DULUTH — City officials yesterday expressed “deep concern” that Duluth is falling behind other Midwestern cities of similar size in the number of Kwik Trip gas/convenience outlets located here.
“Some neighborhoods are totally unserved by Kwik Trips,” said Randolph “Randy” Ramshackle, Duluth’s director of Urban Planning, Housing, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. “Even Superior and Hermantown are catching up,” he lamented.
“Accordingly, the city will appoint a Kwik Trip Task Force (KTTF) to seek out sites for more Kwik Trip convenience outlets to supplement the existing seven or eight… or nine, or 10. Whatever. Who knows?” Ramshackle declared.
One site under consideration is in the Duluth Civic Center, the cluster of government buildings — City Hall, the St. Louis County Court House, the Heaney Federal Building and also the new Jailhouse Flats. This downtown Kwik Trip would replace the Priley Fountain in the Civic Center with an attractive Kiwk Trip complete with a car wash, Ramshackle said. “What good is a fountain anyway?” he said. “We’re not exactly Rome, Italy.”
The task force will also look into other areas of the city where there is no Kwik Trip serving residents. “Look at Fond du Lac in far western Duluth,” Ramshackle went on. “What are residents there supposed to do, drive all the way to West Duluth to go to a Kwik Trip?”
At the same time, Parks, Recreation and Horseshoe Pitching Director Patricia “Pickle” Ball announced the city will consider converting lightly used Chambers Grove Park in Fond du Lac to a site for a Kwik Trip. “It’s perfect,” she said, “right off Highway 23 for travelers and handy for Fond du Lac residents, who have been convenience store deprived since the village’s founding in 1679 by Daniel Greysolon Sieur Dulhut and Father Hennepin.”
Dulhut, who also went by the name “Jean” was a smart French explorer but he never learned to spell his last name correctly, historians have observed. Father Hennepin, Dulhut’s spiritual leader and cook (specialty: Eggs Benedictine) later moved on to Minneapolis to foster an avenue.
Other sites for Kwik Trips are also being considered. Two of the most prominent are Bayfront Festival Park on Duluth’s waterfront and Brighton Beach Park along Lake Superior in the city’s easternmost environs.
“Brighton Beach is a natural locale for a Kwik Trip, relieving motorists of the concern for having to drive all the way to Two Harbors to go to a Kwik Trip. Plus, nearby Lake Superior would serve as a handy catch basin for soapy car wash overflow,” parks chief Pickle Ball said. “And Canal Park area is completely Kwik Trip-less” she pointed out, adding, “Bayfront Festival Park sits idle 80 percent of the time while a Kwik Trip there would be used 24-7 —every day all day and night. It would be very handy to Canal Park.”
Skyline Drive is also unserved by a Kwik Trip. City engineers are looking into the possibility of installing a Kwik Trip near Enger Tower, although steep hills there would be a challenge. “The view would be stupendous for drivers filling their tanks,” city engineering associate Ariel V. Bridges said. “We’re going to make that happen come heck or high water.” Bridges reportedly is very devout and is loath to utter bad words.
Also under consideration is the area of Park Point beyond the ship canal. The seldom used Lafayette Square playground would be a perfect fit for a Kwik Trip, urban planning director Ramshackle said, and also the vast parking and volleyball area near the Park Point beach house. “Ideally, we would put Kwik Trips at both sites,” he said, obviating the need for residents to drive too far on the point.
A spokeswoman for the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, Abby Westminster, said, “The chamber welcomes any additions to the city’s tax base and business activity and will cooperate in every way with much-needed expansions of Kwik Trips in our community.”
An opposition group, Grandmothers and Pump Jockeys for Gas Choice (GPJGC), vowed to organize an anti-Kwik Trip rally, complete with concerned-appearing sign carriers in appropriately inscribed T-shirts.
Film at 10.
Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer and continues as a columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and maintains a blog at www.jimheffernan.org.