Now that construction on McClure Bridge Road improvements is completed, the Duluth City Council is considering landscaping to replace shrubs and fill in gaps along the roadway from Pleasant Hill Road to the Roundabout.
But instead of spending an estimated $14,500 on a formal landscaping study, the council opted to ask the city’s on-call landscape maintenance company to come up with a less costly plan that includes plant materials and installation. The council agreed in workshop session Monday (Aug. 27) night to place the more reasonable landscaping alternative on its Sept. 10 regular meeting agenda for action.
“The amount of this [proposed] contract would buy quite a lot of landscaping,” Councilman Kelly Kelkenberg said.
Both the landscaping company and the city’s Public Works Department might be involved in implementing the landscaping project.
During construction of the McClure Bridge improvements and the Roundabout, residents complained about the inconveniences caused by the work and loss of landscaping. The McClure Bridge Road improvement project included new five-feet-wide sidewalks on both sides of the road, curb and gutter, drainage, additional turning lanes, resurfacing and restriping of the asphalt roadway.
The Roundabout links West Lawrenceville Street, McClure Bridge Road and Irvindale Road and will eventually connect to a proposed Hospital Connector.
At that time Councilwoman Marsha Bomar suggested waiting until the project was complete to assess landscaping needs. The council agreed last night there were some empty spaces that needed to be filled, but extensive landscaping was not necessary.
“There are only a couple of spaces that need landscaping,” Bomar said.
Councilman Kelkenberg said that two residents David Edwards and Charles DiSpain have drainage problems that need landscaping installed to help control runoff. The slope of DiSpain’s yard apparently also needs additional adjustment.
Kelkenberg had set up a fund at Woody’s Nursery to purchase knockout roses to replace the much-admired red azaleas in front of the DiSpain home on McClure Bridge Road that were removed during construction. The councilman noted that the fund currently has $400 in donations that can be applied to the landscaping project. The fund includes $200 in starter funds from Kelkenberg.
Sign Ordinance Redraft Introduced
In other activity at the workshop, Duluth Planning Director Glenn Coyne introduced a city staff-initiated redraft of the city’s sign ordinance that will go to the Planning Commission for revisions and a recommendation before being considered for adoption by the city council. Opportunities for citizen and business input will be provided at public hearings.
Fate of Storage Building Discussed
City Engineer Melissa Muscato facilitated a discussion of different options and cost estimates for renovating the storage building next to the recently demolished Boudreaux’s/Boiler Room building at the corner of Main Street and Ga. Hwy. 120. Christopher Leerssen, an architect with Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates, presented a concept drawing for developing two restaurants in the space. J. Owen Middour of Cone Middour Partners, a commercial real estate firm, provided information on potential leasing rates.
The council agreed not to tear down the city-owned storage building pending further study of the investment required to renovate it and the probability of attracting restaurants or retail tenants. The city plans to proceed with improving the adjacent alleyway and parking lot.
Task Force to Study Expanding DDA Role
A task force is being established to study the possibility of the Downtown Development Authority taking over management of city-owned rental properties, expanding the DDA’s role in the city’s economic development, and extending DDA boundaries. The task force would be composed of council and DDA members. An inventory of city-owned properties that will be helpful in this process was presented for review.
Ga. Hwy. 120 Plans Reviewed
In addition, council members reviewed schematic plans for the Ga. Hwy. 120 realignment and made suggestions for changes.