By Rhea Landholm, Destination Rapid City office coordinator
Destination Rapid City President and CEO Dan Senftner has said more than a few times, if you canít have fun, why come to work?
Thatís exactly what the staff at Destination Rapid City does, while supporting Downtown Rapid City.
The nonprofit organization raised private and civic funds to build Main Street Square, and, beginning in 2014, will privately fund maintenance and operations. The public area provides a gathering place and events are hosted for residents and visitors. In May 2012, a permanent Visitor Information Center and Skate Shack was constructed next to Main Street Square. Year round, brochures and other materials are available 24 hours a day on the east side of the structure.
Currently, construction of the Memorial Park Promenade is underway and is scheduled to be completed in fall 2013. The promenade provides a safe walkway for those going between the Civic Center and Downtown, and allows the two areas to be visually connected.
Destination Rapid City staff has worked with the state Department of Transportation to revise the Omaha and Sixth Street Crossing so that pedestrians can safely walk across all lanes, and so a large number of pedestrians can cross the street at the same time.
The state Department of Transportation has included downtown on the I-90 signage leading people to Rapid Cityís core, and 32 wayfinding signs noting attractions and other items of interest will be installed throughout downtown by May.
The organization runs the downtown light pole banner program, working with other organizations to install the banners.
The established Clean Team monitors trash in the downtown area, picks up recycling, and hauls away large items that have been dropped off in the public right-of-way, and they make sure the sidewalks and alleyways are clear of trash and graffiti. Destination Rapid City has purchased 80 trash and recycling receptacles in 2012 for the downtown area.
Last year, cement planters were removed from sidewalks and replaced with modern planters. The Clean Team helps plant seasonal flowers in those and hanging planters, and helps water and weed flowers and other plants throughout downtown.
The Clean Team, also known as Downtown Ambassadors, assist tourists by answering questions and directing them to their destination. Visitors may also obtain information by checking out nine information kiosks throughout Downtown, maintained by Destination Rapid City.
Destination Rapid City has installed several bike racks and cigarette disposal containers throughout downtown. The Clean Team also helps in maintaining the fountain on the corner of Seventh and Main streets.
Another project that Destination Rapid City does is maintain the parking ramp next to Main Street Square, by installing signs, painting, removing graffiti and installing stair treads.
The organization partners with the South Dakota Office of Tourism and the Rapid City Convention and Visitorís Bureau in marketing efforts to draw more tourists, maintains billboards and a downtown website, and develops downtown brochures, rack cards and maps.
The group has worked with the City of Rapid City in the last few years to share in the cost of the annual firework display.
Destination Rapid City shares staff with the Rapid City Downtown Association working together in their joint mission of promoting downtown Rapid City.
Another partnership between the organization and the arts community is rapidly growing. The Rapid City Arts Council at the Dahl assisted Destination Rapid City in its search for a sculptor at Main Street Square, and an Artist in Schools program is being developed. The chosen sculptor, Masayuki Nagase, will finish the granite sculpture project at Main Street Square in three to five years, in the largest privately-funded commission in the country.
Finally: we are proud of the co-operation and results that have been acheived by our combined efforts.