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Duluth City Council OKs Lakewalk Task Force

The Duluth City Council approved a resolution to establish a Lakewalk Task Force on Monday evening.

Councilor Joel Sipress presented the resolution to the City Council.

 The task force would observe and make suggestions regarding safety issues at the intersection of the Lakewalk, 23rd Avenue East and Water Street. It also would address pedestrian access to the lakefront in the same area. Councilors wanted to examine making the location more accessible and potential funding options.

“It is a very complex issue,” Sipress said. “I think it’s really important for us to unite as a city to find solutions for this issue.”

Several councilors welcomed the idea of creating a task force.

“I think it is time we take a good look at this issue; it is so unfortunate citizens’ access has been limited severely,” Councilor Sharla Gardner said. “I’m in full support of this issue.”

While most councilors voiced their support, some expressed concerns over past issues involving task forces and them not having good results.

“I’m not going to support it, because I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Councilor Barb Russ said. “I could see how it could be helpful, but overall I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

The resolution passed

6-3, with councilors Howie Hanson, Jennifer Julsrud and Russ voting no.  

The task force will consist of six members, with one of the members being a resident of the Ledges development, one a resident of Beacon Pointe or Lighthouse properties, one a representative of the Friends of the Lakewalk organization, two citizens at large and one city councilor who would act as a liaison between the task force and city administration.

The Duluth City Council president will appoint the six members.

“Contacting us is the first step,” Sipress said of getting the task force on its feet. “If people are interested in being on the task force, they should email Emily Larson, Linda Krug or I.”

The council later went on to approve a $4.7 million contract with Veit & Co. for a cured-in-place sanitary sewer pipe lining project in Lincoln Park.

The project is expected to help stop rainwater from infiltrating into sewer pipes and will help with the struggle to keep storm runoff from the sanitary sewage system after every heavy rain.

Officials said it is anticipated to be the last project needed to assure federal regulators that Duluth’s sewage overflow problem is solved two years in advance of the official deadline.

“We will have met the EPA’s final requirements, and that should allow us to begin the process,” said David Montgomery, Duluth chief administrative officer.