Council paves way for new Duluth East High School parking lot

Plans to build a parking lot across the street from the new Duluth East High School (formerly Ordean Middle School) squeaked through the Duluth City Council on Monday night.

Plans to build a parking lot across the street from the new Duluth East High School (formerly Ordean Middle School) squeaked through the Duluth City Council on Monday night.

By a 5-4 vote, the council agreed to grant the city a conditional use permit that will pave the way for the construction of an 84-vehicle lot on the east side of 40th Avenue East.

The council split largely over the issue of whether the school district should be required to restrict parking in the proposed lot to staff.

Councilor Jim Stauber suggested the permit should be conditioned on the district keeping students out of the lot during regular school hours. He pointed out that the lot was being proposed in a residentially zoned area where such development generally is not allowed. Stauber also noted that the school district had said it intended to use the lot for staff parking anyhow.

Councilor Tony Cuneo asked Stauber to explain his concerns about students versus staff parking in the new lot.


In his response, Stauber said: "Students behave differently when they're driving than staff."

He also suggested it would be safer to have students park directly on the school campus so they wouldn't need to cross 40th Avenue East.

"It's different when you have 15- and 16-year-olds crossing a busy street rather than staff," Stauber said.

However, Councilor Todd Fedora contended that students who are old enough to drive are certainly capable of safely crossing a street.

"If we can allow 18-year-olds to take a bullet for their country, they're certainly old enough to cross the street," he said.

Duluth school district Facilities Manager Kerry Leider said the school administration plans to use the lot for staff parking, but he objected to the City Council including such a requirement in its special use permit.

"The school district would consider this more of a school district administration matter," said Leider, urging the council to reject Stauber's motion.

The motion was rejected by a 5-4 margin, with Patrick Boyle, Cuneo, Fedora, Jay Fosle and Dan Hartman voting against it; and Jeff Anderson, Sharla Gardner, Kerry Gauthier and Stauber voting for it in the minority.


But the council did attach a different condition to the special use permit for the parking lot. Out of desire to keep traffic off neighborhood back streets, Fedora proposed that all access and egress from the lot be restricted to 40th Avenue. Any exit or entry onto neighboring Luverne Street would not be allowed.

Leider indicated that the school district would support the limitation out of respect for neighborhood concerns, and the condition was unanimously approved.

With this single amendment, the special use permit for the proposed East High parking lot won passage with the support of Boyle, Cuneo, Fedora, Fosle and Hartman.

Anderson, Gardner, Gauthier and Stauber voted against it.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads