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Referring to vacant buildings as "a threat to public safety," a resolution that's headed to the Duluth City Council proposes to jack up the cost of owning an abandoned property in the city. Owners of vacant buildings would be required to register their properties with the city on an annual basis. The city would charge $500 for the first year a building sits empty, with that annual fee progressively escalating by another $500 each subsequent year, so by year five the fee would total $2,500.
If not for the San Marco Apartments, Lisa Ronnquist, 60, said she'd probably have died homeless on the streets of Duluth by now. "This place saved my life," she said. Ronnquist was a chronic alcoholic when she came to the newly constructed San Marco 10 years ago as one of its first residents. "Before we had this place, when we needed a place to sleep, we'd sometimes get drunk on purpose so we could check into detox. I've been in detox so many times, I couldn't begin to count," she said.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the 2012 flood that dumped 7.5 to 10 inches of rain on top of the Northland’s already-sodden landscape — enough to force waterways out of their banks and cause widespread damage. The recovery efforts continue even now, as crews work to stabilize local creeks, rebuild washed-out portions of Minnesota Highway 210 and gird the Thomson dam facility in anticipation of future floods.
Experience has shown that sometimes people will risk their own safety to care for a beloved pet even during a life-threatening emergency. "People will not evacuate unless they have a safe place for their pets. We learned that from Hurricane Katrina," said Tony Guerra, disaster program manager for the American Red Cross in Duluth. Nodding in agreement, Dewey Johnson, St. Louis County's emergency management coordinator, said: "Pets are part of your family."
A 5-3 vote of the Duluth City Council had been deemed sufficient to approve a zoning change for a proposed Kwik Trip station/store by Assistant City Attorney Bob Asleson Monday night. But come Tuesday, upon further legal review, councilors and the would-be developer, Brad Johnson, learned that in fact the zoning change had failed. "There was some confusion over the voting requirements," explained David Montgomery, chief administrative officer for the city of Duluth.
A divided Duluth City Council voted to approve a zoning change Monday night that could allow for the construction of a new Kwik Trip station/store across the street from Proctor, on Boundary Avenue South between Anchor Street and Park Place. Shain Stokke, who operates three gas station/convenience stores in the area, urged the council to reject the zoning change request. "I'm not afraid of competition. What I'm afraid of is saturation," he said.
A plan to lengthen Duluth's Western Waterfront Trail and shorten the scenic Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad will be unveiled Tuesday during a public meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Morgan Park Community Recreation Center, 1242 88th Ave. W. "Our charge as a community is to decide the most publicly beneficial way to improve and use an extraordinarily valuable and extraordinarily limited resource — 7 miles of nearly continuous city-owned riverfront. That decision is as complicated as it is important," said Jim Filby Williams, Duluth's director of public administration.
Parasitic wasps could be deployed this summer to combat an infestation of emerald ash borers discovered in the northwest portion of Duluth's Hartley Park. Monday night, the Duluth City Council will consider a resolution authorizing the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to introduce parasitic wasps that could help hold the invasive beetles in check.
A plan to explore a six-year proposal to substantially increase Duluth's water rates could fly off the rails before an anticipated community-wide discussion even begins. A resolution proposed by 4th District City Councilor Howie Hanson seeks to veto a Duluth Public Utilities Commission resolution that lays out a plan to potentially boost the cost of city water by 4.7 percent annually for the next six years.
The prospect of a new Kwik Trip convenience store coming to Duluth's Boundary Avenue, at the doorstep of Proctor, excites some neighbors but frightens others. Shain Stokke, who already operates three gas station/convenience stores in the area, contends the proposed Kwik Trip — just down the street from Stokke's Proctor Market — would place his very livelihood at stake. "I'm one of the only little chains left," he said, running through a litany of other station/stores that have closed in the wake of Kwik Trip's expansion into other parts of the region.