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LETTER: New ideas for Mitchell's Main Street

(metro creative)

To the Editor:

Here's a simple observation. Towns like Wall, Hill City and Custer welcome tourists to their Main Streets. During tourist season they are boomtowns. Tourist parking on Main Street in Mitchell, however, is seen as a "problem." So much so, that traffic is funneled around Main Street and funds earmarked for downtown parking were spent building a parking lot for tourists blocks away from Main Street.

It seems that the decision made years ago to designate Main Street "Historic" and preserve the Corn Palace evolved into a form of protectionism. A kind of insular thinking that has benefited some in and around the Corn Palace at the expense of the many. This kind of wrongheaded thinking has meant decades of lost revenue that has impacted the entire city. When businesses are doing well they create jobs, generate more tax revenue and invest. When they are not doing well, they don't. Yet, Main Street businesses have been vilified and blamed for the deterioration that the city in large measure has caused.

Here's another simple observations. When malls, big box stores, urbanization, etc. moved people and shoppers away from downtowns, cities across the country realized that it would be in their best interest to commit to revitalization. Phillips Avenue, in Sioux Falls, exemplifies success. Investment in infrastructure and streetscaping lead to private sector development of lofts and apartments, dining and entertainment options, as well as specialty shops and boutiques — plainly a vibrant and flourishing area.

Clearly, this is a template Mitchell could use, including the Sculpture Walk. While that may seem like a bridge too far, it's not. A sculpture Walk would make Mitchell a Destination City and not just one where maybe folks get off the interstate to see the Corn Palace. A Sculpture Walk, linked with the Corn Palace, a historically significant folk art icon, would make Mitchell one of the most attractive cities anywhere and Main Street would be a vibrant area that benefits everyone.

Patsy Burkholder