When function meets beauty


After a “few” years of life, I have come to the conclusion that I lean somewhat toward being a functional person, perhaps stemming from the lean years of our early marriage. I like clothes that are reasonably priced and comfy, things in the house that serve a function and books that are about real people. That being said, I don’t ignore aesthetics. We have many prints of local artists in our home, and I love the fact that we live in a charming town surrounded by abundant natural beauty.

Therein lies the rub our community seems to be feeling when it comes to the new steel building that has been approved. The P&Z and the city council have approved the building because technically it appears the owner has met the requirements of the code, although some questions remain. Other community members worry about the bookends to the town being two steel buildings, not really fitting with the quaintness of art galleries, boutiques, antique shops and restaurants. I can see both sides.

The P&Z and the council are in a tough position, looking at the code and trying to determine if there is any reason this man can’t put up his building. They are bound to follow the code and it brings in revenue for the city. On the other hand, those who own quaint little businesses also bring in revenue, and their livelihood in part is dependent on the ambiance people feel when they come to Hill City. Visitors who come tell their friends, and the grapevine brings in more people.

Peggy Detmer brought up a point at the council meeting that resonated with me. I recently drove through Custer, and impressed by the newly renovated buildings and businesses, I thought to myself, “They are progressing and beautifying the town.” Furthermore, it makes me think, “Residents and business owners take pride in the Custer community.”

I think that is true here as well, but we can do better. I have heard that the real turn-around in Hill City began with Mayor Dru Vitter many years ago, who sought out economic development dollars to help small businesses get going. It has blossomed as more unique places have made their home in Hill City. The chamber and merchants in the community work hard to market our town and keep people coming back, but we as residents can do better in supporting them. I know I can. One year I did all my Christmas shopping in Hill City and it was fun. That is not always possible, especially for people who lean towards functionality, but when it comes to buying a gift, why not think Hill City first?

Then there is the aspect of when businesses change hands, I would hope the powers that be, whether in business or government, don’t foster, because of money, a line of shops that are all the same, so the visitor knows no difference going in and out from one shop to another. There again, our support of the unique can make a difference.

However, you may feel about the steel building coming in, I thought the discussion of what we want Hill City to be was valuable. Some were on the losing side of that decision, but life goes on.

I’m grateful for those who serve in city positions and have to make tough decisions. We need to encourage them, tell them our ideas that will balance function and beauty, and move Hill City to the next level in being a warm, inviting and aesthetically beautiful place.

Just an afterthought – new restrooms might be just the thing to bring together function and beauty!