Bemidji City Council to seek professional services to determine future of City Hall

The Bemidji City Council voted to direct staff to seek professional opinions on the best course for the future of City Hall.

After the recent flooding, city staffers worked to assess the damage and found far more damage than was just flood-related.

Matt Ridlon said in the meeting that there were issues from top to bottom of the building, even with an upper roof replacement in 2015.

The city’s insurance policy would cover the costs of repairing the initial damage, but the staff is recommending a more expansive fix to address the numerous deficiencies present in the building.

Additional moisture issues are present in the basement, which could mean some air quality concerns.

The costs for the building analysis and other preliminary work will come from the city’s contingency account.

While the motion to move forward was unanimous, Mayor Jorge Prince said in this era of high inflation and increased costs, he did not want to see an undue burden on the taxpayer.

In other business, the council approved:

  • A temporary exclusion to the city’s codes around lawn mowing will allow residents to keep the mowers stored for “No Mow May.” Participants need to register with the City of Bemidji Parks department, which will verify homeowner permission for both owner-occupied and rented households. Participants will also get a free sign to educate passersby about the benefits of letting the grass grow in May, as it provides habitat and early food sources for insects and pollinators, as well as strengthen the grass.
  • A traffic study for streets and intersections near the Sanford Health Campus as they work on long-term campus needs for the next 10-15 years. The cost of the study would be split between the city and Sanford Health, with the city’s share coming from construction reserves. Mayor Prince urged assistant city engineer Sam Anderson to make sure the traffic study happens after MnDOT’s planned construction on Highway 71, Anne St. and Hannah Ave.
  • Bid awarded to Northern Paving to re-pave Industrial Drive in the Industrial Park.
  • Including solar panels in the design of Phase 2 of the Water Treatment Plant, pending final approval from the FAA. Local airport authorities do not believe the solar panels’ glare will impact airplane pilots.
  • A resolution creating a joint airport zoning authority. This will invite participants from the City of Wilton, City of Bemidji, Beltrami County, Bemidji Township, Eckles Township and Northern Township to have seats on the new board.
  • Award a bid for Tourist Information Center remodel project to begin this year. The remodel would move some Parks and Rec staff into the TIC and would also address some of the bathroom issues.
  • Two items from consent considering ASM Global bills. ASM Global provided $100,000 in risk management funds which need city approval to use for mitigating event risks.

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