Bemidji City Council awards bid for water treatment, approves concept for park

The Bemidji City Council awarded the near-term water treatment plant project to lowest bidder Rice Lake Construction, who bid just over $6 million to construct the plant that will clean the city’s water of PFAs, as well as some of the iron and manganese.

The city had requested bonding dollars from the state, and the House bonding bill that died on the floor had $12.3 million for the project, and the Senate’s companion had around $8 million. The total cost of the project will be around $16 million, with the near term plant, which will be incorporated into the larger plant, costing about $7 million in total, including 15 percent overhead on the project.

City Finance Director Ron Eischens says he’s been working on a plan, but without any other source of funding, the city would likely take out bonds, which would add a 14 percent rate increase over 25 years for the city’s utility customers.

In the state bonding package, in the event that the city wins a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the PFAs source, firefighting foam created by 3M, the city would have to pay the state back $4 million. The legislature is expected to reconvene this Friday, but major items on their docket include police reform and COVID-19.

The Bemidji City Council approved a concept for improvements to North Country Park on 30th Street.

The concept is in four phases, and the first phase, which is expected to begin installation next year as soon as funds are raised.

The city has a memorandum of understanding with the Bemidji Rotary Club, and the cost for the first phase is conservatively estimated to be around $95,000, but with volunteer contributions and donations, that amount could be reduced by as much as $20,000.

The concept is a natural playscape which will include a pollinator path, insect farm, creation station, water pumps for play, but no splash pad.

A splash pad ranges in costs, and finding the space and parking is a challenge, according to Parks and Rec director Marcia Larson.

The natural playscape does offer opportunity for interactive play and additional programming from the Rec department.

Other phases include a fallen timbers play area, hills for playing on for both the summer and winter, and forest trail stations with natural playground equipment.

Pictures of the park concepts are included in the city’s packet: 6-8-20_CC_Special_Meeting_Packet

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