Bemidji City Councilors heard details last evening on the costs of a proposed clean-up project on Lake Bemidji's south shore. The project will create a new park and swimming beach in the area, which are seen as crucial to the city's overall south shore development plan. Consultants from Landmark Environmental LLC reported to the council that the projected cost of cleaning up the land and lake bottom to create the 400-foot-wide swimming beach is $1.2 million. The area has been polluted with lumber waste from over a century, and two small areas on the site were found to be contaminated with industrial chemicals that would need to be removed to meet state health standards.
Some on the council, including mayor Rita Alrecht, balked at the cost, saying the city shouldn't be expected to burden it alone. The mayor insists the state should pick up some portion of the costs and will seek grants from state agencies rather than moving ahead by funding the project with local bonds alone.