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Northern Township and Bemidji City Council to discuss extending utilities at joint meeting

At a joint government meeting Tuesday evening, the Bemidji City Council and Northern Township Board will discuss how water and sewer services may be extended north from the city to certain properties in the township.

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Bemidji City Manager Nate Mathews, left, and Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince listen to a concerned citizen speak on issues related to Northern Township during the open comment period of a city council meeting on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, at City Hall. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

NORTHERN TOWNSHIP -- Leadership from the city of Bemidji and Northern Township is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss the extension of water services north to select areas.

Over the last year, both government units have been approached by Ruttger's Birchmont Lodge, which wants to connect to the water and sewer services provided by the city. Additionally, there has been interest expressed to connect the water services to Lake Bemidji State Park.

Following a meeting between the city and township in November, estimates were produced for construction costs and related work. If a project were to happen, two lift stations would be needed between the city and the resort, and another two would be required to get to the state park.

The total estimated cost for extending services to Ruttger's is $4.09 million. That amount includes:

  • $1.26 million for sanitary sewer construction.
  • $500,000 for two lift stations.
  • $625,000 to dewater areas.

With engineering and contingency needs, the total for sewer services comes to $2.98 million.
Then, for water needs, a water main installation would come to $888,300. With contingency and engineering, the total comes to $1.11 million.

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A second phase, from the resort to the state park, would have an estimated cost of $4.48 million. The sewer portion of the estimate includes the following:

  • $1.29 million for construction.
  • $500,000 for lift stations.
  • $625,000 for dewatering.

When combining those costs with contingency and engineering needs, the total comes to $3.02 million. For the water main, with construction, engineering and contingency, the amount comes to $1.46 million.
Along with the construction work itself, the city and township also need to determine how to bring the services north, without disturbing other residents. Between the city and resort are several other township properties that could be impacted.

In past meetings, Northern Township board members have expressed that constituents are not interested in more annexation.

Over the last decade, sections of Northern Township were annexed into the city as part of a three-phase agreement. The first phase was 2010, the second in 2015 and the third in 2020.

The last phase pushed the city's borders north to Lakewood Drive along Lake Bemidji and westward to U.S. Highway 71 and the Bemidji Regional Airport. The three annexations combined brought in roughly 500 residents to the city.

The agreement had originally included sections of Bemidji Township for the city to annex, but Bemidji Township later left the agreement following litigation.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at Northern Town Hall, 445 Town Hall Rd. NW.

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