of Natural Resources. The DNR is considering parcels to protect the virgin, or untouched, shoreline on the eastern edge of the property, expand the Paul Bunyan Trail and add some parkland.

Chattin said the DNR is compiling figures and will get back to the city.

What's next?

The City Council will hold a second reading of the ordinance, which includes a public hearing, on Dec. 17.

The third reading must take place three weeks after the first reading, so the council decided to hold a special meeting at noon on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24, to consider adoption of the ordinance.

If it is approved by the council, it cannot take effect for 30 days from the day it is published, which means the Bemidji EDA would be unable to issue bonds until the end of January.