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City to install exercise equipment at North Country Park

BEMIDJI — A new way to stay in shape will be coming to North Country Park this summer.

The Bemidji City Council on Monday approved the purchase of more than $11,000 worth of outdoor exercise equipment for the park, located on 30th Street Northwest. That will include an elliptical machine, fitness bike, chest press, waist twister and a Thai Chi spinner —several rotary wheels designed to improve shoulder arm and elbow flexibility.

Marcia Larson, the city’s parks and recreation director, said the machines will provide a good way for parents to watch their kids in the park while exercising. The equipment is designed for young adults through seniors, according to manufacturer ExerSkys.

“It’s just a trend across the nation that people want to go workout and be outside,” Larson said. “People are very concerned with time … and also being fit.”

The machines are more low-tech compared to ones found in an indoor gym. But, Larson said, they’re able to withstand weather conditions and will be free to use.

“I wouldn’t say they’re indestructible, but they’re certainly built to be in a public place,” Larson said. She hopes to install the equipment in June.

Meanwhile, the council also approved a $25,000 purchase for a rope web climbing pyramid at the same park. That piece of playground equipment is designed for children ages five to 12.

“All of our parks have very traditional equipment, so lately we’ve been trying to come with a couple different elements in each of our parks,” Larson said.

Two equipment purchases fit within the $50,000 construction budget for the park, according to a memo written by Larson to the council.

The new equipment’s installation at North Country Park was made possible by changes in the plans for an inclusive playground in Bemidji.

“The Bemidji Inclusive Playground Committee had identified North Country Park as a good location for the inclusive playground,” Larson wrote to the council. “However, over the last year, the Committee opted to reduce the size of the inclusive playground project and recommended based on visibility and greater potential use that the inclusive playground be located in Paul Bunyan Park.”

The Parks and Trails Commission approved the site change for the inclusive playground, which is designed to accommodate children with disabilities, on Feb. 12.

“This provided an opportunity to install both a play area and outdoor exercise equipment at North Country Park,” Larson wrote.

She said Wednesday that the inclusive playground committee will likely begin fundraising efforts in June. 

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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