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Bemidji's Diamond Point Park wins state award

Cold and damp conditions didn't stop a group of students from Bagley from enjoying Diamond Point Park in Bemidji earlier this week. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

T he redesign of Diamond Point Park has earned state recognition.

The city of Bemidji last week was informed that Diamond Point has won an Award of Excellence from the Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association. Diamond Point was awarded in the Parks and Facilities division

Marcia Larson, the city's parks and recreation director, nominated the park project.

"One of the best measures of success is not only the usage, but the passion and enthusiasms park users both demonstrate in actions and words," Larson wrote in the nomination. "As director, I spent quite a bit of time in the park preparing for the grand opening and then overseeing the maintenance during the summer.

"It was a rare day that I did not receive some type of positive input and thank you from a parent or grandparent using the beach or other facilities with their children, co-workers out for a stroll along the trails, a student studying in the chairs along shore or a family picnicking."

Bemidji received a letter last week from the co-chair of the MRPA awards committee giving notification of the award. The letter said 25 nominations were received and 10 projects were selected for awards.

An official presentation of the award is expected later, either during a City Council or Parks and Trails Commission meeting.

Diamond Point Park underwent a $3.3 million renovation in 2008. It was the first park to benefit from the city's half-cent sales tax dedicated toward parks improvements.

Diamond Point was restored and reconstructed to reflect the community's investment in its natural resources, especially Lake Bemidji.

The positive result is evident now in the number of people utilizing the park for play time, picnics and lake enjoyment.

"It's been really busy," Larson said, noting that it hasn't quite been warm enough for the beach to get too popular. The playground is busy, and there are a lot of people sitting in the Adirondack chairs (along the lakeshore)."

Before the 2008 renovations, the park - like other Bemidji parks - had become worn and in desperate need of updating.

"Diamond Point Park was truly a diamond in the rough," Larson wrote in her nomination. "Diamond Point Park (was) in disrepair, the entrance lacked appeal, the playground equipment and other amenities were unsafe and outlived their time. The beach house and beach area lacked in both aesthetics and safety."

The nomination included before-and-after photos showing the park's vast improvement.

"Upon completion, Diamond Point Park not only met the outline objectives, but the design met the needs and wants of the overall community," Larson wrote.