Duluth to implement pilot project to make Canal Park pop

By Pakou Ly
Canal Park will once again host uniquely crafted community-oriented spaces as part of Imagine Canal Park in September.

The City of Duluth and its community partners are planning to activate and energize the Lighthouse Parking Lot, located at 504 Canal Park Drive, into an interactive and fun “pop up” community park space for two weeks from September 4-17, as well as a pedestrian plaza on Buchanan Street.

The Duluth City Council will be asked to take action on a pertinent resolution at the August 13 meeting.

Installations in the Lighthouse Lot will include games, inviting seating, a sports area, sand box, wayfinding, and other activities that are free and accessible to the public. A temporary pedestrian plaza will be created for the month of September on Buchanan Street that will incorporate additional seating options, host weekly farmer’s market vendors as well as other events.

An added benefit to the Imagine Canal Park project is that traffic on Lake Avenue South headed towards the Aerial Lift Bridge will finally be able to turn left at Morse Street and reconnect to Canal Park Drive for access to hotels, retail, the Lakewalk Trail and additional parking. Stay tuned for even more fun pop up project announcements this fall.

As part of the city’s Imagine Duluth 2035 comprehensive plan update, Imagine Canal Park was designed to reshape the Canal Park neighborhood’s accessibility and attractiveness to residents and visitors regardless of background, ability or income. The city won a Knight Cities Challenge grant of over $200,000 to implement the project, which will end in December 2018.

The project began with a public engagement period in September 2017, during which the city gathered community feedback and data through surveys, public meetings, pedestrian and bicycle counts, and pop-up events across the city. The information gathered during this initial launch period was transformed into a list of temporary pilot projects that could be implemented in Canal Park at different periods of the year. The Cold Front Kick-Off Celebration held in the Lake City Lot in February was the first project from this list to be implemented.

Imagine Canal Park initiatives have been made possible through significant stakeholder participation. Since the project’s launch in September 2017, the city has worked closely with the 8 80 Cities and local partners including the Canal Park Business Association, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Zeitgeist Center for Arts & Community, Visit Duluth, the Greater Downtown Council, and the Dewitt-Seitz Merchants Group.

Imagine Canal Park’s mission is to determine the best activities, programming, and common pedestrian oriented gathering spaces that bring residents together from different backgrounds and socioeconomic levels, creating opportunities that grow social capital and build connections to our Lake and each other.

Imagine Canal Park is funded through the Knight Cities Challenge. The Knight Cities Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, seeks ideas that help make cities more vibrant places to live and work, focusing on three drivers of city success: keeping and attracting talent, expanding opportunity, and creating a culture of civic engagement.

To learn more about Imagine Canal Park, click here.

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