How permit rules affect houseless feeding efforts

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Monday-Friday
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 4:59 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Rapid City has become more active in enforcing permit rules at Memorial Park.

Since they only award two permits for events per day, many nonprofits are left wondering how this affects them.

The discussion surrounding event permits began when Rapid City started enforcing permit rules at Memorial Park’s bandshell. Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Biegler says that although the city awards two permits for events on any given day, those aren’t the same permits used for the bandshell and park picnic shelters.

“So we’ve limited those to two per day but we also have the ability to issue special event permits for other venues other than the bike path so it’s not as though only two groups can have special events in a day, those are just for walks and runs along the pathway,” said Biegler.

The Memorial Park band shell is a common venue for nonprofits to set up events like feeding the houseless. This creates issues because the bandshell has a fee to rent that space. The city collaborations manager, Lila Mehlhaff says the city plans to address the issue by building a new location for nonprofit organizations looking to feed the homeless.

“We started working on a centralized food facility that would allow the groups who are very compassionate and very caring about our houseless relatives, it would offer them a place for them to go and use it and it’s completely free,” said Mehlhaff.

Mehlhaff says construction of this facility will be less than a mile away from the band shell and plans for the construction of the new location to be finished this fall. For now, those looking to set up a feeding event will need to pay to rent space like the band shell or organize in an area that does not require a permit.