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City Park gets full backing from city council

Marcia Larson came prepared to Monday night's Bemidji City Council meeting.

Recognizing that the bids for the second phase of renovation for Bemidji City Park came in about $90,000 over budget, she didn't want to ask the council for increased funds - especially not when the council has been facing difficult budget challenges.

So she suggested, after discussing the scenario with consultant Kimley-Horn and Associates, that some softball dugouts could be removed from the plans some foul-line poles could be replaced with less expensive options. Further, she said the main park building would have drinking fountains, but others would be removed from plans, along with some picnic tables, which city staff could install at a later date.

"We have some potential options available to us," she said.

But the council balked.

"I think we should find a way to make sure we get those dugouts and drinking fountains (installed)," said Councilor Barb Meuers, who noted that the city's parks offer amenities to all residents of Bemidji, regardless of socio-economic status.

Councilor Kevin Waldhausen agreed, stating that if you are at a park with a 5-year-old who suddenly wants water, there had better be a drinking fountain nearby.

"If we don't do these amenities now ... when are we going to get them done?" he said.

The council voted 6-0 to take dollars from last year's surplus and to also utilize $50,000 in liquor store profits fund the difference, including funding for a contingency fund.

The council also supported a resolution stating its support for Pine Haven Townhomes.

Kuepers Inc. Architects & Builders, a firm based in Baxter, has proposed to develop Pine Haven Townhomes, a low- and moderate-income housing project. The development would be built along 15th Street Northwest near the site that will host the Headwaters Housing Development Corporation's transitional housing development.

The development was discussed at an April work session, but the resolution of support was not approved until this week.

The resolution, which is submitted to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency in an application for funding, states that the city will donate a portion of the building permit fees, donate a portion of the city's SAC/WAC (sewer and water connection) fees and fast-track the building permit process.

The council also awarded the bid for the 2010 Street Renewal Project to the low bidder of six received, Douglas-Kerr Underground LLC of Mora, Minn. The bid was for $1,119,735.98, about $200,000 under city staff's initial estimate.