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OUR VIEW: Capital Street proposal deserves good debate

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
The Daily Republic
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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

An interesting proposal came from this week's meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education. Superintendent Joe Graves told board members Monday that he has submitted a request to the Mitchell Traffic Commission to close a portion of Capital Street, which fronts Mitchell High School and separates that building from the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy across the street.

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The reason behind the proposal is safety, and we can understand that, especially in light of recent changes to the high school campus.

The Career and Technical Education Academy is the former home of Mitchell Technical Institute, which has moved to the south edge of town along Interstate 90. Now, that building is partly being used by the school district to teach high school classes. That means students are crossing the street between the buildings throughout the day.

Graves said he worries that someone could eventually get hurt. Kids aren't always attentive, he said, and drivers don't always pay attention. He's right on both points.

His proposal is to close Capital Street in front of the school and construct a green space to better connect the newly expanded campus.

It's not a bad idea, but we already have seen some eyebrows being raised at the plan. That part of town already is a bit clunky for traffic, since the large campuses of the high school and the former MTI complex are situated next to large parking lots and the sprawling Joe Quintal Field.

At first glance, we tend to like the idea, although questions will arise. We wonder what the most recent traffic counts on the street show, and also what residents of that neighborhood think of the idea.

We invite residents to submit letters with their questions and concerns -- signed, of course -- and also hope that people will voice their concerns or support at upcoming school board and city meetings.

The idea was hatched to improve safety and to potentially avoid a catastrophic mishap. That's why we like it -- at least in these initial stages -- and it's also why sound and reasonable debate should follow.

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