This graphic shows the position of the seasonal, temporary bump outs that are coming to Freeman's Main Street. Carol Eisenbeis, the city's marketing and development coordinator, said the bump outs serve multiple purposes; not only are they designed to provide a crosswork from one side of the street to another and slow traffic, they will also be aestitically pleasing by taking advantage of colors and decorations associated with the fall. The bump outs are scheduled to be installed late Sunday afternoon. The bump outs were approved by the Freeman City Council Monday night, Sept. 30. Here's the reporting by Courier Contributing Editor Tim L. Waltner.
BUMP OUTS TO GO IN THIS WEEKEND
As reported last week, the Freeman City Council has given the go-ahead to create temporary “bump outs” on Main Street. The bump outs will convert two parking places on each side of the street in the 300 block to pedestrian areas connected diagonally by a crosswalk.
They will be located in front of Norm’s Thrifty White Pharmacy and State Farm Insurance and are scheduled to be installed this weekend by volunteers from the Healthy Hometown Committee. This is a community-based group of individuals that has been exploring ways to improve the health of local residents as an outreach of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield this year.
The goal of the grass-roots committee is to promote and facilitate community activities and spaces that encourage residents to eat well, move more, and feel better.
Courtney Unruh, director of nursing at Freeman Regional Health Services, is a member of the committee and spoke to city officials last week to explain the plans for the bump outs.
The bump outs, which will include painting a crosswalk — there are currently none on Main Street — will aid pedestrians by helping slow traffic, beautify the street with seasonal decor and encourage community engagement, Unruh said.
“This is a fun project,” she said. “We want to test this out ... see what it looks like,” she said.
While this project is temporary, if they prove to be popular and successful, it’s possible they could become a permanent fixture in the future.
While city officials were willing to allow the temporary bump outs, some councilors voiced concern about what permanent installations would mean for maintenance — particularly snow removal. There was also concern about restricting visibility for traffic and losing two parking spots on each side of Main Street.
Carol Eisenbeis, Freeman’s community development and marketing coordinator who is also part of the group, said she visited personally with all the businesses in the 300 block. Everyone gave written permission to install the temporary bump outs, she said.
The city voted 5-1 to approve the project, although they said they wanted them removed by Halloween and wanted Police Chief Kirk McCormick to be part of the discussion on how they are set up. Councilor Charles Gering, who voiced concern about parking, voted no.
Other projects the committee is exploring include expanding walking and biking paths, repairing sidewalks, beautification, creating small park areas and planting trees.
In a statement in a booklet prepared as part of the project, Wellmark notes: “Our vision is to continuously improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. Many experts agree where we live is more impactful on our overall health than our own genetics.”
“We created hometown to provide evidence-based (proven) solutions that help ... nudge citizens toward healthy behaviors. Making the healthy choice the easy choice is the best answer to keeping South Dakotans healthy.”