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Bemidji City Council to consider drainage solutions at Babe statue

Because of the way water drains at the Paul Bunyan and the Babe the Blue Ox statues, the structures are experiencing some damage. The Bemidji City Council on Monday will review options to fix the issue.

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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council will meet for a work session Monday to consider drainage options at the Paul Bunyan statue plaza.

The plaza, located next to the Tourist Information Center, features statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, which were built in the 30s. According to city documents, the Babe statue has been sustaining some water damage because of how water pools in the plaza.

In 2015, the city did a reconstruction of nearly $1.6 million on the plaza, adding new concrete to the area. Initially, the city was going to install boulders and a tree stump around the statue, but the plan was scrapped based on public feedback, and a colored concrete plaza was chosen instead.

Work to the plaza was brought up again earlier this year, when the Paul Bunyan statue sustained damage to the right arm , with the concrete giving way. Planned maintenance on the statue by the firm Jensen Conservation Services was then done ahead of schedule, with work being done on both statues.

With the conservation work now finished, the city is exploring solutions to the drainage issue. At the work session tonight, the council will review four options on the drainage situation. They include:

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  • Raising Babe and putting it on the same level of elevation as the Paul statue. Paul sits 1.5 feet higher than Babe.
  • Excavating the area adjacent to Babe to route drainage water away from the plaza.
  • Removing and reshaping the concrete in the plaza to drain water away from Babe.
  • Removing a section of the concrete plaza and installing a catch basin.

The estimated costs for the project range from $90,000 to $200,000.

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