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Waterfront to remain accessible throughout road work

The reconstruction of Bemidji Avenue is planned to not affect perennial waterfront events, according to City Engineer Craig Gray.

Bemidji Avenue/Highway 197 will be reconstructed this summer from Third Street to 23rd Street. The city also will update and replace sewer and water in those areas during that time.

Will and Carolyn Fisher appeared in front of the Bemidji City Council Monday as co-chairs of the 2008 Bemidji Jaycees annual Water Carnival, which is held at the Lake Bemidji waterfront.

This year's festivities, the 64th annual, are planned to be held July 2-6 with the fireworks show slated for Friday, July 4.

Councilor Onen Markeson asked whether the planned road project would disrupt the event. If all goes according to plan, Gray responded that the road construction should be complete in that area by July.

Gray explained that the contractor was told to have the portion from Second to Sixth streets completed by June 21 or face a $2,000 fine per day.

"There's never a guarantee," he said.

The City Council voted unanimously, 5-0, to authorize the use of the waterfront for the Water Carnival.

But, even while the downtown portion of construction is occurring, Gray said there will continue to be access to the waterfront.

The main access, across from Second Street, will remain open as usual, he explained. The exit, across from Third Street, will be closed.

While the construction was planned to wrap early as to not disrupt the Water Carnival or Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival (Aug. 1-2), it will have some impacts on other events, such as the Kraus-Anderson Walleye Classic, to be held June 14, Gray said.

That event's coordinators have been made aware of the changes, he said.