Parking in downtown Rapid City has long been an issue. Both employees and customers need somewhere to park. In 2014, Destination Rapid City offered matching funds if the city would build additional parking. After consideration, a proposal was made that would refurbish and extend the existing parking lot in West Memorial Park, replacing the tennis courts.
Destination Rapid City's original offer came in November 2013. They offered the city up to $2 million in matching funds for construction of a parking lot or ramp in the downtown area (defined between Fourth and Ninth Streets, and Omaha and Quincy Streets). The city was interested, but it also had a commitment to the President's Plaza project. Early 2014, a deal was worked out where Rapid City would use the Destination Rapid City funds along with other money to provide a $5 million infusion for President's Plaza. This would help get the project started and in return, President's Plaza would build a larger parking area.
The deal eventually fell apart, with President's Plaza withdrawing from the new agreement, citing interference by the mayor.
While the $2 million offer was being considered, Destination Rapid City made a second proposal for $500,000 in matching funds. Similar to the first, Destination Rapid City wanted more free parking, servicing the downtown area. City staff's recommendation involved repairing and expanding the parking lot in West Memorial Park, converting parkland in the greenway. The Friends of the Rapid City Parks opposed this. They saw it as unnecessary encroachment on the parkland without a parking study or exploration of further options. The proposal died at the January 28th Public Works meeting.
The proposal returned at the April 15th Public Works committee meeting, with Destination Rapid City asking the council to reconsider. At the Public Works meeting, supporters and opponents were both represented. The matter moved to the April 21st City Council meeting, where Friends of the Rapid City Parks again spoke in opposition, even citing potential legal issues in using parkland. The matter would have been discussed again in May, but Destination Rapid City decided to withdraw their offer.
Using and expanding the West Memorial Park lot came back again at the July 15th Public Works meeting, as part of a larger Stormwater Mitigation project. Funding for the project included $500,000 from Destination Rapid City, with grants expected to cover remaining costs. The Friends of the Rapid City Parks again opposed the project, but it was approved by both the Public Works Committee and the City Council (on July 21st).
Advantage & Disadvantages
Adequate downtown parking has long been a concern. The expansion of the lot would create parking near to downtown. The tennis courts are underused so the additional parking may be a better use for the space.
Friends of the Rapid City Parks have been the loudest voice of opposition. Their site provides many posts against the project, including a promise to return the tennis courts to greenway and five points against expanding the parking lot. There are frequent reminders that the greenway was established in the aftermath of the 1972 Flood; area in danger of flooding was made unavailable for building. Although Rapid City has not experienced a disaster on the same level of the 1972 Flood, it has experienced flooding, most recently on August 7th.
Parking resource page
Parks in archive
Parking in archive