Seem’s a bit strange that the county board would want to weigh in on an issue concerning the City of Bemidji. The 2 am opening has been an option for bars outside the city for years and now its a big deal. Some cities such as Funkley here in Beltrami County have had 2am bar closings for years. I haven’t heard of a big crime wave in Funkley due to their bar closings….
So the county commissioners want to know what the business model is to support the 2am bar closing in Bemidji. Well here it is. Right or wrong…whether you agree or disagree…bottom line is the City of Bemidji has borrowed money to purchase the Southshore property. The money borrowed last year has interest of about $180,000 per year. While money borrowed was at a low interest rate…the loan needs to be “refinanced” as no lots have been sold this past year. This means another year of interest and another year of property being OFF the tax rolls. The Operations and Maintenance costs (O and M) for the Event Center is being budgeted at about $338,000 (naming rights gained $200,000 of this back). Part of building the Event Center on the South Shore was to stimulate development of the land around it. Estimated benefit to the city with events and surrounding jobs and development was to be $8 million dollars to $13 million dollars per year. This realistic gain will only be realized with the development of this land.
So we’ve paid $185,000 in interest this year. A bar/restarauntÂ and a $6 million dollar development could have been opened and on the city tax rolls already, but we are still deciding about the 2am OPTIONAL closing time. So this year at least another $185,000 in interest will have to be paid.
The business model seems pretty clear. Make the land SELLABLE! If your house is for sale and you do not sell it, you make it more attractive by planting shrubs or painting it. If we can make this land more sell able by giving someone an OPTION to stay open till 2 am…. we should do it. If the county is so concerned on the city’s business plan for the Southshore, maybe the county WANTS to help pay for the $185,000 in interest. Remember, with the city’s population at 13,741 that means each man/woman and child has paid $13.46 this past year for the empty land by the events center. This $185,000 paid last year and again this year is money that COULD be going towards our city police budget, or our city’s street maintenance, or even towards our parks.
Bottom line, while its commendable that our new mayor Mr. Larson is willing to talk to the county board about the 2am option, its really none of their business. I’m fine if someone is against a plan as long as they have an ALTERNATIVE. If our mayor is against the 2am closing, what is Plan B? The business plan adopted by the city was to build an multipurpose event center AND to develop the Southshore of Lake Bemidji. We cannot build lumberyards and hardware stores on the property, it is zoned and suited for hotels and restaraunts. If we’re worried about drinking, maybe we should shut the city liquor stores down at 8pm…I am sure we can find crime statistics to support more crime after 8pm…must be the liquor stores!
We’ve done only half the job mr. mayor. All we want is to give the project every opportunity to be SUCCESSFUL. Don’t hinder the Southshore’s development. And let Beltrami County take care of the things it does best…. like parks, land, roads, bridges and timber. Lets not have multimillion dollar projects being held up for moral reasons from the 30′s. This is too important and is costing us both time and money.