The Bemidji City Council is once again whole after five months of a vacancy. Lynn Eaton was sworn in as the Ward 5 representative after winning more than half of the vote in a special election earlier this month.
Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince gave the State of the City Address, which included the annual summaries of activities in each of the city’s major departments.
Looking forward, Prince highlighted the moves to bring water and sewer services around Lake Bemidji, the incoming new management company of the Sanford Center as well as the need to improve public safety.
Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin also gave a presentation and discussed some of the challenges with recruiting and retaining officers. Mastin said that the department is among the busiest but offers some of the lowest salaries on the POST board.
Mastin reported that over his 20-plus year career with the Bemidji Police Department, crime overall is trending down, but violent crime is on the rise.
In other business, the council approved a grant submission to the DNR to improve Cameron Park. The lift station in the park’s seasonal building is aging with parts to repair it difficult to replace.
The improvements would replace the building, move the lift station away from the lake, and add a trail into the park.
The match from the city, if the grant is approved, would be around $400,000, and would come from the city’s so far unspent American Rescue Plan funding.
The council also approved a first-phase remodel of the Tourist Information Center, at about $63,000 to come from the liquor store reserves.
The group of outdoor dining amendments that would allow alcohol to be served in temporary outdoor patios downtown passed the final reading and will be published.