Open Letter From Mark Carstensen, Mayor City Of Sturgis.

This morning, Mark Carstensen, Mayor Of The City Of Sturgis sent me by email the letter below regarding future plans for the development of his city.

“I write this in the hopes of shedding more light on the intentions of the City of Sturgis and many others who care to produce a viable plan to shift the current path of downtown Sturgis.  For decades discussions have occurred and task forces have been assembled on this highly contentious subject.  It is not that previous attempts have simply failed, nor is it guaranteed that this present attempt will be successful, but it is my opinion that something needs to change in order to foster a more viable future for our downtown.

The giant economic engine that roars every August certainly brings an influx of capital to Sturgis, but where we also need success is the other months of the year and specifically the entire tourism season.  Visitors come to our town during all months of the year, but we are only set up to capitalize on their visits during the peak season. It is not the intention to inhibit any business’s success, but to help make a more equitable situation to help ensure that there is a viable model for success during the Motorcycle Rally and also year round.

Time will continue to deteriorate our historic buildings on Main Street.   It is our duty to embrace the history of our great area but yet still identify the factors that have brought us to this point of lack of development.  Then the factors that have made the Rally so successful must be intertwined with new approaches looking toward the future with year around success in mind.

Change is always difficult and trust has not always had an abundant presence.  Some will be angered that regulations and ordinances will require adjustments on current business models.  The citizens and businesses of Sturgis have shouldered the burden of many costs while others have profited for years.  I do not believe profit is a dirty word, and truly would like to see all those with a viable plan succeed, but this cannot be at the expense of our downtown.

We have one of the world’s most famous Main Streets here in Sturgis, and with some hometown pride and proper planning we can be proud of what so many people come to see!” Mark C. Carstensen Mayor, City of Sturgis  

24 Responses to “Open Letter From Mark Carstensen, Mayor City Of Sturgis.”

  1. 1 highrpm Aug 8th, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    in the midst of the motorcycle rally is not the time to publish a letter about the long term plans of the town. let the locals deal with that, not the visitors. besides, lots of towns have historic main streets and are facing downtown shopping business turnover because of the economics of the times.

    but allow me to offer a suggestion: despite what george mcgovern said about forgetting the past, honor the treaty of 1876. give the black hills back to the native americans. that will change the current dynamics.

  2. 2 Rodent Aug 8th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    This is the second Sturgis Rally I’ve missed in about thirty consecutive years of making the long trek to the middle of nowhere South Dakota.
    When I first attended the rally the towns folks were simple but friendly and accommodating which over the years has turned to a greed and entitlement.
    There are a multitude of reasons the first being the high cost of fuel. Second is the proliferation of gouging in this terrible economic fix that we are in. Income is down and the attitude of the people in Sturgis has changed from “welcome” to “spend you’re money and leave.
    The local supermarket who rents most of their large lot to Harley for their exhibit religiously raises their prices for bike week. There is some consolation in the fact that there is a Super-Walmart about 10 minutes west of Sturgis at the first Spearfish exit. And now you want to make a year round attraction on main st.

  3. 3 Vintage Twin Aug 8th, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    nice shirt, brah’

  4. 4 Highrider Aug 8th, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Spoken like true no mind. He said absolutely nothing.

  5. 5 Oldude Aug 9th, 2012 at 7:39 am

    I don’t go into the City of Sturgis at Rally time anyway. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth! Go to Fayetteville Ar. for a better time at Blues, Bikes and Barbq Rally. Those folks treat you right and are glad to see you.

  6. 6 doc Aug 9th, 2012 at 8:03 am


  7. 7 10377586 Aug 9th, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Does anyone have the foggiest Idea what this guy is talking about?

  8. 8 Lisa Weyer Aug 9th, 2012 at 11:56 am

    What the Sturgis Mayor is saying is that the Sturgis community greatly appreciates the motorcycle industry and the Rally participants. In fact we appreciate it so much, we would like to see the industry here all year long with a presence downtown and potential commerce to our thousands of tourists who stop to visit the famous Main Street. The leaders of Sturgis are attempting to revitalize our downtown area to provide a better atmosphere for our local residents and to our many visitors.

  9. 9 Brian Aug 9th, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    To the Mayor of the town I say. phteet. I’ve been to Sturgis many times over my 30 years of riding. Never to the ‘rally’. I have never been to a much more unwelcoming town. If it weren’t for Custer State park I would bypass his town all together. As someone above said, many small towns are having problems. They do not have the benefit of a ‘rally’. Sturgis should be happy they get 3 days in August to rip off people. YMMV

  10. 10 live2rideaglide Aug 9th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    If the biker community did’nt go there , what would the attraction be? The lure of Sturgis is not the town of Sturgis , it is Sturgis Bike Week itself. Bikers by the thousands flock there because thousands of bikers flock there.

  11. 11 10377586 Aug 9th, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    good point, if it wasn’t for us bikers there wouldn’t be any bikers. Maybe two or three hundred thousand of us should pick a different town next year. ..

  12. 12 Cybersurfingalien Aug 9th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I think live2rideaglide nailed it.

