West Duluth revitalization project gains legislative support

By KBJR News 1

March 27, 2014 Updated Mar 27, 2014 at 10:32 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Duluth Mayor Don Ness' grand vision for the revitalization of the Saint Louis River Corridor through a half percent tourism tax increase is gaining legislative support.

On Wednesday the plan passed through the Minnesota House and Senate tax committees.

After gaining support in Saint Paul, Duluth Mayor Don Ness stressed for dozens of West Duluth workers and leaders on Thursday the goal of the city's proposed ½ percent tourism tax to fund the Saint Louis River Corridor plan.

"What we're asking from the state legislature is simply authorization to make this decision at a local level," said Mayor Ness with a crowd of West Duluth leaders and residents standing behind him at Mr. D's. "We are not asking them to implement this tax."

The grand plan includes renovations at Wade Stadium, Spirit Mountain, and throughout West Duluth neighborhoods and trail systems.

"But we also can't wait for the next legislative session," added Ness, "the timing here is critical."

Starting in 2015, and through 2016 Mayor Ness says Highway 23 and Grand Avenue will undergo major renovations that will be timed with other West Duluth improvement projects.

"So at the end of the construction season in 2016 we're going to be able to present to this entire region a new experience along the St. Louis River," said the Mayor.

"We don't want it to be a new road for people to go through West Duluth," said West Duluth Business Club President Charlie Stauduhar. "We want it to be a new road for people to be able to come to West Duluth, and stop in West Duluth."

While the renovations aim to improve the area from tourism to business expansions, Duluth Building Trades President Craig Olson says the renovations themselves will directly support many West Duluth residents.

"The trades have built Wade Stadium, we built the zoo. Our tradesmen and women for generations have lived-and made a good living-in this community," said Olson during Thursday's presentation, "and we want to continue that."

Mayor Ness says once the plan attains legislative support, the city will engage Northlanders for two to three months to shape the plan prior to taking a city council vote.

Billy Wagness
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