Bemidji City Council moves forward with Norton reconstruction project; last-minute agenda item on City Manager added

The Bemidji City Council voted to authorize the Norton Avenue Reconstruction project on a 5-1 vote.

After hearings several comments from homeowners facing special assessments, the council voted on a project that would narrow the road and add a bike trail. There are some federal dollars the city could use toward this project, as well.

The road was reconstructed 20 years ago so no new water or sewer assessments, but the Norton Avenue lots have more lineal feet to be assessed than other recent street renewals. The 2000s project also did not include special assessments for street work.

City Engineer Sam Anderson emphasized that the traffic volume on that stretch is driving the need for the project, not the addition of a trail.

At the beginning of the meeting, the council added an item to the agenda on a 4-2 vote to set a date for a discussion on the employment of the City Manager.

Council member Audrey Thayer offered the motion with Ron Johnson providing the second. Council members Emelie Rivera and Lynn Eaton voted against the addition.

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Jorge Prince referred to the City Attorney Katie Nolting, who said that she could not comment without reviewing City Manager Nate Mathews’ contract and the city charter.

The council opted 5-1 to table that motion until the next meeting when they can seek legal advice from a firm that specializes in employment law.

Personnel issues would undoubtedly be discussed in a closed session.

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