With over 5000 hits in about 7 days, and with over 17 comments posted, the last blog I did about our city’s feud with Zorbaz moves into first place as far as most read and most commented blog I have done in over 2 ½ years of writing. I have heard from a few city officials and I have attempted to contact Tom Hanson the owner of Zorbaz myself. From comments and from conversation in the community, there is no doubt in my mind that the people want our city to find a way to work this out. Some in government think I have often been critical, but in my own defense I have always been a supporter of the Southshore development and actually have defended the city often on its decisions on that project and with the BREC. Maybe that’s why I find it so confusing that we would allow personalities and approaches to create a roadblock to what could have been such a positive outcome. I hope there are some HEROES in our government that can champion this and get Zorbaz and the mixed use condo/retail development back on track. We need to send out a POSITIVE message to the world that we look for ways to welcome development, not look for ways to inhibit it.
Speaking of development, the District 31 Bemidji School District is buying the old First National Bank Building in downtown Bemidji for $700,000 cash. On the radio CHATABOUT show on KBUN, Dr. Jim Hess stated it would save the school district money in the long run combining 3 different alternative school programs that are being held in rental facilities into one owned building that they are getting at a fantastic price. It does sound like a good deal for the school district. The city obviously probably will come up a looser on the deal as it will take a major downtown building off the tax rolls. Also, we will have to see how a school program placed in the center of downtown will impact the daily activities of downtown. I would guess businesses there would have rather seen it stay as some sort of commercial venture. Congrats to the school district though on saving money…hopefully it will not need a lot of remodeling to be functional.
Just a quick comment on the recent TEA PARTY rally held in Bemidji. As a fan of Sunday morning political TV shows (Meet the Press, Face The Nation) it seems a lot of discussion has been made in regards to whether the Tea Party is a mixture of frustrated Democrats and Republicans, or is a future third party, or does it lean towards the Republicans. All the print ads that were taken out for the Tea Party Rally here were paid for by the Republican Party of Beltrami County, as it was clearly stated in the ad. Not sure if this was a local decision made or if this happened state wide, but the Republican Party was front and center the supporters of the TEA PARTY rally held here in Bemidji.
On a final note, the Bemidji Regional Event Center is being brought up constantly by our friends in St. Cloud and Rochester. The bonding/spending bill passed by the legislature was whittled down and signed by our governor. Part of the “whittling” was the elimination of funding of the expansion of the St. Cloud Civic Center and the expansion of the Rochester Civic Center. Both projects are quite dependent on some state money and a recent news article stated the mayor of St. Cloud Dave Kleis has been to St. Paul four times in two weeks hoping to convince the legislature to come up with a second bonding bill that would include his project. Both cities are pointing North to Bemidji and using us as an example of getting $25 million from the state for our Regional Event Center. Timing is everything right? It makes the entire South Shore project even more important as the eyes of the state are watching us to be prudent with what’s been given us.
(added 4/24…a few people have requested the email addresses of a few of our elected officials. This is a very powerful way to send the message to them. Also some have said they will be writing letters to the editor in the Bemidji Pioneer. These are the one’s listed on the city website. Here are a few addresses: