On Wed., June 15, the De Smet City Council held a special meeting at the Event Center open to the public for discussion of the Main Street Project.
Shane Waterman from IMEG, formerly Clark Engineering, led the majority of the discussion. He began by outlining the current plans they are proposing for Main Street.
The Main Street Project, which began over ten years ago, has changed several times, and it will continue to change until finalized. The members of the council held the meeting to inform business owners and residents of the proposal.
Waterman said they have had to cut back on some of the changes they had previously wanted because of cost. At this time, they are focusing on Calumet Avenue, from Highway 14 to Chase Street.
The proposed project would be the first step in updating the water and sewer lines in town. The current lines running under Calumet Avenue are over 100 years old, and they need to be replaced.
After running new lines, the street would have to be redone. Council members would like to give Main Street a facelift, which would include new sidewalks, curb and gutter, storm drains and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility for businesses.
Waterman informed everyone in attendance that the plan is to narrow the street to allow for wider sidewalks in places where they are narrow.
It would cost $5.5 million to complete the project, but the city is applying for funding to help cover the costs. The majority of the funding would come from the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR), which has $2.3 million available for funding. To comply with the DANR, the city had to raise utility rates by $55.
There will be approximately $1.7 million left for the city to come up with to complete the project.
Waterman said the plans are currently very basic, but he suggested that any amenities should be included with the proposed project. Stamped sidewalks, benches, bike racks, planters and trees could be added if desired.
After informing those gathered of the proposed plans for Main Street, Waterman and the council members opened it up to questions from those in attendance.
Many wondered when the project would begin, and Waterman said they are hoping to begin work in either 2024 or 2025. The project could be done in one year or split in half and take two years. It would be up to the council to decide.
Several business owners voiced their concerns over not having access to their buildings. Waterman said he understood their concerns, and they would do their best to make sure business could continue during the project. However, businesses will probably have to make some adjustments during that time.
There were also concerns about the narrowing of Calumet. Waterman assured everyone that there would still be plenty of road for traffic and parking. The plan is to widen the sidewalks to ensure there is a five-foot clear path, which is required in order to be in compliance with ADA. This means that each side of the road would go in about 2 1/2 feet on the north portion of Calumet, matching the width on the south end of the street.
Another topic discussed was the concern over changes to become ADA compliant. Waterman informed everyone that only certain businesses would be affected by having ramps or railings added to their entrances. Several businesses already have a ramp in place at the back of their location, so they wouldn’t need to have one in front, too.
Waterman reiterated that the plan is to do only what they have to do in order to be in compliance and be able to apply for funding. He and the council members are open to any public input on the project and would like to hear from residents.
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