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City council to consider partnership with Visit Bemidji on Tourist Information Center operations

At its meeting Monday, the Bemidji City Council will review a memorandum of understanding with Visit Bemidji to operate the Tourist Information Center.

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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council will consider a new agreement with the community's visitors bureau to operate the Tourist Information Center in 2022 at tonight's council meeting.

Built in 1994, the center, referred to as the TIC, is located in Paul Bunyan Park. In addition to serving as a location for tourists, the facility is home to the Visit Bemidji bureau.

In spring 2021, the city and Visit Bemidji entered into a memorandum of understanding , allowing the two entities to jointly operate the facility. To continue the partnership, the council will consider a revised MOU through December 2022.

Operation costs for the TIC in 2022 are estimated at $90,000. If the MOU is approved, both the city and Visit Bemidji would contribute $30,000. They would then collaborate to generate an additional $30,000 in revenue.

In operation, the Bemidji Parks and Recreation Department staff will act as general managers for the facility. The city will also be responsible for the building's maintenance.

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Another matter for the council on Monday is beginning an ordinance process to allow restaurants to serve alcohol outdoors and use the public right-of-way for patio space. In summer 2020, the council took action to allow restaurants to serve outdoors in response to rules set by Gov. Tim Walz, where indoor dining was limited to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Outdoor dining extended throughout last year as the city continued allowing those operations. In response to the popularity of the recent rules, city staff drafted a series of amendments to make outdoor dining permanent .

Should the amendments be approved, businesses would be able to purchase permits to allow outdoor dining. Ordinance adjustments happen in three readings, and the first readings are scheduled for Monday. The second reading includes a public hearing and the third requires a full vote by the council.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall and can also be viewed online on the city's website.

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