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City Council: BREC change orders approved

The Bemidji City Council on Monday voted 4-3 to approve more than $688,000 worth of change orders for work associated with the Bemidji Regional Event Center and south shore redevelopment.

City Councilors Jerry Downs, Barb Meuers and Greg Negard were opposed.

The change orders were required for additional work that had not been included in the bids previously approved by the City Council.

Clinton Gronhovd, the project manager through Kraus-Anderson, told the council that it was not an unusual amount of change orders for a project as large as the 140-acre south shore.

Mayor Richard Lehmann, however, was concerned that the council was being asked to consider change orders without completely understanding the scope of the work involved or why it was deemed necessary.

City councilors were given packets of bills detailing the amounts required, but no "narrative" that would have explained why the new work was required.

City Manager John Chattin directed Kraus-Anderson to include that narrative in the future. Gronhovd said it would do so.

Some of the work required involved the decision to expand the sewer lines in the area. Originally planned to be 10 inches, they have been increased to 15 inches. If sewer is ever offered along the east side of Lake Bemidji, the city would need to have pipes large enough to handle the increase en route to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Other work involved the extension of infrastructure to other developable lots in the south shore area.

Councilor Roger Hellquist asked Gronhovd if he saw any "red flags," or unnecessary work changes, involved in the change orders. Gronhovd replied he did not.

Chattin also noted, following the vote, that the work included in the change orders had already been done.

City staff, he said, meets with Kraus-Anderson and other contractors on a regular basis to review the work requests and offer approval.

If each work request needed to be brought to the council for prior approval, the City Council would need to meet daily, Chattin said.