ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Beacon Pointe condo owners push for privacy over Lakewalk path

Do residents of Beacon Pointe condominiums have a right to refuse a potentially privacy-invading footpath in front of their homes, or does the public have the right of access to that area near Lake Superior?...

Do residents of Beacon Pointe condominiums have a right to refuse a potentially privacy-invading footpath in front of their homes, or does the public have the right of access to that area near Lake Superior?

That's likely to be up for debate at Tuesday night's Duluth City Council meeting, as some residents will push the council to table a revised Lakewalk extension plan that they say will take away access to the lake, while Beacon Pointe condo owners will push the council to pass it in hopes of eliminating the footpath.

Last week, City Planner Bob Bruce recommended revising an extension plan approved by the council last June that includes a footpath along the lakeshore from 20th to 23rd avenues east. Bruce said the footpath would be blocked by private property at 23rd Avenue East and recommended the construction of a 10-foot-wide blacktop path on Water Street -- where views of the lake would be obstructed by Beacon Pointe -- to extend the Lakewalk.

He didn't make any recommendations for the footpath along the shore, meaning it would have to wait.

But to Councilor Greg Gilbert, that recommendation is unacceptable. He is proposing a resolution that would reject Bruce's plan and see the council continuing its support of the plan approved last year.

ADVERTISEMENT

The public doesn't understand that until the city makes use of an easement along the lakeshore near the Beacon Pointe condos, it's illegal for the public to access that land, Gilbert argues. City Attorney Bryan Brown confirmed that Gilbert's interpretation of the law is correct.

"We need to preserve the Lakewalk, extend it and encourage its use," Gilbert said, "not make a big break there because some homeowners want a private beach. The fact that this could be turned over to a few people for private use is a horrifying thought."

But Beacon Pointe condo owners say their privacy is at stake. At a meeting of Neighborhood Planning District 7 on Thursday night, the 14 members present voted 11-3 to ask the council to table the proposal to change the Lakewalk extension. The three who voted against it were all Beacon Pointe condo owners.

Dr. Thomas S. Burns, a member of the Beacon Pointe board of directors, said the pathway recommended by the city allows the public direct visual access to the bedrooms on the first floor of the units.

"If you build a Lakewalk on our grass, you'll be in spitting distance of our bedrooms," he said. "If you want to have a pathway where you can have people look straight into our windows, that is unacceptable."

Burns said none of the condo owners oppose giving people access to the lakeshore near the condos, and they have never asked anyone to leave. Still, because of the terrain and space between the condos and the lake, he doesn't believe that placing a footpath in the area would be physically possible.

"There's just no room," he said.

Some Beacon Pointe condo owners disagree. Grant Wilson, for example, said he believes that a path could be laid down along the beach.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Why not have it on the natural beach?" he said. "People are using it for that now."

Alison Clarke, chair of Neighborhood Planning District 7, seemed open to that compromise.

"Let's confront that, make it as minimally invasive and as far from the condos as possible ... and move on," she said. "We are all near the ends of our patience with this."

BRANDON STAHL covers the Duluth community and city government. He can be reached weekdays at (218) 720-4154 or by e-mail at bstahl@duluthnews.com

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.