City commission hears ideas for closing parts of the skywalk
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
The Skywalk Board and Effective Public Policy Committee met in joint session again. Mayor Mike Hobart and Councilman Keith Radig were also on hand. It was Radig who, months ago, proposed a key-card system for the skyways,which could, in effect, cut off access to the general public. Wednesday, he gave more details about the plan.
"I think this would be a good alternative to shutting it down, or keeping costs where they're at and doing nothing," said Radig.
Keeping some areas completely open, such as access to Mercy Medical Center and the Orpheum Theater, while locking the rest, providing access to users by key card only, Radig thinks his idea cuts costs, but some say the system should stay open to everyone.
"It's not there for the businesses, it's there for the public," explained board member Paul Gorski.
City officials say the skywalks were built in the 70's as a way to compete with indoor malls. However, with most retail leaving the downtown area, the businesses left are struggling with whether they're worth the thousands paid every month to maintain them.
The businesses and public entities that share the skywalk paid more than 27-thousand dollars in fees in the month of June alone. More than forty-percent went to pay for outside security. Administrative fees make up 18-percent of the monthly cost. That's followed by maintenance, utilities, and a cleaning contract.
"It is good for downtown. They feel it is a positive thing. But, they don't feel they're getting their bang for their buck," said Downtown Partners Executive Director Ragen Cote, who surveyed businesses.
"Zero Benefit. My preference is, shut it down," added Jeff Lyle, the Manager of Hom Furniture, which sits along the skywalk system.
City officials say the skywalk was a draw to Delta airlines for their call center, but one business won't be enough to keep the system going.
"If it's going to stay open to the general public, shift 50% of the burden to the general public," stated Downtown Partners Vice-Chair Chris Bongenrief.
There wasplenty of discussion and many different ideas on the table, but no decision. The goal is to get to a policy that the city council can vote on in the next few months.