Homeowner Asks City to Replant 'Something'
Residents and passing motorists miss massive display of red and white azaleas in front of DiSpain home on McClure Bridge Road.
After longtime McClure Bridge Road resident Charles DiSpain expressed frustration at Monday (April 9) night’s Duluth City Council meeting over getting the city to replace the azaleas or plant something else in front of his home, Mayor Nancy Harris referred the issue to City Manager Tim Shearer.
The 45 red and white azaleas alongside the road on either side of the DiSpain residence were removed due to road construction and sidewalk installation in relation to the new roundabout project linking McClure Bridge Road, Irvindale Road and West Lawrenceville Street.
DiSpain told the council that he had been assured at a neighborhood meeting held in the Community Room at City Hall to explain the project to residents that “something would be planted there” when it was completed. Unfortunately, there apparently are varying reports about what or if anything was said at that meeting about the azaleas or plants.
Duluth residents and passing motorists delighted in driving by and viewing the massive display of azaleas in bloom every spring. After the azaleas were missed this year, they started complaining about it amongst themselves and on Duluth Patch.
The 79-year-old DiSpain, who has lived in the home with his wife Sue for 40 years, said he was so frustrated and disappointed that he had contemplated moving. He said he and his wife would be satisfied as long as some kind of blooming shrubs were planted. The original plants were on the right-of-way, according to DiSpain, and apparently there is still enough room for replacements to be planted.
Shearer questioned DiSpain after the meeting about why he had not requested that the azaleas be replanted until now. The proper time would have been during right-of-way negotiations, so the purchase of plants and replanting could have been budgeted into the cost of the project, Shearer said.
Two dogwoods he had planted 25 years ago on his property also were removed, DiSpain said. Shearer said these were taken out along with some Bradford Pear trees DiSpain had asked the contractor to shred. DiSpain maintained the dogwoods disappeared later.
Shearer said he would have city staff review the history of the issue and make it public. “The city is being made out to be the bad guy here,” he said, “and it’s not fair.”
He indicated that he would try to work out a way to replant some shrubs in front of the DiSpain house. Shearer also said that the too-steep grade in front of part of the home that DiSpain also complained about to the council would be fixed by the contractor.