Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - When we turn our attention to the major West Duluth revitalization efforts set to take place throughout the coming years, a question that many have been asking is: why now?
According to Mayor Don Ness the single most important factor regarding these efforts is the environmental cleanup of the St. Louis River.
A large part of the West Duluth plan, says the Mayor, is to turn the river and surrounding area into a scenic tourist destination.
As part of the revitalization effort Mayor Ness says the EPA, the MPCA, and other stakeholders have committed to de-listing the Saint Louis Estuary as an area of concern by 2025.
With the development of the Western Lake Superior Sanitation District in the early 70s and investments in the cleanup of brown fields along the river, years later Mayor Ness says there's now a tangible path forward to revitalizing the area while preserving the environment.
"Because of the Great Lakes restoration dollars, which are coming from the federal government, which are able to leverage the Clean Water Legacy dollars at the state of Minnesota," said Mayor Ness during a West Duluth rally Thursday, "that is bringing some of the private interests, like U.S. Steel, to the table to do their cleanup and fulfill their responsibilities."
Mayor Ness credits late State Representative Willard Munger and the Northland nonprofit organization Saint Louis River Alliance for spearheading much of the environmental advocacy.