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Beltrami County Board: County to open bids on old fairgrounds

Beltrami County commissioners will open bids Tuesday for the sale of the old Beltrami County Fairgrounds.

It could be worth at least $2.5 million.

Bids will be accepted until 2 p.m. Tuesday, and then will be opened by the Beltrami County Board at 5 p.m. during its regular meeting in the County Board Room at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

The board on Feb. 2 set $2.5 million as the asking price for the property, which is the remainder of the old Beltrami County Fairgrounds between Target Store and the Middle School ball field.

Should the county agree to the highest responsible bid, the proceeds will be split with the city of Bemidji as part of an agreement that saw several county buildings constructed downtown. A joint city/county committee recommended the asking price.

The county put the property up for bid in 2000, but wasn't satisfied with the bids and withdrew the property. It could do the same Tuesday.

Another option, if the bids aren't satisfactory, is to appoint a broker to market the property but sell it at no less than 90 percent of the appraised value, according to County Attorney Tim Faver in a memo.

Only bids for cash will be accepted, and the bids must include the proposed use and development schedule for the property.

The county sold half the property in 1990 to Target Store and a mall developer, in a controversy that saw competing Wal Mart verbally offer $100,000 more than Target at the meeting where bids were announced. The County Board in a split vote still went with Target.

The sale came as the fairgrounds were moved farther north, along U.S. Highway 71 North.

At the time of the sale, the county also set aside $500,000 from proceeds as a trust fund for the Beltrami County Agricultural Association, the group that runs the Beltrami County Fair. It used the interest to fund fair projects. Several years ago, the county liquidated that fund and the Fair Board has applied directly to the board annually for project funding.

Also Tuesday night, the County Board will award bids for a Courthouse Annex construction project. The second floor of the annex is being remodeled to provide office space for 9th Judicial District public defenders.

The board will consider an application for assistance to the Gizibii for the Rabideau Conservation Academy and Learning Center. It will also consider authorization to impact county-owed land from the Headwaters Regional Development Commission's proposed future supportive housing construction.

The board will appoint two additional at-large members to the Parks and Trails Council, following bylaws changes enacted at the board's last meeting. Applicants include Patrick Donnay, Mark Morrissey, Polly Merhar, Robert Montebello and Roger Gunsalus.

Commissioners, at their 3 p.m. work session, will open with a telephone conference call with local lawmakers on the status of the current session.

The board will receive an update on the Prime West Health program the county uses for providing medical services to public assistance residents, discuss a proposed waterfowl refuge in Beltrami County and hear a report from the committee working on the merger of the Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District with the county.

The County Board's consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing and approval of off-sale liquor and 3.2 percent beer off-sale license to Midway Convenience Store.

Commissioners will consider approval of a state boat and water safety grant and resolution, approval of a recording system $27,690 upgrade for the 911 dispatch, and approval of an extended leave for a corrections officer.

The board will be asked to approve a vacation of highway easement resolution involving former roadway up to a now-removed bridge over the Blackduck River on County Road 101.

Commissioners will be asked to approve an agreement contracting Beltrami County highway engineer duties to the Cass County Highway Department, at one day a week and $100 an hour, as the county seeks a new full-time highway engineer.

The board will consider approval of modifications to the Northwest Regional Radio Board Joint Powers Agreement, and approval of a contract amendment with Bemidji Area Program Recovery Inc. to add the Beltrami County Jail as a service delivery site.