Updated: May 4, 2021
Duluth residents, property owners and taxpayers must come together to fight Mayor Larson's flawed plans for selling public recreational open space to Twin Cities real estate developers for upscale housing that will reduce our quality of life, diminish the urban environment and destroy the character of our community for current and future residents.
The mayors' plans for selling off all or part of Lester and Enger Park golf courses for new high rise rental housing is detrimental to all of the natural and public features we value as people living in a community that is 27 miles long and 2 miles wide. An urban area centered on the north shore of the greatest of the five Great Lakes of north America. A seaport connected to the world, and a fascinating array of boating traffic, with the most famous lift bridge. The business/financial center now the "Entertainment District" has more daily transients than office workers as hotels and and recreational businesses and specialty retail feed off visitor and tourist traffic and the dwindling level of Office worker foot traffic.
People from the rest of Minnesota are drawn to the shores of gichi-gami and enjoy
our connections with the "great sea". The lure of the big lake is strong in people from southern Minnesota. The escarpment follows the bluff or ridge line almost the full length of the city, and hard bedrock and steep slopes have confined urbanization below the bluff and ridge line. Along the ridge we find an endless view of the lake and bay activity from a spectacular road, no matter what the weather. Open areas protecting trout streams separates residential development and provides more opportunities for connections. Duluthians enjoy all they can see from anywhere they are in the City. Makes us feel proud to share it with everyone from the barren flat land where they live an urban life in un-inspiring surroundings.
Our two Public golf courses are second to none, critical estuaries of public open space, used year round by residents for seasonal outdoor recreation. Residents enjoy spectacular vistas that become part of our mind's eye when weather and Covid drive us away to other pursuits.
Why would we allow anyone to take this from all of us and replace it with high rise buildings that don't belong there and shouldn't be allowed there because they do not fit with the character of the city. The hillside/lake connection is lost forever, once the barrier is broken other non appropriate incursions will follow.
The bluff of the Duluth escarpment is part of an "international flyway" for migrating birds and raptors, hawks, falcons and eagles. Bird watchers flock to Skyline Parkway below Enger Tower to watch the annual migration of these fragile species. Our Mayor thinks its a good idea to build high rise apartment buildings on the bluff with lots of plate glass and clear more adjacent natural, forested land to replace the Enger Park driving range and practice facilities she wants for apartment development. These are the issues Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) are made for. Enger Tower is 70 feet high and is visable above the tree line. Imagine a line of 150 foot or higher monoliths along the ridgeline west of Enger Tower. We will be there to make sure the mayor's plans receive a detailed, impartial environmental review consistent with state law
The proposed Lester Park project is troubling because its 400 units at the far east end of the city's water and sewer systems. What kind of a municipal Comprehensive Land Use Plan allows urban sprawl. The proposed housing development needs to kill the golf course because it needs the water the golf course uses to support its own daily water demand. The city water utility can't meet the average daily water use demand and normal golf course watering demands. It's one or the other not both. Did anyone in city hall consider management options? Like only watering the greens and relying on average annual precipitation and soil moisture levels to cut back on water use and cost. The city could also amend the water rate price structure to give a break to publicly owned golf courses in exchange for more judicious use of treated water.
Killing the golf course, solves the problem and our Mayor is making it possible with her lame attempts to be fiscally responsible. Lester Park and Enger Parks are priceless public assets we together have built and preserved for everyone to enjoy. They are part of our urban area public open space system and to knowingly kill one by planned dis-investment and destroy the other by removing its unique charm and character and then selling that public resource/asset to the state real estate cartel. Then try to fix it by clearing and developing other long established natural areas. How is this a good plan. Who wins? Not us residents, property owners, registered voters and taxpayers. Priceless components of our neighborhoods and our urbanized community are being manipulated for political and personal gain. Mayor Larson is champion of this plan and all the supposed benefits it will provide to the community. Where is our Planning Commission? Where is our City Counsel? There needs to be honest answers to a host of legitimate questions about the environmental and fiscal impacts of such a bad plan on the Lakeside/Lester Park neighborhoods and the Hillside and Piedmont neighborhoods.
Why are we not developing the new Central High School site for these uses? Isn't that the preferred alternative? City hall will claim the asking price is too high and it will cost 1.5 million or more to clear the site and whine there's nothing they can do. Hard to believe there isn't a brilliant architect that could design a project that meshes new with old and preserves usable and functional space reducing site development costs. This is a community problem that demands voter/taxpayer attention. The School Board will also receive a windfall from the Biden Rescue legislation, now is the time for the Board to face reality and drop the asking price for the new Central property and get it back on the tax rolls. Continuing to hold out is detrimental to the entire community.
There are 66,000 registered voters in Duluth, less than 21,000 participated in the last Mayoral election. Candidate Larson received 13,349 votes, her opponent totaled 7,500. Hardly a landslide victory. Those Duluthians that chose not to vote in 2019 election are the people we need to motivate to become a part of this community discussion. If you agree with the viewpoints presented here, tell your friends about this website. We are devoted to keeping our neighborhoods viable places for residential housing with abundant recreational opportunities for young and older residents. We need everyone to vote and communicate with their City Councilors about our issues with the community impacts of the Mayors hidden and flawed plans.