Duluth City Leaders Submit $44.5 Million in Earmark Spending Requests

The Requests Have Been Submitted to Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Further Review is Pending

DULUTH, Minn. – The City of Duluth is currently eligible to receive more federal funding under the Biden Administration.

Five Congressional Directed Spending requests, or “earmarks,” have been submitted to Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said the following during a press briefing on the requests Tuesday morning.

“There is no guarantee that all of these get funded. There is no guarantee that any of these get funded. But I do think it’s likely we are well-positioned to get something done through these Congressional appropriations. I feel strongly it’s my job to make it very difficult for people to say no to this community and no to the requests from the City of Duluth,” said Larson.

As provided by the City of Duluth, the requests are as followed and total $44.5 million.

Congressionally Directed Spending Requests 

Lake Superior Port Projects – Energy and Water Appropriations Ask of $4 million

The City of Duluth, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, and Visit Duluth have been working for two years on a partnership that would welcome cruise passenger ships of multiple sizes to Duluth. To accommodate that, the harbor must be dredged. Currently, Duluth does not have the necessary clearance for these boats to dock. To bring the project to fruition, the partnership plans to install a US Customs and Border Protection Facility and do the dredging and seawall restoration to ensure that passenger boats arrive in Duluth. Additionally, redevelopment of the Lot D parcel has been hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic and has resulted in extensive economic loss to the City and to DEDA. The seawall restoration will result in new investment, increased tax base, and sale of the property will result in reduced staff cost for property management.

City-Wide Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and EV Charging Demonstration Project – Energy and Water Appropriations Ask of $5,800,000

Duluth has set a goal of reducing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 and has reduced emissions by nearly 20% since 2017. The Larson Administration also joined America’s Pledge on Climate Change in June 2017. As the City takes steps towards meeting its sustainability goals, we are also challenged with limited resources. The City of Duluth is proposing this City-Wide Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and EV Charging Demonstration Project to request funding assistance that will allow the City to implement an impactful project providing economic, environmental, equity, and local community workforce benefits in Northern MN. The vision of this project includes an impressive combination of EV charging stations, various solar renewable energy applications, building energy efficiency measures, and moving towards clean electricity at various sites across our community. We have carefully selected locations that are vital to our community, residents, workforce, critical infrastructure (energy and water), businesses, and institutions.

Historic Aerial Lift Bridge – Transportation or Homeland Security ask of $12 million

While no imminent problems are expected, over the long term if the bridge fails, the largest port in the Great Lakes chain will be significantly impacted. Many ships will not be able to access or leave the port. If the bridge is stuck in the up position, the neighborhood along Park Point would be cut off from the city. The bridge needs work on the iconic overhead truss, the pedestrian sidewalks require substantial reconstruction work, painting of the lift span truss, replacement of the bituminous surface around the bridge, and fix the spalling of the concrete surfaces of the abutment wing walls and tower base.

Public Safety Data and Technology Enhancements – Commerce, State, and Justice ask of $750,000

The City of Duluth seeks funds for technology enhancements that will assist with public safety response and data analytics. Specifics include: 1) a 911 automated response system for customer service; 2) benchmarking program to track, account, and report out on the use of force incidents, internal affairs investigations, performance evaluations, department training initiatives, officer early intervention warning system, community engagement, and officer activity; 3) Funding for crime analytic tool. Agencies such as St. Louis County, for instance, can benefit from transparency allowing for easy, seamless publication of data from agencies to the public and to visualize crime trends and define actionable tactics to help make their communities safer.

Duluth Fire Department – Transportation or Homeland Security ask of $22 million.
The City’s fire halls were originally constructed many decades ago and cannot accommodate gender equity. Additionally, they require rehabilitation and renovation work to modernize them to attract and retain a diverse workforce and update utility infrastructure. For example, at Fire Station #11 (Woodland), the ceiling has collapsed and the chimney has experienced significant damage and deterioration over the past few years. This station also does not provide for gender equity and needs to be upgraded for future staffing requirements. Similarly, Headquarters’ current dorm-style bedroom is problematic from a privacy/gender equity standpoint and needs a remodel. The City would also update utility control systems for all eight fire stations, as many of the heating/cooling, electrical, and other systems are outdated and have been a facilities priority for years.

This summary does not encapsulate every detail or nuance related to this funding opportunity and associated projects. We would be happy to provide further information if needed.

 

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