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Bemidji City Council; No immediate help for Tyler Estates

It was a decision no one wanted to make.

But, with no other options available, the Bemidji City Council on Monday voted 4-0 to take no further action toward alleviating flooding issues with the Tyler Estates development.

Bemidji city staff, at the council's direction, has been working in recent months in an effort to develop a collaboration between the city, Bemidji Township, developer Steve Hill, Beltrami County and the Soil and Water Conservation District to fund a solution to the flooding that has occurred in the Tyler Estates development during spring.

The last effort toward a three-way collaboration failed last week when Bemidji Township decided against the contribution of $5,000 toward a further study into possible solutions to address flooding in the area.

"The Bemidji Town Board decided not to assist in any funding at this time based on input from Bemidji Township residents and concern from board members regarding limited township funds, admitting liability, possibly being 'locked in' to assist with further funding, and the fact that the developer wanted denser development than allowed by the township, and the city allowed this development upon annexation of the property," wrote Becky Livermore, the chair of the Bemidji Township board, in a letter to the city of Bemidji.

Without the township's participation, City Manager John Chattin said Hill would be unlikely to contribute.

"He was very clear that he would not contribute if other entities were not also contributing," Chattin said.

The City Council last week voted to complete a Phase 2 study of the Tyler Estates area at a cost of $23,500, which it hoped would be split between itself, the township and Hill.

A Phase 1 plan, completed by Barr Engineering for $9,000 in city funds, identified five potential options. All of them will cost at least $1 million, according to Public Works Direction/City Engineer Craig Gray.

The council this week reluctantly decided to stop all action. Mayor Richard Lehmann and Councilors Barb Meuers and Roger Hellquist were absent.

"The more we do without other partners, the more to be expected from the city without other partners," Chattin said.

City staff did say that the Greater Bemidji Joint Planning office is working to ensure that flood insurance will be available, hopefully in time for next spring.