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Readers' View: Connecting downtown to Lake Superior: Businesses, Lakewalk both stand to benefit

We always have admired the Duluth Lakewalk, but we didn't understand how it came to be until we bought a home here. The historic fact that the freeway once was slated to be built in the lake on piers obscuring the view of the lake is appalling — especially when one learns that the shore that would have been "preserved" by routing the freeway over the water was essentially a junkyard, a place to dump broken concrete and industrial refuse. That choice would have given drivers on the hypothetical freeway a closeup view of the very worst side of Duluth.

Luckily, all that was avoided by the construction of the Lakewalk, with its gardens and green spaces that provide walkers and those on the lake with the kinds of memorable views that have made Duluth a destination city.

Now, we've learned, the original design also would have naturally connected the lake to the heart of downtown by extending the Lakewalk smoothly to the 100 block of East Superior Street. This part of the plan apparently was rejected in favor of a muffler shop.

Since that muffler-shop property is now up for sale, we have a chance to correct that mistake and complete the project as intended. Doing so would further enhance our great city by connecting the most popular retail districts, Canal Park, Lake Place, and the Lakewalk with the grandeur of Lake Superior in a pleasing and convenient way.

Should tourists and residents be compelled to walk from downtown businesses and hotels across freeway overpasses to access the Lakewalk and Canal Park? Let's encourage city administrators, Duluth city councilors, the Duluth Economic Development Authority, and, of course, the owners and developer of the affected properties to complete this aspect of the Lakewalk as it was designed 37 years ago.

Steve Voiles and Polly Carlson-Voiles