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Duluth Mayor Emily Larson will head to St. Paul today, where she will again attempt to persuade legislators that a few key local funding requests merit their support. The trip was precipitated in large part by the Minnesota House's release of a bonding bill Monday that contained no funding to revamp the city's steam plant or to support a proposed new science hall on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus. The bill did include at least partial funding to help clean up pollution in the St. Louis River corridor but not the full sum requested.
After nearly a decade on the job as executive director of the Great Lakes Aquarium, Jack LaVoy intends to retire June 30 at the age of 70. He will leave the aquarium in much better shape than it was when he arrived. LaVoy was tapped to lead the aquarium at a time when it was in great financial distress.
A plan for the completion of the Duluth Traverse trail network dominated discussion at Thursday night's Duluth City Council meeting, with more than two dozen citizens testifying in support of the proposal. Libby Bent called the Duluth Traverse "a city planner's dream." "To have a trail that connects all of our neighborhoods from west to east and all of our parks ... with a safe, non-motorized route is something other cities would die for," she said. Tim Kufahl, a family physician, and his wife moved to Duluth's Woodland neighborhood a couple of years ago.
Spirit Mountain's finances continued a downhill journey this season, and Brandy Ream, the recreation area's executive director, places most of the blame on poor weather. Ill-timed rains and a short-lived winter conspired to discourage skiers and adventure park visitors alike, said Ream, reflecting on Spirit Mountain's latest fiscal year, which draws to a close at the end of this month. She said Spirit Mountain isn't the only ski operation feeling the sting.
A soon-to-be-launched initiative to promote recycling in Duluth's parks is long overdue in the eyes of 2nd District City Councilor Em Westerlund. "We don't currently have any sort of formalized recycling program implemented in the parks. So it's absolutely a need that we must address," she said. Westerlund said she was frankly surprised to learn that the city lacked recycling receptacles at most of its parks. But that will begin to change this summer, thanks to a gift from the Keep America Beautiful Park Recycling Bin Grant Program.
On Monday, the Duluth City Council will consider a request to rezone property in the 2200 block of Water Street — along the shore of Lake Superior — for high-density urban residential development. The land, located between the Lighthouse/Beacon Pointe development and the Ledges Townhomes, is currently designated for mixed use-business applications. A proposal calls for Duluth to extend the Lakewalk along the shoreline of the property, but first city staff would need to obtain an easement for the path.
Brandon Sorvik announced Monday his intentions to run for one of two At Large Duluth City Council seats to be filled this November. A political newcomer, Sorvik is the sixth candidate to enter the race. But voters will narrow the field to four in a Sept. 12 primary election. A native of Duluth, Sorvik, age 32, works inventory for Chesney Auto Salvage. He grew up in Lakeside but now lives in Morgan Park with his wife, Christi, and their three sons, ages 4 and 6 and 16 months.
Traffic flow on three avenues in downtown Duluth will switch from one-way to two-way this summer. Preparations for the conversion will begin in mid-May and will result in changes to First, Second and Third avenues west. One-way streets have increasingly been falling out of favor in Duluth, said Taryn Erickson, a project engineer who noted that the pending reconstruction of Superior Street also factored into the decision to make the change this spring.
Although she won't formally announce her candidacy until April 23, Janet Kennedy made clear her intentions Friday to run for the Duluth City Council. The race will mark Kennedy's second bid for office. In 2015, she challenged 5th District Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle, garnering a little more than 43 percent of the popular vote but not enough to unseat the incumbent, who was re-elected. Nevertheless, the experience whetted Kennedy's appetite for public service.
Duluth's steam plant is expected to burn 20,638 fewer tons of coal this year, thanks to the installation of new controls that will allow two of its four boilers to run on natural gas. Duluth Mayor Emily Larson hailed the development during a press conference at the steam plant Wednesday and announced: "Today is the first day in which we are going coal-free in a pilot program here down at Duluth Steam."