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Lonely road for Capital Street closure

Cars line the street as student walk across Capital Street at the end of the school day Monday at Mitchell high school. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

The people have spoken, and they want to keep Capital Street open.

Members of the Mitchell City Council said Monday night they have heard virtually no public support for a proposal to permanently close a portion of Capital Street near Mitchell High School. The City Council discussed the proposal, but took no action on it, at its regular meeting Monday night at City Hall.

0 Talk about it

“It’s very evident that the people that live in that area do not want it to close,” said Councilman Jeff Smith.

The discussion followed a Sept. 16 Traffic Commission meeting, at which Mitchell School District Superintendent Joe Graves asked the commission to close a portion of Capital Street between Mitchell High School and the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy building, Mitchell Technical Institute’s former north campus.

The street is becoming a safety hazard as more students walk between the two buildings to attend classes, Graves said, addressing the commission at the Sept. 16 meeting. Graves has proposed closing a portion of the street and installing, at the district’s expense, a green space and sidewalks to better connect the two facilities.

Graves attended Monday night’s meeting but did not speak.

Since the Sept. 16 meeting, multiple signs warning drivers of the pedestrian crossings have been placed on Capital Street, according to Mitchell Assistant Police Chief Maj. Leon Baier.

The signs have been effective at reducing the speed of traffic in the area, said Councilman Mel Olson, who is also a teacher at Mitchell High School.

“That visual gauntlet has significantly slowed traffic down,” Olson said. “That’s really what was needed.”

Councilman Phil Carlson, who lives in and represents the ward containing the portion of Capital Street in question, said he opposes the proposal because the street serves as a main route for residents in the area.

Councilwoman Susan Tjarks said many of the people who contacted her about the proposal were concerned that, if Capital Street were to close, it would shut off one of the main arteries for traffic in the area.

“A lot of the comments I received weren’t dealing with the school district at all,” she said. “It was dealing with access.”

Olson suggested installing an additional crosswalk in the area, as well as another streetlight. No action was taken on those proposals.

Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy told the council that installing flashing lights to draw attention to the 15 mph speed limit signs in the area remains a possibility for the future.

“I just think that the flashing yellow lights are more effective than a sign,” Tracy said.

Corn Palace sidewalk

Sidewalks on the south side of the Corn Palace could be widened to provide better access to the facility when the front entrance is closed for a future expansion and renovation project.

The plan, presented to the council by Deputy Director of Public Works Terry Johnson, is to widen the sidewalks on the south side of the Corn Palace to 8 feet, and install ramps to bring the entrances into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As a result, the 100 block of East Sixth Avenue would be narrowed, but could still serve as a two-way street with no parking, Johnson

Other business

In scheduled business, council members:

  • Sat as the board of adjustment and set a Nov. 4 date for a hearing on the application of Carmen Fischer for a conditionaluse permit to operate a day care in her home at 601 N. Edgerton St.; tabled the application of Nathan and Erin Schlimgen for a front yard variance of 16 feet rather than the 25 feet required for an addition to their attached garage at 1500 Ridge Lane; approved the application of Martin Haase for a backyard variance of 12 feet rather than the required 16 feet for replacement and construction of an accessory building at 905 S. Minnesota St.; and approved the application of Sign Pros for a distance/radius variance of 225 feet rather than the required 300 feet for an off-premise sign located in the 1100 block of South Ohlman Street.
  • Toured parts of the city to observe existing and future sidewalk projects said.
  • Johnson estimated the project will cost approximately $50,000, but Corn Palace Director Mark Schillling informed the council that $41,000 has already been budgeted for the project.
  • The council chose to send the proposal on to the Traffic Commission for further consideration at a future meeting.

Consent agenda

Council members approved the following items as part of a consent agenda:

  • The meeting agenda, council minutes from the prior meeting, minutes from various committee meetings and reports from various city departments.
  • Raffle requests from the Mitchell High School Student Council, with the drawing to be held Nov. 8; and the James River Valley Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, with the drawing to be held March 28.
  • Set a Nov. 4 date for a hearing on the application to transfer a package offsale malt beverage license from LAB LLC, doing business as Arnie’s First and Foster, 1218 E. First Ave., to Niew LLC, doing business as Arnie’s, 1218 E. First Ave.
  • An application to transfer a retail on-off sale wine license and package malt beverage license from J Mart, 1527 W. Havens Ave., to Westside Sinclair, 1527 W. Havens Ave.; and an application to transfer a retail on-off sale wine license and package malt beverage license from Jack’s Sinclair, 1905 N. Main St., to Northside Sinclair, 1905 N. Main St.
  • An automatic supplement of $3,000 to the parks and recreation special revenue fund for a refund for an overpayment.
  • Bills, payroll salary adjustments and new employee hires, and authorization of the payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.
  • A list of pay estimates.
  • Gas and diesel fuel competitive quotes. during a 6:20 p.m. Sidewalk Committee meeting.
  • Approved, during a 7:15 p.m. Traffic Commission meeting, a request to place a crosswalk across North Mentzer Street, directly in front of the main entrance to LifeQuest; a request from the Christmas at the Palace Committee to close the 600 block of North Main Street, to include no parking, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 25; and denied a request to place four-way stop signs at the intersection of First Avenue and Foster Street.
  • Adopted a resolution to plat Lot 9, Block 4 of Woodland Heights First Addition, a subdivision of Lot 2, Crane’s Addition, in the southeast quarter of Section 34, Township 103 North, Range 60, of the fifth P.M., city of Mitchell.
  • Adopted a resolution to abandon temporary easements related to road construction near Interstate 90 and Havens Avenue.
  • Approved an ordinance to supplement the insurance and bonds portion of the general fund with $11,000 from the general fund cash balance for liability claims; the debt service portion of the general fund with $455,600 from the general fund cash balance for the 2003 Corn Palace bond; the RSVP portion of the special revenue fund with $1,200 from grant funds for rent; and the Palace Transit portion of the special revenue fund with $3,025 from grant funds for computer hardware.
  • Approved, on the first of two required readings, an ordinance amending the city of Mitchell’s municipal code to accommodate electric car charging stations.
  • Approved, on the first of two require readings, an ordinance to supplement portions of the general fund, including information technology, police, traffic, fire, street, snow removal and emergency medical services, with funds from the general fund cash balance; portions of the parks and recreation special revenue fund, including aquatics, sports complexes, parks and entertainment tax; and portions of the enterprise fund, including water treatment, water distribution, airport, landfill and Corn Palace shows, all to make up for some lineitem budgetary deficits, according to Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson.
  • Approved an amendment to a work order between the city of Mitchell and the South Dakota Department of Transportation for the Charles Mix Historic Bridge/Mitchell Phase III Trails project, which is a bridge the city has acquired from Charles Mix County for a bike path through a rural section between 23rd Avenue and Lake Mitchell.
  • Authorized Silverstone Group to conduct the 2014 Actuarial Review of Other Post-Employment Benefits at the contracted amount of $5,250.