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Duluth City Council discusses Scott Hudgens Park access

makeDULUTH — The Duluth City Council had multiple topics to discuss during Monday’s work session but spent a lot of time discussing access issues at Scott Hudgens Park.

The expansion of Notre Dame Academy School is eliminating the southern vehicle access point to the park, forcing the city to look at options on how to improve traffic flow with only one access point.

City parks and recreation director Kathy Marelle presented three options to the council. The first option included an agreement to buy 1.5 acres and make various improvements at a cost of at least $712,000. The second option called for the city to develop three separate parking lots, a pedestrian bridge and a main entrance way, among other things, at the cost of $458,844.75. The third option included purchasing the 1.5 acres at a reduced rate, three road cuts for school access, security fencing and retaining walls, among other things, at a cost of at least $593,000.

“We’ve had difficulty determining which route Notre Dame wants to go,” City Manager James Riker said. “After a few weeks of going through dialogue, we found out that they don’t own the property and that an individual owns the property … the school keeps changing their mind on what they want to do.”

One of the concerns among many of the council members was safety, especially with kids running out into the road from parking lots.

“I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen kids dart out from in between cars and almost get hit by cars going too fast,” Council Member Kelly Kelkenberg said. “Safety has to be our top priority.”

Because of the benefits discussed, and the fact that it included a pedestrian bridge, Riker and Marelle suggested option B because it would be the best use of city resources.

“This park is a fantastic calling card for us to develop,” Marelle said. “We’ll have to develop a traffic flow, and ingress and egress, but this is the best use of our resources.”

The council also discussed a strategic demolition of the front portion of the warehouse building adjacent to Lawrenceville Street, otherwise known as The Block. With Dreamland Restaurant looking to move in, city staffers looked to the council to provide direction on the distribution of an RFP.

“Are there any salvage requirements or anything that needs to be saved?” Riker asked.

The council agreed that the teardown is tied to the development but wanted to ensure that there would be stabilization in the interim.

“I’ve never said this in 10 years, but this is the building that is going to have to be demolished to get things moving on the block,” Mayor Nancy Harris said. “I never thought I’d say that.”