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Dick Palmer: Inner-city housing base needed for stability

OK, the West Gate townhouse project will not happen as planned. If, indeed, there was a "real" environmental conflict between development and Keene Creek, council intervention was legitimate.

OK, the West Gate townhouse project will not happen as planned. If, indeed, there was a "real" environmental conflict between development and Keene Creek, council intervention was legitimate.
But beware an incessant negativism regarding inner-city development could well be the Achilles' heel for responsible housing growth and preservation of existing neighborhoods.
We look upon all this with serious concern. This writer is a native Duluthian, born and raised in a West Duluth neighborhood setting and proud of it. Bias about one's early growing years in the neighborhood never really leaves you. Your loyalty, concerns and hopes for that part of your life never really diminish in your heart. And yet, times change, conditions change, and memories are soon clouded with ongoing realities. Reflections become obscured with reaction, and most take the easy route.
Duluth needs a resurgence of inner-city housing development, and it needs it badly. Urban sprawl, as it is referred to in the larger cities, is a reflection of the times, but there is shortsightedness in all this. As inner-city neighborhoods decline, decay sets in and everyone becomes the loser. City utility services, public schools, transportation, street maintenance, police, fire and amenities like libraries and parks, just to name a few, are required responsibilities. As populations diminish, these services continue on. They are shared by fewer people, which ultimately means higher taxes.
In the case of the West Gate project, it appeared to be a good one. If there are some environmental concerns, those concerns should have been handled in a professional businesslike manner without the emotionalism that ensued. Without the finger pointing and condemnation of the development, maybe the needed changes could have been handled tactfully and the project would have continued on within environmental perimeters.
Duluth is a beautiful city that could be severely wounded because of inadequate housing. Without this housing effort, people coming to Duluth to seek employment will simply turn around and head for the Twin Cities. We are in the 21st century now, and a technological environment with opportunity is at our doorstep. Without strong, responsible leadership, putting up detour signs may be our only alternative. Let's hope not.
Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News.

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