In the larger scheme of things, the city council’s decision to establish a right-of-way-of at Social Security Bar may not seem like a big deal. However, the Brookings City Council’s action, and the public hearing leading up to it, is a good example of how local government is supposed to work.
While researching a different issue about the bar – that of occasional criminal activity – the city learned of the possibility, however unlikely, that public access to the area could be lost or limited should ownership of the 1.6-acre property change.
City Manager Gary Milliman and his staff took the initiative, did research and proposed several options to the council and the public. We didn’t think highly of the proposals to allow vendors or to develop the acreage as a park, nor those to simply give the property to the state or sell it to a private party or nonprofit organization.
The city council and citizens at the meeting didn’t like those ideas, either. Instead, the council agreed to establish a public right-of-way, making it more likely that the public will always have access to the popular recreation spot.
The council also voted to improve signage at the site to bring more attention to the seasonal ban on overnight camping and fires.
The decisions are well and good, but a larger sign won’t address the overriding issue of criminal activity at the river. But that is another topic for another public meeting – one for which we believe the city, with the public’s help, will also find an acceptable solution.