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Planners envision improvements to Rapid City downtown park

RAPID CITY -- City planners are looking to attract more visitors to a park in Rapid City's downtown. Rapid City staff recently unveiled conceptual drawings of improvements to be made to Memorial Park, the Rapid City Journal reported . City planne...

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RAPID CITY - City planners are looking to attract more visitors to a park in Rapid City's downtown.

Rapid City staff recently unveiled conceptual drawings of improvements to be made to Memorial Park, the Rapid City Journal reported . City planners have envisioned a Ferris wheel, a carousel and an elevated pedestrian crossing above Omaha Street with green space. Other ideas include public art installations, outdoor fitness centers and a fishing pier.

"We are still in the envisioning stage," said Community Development Director Ken Young.

But the goal is to better connect Memorial Park to downtown and the Performing Arts Center, he said.

City officials are gathering public input on the concept while searching for potential grant funding.

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The elevated walkway could draw people to the park and provide a safe flow of pedestrian traffic, according to Young. The crossing would be the most expensive and complicated part of the park improvement project, but Young said it's feasible if proper draining is built on the road.

Improving pedestrian access downtown could also help with the city's lack of parking options.

"Parking is always an issue and if we have better pedestrian access between downtown and the civic center, perhaps someone is willing to park downtown, go to dinner and then just walk to the civic center," Young said.

Making space for smaller public gathering areas and public art installations could also increase interest in the area, according to Young.

City planners will continue to hold public input sessions for local artists and "creative thinkers" in the coming months.

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