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Pioneer Editorial: North park a welcome attraction

The Bemidji City Council did the right thing Monday night when it approved the creation of North Country Park by requesting bids for Phase I of its development.

That area of town has seen an explosive growth in housing, much of it multiple family apartments or town homes, but no park facilities, other than Cameron Park right at the Lake Bemidji shore. Efforts have begun before, under the Bemidji Rotary Club, but later failed when residents did not wish to provide voluntary upkeep.

Thanks to the North Country Health Services Foundation for its donation of land, the city is now willing to undertake maintaining and operating North Country Park as a new city park. The 20-acre site should provide space for a variety of recreational activities to satisfy the residents of that area, which are very diverse.

Households in that area previously underserved by park facilities range from low-income single-parent families to upscale senior town home owners to lower middle income mobile home owners and renters.

And activities will range from bocce ball and tennis to basketball and a kids' playground. There will be horseshoe rings and walking trails thrpugh the trees.

One would hope also that drinking water and cookout areas with picnic tables could also be provided, as many of the residents in that area do not have the yard space for such activities.

The park area, at 30th Street Northwest, is a densely populated area in which such a park will be much used and appreciated. Hopefully, the city will remain fully committed to the project to continue its phases of development even after the city sales tax funding is exhausted for parks and trails improvements.

As an added bonus, the new North Country Park will become the home of the Carrington Field, named after Jim Carrington, the Bemidji Pioneer's long-time sports editor. The city has committed $350,000 toward that project, which does not include lights, bullpens or bleachers. The originally dedicated field has been removed from City Park for other activities.

The new park will help fill a recreational void that stretches from Cameron Park to Wal-Mart, and north of Paul Bunyan Drive. It will be a welcome addition to the city's parks inventory.