Duluth’s Downtown Task Force shares recommendations to make downtown safer

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 6:15 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DULUTH, MN -- Tuesday, Duluth’s Downtown Task Force announced its complete list of recommendations to revitalize the downtown corridor and make it safer.

The Task Force was comprised of 15 city leaders, who used their backgrounds and consulted experts around the city to develop a plan to make the area a better place.

“Our downtown is too special to allow for any erosion of progress and growth,” said Mayor Emily Larson.

After road closures on Superior Street and the COVID-19 pandemic, Larson explained downtown Duluth’s landscape is in need of a makeover.

She hopes the plan can change it back to the bustling part of the city it once was.

“We picked [these] topics specifically because each of them are an important part of a vibrant downtown and each of them play on the other. A more active downtown is a safer downtown,” she said.

The recommendations largely focused on public safety with 14 of the 27 points centered around that.

“We clearly understood the connection between downtown activation and the feeling of safety,” said city councilor Roz Randorf.

Here are some of the safety recommendations that were made:

  • A quicker turnaround time in the criminal justice process, which involved already hiring a new city prosecutor and filling vacant police positions.
  • Focus more on accountability for repeat offenders
  • Expand the mental health court program
  • Continue to have an embedded social worker walking the streets of downtown.
  • Lobbying for an increase in chemical and mental health services and beds in the state of Minnesota.
  • Provide more housing options for people downtown who are homeless
  • Advocate the Governor’s office for stricter enforcement to keep homeless camps off MnDOT property

“Our downtown is core and key to the vitality of our entire city and our ability to grow our population and our economy. So I’m proud of the work that we’ve done so far, and confident that we will put these 27 recommendations to work,” Randorf said.

She argues better safety will help draw people back into downtown Duluth, but part of that is bringing more life to the streets of downtown.

“All of that plays into safety, because you are to start to address the underlying issues. But activation is key. When there’s more people, when there’s more lighting, when there’s more events, you feel safer,” she said.

Many of the other recommendations aim to do that.

Kristi Stokes, chair of the Task Force, explained the city is pursuing funding for two new grant systems as well.

The first would allow business to apply for money to revamp their storefronts and lighting.

The second would incentivize organizations and events to come to downtown Duluth to host events.

Mayor Larson hopes to continue meeting with the task force on a quarterly basis to address progress with the recommendations.

She and Stokes believe the new system will lay a foundation for a successful downtown atmosphere in the years to come.

“I stand here today feeling very optimistic about the future of our downtown. And we know that there are a lot of investors and partners that are determined to see it succeed,” Stokes said.

Click here to read the Task Force’s full report.