Evans Plunge, City Library set to reopen by June 15
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – All restrictions in Ordinance 1212 related to the COVD-19 public health crisis within the city limits of Hot Springs have now been lifted, following the unanimous passage of Resolution 2020-17 by the Hot Springs City Council at their regular meeting on Monday, June 1.
This is the second time the city council had amended the ordinance since it was unanimously passed on April 6 and took effect on April 9 to help slow the spread of coronavirus by limiting how some businesses operated. The first time it was amended was April 27 when restrictions were loosened to allow on-site consumption of food or beverage provided social-distancing guidelines were still met.
While the restrictions have been lifted, the ordinance itself remains in place.
Councilman Bill Lukens explained why the decision was made to extend the ordinance but eliminate the restrictions tied to the ordinance that define how many people can gather in an given area.
“We wanted to extend Ordinance 1212 in case circumstances change so we can enact appropriate measures in a single regular or special meeting with a new Resolution,” he said.
The resolution passed on June 1 extends Ordinance 1212 until August 31, 2020.
“This date was chosen because it still makes the ordinance a temporary measure but it encompasses the majority of the summer tourist season, the potential Sturgis Rally, potential travel by our own Hot Springs and Fall River County residents; all of which could result in new local cases of COVID-19 and potential community spread that may require new mandatory action by the Council,” Lukens added.
Furthermore, Lukens stated that the resolution supports, by reference, the Governor’s “Back to Normal” plan that allows various organization to take individual steps guided by proven practices and guidelines to work their way back to normal operations, as they are able.
“Nothing in this Resolution suggests individuals, businesses or organizations should stop practicing the measures suggested by the CDC and referenced and listed on the covid.sd.gov website,” he also said.
Also related to COVID-19, the city council discussed and then approved several personnel actions related to furloughs which also paves the way for all city facilities to reopen beginning June 15. This includes City Hall, the Public Library and Evans Plunge.
Councilperson Alison Ritterbush, who chairs the Evans Plunge Advisory Committee, summarized the Plunge’s action plan to reopen in a couple of weeks which includes a number of scheduling adjustments and protocols to comply with CDC guidelines for health safety.
Among the things mentioned by Ritterbush included the fact they have identified that 125 people can safely be inside the Plunge and still meet recommended guidelines. They will be open seven days per week with daily scheduled hour-long breaks for cleaning. Both the indoor and outdoor pools will be open, but the hot tubs will be closed. There will also be set limits on the amount of people inside the fitness areas and how long they can be in those areas.
A full breakdown of the Evans Plunge reopening plans will be made available online in the near future, Ritterbush said. She also made note that several Summer Rec activities will also likely be starting the week of June 15, with registrations opening as soon as next week.
During some of the other various committee reports, it was stated how other groups have come before the city and presented plans to reopen and/or hold events, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hot Springs which plans to reopen by June 8, and the annual Father’s Day Golf Tournament which is still set to take place at Southern Hills Golf Course June 20-21. It was also mentioned in Bob Nelson’s Public Works report that work on Jennings Avenue bridge is slated to begin in mid-July.
In Misty Summer’s Finance Report, she stated that the overall sales tax revenue for the city has surprisingly seen an increase, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. While many areas are severely down, including businesses associated with the travel industry, the overall picture is positive due to increases in areas like hardware and construction.
During “New Business,” the council also unanimously passed a pair of agenda items related to furthering along the plan to build a suspended sidewalk along North River Street, in conjunction with the state’s plans to reconstruct Hwy. 385 through town beginning next year. The first agenda item authorized Mayor George Kotti to sign the SD DOT Joint Powers Agreement #2, while the second agenda item approved the Riverfront Walkway Design Services Proposal and Contract from ISG for the design of, up to a 2,100 linear-foot, suspended walkway. The estimated cost of design engineering is $408,000 which will be paid for the SD DOT as part of the agreement for the city to take over maintenance responsibilities of Hwy. 18 (University Avenue).