Input sought on solar lights

Jason Ferguson

A $700,000 project that would see solar lighting placed along the Mickelson Trail within the city limits of Custer is being explored by the Custer Area Economic Development’s Recreation/Wellness team, and the team would like to gauge city residents’ interest in the project.
At the March 6 meeting of the Custer City Council, the council learned from alderwoman Peg Ryan that there is a survey out to gauge people’s interest in the project, and she encouraged residents to fill out the survey, which can be located on the city’s website and the Custer Area Economic Development Corporation’s page. It can also be found at Feedback is sought by March 31.
The recreation and wellness team has researched light fixtures that can withstand local weather conditions, including hail, wind and extreme temperatures with minimal maintenance. Research has found that bollard (ground level) lighting is not practical for durability reasons. The committee has found solar light fixtures on poles that can address the weather issues. These fixtures can be directed downward and include dimming with a timer to minimize light pollution. The lighting would alternate sides with an estimated 150 feet between fixtures making the trails visible without impacting surroundings.
Towns in the Black Hills including Somerset, Spearfish and Rapid City, as well as the Black Hills State University Rapid City Campus, have installed such lights with great results.
The recreation and wellness committee is investigating grants and other means of fundraising to gather the money  needed to install this type of lighting along the three miles of the trails within the city limits.
“The first step is to find out if people want it,” Ryan said.
The council also heard from Jill Schanzenbach of Preserve French Creek, who told the council Preserve French Creek is now an incorporated nonprofit with a stated goal of keeping French Creek clean.
Schanzenbach said she knew the wastewater treatment plant issue was not on the agenda for discussion at the meeting, but wondered about the extra $5.5 million the city will need for the project, and said she hopes it would be used to buy a pump that would be sufficient to pump effluent to Flynn Creek, which is where the effluent from the plant is currently pumped. The city is in the process of moving the discharge from Flynn Creek to French Creek near the Glen Erin Schoolhouse, to which the Preserve French Creek group has stated opposition.
In other news from the quick March 6 meeting, the council:
• Learned from alderwoman Nina Nielsen that the 1881 Courthouse Museum board of directors has offered the position of director of the museum to an applicant.
• Learned from alderwoman Jeannie Fischer that a proposed new food truck ordinance for the city is set to come forward from the city’s General Government Committee. The ordinance proposal will likely be brought to the council at the council’s March 20 meeting.
• Approved the first reading of the city’s revised contractor ordinance. Changes include taking out the phrase “planning administrator” and changing that to city staff while also moving the fees to the city’s fee schedule because they are easier to adjust that way.
• Approved a resolution approving the city’s fee schedule, which is available at city hall.
• Approved its combined election agreement with the Custer School District for the election that will be held June 6.

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