Duluth city leaders try to address Skywalk safety concerns
DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - Duluth city leaders are trying to figure out what needs to be done to make the downtown Skywalk system safer.
Mayor Emily Larson, city councilors, and members of the Greater Downtown Council did a walk-through of some of the Skywalks Friday.
With the recent cold snap, more people have been using the Skywalk system to get around downtown.
That has led to an increase in safety concerns including people sleeping in the Skywalk and littering.
“We do know our downtown area over the winter especially has experienced a lot of issues: folks sleeping in the Skywalk, just a lot of hygiene issues in the Skywalk and in our downtown area, so we’re really trying to find some solutions for it,” Third District City Councilor Roz Randorf said.
The problem got so bad, city leaders closed the Skywalk between Greysolon Plaza and the parking ramp until a solution is found.
Larson said there is a growing number of people disconnected from services that can support them.
She said one solution is equipping the Clean and Safe Team with the tools they need to keep the Skywalk secure.
“How can we respond with comprehensive public safety services for people who are unsheltered and needing a warm space to be and choosing some of that to be in the Skywalk system,” Larson said.
She wants everyone including business owners, staff, and customers to feel safe.
“We’re just trying to make sure that every resident in the City of Duluth feels safe; whether they’re working or living downtown; whether they’re sheltered or unsheltered,” she said.
One possible solution discussed is whether St. Louis County can play a stronger role in Skywalk safety.
Randorf said that is a conversation city leaders will continue to have.
“Certainly funding is always an issue,” she said. “Those things the council looks at, so between all of us we will hopefully bring a viable solution forward to vote on.”
The purpose of Friday’s tour was mostly to brainstorm ideas the council can put into action in the coming months.
Greater Downtown Council President Kristi Stokes said it has not been decided when they will re-open the Skywalk between Greysolon and the parking garage or what the threshold for that is.
They plan to review the decision in a few weeks.
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