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Lead locks Main Street fence gates, irking business owners

LEAD (AP) -- City officials in Lead have decided to lock the gates on a fence that lines part of Main Street, and that has some business owners irked.

LEAD (AP) - City officials in Lead have decided to lock the gates on a fence that lines part of Main Street, and that has some business owners irked.

The decorative metal fence has gates installed mid-block to allow business owners and residents direct access from the sidewalk to the street.

Businesses were allowed by the city to control access, bit over time the gates were left unlocked at all times.

The city decided to keep the gates locked after numerous reports of people almost falling out of the gates, the Black Hills Pioneer reports. City Administrator Mike Stahl said it's a safety concern, and could open the city to a lawsuit.

Some business owners say locking the gates is causing people to climb over or crawl under the fence, and that it's also slowing business. Businessman Michael Gaffney said he thinks speeding vehicles on Main Street are a bigger safety concern.

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"Best-case scenario, someone is going to fall and break their arm falling onto the sidewalk," Gaffney told commissioners Monday. "Worse-case, they are going to fall back into traffic."

Gaffney said more speed limit signs need to be posted and more police officers are needed to patrol the area more frequently. He also suggested the city used money earmarked for playground equipment to have steps cut into the sidewalk at the gate locations.

Stahl said that idea is problematic because the state will not allow mid-block crosswalks and wiring used to power the street lights run directly through the areas that would need to be cut for the steps.

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