Flandreau city leaders will decide on June 1 whether to continue precautions that are in place for local businesses during the threat of COVID-19.
Some types of businesses have been restricted since April 1, and although some relaxations of the city ordinance have been made, restaurants and bars still are operating under limited customer numbers. The city council meets in its regular meeting through an online link on June 1. Residents can participate by going to the city website.
Conditions have not changed significantly at this point, said Alderman Jason Unger.
“I think we should continue to hold that ordinance in place,” he said. It’s a moderate tool to help maintain the health of the community, he said.
Council members can reach out to businesses before the next meeting to see what they think and can watch the number of cases in the community, should they spike, Unger said.
Gov. Kristi Noem has said that cities and counties will get a share in the $1.2 billion coming to South Dakota from the federal government. The money can be used on expenses incurred because of COVID-19.
Flandreau has purchased hand sanitizers and masks and will have additional expenses with its summer recreation program, to keep participants safe, said Jeff Pederson, city administrator. But the expenses because of the virus haven’t been large, he said.
The Flandreau airport also will receive $20,000 for operational expenses through the CARES Act, he said.
In other business,
The bridge, built in 1935, has been closed for seven years to vehicle and pedestrian travel because it is unsafe. When it was operational, it was a link between the Flandreau Indian School and downtown.
Pieper said the city should wait until it knows what the community wants and there is a comprehensive plan for that area of the river, including the dam and potential bike trails.
“I know as mayor, you’re not in favor of rebuilding the bridge,” she told Mayor Mark Bonrud.
Pederson is proposing a pedestrian bridge, and the council is interested in saving a buck, she said. “The only thing I don’t know is what the people of Flandreau want.”
Pieper has been an advocate of the bridge for years and applied for an ArtPlace America national grant for $500,000 in 2017, although the city didn’t receive it. Pieper was told by the grant organization that Flandreau lost the grant because of institutional racism.
It’s important for the city to keep the link to the Flandreau Indian School from the center of town, she said. “The bridge is not about money. It’s about relationships.”
Mayor Bonrud said unfortunately, that’s not the case. “The thing is, it is about money,” he said.
The cost to replace the bridge for vehicle traffic is $3.15 million, while the cost to renovate is $1.99 million. Demolition would cost between $100,000-$350,000, estimates show. A steel recreation bridge to replace the existing bridge is projected to cost $250,000.
The city doesn’t have the money it will take to restore it, and the bridge is ineligible for state grant money for improvements because restoring it would cost more than 60 percent of replacing it, he said.
“To most of the taxpayers we represent, it is a lot of money,” Bonrud said. “I think we’ve waited long enough.”
The issue will be on the June 1 city meeting agenda, Pederson said. The grant is due in July.
“I built in a plan that allows for a lot of flexibility,” said Josh Edlund, program director. Because things change daily, the city won’t collect the program fees until the day they start so that they won’t have to worry about refunds if something is canceled.
No equipment will be shared, Edlund said. With sports, such as soccer and volleyball, youth participants will either bring their own balls or use ones that are provide and cleaned before and after the activities. Groups will be smaller, and participants will work on individual skills rather than play games.
With art camp, for examples, any of the products a child uses will go home with them. All of. The camps, except art amp and computer camp, will be held outside. Basketball will be held online.
“I think this is the safest way we can do this,” he said.
Participants will be able to choose a new camp this year, called Mad Scientist STEM camp. The Missoula Children’s Theatre has scheduled a week-long camp with a production. Tryouts are Aug. 3, and camp is the week of Aug. 5-10 with performances at 7 p.m. on Aug. 7 and 8 at the Crystal Theatre.