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Local view: Beacon Pointe Lakewalk link will hurt taxpayers

It saddens me to think a small group of angry citizens could persuade our city councilors to make a decision based on angry feelings and on having an axe to grind rather than on realistic, fiscally sound solutions.

It has been almost six years since Beacon Pointe was built. Promises were made that weren’t kept, and many people were hurt, including residents who did not get a Lakewalk by the water, as they were told would be part of the project. Those hurt include former Duluth city planner Jerry Kimball, who wrote a Local View column on this page a week ago today, titled “Bandage on Lakewalk’s last link just won’t stick.”

Beacon Pointe LLC is now bankrupt. Those developers are long gone. Contractors and vendors who did not get paid for the work they did at Beacon Pointe have taken their losses and moved on. We Beacon Pointe residential owners continue to suffer losses from lies told. Residential owners in the Lighthouse building are now part of a homeowners’ association tied to a condo hotel. Our 37.5 percent of association votes are meaningless when pitted against the votes of the Beacon Pointe Resort.

A new developer owns and manages Beacon Pointe Resort, owns our homeowners’ association management company and is on our association board. Owners were powerless to do anything when this board decided to spend $96,122.98 of the association’s reserve fund last summer to soundproof Beacon Pointe Resort rooms so hotel guests would not complain about noise.

How satisfying will it be to stick it to folks in this sad situation by spending millions of dollars to put a trail in front their homes? Residential owners at Beacon Pointe already are forced to live next to a hotel where tourists walk in front of our patios and gather in large, noisy crowds outside our windows. We already deal with the thefts of personal property and the lack of privacy and security.

Having a public Lakewalk in front of Beacon Pointe would make little difference to us at this point. Putting in an expensive trail in front of Beacon Point now would be like kicking a dead horse. The only people such a trail would stick it to are the taxpayers who foot the bill to build and maintain that trail for years to come.

What I would like to say to our city councilors is the same thing I have tried to tell my homeowners’ association board: You have a duty to the people you were elected to represent. You are not entitled to make decisions based on your feelings or what is best for you. You are spending money that others have entrusted to you. And you must make decisions carefully based on what is best for those you were elected to serve.

I am truly sorry the dream of Kimball and others of a continuous walkway by the lake did not come about as planned. Many of my dreams have been shattered as well. But the past cannot be changed. Kimball and others are smart and passionate and can use their strengths to create and carry forward new dreams for the future.

We who live by the lake are not trying to keep residents from accessing it. If anyone wants to walk in front of Beacon Pointe, I invite all taxpayers of Duluth to come on down for the National Neighbors Night Out this summer. Bring something for a potluck and stroll by the lake as my personal guests. Come and meet the residents of Beacon Pointe. We are not the enemy.

It is time for the tiny but vocal group of people who insist on building a trail in front Beacon Pointe to stop inciting anger and to look at realistic solutions. Even if the city was responsible for this problem by allowing buildings to be placed too close to the water, does it have to make amends to a few angry people by wasting millions of tax dollars?

What happened at Beacon Pointe was wrong, but spending exorbitant amounts of city money on a one-block stretch of trail when a much less costly alternative is available is wrong as well. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Judy Gordon and her late husband, Gary, purchased a residential condominium at Beacon Pointe during the development’s pre-construction phase. They were part of a group of owners who attempted to sue the Beacon Pointe developers shortly before Beacon Pointe LLC went bankrupt. She has researched condominium laws and taught a community education class called, “Questions to Ask before You Buy a Condo.”