  13. 13 keith Aug 9th, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Has anyone else ever noticed the guys that bItch and whine about the cost of everything always claim they USED to do this rally or other rallies but always say they stopped years ago. Hell one guy even claims he did it for thirty years but never did it during the rally. I say bullshit. Sturgis is fun just like Disney is for kids. News flash. If you want to play you have to pay. That is just life every where. Wonder what these see guys do for a living? Wonder what they charge compared to their competition. I would bet they would all say they earn every dollar. Funny how some people feel their time has value but the people making a living entertaining them or supplying their needs are gouging.

  14. 14 Ax Aug 9th, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    It WAS a strangely opaque letter. I assume he’s talking about the obvious problem; that rally-related businesses have bought much of the downtown, but they’re only there a couple of weeks out of the year! Those of us who only go there during those two weeks have no clue what it’s like the rest of the year, but a business district that’s abandoned for fifty weeks a year obviously would be a problem for those who actually live in Sturgis year-round.

  15. 15 Lonnie Aug 9th, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    It is easy to throw stones at the city of Sturgis when you are behind a computer screen. I have been riding for over 40 years, Started going to Sturgis in 1988, Have owned buildings downtown for 20 years.
    I moved my business there 6 years ago from Texas. We are in the motorcycle industry and a year around permanent business. And do not make our money off the rally. The statement the mayor made has nothing to do with the motorcycle enthusiast that visit the hills every year . He was trying to politely let everyone know that Sturgis as a community is trying to reinvent it self. In doing that , The City,s quality of life and rally will be a better place for all.

  16. 16 1550tc Aug 9th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    It’s still a shit hole town in upperbum f–k SD, look at how progressive Spearfish is and has over the last 15 years !

  17. 17 live2rideaglide Aug 10th, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Over the years it has been the citizens , merchants and ciivc leaders of towns that host rallies that have done the complaining. During rally week we are glad to have you and don’t mind charging you 10 times more for a hot dog or a campsite than before or after. But it seems like there is always that inevitable drone of the cost to host , our over burdened infrastructure and undesirable impact on our economy as a result. I for one appreciate the cities that have rallies but if they choose to be
    a site then along with the multimillion dollar bombshell there will always be fallout. The echo of the legal gavel had hardly quietned before the citizenry and merchants of Myrtle Beach began to bemoan the loss of revenue as they drove the death nail in their rally.

  18. 18 dannyb278 Aug 10th, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    The major problem is that SOOOO much of the money leaves the state when the rally is over, while local buisness shut down during the rally and rent space. While renting the space is a plus, most of the tourist dollars leave the town.

  19. 19 Woody Aug 11th, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    AX pretty much nailed it. Sturgis (the citizens) have every right to run their town as they see fit, and try to mold their city into whatever vision they are comfy with. I think it would be a disservice to compare them to MB because there’s really no parallel. MB has plenty of year round opportunity and feels can do quite well with elderly golfers and without the ralliers it despises. Yeah, Sturgis has seen a nice income boost from property taxes on the last decade’s new building boom, but I respect their ability to do the math and see if they’re spending all/most of it on infrastructure. A huge share of the rally money DOES roll out oftown every year on those big rigs…..

  20. 20 Keith Aug 13th, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I think the people of Sturgis are ready for the rally to move on… It has gotten to big for them to manage.. The police presence at this rally made it less interesting… It was very know fact that Sturgis was all about the money and less about making the bikers feel welcome… Our group got stopped 6 times in 5 days that is a bit much… Windshield to low… Handle Bars checked… 6 miles an hours over Really…

  21. 21 Jeff Aug 14th, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I agree with Woody… AX is on track. The town looks rough around the edges specifically due to the rally. Spearfish has prospered and Sturgis hasn’t. Half of the downtown looks abandoned and boarded up 48 weeks of year, a town can’t survive looking like that. I think the letter is a warning shot to business and folks who own those downtown buildings that boarding them up 48 weeks out of the year… will soon….not be allowed. SD loves that rally tax, so I don’t see the rally going anywhere else anytime soon.

  22. 22 Lonnie Aug 14th, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you Jeff , I could not have said it better.

  23. 23 Woody Aug 14th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Spearfish, Deadwood, Custer, etc. all enjoy additional prosperity during the rally without actually having to “go back to normal” the other 50 weeks of the year, while Sturgis is almost the local county fairgrounds, utilized once a year. I can see where that can be an impediment to the locals. Doesn’t seem to be about them not “wanting” the rally, but looking at how different their town has become so integrated with the rally that it cannot function as a complete entity, only as a “host”. That’s great for us when we visit, but I respect the last word belonging to the “townies” as we ride off.

  24. 24 Scootertrash Aug 15th, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    For me, it was my first year in Sturgis, I rode about 1500 miles to get there. I camped for, five days and never actually made it downtown. Once you have been to one bike rally they are all pretty much the same in my book although the one thing that South Dakota has to offer is the amazing riding! Spearfish Canyon is fantastic!!!!

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Cyril Huze