Duluth City Council tackles methadone, Lakewalk, precious metal sales, Enger ParkThe Duluth City Council took action on several items Monday, including the prospect of a second methadone clinic, an eastward expansion of the Lakewalk, an ordinance governing the sale of precious metal objects and improvements to Enger Park.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
The Duluth City Council took action on several items Monday, including the prospect of a second methadone clinic, an eastward expansion of the Lakewalk, an ordinance governing the sale of precious metal objects and improvements to Enger Park.
The council came down against the idea of a second methadone clinic going up in Duluth.
By a 6-2 vote, with Councilor Jennifer Julsrud abstaining, the council passed a resolution opposing the construction of another methadone clinic in the city.
Councilor Jay Fosle said he brought the resolution forward as a result of constituent concerns.
“I got a lot of calls and e-mails from concerned citizens,” he said. “I was elected to represent those people, and that’s what I’m doing. That’s why I wrote this up.”
Councilor Sharla Gardner said she didn’t know enough about a proposed clinic to make an informed decision about whether it should be built.
However, she said that Duluth’s only other methadone clinic, the Lake Superior Treatment Center on Central Entrance, has a long waiting list.
“We have a problem with addiction in our community, and throwing them in jail isn’t the answer,” she said.
Councilor Patrick Boyle, a nurse practitioner who co-sponsored the resolution, agreed there are no easy solutions for dealing with addicts but said he had misgivings about methadone clinics as an effective means of treatment.
If Duluth can slow down additional projects, Boyle said: “It allows for more open dialog on this tough issue.”
The Lake Superior Treatment Center was recently cited by the state for 26 violations of state health and licensing codes.
Councilor Krause said many recent problems that have come to light confirm his concerns about the first methadone clinic to arrive in Duluth.
But Gardner pointed out that other providers are considering new facilities and warned against painting all such facilities with a broad brush.
Councilor Linda Krug said untreated addiction can lead to higher crime rates.
“I’m not willing to cut off a tool that could help people in our community,” she said in explaining her opposition to the resolution.
Nevertheless, the measure passed with support from Councilors Boyle, Fosle, Krause, Dan Hartman, Emily Larson and Jim Stauber. Julsrud said she abstained because she felt she needed more information on the issue.
The council unanimously voted in support of a couple of easements that will open the way for Duluth to extend the Lakewalk from its current ending point at 60th Avenue East about one mile to Brighton Beach.
The extension will involve building a bridge across the Lester River and a tunnel under Congdon Boulevard, a.k.a. Minnesota Highway 61.
The $1.9 million project should be completed this fall, if all goes according to schedule.
Precious metal sales
An ordinance that had once been opposed by several local businesses passed without incident Monday. No business owners showed up to voice opposition to the measure, which passed by a unanimous vote.
Businesses that buy gold, silver or platinum items from their customers in Duluth must now submit photos of those items to an automated system as well as a copy of the seller’s photo identification.
Local police say the new system could be useful in tracking down individuals who deal in stolen merchandise.
The new ordinance does not apply to shops that deal in precious coins.
Enger Park improvements
The council also unanimously approved plans to invest another $432,000 in Duluth’s Enger Park. The money will be used for several improvements, but the biggest ticket items include a new gazebo and upgraded electrical service.
To help pay for the work, the city will use $205,700 in budgeted funds, $126,300 from the capital improvements account in the general fund and $100,000 from unexpectedly large tourism tax collections in 2011.