Open container proposal shot down in 5 minutes

Citing safety concerns, disruptions to residents, and concerns with the logistics of keeping drinkers corralled to the west side of the street along Pioneer Way, the Deadwood city commission stopped a proposal for the creation of Zone 5 open container recently.

DEADWOOD — In a little over five minutes, the proposed creation of Zone 5 allowing open containers in Deadwood was shot down following a public hearing July 20.

The proposed Zone 5 was to include the west side of Pioneer Way from the intersection of Lower Main Street and Pioneer Way to the north property boundary of 270 Main St., which is First Gold.

Sandy Glover, a resident of the Rodeo Grounds neighborhood and president of the Rodeo Grounds block club addressed the commission during the public hearing on the matter.

“I really have an issue with this because I think you’re taking people walking down the street through part a residential area, and there’s lots of holes there between businesses,” Glover said. “The other part that bothers me is they’re going to be on the west side of the street, mostly. How are you going to herd them over there? Because they’re going to love … that walking path that we have and its benches. So I’m afraid that we’re going to have a lot of people over there. And we do have our bridge that brings them right into our neighborhood.”

Glover added that with alcohol permitted in nearby casinos parking lots, area residents need to contend with drunk people nearby talking loudly.

Deadwood Chamber of Commerce President Louie Lalonde told the commission that the chamber board recently voted unanimously to approve Zone 5.

Representing Business Improvement District (BID) 8, Mike Rodman addressed the commission, saying his organization looks at the creation of Zone 5 as a convenience for people who are visiting Deadwood and staying at one of the hotels on Lower Main Street. He said BID 8 representatives the approached the Main Street Initiative officials about a year ago with the idea of establishing the new open container zone. It was decided to delay the formal request to the city until road construction, including better sidewalks and lighting, was complete.

“So, this is the time that we are moving forward,” Rodman said. “We look at this as there is a lot of hotel rooms there, and it gives those people who are staying at a hotel the opportunity to purchase their open container bottle and take it down to Main Street and vice versa.”

Commissioner Sharon Martinisko made the successful motion to deny the creation of Zone 5, saying she does not support bringing open container into Deadwood’s neighborhoods or additional enforcement issues for the police department.

“The reason I move to deny, we are not just a town of hotels and businesses. We are a town of residents,” Martinisko said. “And I, personally, don’t see the benefit to the residents by creating this zone. We have a pretty healthy open container area that is enforceable, and when we start spreading out along the highway, to me, it becomes a major problem … I just can’t imagine the headache down there, not to mention the residents. I’ve been contacted by several who are against it and this is our town.”

Commissioner Michael Johnson said he agreed with Martinisko and that’s it’s important to reserve the historic central district for the open container area and to not get out into residential areas.

Commissioner Gary Todd said he had been contacted by residents in the Rodeo Grounds neighborhood area, as well.

“Nobody’s in favor of it and those are the people who elect us to represent them,” Todd said. “I think there’s a safety issue, having it along the four-lane highway. I’m all for businesses making money, but … I can’t really see where this is going to make them any more money or enhance the visitor’s experience.”

Mayor Dave Ruth encouraged the businesses on Lower Main that would be impacted by not having a Zone 5 to continue to work with the surrounding neighborhoods to help them understand the plan that was being brought forward, so that there could be more communication to help them with the issues they have now.

“Because it’s clear that the issues they have have created a concern that we need to address before we make any type of changes,” Ruth said.

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