Belle Fourche community reacts to Roosevelt Events Center condemnation

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A posted notice condemning the Roosevelt Events Center came as a shock to the owners, and members of the Belle Fourche community.

The building was condemned by the city of Belle Fourche Oct. 9 impacting occupants and community members alike.

"From our perspective, it came out of the blue that they determined to condemn it and it's quite shocking to us really," said James Pietila, owner of the Roosevelt Events Center.

The City of Belle Fourche condemned the centuryold building leaving the occupants in limbo.

"Yes there are things that need to be done but I feel safe in this building and I hope to see the community rally around what we have here," said Stacey Neuharth, building occupant and owner of New Heart Fitness.

After 17 building code violations, the owners hired a professional engineer to assess the center's safety.

"Yes, it is safe, and I received a call from the Chamber of Commerce also and identified that there are no structural integrity issues, the damaged areas are very small local areas that have no significant impact to the overall structural integrity," said Lance Redinger, engineer for Lance Engineering LLC.

The Pietila's have spent the last two years working on this property to make it a community space.

"At this point we're financially, mentally exhausted and we're basically at our wits end, we're almost not even willing to fight the City to try and continue on with this unless we can get some outside help," Pietila said.

Andrea Hennessey has lived across from this building for 35 years.

"This is the first time since this has been a school, that we have felt safe in this neighborhood, and that the neighborhood is positive, it was like an answer to a prayer, and it means everything to us personally and I'm sure to all the other neighbors, but to our community," said Andrea Hennessey, resident of Belle Fourche.

The owners are appealing the city's ruling and hope to turn the center into a nonprofit in the future.

"I'm more than happy to comply with any reasonable codes that we need to comply with, it's just some of these other ones that you can read two different ways, it just seems kind of problematic to me that we're trying to take the hardest approach possible on what we know is a part of town that has been quite frankly a derelict part of town and I'm trying to do my best to bring some new life to it," Pietila said.

We reached out to the City for comment on this story, but have yet to hear back as of Monday evening.