Council to review Rail Corridor in tonight’s work session

The Bemidji City Council will hear updates on the rail corridor this evening.

The meeting will include a presentation from the St. Paul Port Authority, which was contracted a few years ago to work on rail corridor development plans for about $100,000.

The original plans included apartment buildings and possibly large hills made of semi-contaminated soil.

Now, the council is looking into the possibility of a wellness center on that site.

Sanford Health has offered a staggered $10 million gift toward the project, with Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota CEO Susan Jarvis scheduled to speak, as is Greater Bemidji’s Dave Hengel.

City Manager Nate Mathews says a redevelopment plan change from housing to a Wellness Complex would require additional site work, testing, and professional services.

The rail corridor is a complicated site, and its redevelopment has been discussed by the council for at least ten years.

The corridor once belonged to the BNSF Rail Company, and its history included heavy industrial use, resulting in contamination.

The site, between Lakes Irving and Bemidji, may also contain some culturally significant artifacts of the Ojibwe people who lived in this area.

Larissa Donovan was the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016, through July 2023. She covered all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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