Kristi Stokes: Keeping downtown ‘Clean & Safe’With property owners' support and guidance, we have been able to make great strides in strengthening our business district, and it shows.
By: Kristi Stokes, Budgeteer News
Property owners in Duluth’s Downtown Waterfront District are showing support for the renewal of a special assessment that covers enhanced programs and services.
The Greater Downtown Council last month kicked off a petition drive asking property owners if they would back the recertification of the district. This designated area provides such highly recognizable services as the Clean & Safe Team (in their bright-green uniforms), enhanced marketing and events and streetscape improvements such as hanging flower baskets, trees and decorations.
The program was first unveiled in 2005 after a majority of property owners said they would step forward to virtually accept an additional tax to support these services. However, it was created with a five-year sunset clause, thus allowing property owners to determine its future.
Although it’s an additional fee in these financially challenging times, one property owner said it best: “We can’t afford not to renew the district.”
Since its inception, the district has focused on creating a cleaner, safer and friendlier commercial corridor downtown and in and around Canal Park. On a weekly basis, we hear from residents, visitors and employees who share their appreciation for the work done by the Clean & Safe Team. From greeting people to handing out maps, picking up litter, removing graffiti and maintaining streetscape flowers, the team remains a constant presence, monitoring the streets and the Skywalk System.
Last year alone, team members provided assistance to nearly 6,000 individuals and collected more than 16,900 pounds of litter and debris.
It’s been proven across the country and right here in Duluth that a cleaner environment also makes way for a safer environment. And, as an extra set of eyes and ears out there for the police department, the team really takes pride and ownership in managing the environment in our central urban core.
I commend our property owners for their willingness to take on this initiative for the betterment of our downtown and waterfront. Property owners representing more than 62 percent of the net tax capacity of the district have already signed on for another five years — and we’re not done with the petition drive yet.
With their support and guidance, we have been able to make great strides in strengthening our business district. It shows: Just look around at the current construction and reinvestment in our downtown, as well as the more than $200 million accrued since 2005.
Next month we will be delivering petitions to the City Clerk’s Office and will ask the City Council for its support in renewing the district. Such a venture could not be as successful without the support of our council and administration. Through this public/private financial partnership, the entire community reaps the rewards of a healthier downtown and waterfront.
Contact Kristi Stokes at 727-8549 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.