Duluth Mayor Emily Larson Reverses Course On Lift Bridge Lighting In Support Of Ukraine
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson has reversed course on her decision not to light the Aerial Lift Bridge to show solidarity with Ukraine. The changed decision comes after much debate in the community following her original decision not to last week.
Starting as soon as tonight (March 1), the Aerial Lift Bridge will be lit with blue and yellow lights through this upcoming Sunday (March 6). The bridge will join Enger Tower, which was lit in Ukrainian colors as of this past Saturday.
This just one day after the City of Duluth issued an official news release, explaining that they would not change the colors of the Lift Bridge. In that news release, it was stated that the LED lights installed in March of 2020 were to offer an annual energy cost savings of $5,000 to the city, not to change the color of bridge with different light hues.
In essence, the bridge's new lights have the capability to change colors with ease, but that was not why they were installed.
The release further explained that the city clarified in April of 2020 they "would not be taking requests to light the bridge". They noted that "a large number of various types of requests ranging from stunts, to commercial use, and personal lighting inquiries were made which inundated staff, but also endangered the intent and the value of the bridge – a working piece of public infrastructure that serves pedestrian, vehicle, and maritime traffic."
In a statement released on the official Facebook page for the Mayor on Tuesday morning, Larson acknowledged the community that rallied against her original decision not to light either structure and provided the updates to her plans:
"Good Morning, Everybody.
Sometimes you make a decision based on important variables like rules and fairness and then understand that those things really don’t apply.
Sometimes you are working to do all the right things, and your heart confirms that there is more.
The community is right. Thank you for reminding me of who Duluth is.
Through Sunday, the Aerial Lift Bridge and Enger Tower will be lit in support of, and in solidarity, with Ukraine.
What appears simple from the outside quickly gets layered and nuanced with important and relevant details. Thank you to staff who have spent time all weekend and yesterday on this with me.
We will have an updated lighting policy in place in 60 days and will share that with the community at that time.
With gratitude and hope for our world,
While the bridge and Enger Tower will now both be lit in blue and yellow for Ukraine and plans to announce a new lighting policy for these structures, some citizens still remain unhappy about the initial issue at hand.
At issue for many was Larson's original response to the issue. When news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine first broke - and communities around the country and the world started showing solidarity by lighting public buildings in blue and yellow - the Duluth Mayor held out - choosing to light neither Enger Tower or the Lift Bridge.
Many took the Mayor's tone about the issue to task - especially since the city had recently spent a significant amount of money to provide the necessary "permanent" lighting needed on the bridge in 2020. In the past when the bridge had been lit, it was done so using "temporary: lights that had to be set up. Critics of the decision argued why the money was spent on the lights if they weren't going to be used at their full capacity.
A day after her original decision not to light either iconic structure, Larson back-stepped slightly by announcing a decision to light Enger Tower in solidarity with Ukraine. However, the Twin Ports community continued lobbying to get the more-visible Aerial Lift Bridge lit.