Hill City has new benches downtown

Gray Hughes

With the recently renovated and improved sidewalk on Main Street in Hill City, Brett McMacken, city administrator, said he knew there was the need for more.

Trashcans were put up along Main Street toward the end of summer, but over the past month, new additions have popped up: benches.

“With the reconstruction of the sidewalk, we had discussed benches and trash cans when that was being designed, but we didn’t feel comfortable until we kind of knew what the real look and feel of the sidewalk would be until it was actually completed,” McMacken said. “So the trash cans and benches have always been on the back burner until we could visualize and actually work with the physical space.”

McMacken said roughly 10 benches have been installed on Main Street over the past month.

Price, he said, was something about which the city was conscious. The city obtained private funding from individuals to help purchase the benches. While McMacken couldn’t remember the exact cost of the benches, he believes they cost roughly $400 apiece.

Work needed to be done to ensure the benches that were installed complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations for sidewalk width.

Because the lower sidewalk is as narrow as the ADA permits, McMacken said no benches (or trash cans for that matter) were installed on the lower sidewalk. But on the upper sidewalk, there was more wiggle room, although McMacken said there were still some challenges ensuring there was adequate room.

There were many discussions with the local South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) office, McMacken said, to ensure that whatever the city did was ADA compliant.

“So (the DOT) is essentially saying if you can put a bench so that its a certain distance away from that wall, (the DOT) is going to allow you, essentially, like a foot of space so people can sit from this leading edge of the bench,” McMacken said.

With the way the benches are set up, not only does the upper sidewalk remain ADA complaint, it also encompasses one of the only aspects of the old sidewalk people liked.

The old sidewalk presented people with the opportunity to sit on the upper sidewalk and use it like stadium seating to watch things such as parades or traffic during the Sturgis Rally go by.

With the way the benches are set up with no backs to them, not only can people sit and face the upper level of the sidewalk, people can turn around and, just like with the old sidewalks, watch traffic and parades go by once again.

During the process, which began in the summer with the city’s Beautification Committee and lasted until just a couple of weeks ago, McMacken said he and the committee probably looked at 10 or so different companies.

With not much of a budget to work with, many benches were not considered solely because of the cost.

But the benches the city got should work great, McMacken said. The benches are made from a wood composite that not only is more durable than regular wood but will also not require regular maintenance like staining or painting.

“So, with those private donations and group donations we were able to sort of hit that sweet spot of finding something that should be very durable and long lasting and low maintenance,” McMacken said. “Once you add something there’s always going to be the component of, well, gosh, in the wintertime you are going to have to push snow around it; it’s going to be a little bit of an obstacle. But, you know, it will be nice for people.”

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