Updated: 06/29/2014 10:28 PM
Created: 06/29/2014 6:07 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
A new group of Duluth residents are throwing support behind Mayor Don Ness's plan to develop the St. Louis River Corridor with tourism tax revenue. The residents hope the plan can help their struggling neighborhoods.
Everyone entering Duluth gets a scenic view of the St. Louis River as they pass over Thompson Hill, but most tourists bypass West Duluth. Dean Vogtman and about 40 other residents with the River Corridor Coalition are pushing to change that.
“So not only to bring tourists out here, but bring them into the neighborhoods so they can spend money at our local shops, our local restaurants, Vogtman said.
Vogtman is the group's vice president. He says nearly every neighborhood is represented by the coalition and the residents are enthusiastically supporting Mayor Ness's development plan for the St. Louis River Corridor.
The $18 million development plan and the half percent tourism tax to fund it is currently just a proposal. Vogtman says his group doesn't want the plan to divide the city.
“We don't want it to be an east versus west thing at all. In fact, we want people from the east side to come and explore these neighborhoods to see them for what they are,” Vogtman said.
He and Noah Hobbs, the coalition president, say West Duluth neighborhoods have unrealized potential. Hobbs says similar investments have paid off for Duluth in the past.
“You look at Canal Park was very successful with their development, especially with their tourism tax dollars. West Duluth can rival, if not beat, the amount of improvement that can happen,” Hobbs said.
The city's proposal would support the Lake Superior Zoo and Spirit Mountain but also develop trails and water access along the St. Louis River. Hobbs says that could bring more than just tourists to West Duluth.
“I think it's only going to enhance the opportunities for young couples and young families to move out here and realize if they want to go on the water they can kayak or canoe in a matter of 4 minutes from where they live,” Hobbs said.
The neighbors of West Duluth are optimistic about the proposal, but the city council would have to approve the tourism tax when the plan is finished. In the meantime, the members of the River Corridor Coalition will keep voicing their enthusiastic support.
The city is expected to lay out a detailed plan for the St. Louis River Corridor later this summer.
Under the mayor's proposal a $100 hotel room would cost 50 cents more with the increased tax and a $10 restaurant tab would cost an additional 5 cents.
Duluth Delegation Heads to State Capitol to Rally for a Second Chance
Dozens of people left Duluth for the state Capitol on Thursday, to fight for a population they say needs a second chance. The delegation went to St. Paul to rally for reduced drug sentencing laws, and restored felon voting rights.
Debate Over Access to Body Camera Footage Arrives at Minn. Capitol
The issue of body camera privacy is hitting the Minnesota House floor. A law enforcement-backed proposal to put strict limits on who sees the footage was introduced Thursday in the House, and a Senate version isn't far behind.
More Money for Loan Forgiveness for Medical Professionals
Lawmakers have introduced bills to add more people to the list who are eligible for loan forgiveness. The goal is to encourage medical professionals to work in rural areas.
Bakk: Pass New Money for Roads This Year or Punt to 2017
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk is cranking up the pressure to pass a major transportation package this year.
Minn. Bill Would Require Talking to Doctor before Skipping Vaccine
A Minnesota lawmaker wants parents who don't vaccinate their children to meet with a doctor first. Rep. Mike Freiberg has a bill that would require those parents to learn about vaccines and their impact on diseases from a health care provider.