Communication emphasized at council meeting

Esther Noe
On March 13 the importance of communication was emphasized at the Hill City Common Council (HCCC) meeting, specifically in regards to the request for Approval of Special Event Hill City Wine Brew and BBQ. 
Emily Schultz-Wheeler explained that the horseshoe loop of Elm, Walnut and McGregor was very successful last year and they would like to stay in that location. Additionally, to increase attraction, they plan to have better signage this year.
Chuck Voorhees said that he loved the event and was willing to help out however possible. He simply requested that they ensure his restaurant remained accessible. Wheeler agreed to discuss the situation with him further. 
Jessica Jacobs, owner of the Tin City Saloon, had similar concerns.
“Last year it really impacted access to the backside of my business. I missed a delivery because of the rules of the delivery trucks, which impacted some of my sales because I didn’t have the product,” she said. 
After Jacobs explained the delivery situation, Wheeler said, “I think with communication we can do better with that.” 
Since access was a primary concern for businesses along the connecting alleyway, city administrator Brett McMacken suggested having a gatekeeper to open a path for deliveries and employees during the event and offered to help Wheeler come up with a system. 
Alderman Dale Householder asked whether or not they had a plan in place for extra cleanup of the public restrooms since the city staff primarily serves Monday through Friday. Wheeler promised that it would be addressed. 
Householder also requested that Wheeler communicate with the surrounding businesses about the event to avoid impacting their livelihood. 
Another concern was that during large events, people often park along both sides of Railroad Avenue despite signage stating where parking is not allowed. This then causes visibility issues. To help remedy this, McMacken suggested putting cones on the corners and access points to increase visibility.  
“It sounds like everybody is willing to work on the things that were brought up,” said alderman Jason Gillaspie. “This has been kind of a staple for Hill City for a while. I make a motion to approve.”
Householder and alderman Gary Auch also voted to approve. 
In the spirit of communication, a few community members took advantage of the public comment period to share additional thoughts on the food truck ordinance, which was previously discussed at the last two council meetings. 
Jacobs once again expressed her concern that the food truck ordinance contained potential loopholes as well as her concerns about parking and the equal treatment of food establishments and food trucks. Ideally, she would like the council to visit the local restaurants and hear more about their offerings to gain better insight into the situation. 
She also did some research and discovered sources that say some food trucks have a negative impact on brick and mortar restaurants. This, she said, “is largely because the cost of operating a food truck is so much lower. They don’t have the maintenance, employees and various other things that storefronts have to pay to operate.”
Another request she made is that the council consider how food trucks would benefit the community.  
“Are these people going to be able to draw people to our downtown businesses?” said Jacobs. “What impact will they have that’s beneficial to Hill City? Just trying to make sure we're covering all our bases.”
Jennifer Schmoll, owner of the Black Hills Bistro, agreed with these concerns and added, “I just want to thank you for letting us be here at the last meeting and voice our concerns.” 
Schmoll hopes that if food trucks will be coming, the council and restaurants can find a way to meet in the middle somehow. 
“If you’re going to do it, we want to maybe help guide you into what the right ordinances might be and how to police it,” Schmoll said. 
Scott Sullinger, co-owner of the 1885 Steakhouse & Saloon, announced that he and Catherine DeSocio are now planning to open a second restaurant this year. 
“I’d like to see if this we can go this year with three new restaurants with the existing ones and see if it takes care of the problem on its own,” said Sullinger. 
Gillaspie said he has also been researching food trucks, and “One thing I found is there really isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison between restaurants and food trucks. There’s different things that brick and mortar restaurants have that food trucks don’t, and the same applies to food trucks back the other direction,” Gillaspie said. “I did talk to some residents about it, and they like having different options whether it’s restaurants or food trucks.”
Householder has also been doing more research on the public opinion of food trucks, and said, “The citizens are overwhelmingly in majority in favor of it.”
He plans to visit with restaurant owners to hear their side of things before the next council meeting. 
Another item on the agenda was the restaurant license of Lemongrass, owned by Chuck Voorhees. 
Finance officer Stacia Tallon reported that the background check was complete, the sales tax license was in place, all fees were paid and renovations are being completed. Aside from a minor input error, everything else was in order. The council unanimously voted to approve the license. 
Granite Sports also petitioned an Approval of Special Event Run for the Rangers. Pat Wiederhold, owner of Granite Sports, said this is the 15th annual Run for the Rangers. 
The 5K will take place in town Sunday, March 26, and all the money raised will go to Hill City High School scholarships. 
Wiederhold requested Elm Street from Main Street to the alley behind Granite Sports be blocked to make it safer. The council unanimously voted to approve the special event application. 
Another special event application on the agenda was the Run Crazy Horse Marathon. Race director Wheeler said this will be the 13th year, and she had no changes from last year. 
Householder said he was approached by several businesses about the finish line and asked if it could be moved a block. 
Wheeler explained that it was a $3,000 process to certify the course, and it could not be changed by October. She also felt that the finish line on Main Street was part of the attraction of the race and added to the atmosphere. 
With no further discussion, the council unanimously voted to approve the special event.
Purchase of Water Treatment & Distribution SCADA Upgrades was also approved by the council. 
The next meeting of the council is March 27.

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