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Bemidji City Council authorizes 2022 infrastructure study, proclaims Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples Day

During its first meeting of October, the Bemidji City Council on Monday ordered a feasibility study for road construction work in 2022. Mayor Jorge Prince was also joined by Native American Council members in reading a proclamation to establish Monday, Oct. 11, as Indigenous Peoples Day.

Bemidji City Hall 2020 web art.jpg
Bemidji City Hall.

BEMIDJI -- As road construction season wraps up for 2021, Bemidji officials are considering stretches of streets to rebuild next year.

On Monday, Oct. 4, the Bemidji Public Works Department was authorized by the Bemidji City Council to develop a feasibility study for the 2022 edition of the Street Renewal Program. On an annual basis, the city selects several stretches of roads, often clustered in a single location around town, to reconstruct.

In 2021, the Street Renewal program made improvements to the following roads :

  • Fern Street Northwest, from Power Drive to U.S. Highway 71.
  • Ash Avenue, from Paul Bunyan Drive to 23rd Street Northwest.
  • 26th Street Northwest, from a dead end west of Delton Avenue to Bemidji Avenue.

This year marked the 13th for the city’s program. Over the course of its history, the program has accomplished the following:

  • 851 homes have had roadway improvements.
  • 18,073 feet of new storm sewer systems have been installed.
  • 47,235 feet of water main and sanitary sewer lines have been replaced.
  • 16.8 miles of city streets have been reconstructed.
  • 9.4 miles of sidewalks and trails have been replaced or added.

In total, the city has invested $23.4 million in the program, utilizing $9.5 million in federal and state funding. For 2022, the city is planning to reconstruct four roads.
They include:

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  • 10th Street Northeast, from Bemidji Avenue to Lake Boulevard.
  • Dewey Avenue Northeast, from 10th Street to 12th Street.
  • Ridgeway Avenue Northwest, from 30th Street to Paul Bunyan Drive (State Highway 197).
  • A small section of Spruce Street Northwest extending west from Rigeway Avenue.

The feasibility report is expected in December.

Indigenous Peoples Day

Before other agenda items were considered, Mayor Jorge Prince was joined by council members Daniel Jourdain and Audrey Thayer in reading a proclamation, declaring the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day. Prince asked Jourdain and Thayer to be part of the process as both are Native American.

Indigenous Peoples Day has been a Minnesota holiday, coinciding with Columbus Day, on the second Monday in October since 2016, when former Gov. Mark Dayton established it. The same year, former Mayor Rita Albrecht also began proclaiming the day as Indigenous Peoples Day .

In Monday’s proclamation, the council noted how “historically and currently, Bemidji has been on Indigenous land,” and that “the city of Bemidji recognizes and acknowledges the need to be mindful of historical trauma stemming from colonization and government policy toward Indigenous peoples, and use this awareness to inform our work.”

The proclamation also states that “governments, organizations and public institutions should reflect on the experiences of Indigenous people and their contributions to our country's roots, history and traditions.”

Following the proclamation, Jourdain said, "I'd like to thank former councils and Mayor Rita Albrecht for establishing this. As an Indigenous person, it means a lot to contribute to this city in a positive way. I think the city recognizes that and it's a very positive step forward."

As it's a federal holiday, the city also recognizes Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 11.

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