BEMIDJI -- The city of Bemidji will partner with the community's tourist and convention bureau this summer to open the Tourist Information Center to the public.

The building, located at 300 Bemidji Ave. N, was constructed in 1994 and had been home to the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce. However, the Chamber relocated to the Mayflower Building in downtown Bemidji last year and the facility was closed over the summer months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The building was constructed with grant funding from the state, though, and the agreement between the city and Minnesota required the tourist center to be open with established hours. To do so this summer, Visit Bemidji, which operates at the center, and city officials met to decide upcoming operations.

On Monday, May 3, the Bemidji City Council approved a partnership agreement between the two entities with each set to hire a seasonal, part-time employee at a cost of $15,000. The approval was made with all council members in favor except Ward 2 council member Josh Peterson, who abstained as he's the Visit Bemidji executive director.

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The city will utilize contingency funding for its share of the staff expenses. The center will be open for tourist visits from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the end of May through September.

The Visit Bemidji board approved the agreement late last month. The bureau was established in 1988 and receives funding through lodging tax dollars to promote the city and local events.

City Manager review

Under the council's new business section of the agenda, Mayor Jorge Prince gave a summary of City Manager Nate Mathews' annual performance review. In his comments, Prince said "the growth of our city, complexity of issues and integration of new council members confirm that the city manager has a very complex job, which Mr. Mathews has approached with enthusiasm and dedication."

The annual review was held during a work session on April 26. Prince went on to say the council expressed their full support for Mathews at that work session and affirmed their appreciation for his initiative and accomplishments.

Mathews has been with the city since spring 2015. Before his work in Bemidji, he was city manager for the city of Staples, Minn., for eight years.Infrastructure items

The council also approved a project to pave several alleys across the city. Over the past several years, the city has selected multiple gravel alleys to be paved and this year it's anticipated that this process will be completed. Doing so, according to city staff, decreases immediate and long-term future maintenance.

Infrastructure items

The council approved a quote of $97,500 from Northern Paving to handle the work this year. Alleys will be paved in the following locations:

  • An area bordered by 12th Street Northwest, Mississippi Avenue, Sixth Street and Rice Avenue.
  • An area bordered by 16th Street Northwest, 15th Street, Irvine Avenue and Minnesota Avenue.
  • An area bordered by 17th Street Northwest, 14th Street, Park Avenue and Delton Avenue.
  • An area bordered by 29th Street Northwest, 26th Street, Park Avenue and Beltrami Avenue.

The city's storm sewer system was also reviewed by the council on Monday as part of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permit requirement. As part of a presentation, the following city activities from the past year were shared:

  • The city reviewed 14 commercial site plans for compliance with city and state runoff treatment requirements.
  • Staff inspected 63 of the city's 177 storm sewer outlets and five of the 29 storm water ponds.
  • Erosion control inspections took place at 45 sites in the city.
  • Staff cleaned 570 linear feet of storm water pipe.
  • Five manholes/catch basins were repaired.
  • The city removed 13 cubic yards of collected material from ditches.