Lead to vote on downtown parking - KOTA Territory News

Lead to vote on downtown parking

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Big changes are coming to downtown Lead, thanks to a multi-million dollar Department of Transportation highway upgrade project.

But some say those changes would suffocate lead's downtown business district.

The issue of parking will be brought to a formal vote during next months election.

Jerry Apa remembers a once lively downtown Lead and how that suddenly changed more than 30 years ago.

"The beginning of the end was when they took away parking on the north side of the street. If they take away parking on the south side, that will be the end of our business district," said Apa, who used to own the White Star Bar on Main street.

He and others who live in this small community fear the loss of roughly 10 parking spots from Galena to Siever street will have big consequences.

"If you don't have parking, people don't stop. That becomes a reality," said Apa.

"There's such limited parking in the municipal parking. A lot of people who are disabled have to be closer to the buildings, because it's hard for them to get around, especially when it snows," said Tara Schulenburg, a resident of Lead.

City leaders say removing parking offers a chance to create a more attractive pedestrian area downtown, which could breathe new life into the business district.

"We're interested in making more of a public square. That type of outdoor gathering place is historically a place for people to get to and meet and do things," said Mike Stahl, Lead city administrator.

"The vision is we're going to have a pedestrian mall and coffee shop. Demographics are that we are a rental committee for Deadwood service workers, not a lot of disposable income. How many coffee shops can we support?" said Apa.

Soon voters will decide whether to sacrifice a few spaces now- for the possibility of a new downtown later.

 "Lead is the highest altitude in South Dakota. We get a lot of snow and if there's no parking, people are not going to want to come into town," said Schulenburg.

The city will also be getting new curbs, gutters, lighting and sewers in the coming years.

A presentation of what downtown will look like with and without parking will be made on Tuesday night at 7PM at the Days Inn in Lead.

 

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