The Civic Center Resolution Task Force announced Thursday that it is a week or two from getting a report that should help determine costs for fixing Rushmore Plaza Civic Center's Barnett Arena.
The 10-member panel on Thursday held the first of three public forums about the arena's big review. City engineers are completing a study that will help the task force come up with cost estimates, said Kevin Andreson. He is chairman of the group assigned to review life safety and disability access issues.
Once the task force has the engineers' report, members will consult with contractors to come up with the estimated budget.
“Directionally, it will get us close enough to the mark to make a decision,” Andreson said Thursday.
The task force can then weigh the costs of proposed upgrades against the costs of building a new arena. Members will recommend the best affordable option to Mayor Steve Allender and the Rapid City Council.
Allender created the task force after voters last year rejected plans to spend $180 million on expanding the civic center.
The task force in February began working on ways to comply with an agreement signed by Rapid City and the United States Department of Justice to meet Americans with Disabilities Act access requirements in Barnett Arena.
A handful of concertgoers slip and fall at every arena concert because there are no lights or handrails on the stairs, according to Allender.
A report by Geoffrey Ames identified some of the life safety issues. Ames is project manager of Meeting The Challenge, a Colorado Springs-based firm that helps organizations comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Ames’ nine-page report from his May tour helped the task force whittle 402 handicapped access issues noted in the Department of Justice agreement down to just over half that number. A copy of his report is available at rapidcityjournal.com.
City Engineer Rod Johnson is working from those recommendations to create a report for the building fixes.
Once the direction is decided, Andreson said the financial subcommittee will consider the repayment capacity from the city sales taxes in the Vision Fund and other revenues.
The finance group also will be working on understanding the economic impact of the civic center.
More than 30 people attended the opening forum on Thursday. Only four citizens made comments or asked questions.
Two brought up parking issues that need to be addressed, including helping people to safely make their way to the civic center.
"Today, there was a lot of positive reinforcement of the process we're undertaking, and that was encouraging to hear," Andreson said. "Obviously some good ideas floated out that we will have to take back and discuss as a subcommittee and weigh out. And it was very well attended, so we're pleased with that."
The remaining forums are today at 7:30 a.m. and at 6:30 p.m. Monday in LaCroix D of the Civic Center.
Those who cannot attend can submit comments or ask questions by writing to email@example.com or on the Facebook page for the RC Civic Center Resolution Task Force.
Andreson said the task force is in the fact-finding phase and sincerely wants input from the public.
"We’re being very open and sharing the process that we’re going through," he said. "A lot of this is how we’re thinking about solving the problem, but it doesn’t predispose us to a particular solution. We are still in analysis and fact-finding mode to get us to the best decision."