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Parking problem near Buffalo Wild Wings goes from spicy to mild

BEMIDJI — The jam that sparked a Bemidji city ban on parking for one side of 24th Street near Buffalo Wild Wings may already have flown away.

In a last-minute addition to Monday’s city council meeting agenda, councilman Ron Johnson said he’s observed several instances where little or no cars have been parked on 24th Street.

The city of Bemidji banned parking on the north side of the street, which happens to be in Johnson’s ward, at its Jan. 6 meeting. The city stepped in after it received complaints from the residents on that side of the street that Buffalo Wild Wings customers were parking on both sides of the street, blocking their driveways and potentially causing a safety hazard if emergency vehicles had to get through the tight quarters.

But Johnson, who participated in the unanimous vote for the ban, said Monday he’s driven by the street and seen it empty at lunch and even this past weekend during the Super Bowl.

“There’s very seldom ever any cars parked on that street,” he said.

Johnson said after the meeting rather than the single-side parking rule, it was likely business naturally settling down at the restaurant that cleared the cars from 24th.

He said he’s received complaints from businesspeople from the south side of 24th that say it should be calendar parking instead of single-side.  

The council also:

• Chose firm Widseth Smith Nolting to design a new roof for the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Public Works Director Craig Gray said the existing roof is over 30 years old.

• Through the consent agenda, approved a liquor license for the Beer and Bacon Fest to be held in the Sanford Center parking lot May 31. It will feature pig races and a bacon eating contest.  Visit the Sanford Center events calendar online for more information.

• Unanimously approved a cable franchise for Midcontinent Communications. Council member Reed Olson voiced his support for the idea of creating universal Wi-Fi internet access for Bemidji.