City: No activity in community center

The pickleball, karate and other activities that fell silent in the multipurpose room of what was to be Custer Community Center will remain that way.
At the Oct. 4 meeting of Custer City Council, the council put down any talk of resuming those activities in the center, saying it is too much of an insurance liability issue after the room was heavily damaged by an arson fire juveniles started in the building six months ago.
Royed Hollick, one of those who used the facility for pickleball, attended the Oct. 4 meeting to follow up on a previous meeting in which the possibility of the pickleball players signing waivers to continue using the room, or even pitching in to help with repairs, was discussed.
Hollick said he hadn’t heard anything since that meeting, and the pickleball players are still willing to help with the work rather than “just sit there and let [the building] rot.”
At the previous meeting having the state fire marshall look at the room to determine whether or not the building was safe to use was discussed, but the marshall had no plans to return to the building after his initial investigation following the fire. The results of that investigation were turned over to the Custer County Sheriff’s Office.
Because those involved in the arson were juveniles, city planning administrator Tim Hartmann said getting ahold of the report is difficult.
Hollick, who spent 21 years in law enforcement, disputed that, saying it’s public record and could simply have the names redacted.
City finance officer Laurie Woodward said the city’s insurance provider said the building is the city’s and it can do what it wants with it, but it would not guarantee it would cover any accident that happened in the damaged room and/or building.
“It’s deemed unsafe,” said Mayor Bob Brown, adding any waiver signed by those who seek to use the building wouldn’t be worth more than the paper they are on. “I don’t see moving forward with that gym, to be straight up honest with you.”
The city continues to investigate what to do with the defunct community center property, which previously was Custer Elementary. After costs came in too high to renovate the building, the city has investigated how to move forward, whether that’s continuing renovation, tearing down part of the building or tearing down the entire facility and starting over with a new community center on the same land. At a previous meeting the council affirmed its desire to have a community center on that property.
In other news from the Oct. 4 meeting, the council:
• Approved a $12,500 contract with Banner Engineering that would see Banner and the city dust off plans for West Dam and get the ball rolling once again on that project.
Per the contact, Banner would update its opinion of construction costs, review updated Federal Emergency Management Agency flows and review permit statuses.
West Dam initially began to leak in 2012 after its outlet structure broke. The dam eventually lost all of its water and has sat in its weed-covered, semi-boggish state ever since, despite several attempts by the city to figure out a way to get it repaired.
Hartmann said there is a potential to partner with the state for funding for the project, and District 30 Rep. Tim Goodwin has offered to try to secure funding, but needs the required information by Dec. 1, in time for next year’s legislative session.
“I’m just glad we’re trying to get this moved ahead, back on and done,” said alderwoman Nina Nielsen.
• Learned during committee report time that the feasibility of a recycling program is once again being discussed. Alder-woman Peg Ryan said a recent meeting with Sander Sanitation officials showed if enough people within city limits are interested, a recycling program could be brought to them.
The program, which operates in other towns such as Hot Springs and Deadwood, would cost those interested $6 to $8 a month, for which glass, steel and aluminum cans and plastic could be recycled via a provided special bin. The collection would be monthly.
To make the program work, around 10-15 percent of city garbage account holders—80-100 households—would need to sign up for it. The possibility will be investigated further, and a survey will likely be done to learn city residents’ interest in such a program.
• Approved spending up to $3,000 for half of the cost of lighting improvement at Custer YMCA. The YMCA would pay the other half, although the cost could be reduced via donated lights. The new lighting could make it 10 times brighter in the log building.
• Received an invitation to the grand opening/ribbon cutting of Custer Bark Park dog park. The event is scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 15.
• Received a letter of resignation from public works director Brian Raber. Raber said, while he would like to stay on with the public works crew, he no longer has time to dedicate to the director position.


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