Phase 4 Lakewalk Reconstruction, Police Opioid Officer on Duluth Council Agenda Monday

The tail end of Lakewalk Reconstruction and new initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic are on the docket.

DULUTH, Minn.- The end is in sight for Duluth’s Lakewalk Reconstruction Project as Duluth City Council will look at designs for Phase 4. They’ll also vote on changes to the Duluth Police Department, including adding a civilian opioid officer position.

On Monday Council will look at design work for Phase 4 of rebuilding Duluth’s Lakewalk primarily behind the DECC, after it was ripped apart by storms in October of 2017 and 2018.

Phase 3 from Endion to The Marine Museum is likely to be done in June raising the ground by about four feet to keep up with rising lake levels and adding storm water ditches.

“It’s critical,” said Council Vice President and Councilor At Large, Arik Forsman.

“I mean it’s so important not only to folks who live in town but also our business in the Canal Park area and our reputation as a tourist attraction….So to have hopefully light at the end of the tunnel here with Phase 4 and it’ll be really great to see it finished,” he said.

Phase 4 of Lakewalk reconstruction is funded by the $13 million the city received from the state bonding bill last year for Lakewalk and seawall improvements.

Meanwhile council will also be voting on a resolution to hire an Opioid Program Specialist for the Duluth Police Department at a pay rate of $4,413 to $5,184 a month.

Rather than a sworn officer, the position would be filled by a civilian, helping with the Department’s caseload and connecting directly with those suffering from addiction.

“They…do a lot of work with a Police Department with Narcan and making sure that we have enough and that folks know how to use it,” said Forsman.

“But then also if somebody is in an unfortunate situation where they’re struggling and where they make contact with the Police Department then they have somebody who’s a civilian, that understands what they’re going through and help get them connected to resources,” he said.

Councilors will also vote on changing a city charter to increase the number of Deputy Chiefs DPD can appoint from two to three.

Officials say it will allow the department to have an administrative high level management position focused on community response and public involvement.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest in our Police Department functions and when they can do better,” said the Councilor. “I think our Police Department’s done a tremendous job but there’s always improvements that can be made so I think this would be a good change to help move that forward.”

The new Deputy Chief position falls within the existing budget and would focus on policies and training, better recruitment efforts and community engagement.

A unanimous vote for approval is needed by the council.

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