Proposed road changes on Park Point could threaten homes

By KBJR News 1

November 1, 2013 Updated Nov 1, 2013 at 6:43 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Duluth city planners are looking to make some changes to the road just across the lift bridge on Park Point. Those changes could result in some families losing their homes through eminent domain.

A proposal that is part of the city's Park Point Small Area Plan would create two one-way streets near the Aerial Lift Bridge.
That plan would require a number of homes to be demolished to make way for a new route directing traffic from Lake Ave to Minnesota Avenue.

The plan, which probably wouldn't happen for several years, has many homeowners concerned.

"It puts us in a holding pattern because we can't sell our homes. Nobody is going to purchase a home that could possibly be torn down in eight years. You don't want to do significant improvements because you don't know if you'll get money back out of the property."
Said Park Point Homeowner Burke Edgerton.

Representatives from the city say it's a chance for Park Point roads to be updated and the new plan would ease traffic, improve street conditions, integrate an intersected natural space, give the city a chance to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure, and handle commercial traffic.

"We look at short range things such as bike lanes and pedestrian access and long range things that we think are in the best interest of the city." Said Duluth Senior Planner, John Judd.

Impacted homeowners say the plan doesn't make sense according to experts with whom they've consulted.

"We've been through all the meetings and heard all of the reasons why they want to reroute the road. We haven't heard any that are really great yet saying why we should move a whole road and take five or six houses." Said Park Point Homeowner Shannon Stevens.

"Not every single person is going to be happy with this plan, but I do believe that once this plan is in place and people understand what it is the city is trying to do, I think they'll appreciate it." Said City Councilor Sharla Gardner.

The city has said if a waiver can be obtained to allow for 20 mile per hour curves, two homes would need to be taken, but if there is no waiver there will be a 30 mile per hour curve and up to six homes would be demolished.

The plan will continue in discussion over the next several months leaving homeowners unsure about their future on the Point.

Bryce Henry