Here’s a potpourri of the latest fake news for 10 years from today.
DATELINE DULUTH — The Duluth City Council announced today it will appeal a court decision blocking the razing of the long-beleaguered Paul Robeson-Pastoret Terrace-Kozy Bar ruins in the downtown area.
Last week a district court judge ruled the buildings cannot be torn down until preparation of an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) determining if asbestos dust from any demolition effort could be harmful. Developing such a worksheet would take about five years, officials said, and determine if an environmental impact statement (EIS) would be justified. That would take an additional three years.
“We’ll have this cleared up by 2045 at the latest,” said one city official who asked not to be identified.
Still, the ruling pleased local preservationists who have successfully warded off removal of the century-plus-old building for the past dozen-plus years since it was largely destroyed by fire more than two decades ago. Local birders have joined the preservationists in opposing removal of the ruins. “Scores, possibly hundreds, of pigeons now make it their home,” said Robin Dovetails, spokesman for the birds. “Where are they supposed to go?”
Speaking for the preservationist group Respect Remains Here, formerly known as Respect Starts Here, an angry Hermann Gazuntheidt sneezed: “What would Rome be like if they tore down the Coliseum? The ruins of Pastoret Terrace, untouched, give the city character and can be a tourist draw in and of themselves.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said yesterday they are proceeding apace with razing and replacing the intersection of Interstate 35 and 535 in Duluth, commonly referred to as the “Can of Worms,” and hope to complete the project by 2051.
The convoluted junction has loomed over the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood for more than six decades and been subjected to numerous efforts to improve its labyrinthine roadways bringing traffic to and from Wisconsin as well as up and down the western hillside and east-west linking the downtown with western neighborhoods.
“I believe we will be ready to begin razing the existing roadways in about 4.5 more years, give or take,” said highway department spokeswoman Petrushka “Patsy” Turnpike. “Of course we will be checking for asbestos and other environmental concerns before actual deconstruction can begin,” she said, adding that could further delay the project, but only another decade or two.
Also, detours through Hibbing and Superior are being planned for tourists wishing to visit downtown Duluth and Canal Park and points east for the next several years.
Local preservationists and artists oppose knocking down the entire Can of Worms, considered by many as a massive sculpture-like depiction of the progress of American history. “Tourists would come from far and wide to see this sculptural depiction of the twists and turns of American democracy as we know it,” said Salvadore “Sal” Dolly of the Duluth League of Artists and Models.
Meanwhile, the Duluth School Board announced yesterday it is nearing a decision on the possible sale of Historic Old Central High School but the development of the vacant “new” Central site, which has sat idle atop the hill for 15 years, hangs in the balance as officials consider turning it into a massive indoor miniature golf facility.
Local preservationists have said they believe the 140-year-old Historic Old Central building downtown should be demolished and replaced with a parking ramp to alleviate parking problems in the downtown area. Buildings with tall clock towers are “old hat,” claimed a spokesman for the group Respect Ends Here, formerly known as Respect Remains Here and before that Respect Starts Here.
Among possibilities being considered are proposals to sell existing Denfeld and East high schools for $1 each to the local diocese’s Maris Academy, which honors former organized baseball home run king and Hibbing native Roger Maris. After that, school district planners say, Duluth would eliminate public high schools entirely, transporting students of that age to the Twin Cities on high-speed bullet trains, plans for which are “in the works.”
Duluth superintendent Horace “Bud” Manning, appointed six months ago, said now that the high school “problem” has been settled, he will be submitting his resignation in June, adding that he wants to spend more time with his family, which has relocated to Afghanistan for safety reasons. The search for a new superintendent is expected to begin immediately and take four or five years.
Meanwhile, backers of a proposed copper-nickel mining operation near Hoyt Lakes north of Duluth expressed optimism that the project will receive final state approval by mid-century and will not suffer the same fate as a similar operation near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which was abandoned three years ago due to chronic wasting disease in nearby deer.
Finally, UMD female coaches who successfully sued the university on various grounds have announced they are using their settlement to purchase the iconic Viking-style ship “Leif Erikson,” in storage in Duluth for decades, and are sailing it to Norway.
Film at 10.
Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and columnist. He maintains a blog at jimheffernan.org and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.