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Ritchie Nordstrom

Ritchie Nordstrom, 67, Ward 2 alderman, Rapid City

 

The Rapid City Council directed city staff Tuesday night to draft a new law legalizing the use of Segways on downtown city sidewalks.

The vote, 5 to 3, with Alderwoman Becky Drury and Aldermen Jason Salamun and Ritchie Nordstrom in opposition, came in response to a public-initiated request and appears to be the first step in creating a downtown Segway tour. City documents show an example of a downtown tour along Main Street and Saint Joseph Street between Second Street and Ninth Street. Current city law prohibits Segways from being used on sidewalks. Bicycles and skateboards are also prohibited.

Some council members appear to be unconvinced that the downtown area is the best place to first allow Segways.

“Let’s do it on Mount Rushmore Road,” Nordstrom said. “It’s not suitable for downtown.”

Others pointed to successful Segway tours in larger cities as examples that they can be allowed with minimal impact on pedestrians.

“If they can do it in downtown Atlanta, I think we can do it here,” Alderwoman Darla Drew said.

Alderman Chad Lewis said prohibiting Segways was a solution in search of a problem and failing to accommodate Segway tours would cast Rapid City in a bad light.

“It’s the 21st century folks,” he said, adding that he doubted more than 10 private Rapid Citians possessed a Segway. He noted that the ordinance could always restrict Segway use to business purposes, like a private touring company.

“I don’t see a big major problem coming out of this,” Lewis said. “We’re always against everything that’s new and progressive. Segways have been out there for forever. This is such a non-issue and [rejecting] it makes us look like a bunch of hicks. This isn’t like the Hell’s Angels are going to be riding around on Segways.”

After council discussion and before a vote, Mayor Steve Allender said he would direct city staff to consult with members of the Downtown Business Improvement District to gauge their support and consider their concerns. He also said the Rapid City Police Department would be asked to identify downtown areas where light poles may constrict space and create issues between pedestrians and Segways.

City names new park

The council approved a request by Black Hills Farmers Market to name the lot at 145 East Omaha St., where the Black Hills Farmers Market has operated since 2017, Market Park. City Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Biegler said a sign will be installed with the park’s name but did not offer a timetable for its installation.

November sales tax

The council acknowledged the city’s sales tax collections for November, which came in at $2,318,181, a 4.2 percent increase compared with collections in November 2017. For the first 11 months of 2018, collections are at $25,753,248, a 2.45 percent increase compared with 2017.

Parking tickets cleared

The council approved a resolution writing off about 3,800 parking tickets from 2015 worth $56,838. The city routinely removes parking tickets from its books that it believes are uncollectible. Auditors of the city’s finances prefer the city to only have three years' worth of unpaid tickets. The unpaid tickets remain in the city’s system.

UPS gets grant

The council acknowledged an update from the Opportunity Capture Fund Committee, an economic development fund that disperses taxpayer-funded grants to area businesses.

At a recent Rapid City Economic Development Partnership meeting, the board requested $76,500 for a grant to United Parcel Service (UPS). The Opportunity Capture Fund Committee then approved granting $104,000 to UPS with half of the funds being dispersed upon purchase of a new lot and the other half being distributed once construction of a new building is complete.

According to minutes from the Partnership meeting, the increase in UPS’s total projected payroll from the project would be $1.2 million per year when fully staffed, with a weighted average annual salary of $55,000 for employees. The funds can be converted into a loan if UPS doesn’t meet certain benchmarks within three years, known as a clawback provision.

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Contact Samuel Blackstone at samuel.blackstone@rapidcityjournal.com and follow him on Twitter or Facebook @SDBlackstone.

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City Reporter

City reporter for the Rapid City Journal.