Our view: Experts see Duluth's awesomeness; do we?
Stop, stop, we're blushing from all the gushing. National experts on urban design and revitalization, community planning and other issues related to imagining and then realizing vibrant, wanna-live-there cities descended on Duluth this week. They...
Stop, stop, we're blushing from all the gushing.
National experts on urban design and revitalization, community planning and other issues related to imagining and then realizing vibrant, wanna-live-there cities descended on Duluth this week. They came to celebrate accomplishments and to plot the next steps related to an intensive weeklong community planning process in 2005 that focused on Duluth's eastern hillside and waterfront. During a stop at the News Tribune yesterday morning they couldn't stop talking up the progress that's been made over the past six years and how Duluth has become a more walker-friendly, accessible, better-connected and more-vibrant place. It was actually a little embarrassing.
"You have accomplished a whole lot, and, believe me, a lot of 'charrette' cities do not," Mary Newsom of the University of North
Carolina-Charlotte Urban Institute said, using the planning name coined by the Knight Program in Community Building and the University of Miami School of Architecture in Florida, which picked Duluth for its annual swoop-in of help.
"Duluth has great bone structure," Newsom said, referring to our small, manageable city blocks and other favorable features on which greatness can be built. "And there's such a wonderful historic fabric here. You feel like you're in a real place. ... You know you're in Duluth."
A checklist in excess of 50 items has been compiled of recommendations made in 2005 that already have been taken care, everything from Bayfront planning to expanded skywalk patrols.
"You can feel a difference in the community," said Pam Kramer of Duluth LISC, a nonprofit force behind the charrette. "There's a spirit of optimism and there's a sense of the Hillside neighborhood turning around."
Not everything is roses, of course, and the planning and working toward improvements is far from over.
Opportunities could be realized from stronger and more deliberate partnerships between the city and its colleges, something also listed on the University of Minnesota Duluth's new strategic plan.
In addition, while our downtown and hillside neighborhoods are connected to the waterfront via the Rose Garden and at other points, there aren't nearly enough of such points; the interstate remains a barrier between people and beauty. And while we do a good job marketing what we have to offer in the upper Midwest, "Why limit yourself to the upper Midwest?" as Newsom asked. "The city could be a national player. I think you've got it all."
Yeah, we do, don't we? The national experts see that. We can start seeing it, too, so, together, we can build a better future.