After years of being discussed, the Hill City sidewalk project officially began Tuesday.
The project had its official “cone placing” rather than a ribbon cutting Aug. 30 at the Bumpin’ Buffalo, where Brett McMacken, city administrator for Hill City, Farmers Daughter owner Lorena Freis, representing the business community, Hill City mayor Kathy Skorzewski, Eileen Ham represnting the Business Improvement District board and Keith Winters of the SD Dept. of Transportation placed the official cones, signifying the start of the project.
“You are going to see a much different landscape in downtown Hill City in the coming weeks,” McMacken said. “It is a long time coming, and we are going to get it done.”
The first step of the project will be to create a bumpout and crosswalk where the Jon Crane Gallery and Mangy Moose are.
During the time when that portion of the project is being worked on, traffic will be diverted. The parking spots in front of those businesses will be gone. Traffic heading north will be divereted into the southbound lane while traffic heading south will be diverted into the parking spaces that are on the southbound portion of the street, taking parking away from those businesses, as well.
Two bids for the project were submitted. The lowest bid was submitted by Complete Concrete of Rapid City, a bid of $665,587.25.
The low bid needed to be approved by both the state and the Hill City Common Council. That bid is $127,118.35 — or 23.6 percent — above the state’s engineer estimate of $538,468.90.
The common council approved the number at its April 23 meeting.
During the ceremony, Skorzewski climbed up the sidewalk for what she hoped was the last time and addressed the crowd.
She said while the project will “be a headache” for businesses, it is getting done.
“I wish some folks were here because I liken this project to Crazy Horse,” she said. “Well, unlike that, we are getting it done. The crew is going to work their best to get most of it done this year as Mother Nature is nice to us.”
This project is a long time coming, she said, and, sometimes, people need to wait for good things.
But Skorzewski said this project has the possibility of kickstarting Hill City.
“I see this as the city turning that corner,” she said. “This is how we start to control our growth, how we move Hill City, how we get to that next level but still remember what makes Hill City what it is. It is the community that we have here today…-it’s here. I am not going to tell everybody that it’s going to be perfect. There are going to be struggles, but I can tell you, next year at this time, we’ll be using a crosswalk to cross over to the other side of the street.”
This project, too, she said, will make the city safe. No longer will it have to worry about people falling off the sidewalk.
It is going to be done and done right, she concluded, and this is going to be the prelude for a lot more things to come for the city.
Freis, representing merchants in town, said she felt like she needed pompoms after listening to Skorzewski’s address.
“We are excited about the sidewalk,” she said. “Businesses are excited about the sidewalk. Let’s get it done.”