LEAD — Lead voters, who will determine the fate of downtown parking at a Nov. 6 election, now have a chance to see what the future of their Main Street could look like.
For the past six weeks, Tallgrass Landscape Architecture of Custer has been designing digital images of what downtown Lead could look like when the city remodels Main Street in 2014 and potentially continues street-side renovations afterward.
The architecture company presented their designs to about 30 Lead residents Monday night.
While not the first digital designs the city has seen portraying the possible future of downtown Lead, those presented Monday night are the first to be based on the parking options the city has been considering for more than a year: whether to leave it as is or take it off the south side of the street in the downtown area.
Come November, the issue will go to the ballot and the citizens will decide which option to follow.
“No matter what you vote, this is going to be a great transformation for you,” said Matt Fridell of Tallgrass.
In both options, the remodeling of Main Street from Julius Street to Galena Street would replace the pavement and utility lines beneath the street, as well as install new historical lighting along the sidewalks and handicap ramps.
According to the presentation, a “Yes” vote on the ballot will mean the voter supports a previous decision by the city commission to replace parking exactly as it is now on the south side of Main Street. Voting “No” will support the option to “allow parking modifications to the south side of the street.”
The wording didn't sit well with resident Jerry Apa, who insisted the discussion thus far has been whether or not to eliminate parking — not modify it — from Galena Street to Julius Street. City Administrator Mike Stahl said that parking from Galena to Stone streets will not be affected under either option, nor will the parking in front of the Post Office, though the street will be renovated through that area.
The parking options presented at the meeting include widening the sidewalk on the north side of the street; adding a short bend and several parking spots to the lower end of Main Street, though doing so would intrude on Prospect Park; and installing a bus pull-out in front of the Black Hills Mining Museum. All told, the modification plan would remove nine existing parking spots from Main Street and add four new ones on the north side.
Tanya Olson, also of Tallgrass, said that even at this stage, the plans could be modified as the need arose. The presentation was simply a depiction of what the city has been considering so far.
Olson and Fridell also presented images of the city's vision for remodeling the downtown area alongside Main Street, including a revamp of the municipal parking lot, a staircase connecting the Silver Star parking lot to Main Street to make it more accessible, renovating the Julius Street parking lot and adding a staircase from that lot to Main Street. They also suggested a new library building could be constructed above the Julius lot and remodel the existing Hearst Library into a retail storefront.
Such options are still conjectural, however, and will depend on whether the city sees fit to take them later on down the road, if it can afford them at all.
“Affordability becomes a very important part of this,” Stahl said.
Tallgrass added a potential cost upwards of $6 million for all the options they presented, though the city could pick and choose any or all of them as time goes by. Resident Rose Burns noted that inflation was not accounted for and the options would likely be more costly in the future.
A second public presentation by Tallgrass is scheduled for 7 p.m., Oct. 9 at the Days Inn. Stahl said the community is encouraged to attend. A final presentation will be made as part of an election forum at 6 p.m., Oct. 23 at Lead-Deadwood High School.