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Pioneer viewpoints: Let all voices be heard on south shore plan

News flows in cycles, and this summer has been no different.

Much of the dialogue coming from City Hall these past few months has been about the development of Bemidji's south shore. From new apartment buildings to land sales to Zorbaz to cleaning up and creating a new beach, a lot of time and effort, and money, has been put toward the south shore.

And that's a good thing. But, alas, as reporter John Hageman documented in his story Sunday, a lot of it comes down to one thing: Money.

We'd all like to see a vibrant south shore in the future, but how best to pay for it is a critical question. Another is just what do we want for the south shore?

A new south shore beach should be a major part of any redevelopment plan. Hageman reported Sunday about a "promise" made by the city that a new south shore beach would be developed. And while this "promise" may not have been written in stone, the city should do its best to make it a reality, if the dollars add up.

Again, the question always comes back to money. With cleanup costs for the beach higher than expected, at about $1.2 million, tack on the further development costs and it adds up quickly. With no immediate funding source, the idea of putting the project before the voters is a possibility. But Mayor Rita Albrecht said a bonding referendum would be the "last resort."

"Maybe we'll think outside of the box a bit and think of some alternatives to cleaning up a beach," Albrecht told Hageman.

One idea mentioned recently is possibly even building a swimming pool on the south shore.

Albrecht said a series of public meetings should be held so residents can weigh in on south shore redevelopment, as well as hear about potential costs.

Albrecht told Hageman, "there is an expectation that the city has made to the community and we need to fulfill that. However, we have to be prudent in our redevelopment plans so that it is cost-effective."

We agree that whatever funding model is approved needs to be cost-effective. And making sure sure all citizens have a voice in that plan also is critical to its success.

In other news this past week:

Praise should be given to the Lueken family and the Joseph and Janice Lueken Family Foundation for helping to fund the development of a Safe Schools Ambassador program for six elementary schools in Bemidji. The national program helps to curb bullying in all schools and is a positive step for the local district.