Deadwood approves street closure to accommodate alternative public gathering space

The closure of Lee and Gold streets in Deadwood between Main Street and the Broadway Alley will make traffic one-way on Broadway, in order to accommodate Deadwood’s newest alternative public gathering space between Berg Jewelry and the Century Link building. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — COVID-19 precautions have forced businesses, in tandem with the city of Deadwood, to get creative when it comes to using sparse pockets of Main Street space to spread out, prompting both to reach back to a touchstone developed at public meetings held last winter.

“This all came from Main Street Initiative,” said Deadwood Planning and Zoning Administrator Jeramy Russell. “It was brought up at our design charettes, back in February. Lee Street and Gold Street, as well as Wall, were all identified as possible alternative public space.”

At the design charettes, members of the public and community sat down and went over different designs.

“The people that attended identified those spaces and what we did was create an idea right there of what they could be,” Russell said.

Earlier this summer, businesses expressed a desire to utilize space outside their buildings to accommodate customers more effectively while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“So we decided to really push for Main Street Initiative’s vision and try to get one, possibly, two of the alleys closed off for an alternative public space,” Russell said.

On Aug. 3, the Deadwood City Commission held a public hearing for the closure of Lee and Gold streets between Main Street and the Broadway Alley from Aug. 4-Oct. 15 for additional public outdoor seating, a request from Main Street Initiative that was granted by the commission.

Kevin Wagner addressed the commission on behalf of the Main Street Initiative Economic Restructuring Committee during the public hearing.

Wagner said the committee worked with city staff and adjoining business owners regarding the public space.

While trash will be handled by public works, cleaning, maintenance and spot checking the space will be handled by neighboring business owners.

“Money for the infrastructure, the tables, the streaming lights, the electrical work, that type of thing, will be handled by Main Street Initiative, initially, and Main Street Initiative will work to gain sponsorships to regain that money,” Wagner said.

Commissioner Sharon Martinisko asked Police Chief Ken Mertens what the traffic pattern will be on Broadway Street if Gold Street is closed.

“That would be one-way from Shine Street down Broadway … Broadway alley one-way from Shine, down,” Mertens said.

Deadwood Mayor David Ruth, Jr. asked that the time limit be extended from five minutes to 15 minutes to drive through the parking ramp with no charge, as motorists sometimes attempt to circumvent Main Street via Broadway.

“This will require them to go through the ramp,” Ruth said. “I don’t want it to be a situation if someone had a hard time getting in and out of their spot, they couldn’t make it out.”

Mertens said the Parking and Transportation Committee voted to extend the time limit.

Ruth applauded Main Street Initiative for bringing the idea forward, due to COVID-19.

“The national pandemic and in the interest of trying to get people outside, spread out,” Ruth said. “And give people an opportunity to do that on the street, I think it’s a good experiment to try and see if it will work for the Main Street Master Plan. I would like us to see if we can get the lighting in there, so it looks bright enough, safe enough, it’s inviting enough, that it’s clean.”

Russell said city staff is moving forward with implementing the alternative public space, after being given the green light by the commission.

“Now, we’ve decided to do both as currently blocked off on both sides,” Russell said. “And we are in the process right now of getting all of the equipment Main Street Initiative has ordered.”

There will be seven different tables in the alley, three bistro, and four larger patio tables.

“For the space above, we are currently working with Century Link and Berg’s Jewelry to obtain an easement to place Edison-style lighting above. Those lights would be secured into the buildings on both sides of the alley and basically, zig-zag down the alley, to create more of an intimate setting in the evenings.”

Russell said the goal for this year is two-fold.

“One, to provide alternative seating area during COVID, but I think as we move forward, because this was identified by the Main Street Master Plan, this is a good time for the city of Deadwood to be able to test this and see if this works. And if it does work, I think we can look at in the future, possibly having some type of Arts in the Alley-type thing or maybe you have somebody playing an acoustic guitar down there for a show.”

Russell said that once the tables are in, city officials will have a better chance to see how it all works together.

“I think it’s going to be a great thing for the city of Deadwood, our visitors and the community,” Russell said.

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