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A couple of tax-forfeited parcels near the corner of Boundary Avenue and U.S. Highway 2 set off a bit of a bidding war Thursday, when St. Louis County auctioned off the property. The land is part of a site where developer Brad Johnson of Lotus Realty Services Inc. proposed to erect a Kwik Trip station/store, but the project foundered after the Duluth City Council declined to rezone the property earlier this summer.
The city of Duluth has just unveiled an ambitious plan for its Irving and Fairmount neighborhoods. That blueprint calls for revitalizing some distressed areas, with an eye toward making this part of Western Duluth an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. The plan identifies five "catalysts": • Extending Waseca Industrial Road to connect with Grand Avenue • Developing medium- and high-density housing north of South 69th Avenue West and Raleigh Street on a site once owned by the now-defunct Duluth Winnipeg & Pacific Railway
Seven candidates running for seats on the Duluth City Council jockeyed for votes Friday morning at a forum hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce and the News Tribune. As they spoke, some differences emerged. In the At Large race, incumbents Zack Filipovich and Barb Russ face challengers Janet Kennedy and Rich Updegrove.
Shipwright John Finkle has been working with a crew of volunteers for the past 10 months to construct a wooden boat in a downtown Duluth storefront, but the vessel has occupied his imagination for a much longer time. He recalls singling out a crooked bur oak growing in the woods on a friend's property. "I saw it four years ago, and I was like — 'Dude, there's the bow of my boat,' " he said. Now that vessel is nearing completion, the product of a local boat-building initiative that Finkle also hopes will build a stronger sense of community.
The Lake Superior Zoo should be able to keep its doors open, thanks to some financial aid it will receive courtesy of the Duluth City Council. By a 6-2 vote Monday night, councilors agreed to provide up to an additional $200,000 in funding for the zoo, which this year already was set to receive $510,000 in local tourism tax revenues. The council also gave the zoo some extra financial breathing room by extending the terms of a $300,000 promissory note that was to have been repaid by Oct. 1. That deadline will now be pushed back to Oct. 1, 2018.
Altec Inc., a manufacturer of specialized aerial lift trucks, may be poised for another round of significant growth in Duluth. Monday night, the Duluth City Council will likely vote to authorize an application for $550,000 in state economic development funds to help the company expand. Altec already employs 229 people in Duluth and projects it could hire an additional 100 workers in the next couple of years, given the right help. The company anticipates an accompanying investment of about $12.5 million in the local production facility, located at the Clure Marine Terminal.
Six DFL gubernatorial hopefuls took the stage Friday afternoon in front of a sea of people wearing union-themed green T-shirts at the annual convention of the American Federation of County, State and Municipal Employees Council 5, hosted this year by the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Through moderator Barbara Reyelts, the audience peppered the candidates for Minnesota governor with questions about their commitment to some of the key concerns in the room, including health care, pensions, anti-labor legislation and efforts to privatize public institutions.
The Duluth City Council learned Thursday that the Lake Superior Zoo will need a lifeline if it is to remain afloat financially for the remainder of this year. On Monday, councilors are set to vote on a resolution that could provide the zoo with up to a $200,000 grant and also extend the amount of time that the Lake Superior Zoological Society has to repay an outstanding $300,000 promissory note. That note, issued more than two years ago, was to have been repaid by Oct. 1, 2017 after a prior extension, but the deadline will be pushed out for another year, if the council approves.
The Duluth City Council will be asked to approve an additional $375,000 in overtime pay for the city's firefighters Monday evening. Staffing challenges in the department have been particularly acute this year, according to Duluth Fire Chief Dennis Edwards, who attributed much of the situation to one primary factor. "Mostly it's the ongoing military leave. We have a number of people who are in the Guards, and that puts stress on our overtime budget," Edwards said.
Morgan Park residents will have an opportunity to learn more about a proposed rental housing development at a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night. Plans now call for the construction of 96 units of rental housing on the site of the former Morgan Park Middle School. That's down from the 120 units previously proposed.