Bemidji City Council members discuss crime at Ridgeway Apartments

During the citizens with business portion of the Bemidji City Council meeting, Reed Sabbe, manager for Ridgeway Apartments 1 and 2, requested additional city resources in light of recent crime in the area, such as two gunfire incidents in August.

Since this was the first time the matter has been brought to the council, no formal decision was made, but a goal was made to have NETA Property Management, managers of Ridgeway Apartments 1 and 2, and DW Jones Property Management, property managers for Ridgeway Apartments 3 and 4, included in landlord discussions with the city.

According to Sabbe, Ridgeway Apartments 1-4 provide low-income housing, often renting to those with criminal histories and those with poor credit, and have had issues with controlled substances and other crimes.

About 20 years ago, the Rotary Club established a community outreach program for those low-income apartments, providing food to needy families, as well as helping residents with rides to find jobs.

Ward 5’s Nancy Erickson recalled that the program also reduced crime in that area.

A plan to resume a similar program was underway, but those plans were put on hold due to COVID-19.

Sabbe told the council that since the management companies offer low-income housing, they are unable to invest in their own security.

Other items for the Bemidji City Council included:

  • Approving claims submitted by VenuWorks in the amount of $27,305.26. This monthly item was a consent agenda item for several years, but at council members’ requests, has been removed from consent for a separate vote.
  • Adopting a lease with Visit Bemidji for the Tourist Information Center. Since council member Josh Peterson is the executive director for Visit Bemidji, he recused himself from discussion and abstained from the vote to avoid a conflict of interest.
  • Hearing an update from Greater Bemidji’s Dave Hengel. Hengel expressed a lot of optimism when making economic development plans in 2019 for 2020, but COVID-19 happened and his office has largely been focused on helping Bemidji’s businesses.
  • Approving CARES Act Relief Fund allocations for the month of August. The council has a remaining CARES Act fund balance of $272,337 after the August allocations of around $101,000. Since the council’s public access station has not been working lately, most council members are interested in using some of those remaining dollars to update meeting technology. The meeting Monday had a series of technical issues.

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