SPEARFISH — To help solve a handicap parking space deficit, Spearfish city officials have approved converting six existing parking spaces in the downtown central core business district into handicap accessible spaces and moving two to easier to access locations.
“We continue to get feedback and complaints at the amount of disabled parking downtown especially on the side streets,” explained Pat Rotert, public safety director for Spearfish.
The proposed spaces are located at the corners or adjacent to alleyways in the six square blocks between Jackson Boulevard and Grant Street, east of 5th Street and west of 7th Street.
“The reason we’re positioning these on the alley is it provides a ready made ramp for getting out of the traffic lanes and getting out of the street for disabled persons,” Rotert said. “Effectively what it does is it addresses each side of the street, with at least one space for each side of the street.”
Additionally, the city plans to turn the two parking spots at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Main Street in front of REDWater Kitchen and the Stadium, into motorcycle only spaces to eliminate potential collision concerns where the road doglegs slightly.
“We’ve tried in the past, compact parking only and then you get into an argument, ‘well hey, my car’s compact,’ yet it’s still sticking out into the traffic lane,” Rotert explained.
The change should come as a relief for members of the community with disabilities, but not everyone is looking forward to them.
“Obviously the big issue is not the handicapped and creating new spots for the handicapped people,” said Luke Donovan, owner of False Bottom Bar, and president of the Spearfish Downtown Business Association board of directors. “But what is constantly going on in the downtown district is parking spots in general are constantly being taken away from customers, employees and owners of buildings.”
Donovan accused the city of not wanting to work with downtown business owners when it comes to parking.
“We keep getting restrictions such as the restriction of the times of where the customers and employees can park,” he said. “It just pushes us out into neighborhoods now to find parking.”
Donovan said he and his wife are in the process of purchasing a plot of land on the corner of Hudson and 7th streets that he implored the city to consider utilizing for additional boulevard parking before making a decision to convert any current spaces.
“Yes, it will cost you money, I apologize,” he said. “However, I think short term solution that would help free up some additional spots and also make people happy that they have another place to be able to park.”
Mayor Dana Boke said the decision to limit the time spent in a parking spot to two hours was made at the request of the DBA, in order to discourage owners and employees from taking spots away from customers.
“We’re just managing it,” she said. “If there is a recommendation that is different from the DBA we need to hear that.”
Rotert responded by explaining that in order to facilitate parking for downtown employees, a strip of spaces along 7th Street was left unregulated by the two-hour time stamp.
“We deregulated the entire 500 block of 7th Street over five years ago because of requests like that,” he said. “The parking is there. You just have business owners, building owners, employees that will not use it and that results in the feeling we’re taking parking away.”
Councilman Dan Hodgs moved to approve the changes as suggested by Rotert; however, he encouraged Donovan to bring a plan forward to the council for proposed additional parking at any time.
“I think if you were to bring something to the city and say, ‘hey this is viable,’ we’ll definitely look at it to see if it fits inside of our capital improvement plan and cost benefit analysis for it too,” he said.
The motion was voted on and unanimously passed by all members of council in attendance.
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