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Duluth councilors approve contracts for Lakewalk repairs

The Lakewalk, as seen on May 26, 2020. The Lakewalk, as seen on May 26, 2020. |  Photo: WDIO-TV

Ryan Juntti
Updated: May 27, 2020 04:10 AM

On Tuesday night, the Duluth City Council approved two contracts, totaling about $10.8 million to help repair the Lakewalk.

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The Lakewalk was damaged by storms in October 2017, April 2018, and October, 2018.

The first part of the project is to repair the Canal Park portion of the Lakewalk. It is about a $10 million investment. 

This project generated the most discussion as councilors debated whether now was the right time to invest that kind of money.

Construction efforts for the first part of the project will include stabilization of the heavily eroded shoreline, new asphalt, and boardwalk Lakewalk trails, stormwater improvements, as well as bolstering the shore with heavier stones.

Councilors in favor of the resolution explained how important fixing the Lakewalk is to the City of Duluth, and how it would bring in more jobs and money to the city.

Councilor Joel Sipress says it makes sense to fix the Lakewalk now while interest rates are low, and says delaying the project could risk further damage to it.

"There are certain assets this community has that we just cannot afford to lose or squander, even in the dire circumstances that we're in, and one of them is the Lakewalk, and so it's vital this project get done, and the only question is, do we do it now or do we do it later?" said Sipress.

Federal and state funds would cover most of the work, but the City of Duluth would be left to cover about $4 million.

That's why Councilor Derek Medved says he opposes the resolution. He says being that the project would require a one-percent increase in property taxes, that now during the COVID-19 pandemic isn't the time to ask the citizens of Duluth to bear the cost of that work.

"When we continue over over and over to ask them for money, we lose faith. We lose their confidence, and our word that we have to say, 'no, we're trying not to raise taxes', but we continue to do it," said Medved.

The second part of the project costs up to $604,000, and includes stabilization of about a 350-foot section of shoreline near the Lakewood water treatment plant.

The council on Tuesday night also approved Spirit Mountain's $4,000,000 budget for the year.

Credits

Ryan Juntti

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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