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Public weighs in on ‘Vision Northland’ project

DULUTH, MN– An $800-million dollar expansion and redevelopment plan. That’s what Essentia Health’s ‘Vision Northland’ project would do. And a project with that price tag, calls for a lot of input from those living in the city.

Duluthians had a final chance to weigh in Tuesday on a portion of that project, specifically how it will impact nature and the environment.

The city of Duluth has conducted an environmental assessment of Essentia Health’s ‘Vision Northland’ expansion project. One issue that came up during Tuesday Planning Commission meeting, bright lights.

“We’ve worked really hard at Fitger’s to protect our dark skies and to not adversely affect any of our nocturnal species. And we believe this would be important to see this type of lighting throughout the whole neighborhood,” says one neighbor during the meeting.

Dark sky enthusiasts said they want to make sure the lighting doesn’t create too much ambient light.

“to be aware of the fact of using low Kelvin lighting, make sure the lighting is projected downward and we have soft, warm lighting,” says another Duluthian.

Essentia officials were present in packed council chambers to hear what Duluthians had to say.

Mark Hayward, Senior Vice President of Operations at Essentia says, “we appreciate the opportunity to get feedback from our neighbors and from the community as we look at the environmental assessment work that has been done by the city.”

The assessment includes ways the plan could potentially impact traffic, wildlife, and those living nearby.

One concern neighbors mentioned is how glass structures can impact some animals.  “lighted windows kill thousands and thousands of birds whose bodies we pick up in cities every year.”

Hayward says Essentia officials will continue to take in all feedback and apply it to their design plans.  “We’ve just seen great support from the community and just continue to be very enthusiastic about what this will do for Duluth and for the region.”

Wednesday is the last day to submit any public comments to the city.

The comments will be evaluated and recommendations will go before the Planning Commission during a special meeting on March 26.

Jessie Slater

Evening Anchor and Reporter

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