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Sculpture park group pledges 3-year timeframe

RAPID CITY (AP) -- A group proposing a Native American sculpture park in Rapid City says construction would begin within three years once the city gives final approval.

The timeline was reached during a private meeting Monday by the First Nations Sculpture Garden Corporation, Mayor Sam Kooiker and two Rapid City council members, The Rapid City Journal reported Tuesday.

The First Nations Sculpture Garden would feature four busts of prominent 20th century Native Americans in Halley Park. But the city's Parks and Recreation Department is concerned there may not be safe walking access to the park. The city also has concerns about the project's time frame.

Attorney Jim Leach said it was agreed that the First Nations group needed a deadline in case fundraising efforts falter.

"We thought that was very reasonable, and we have agreed on a three-year limit to start construction," he said.

The group plans to donate 10 percent of the project's cost to the city as an endowment for its maintenance. Several estimates of the project's cost have been submitted, but Leach said the group did not want to divulge them because they vary.

Council member Jerry Wright said after attending the meeting that there was little reason to worry about an influx in foot traffic, which was a concern raised at a recent meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The Parks Board and Recreation Advisory Board voted 4-3 to oppose the project.

"This is not meant to be a magnet for people, for droves of people to be going to, but a contemplative garden-type setting," he said.

The city's Public Works Committee will discuss the project on July 30. If the committee recommends it to the full council, it could go up for a vote on Aug. 5.