Her is a column I wrote about it a couple of months ago for a local alt-magazine:
Build the Road & preserve the land
By Scott Ehrisman
When I hear Sioux Falls’ politicians boast about how much vision they have, it usually gets me to bust a gut, then I cry. So far last year their â€˜VISION’ has consisted of blowing up a feed mill so a rich insurance man could build a high rise, blowing taxpayer money on a plot of land downtown that isn’t worth squat for a parking lot and allowing wealthy developers to build condos on the 3 million dollar street to nowhere. Kind of sounds like the deaf leading the blind.
Gary Hanson wasn’t exactly a visionary either, but he wanted to pursue an east/west route through the middle of the city, unfortunately this failed for several reasons:
– He brought it up late in his last term
– The Minnehaha country club protested
– The city didn’t put it to public vote
– His plan lacked creativity
Lets talk about the creative factor. Sure Hanson’s idea has merit, we do need a east/west route, I would think
would be the best option. He offered the city’s Prairie Green golf course to the Minnehaha Country Club in exchange for the land, but where
One of the biggest arguments Minnehaha Country Club had was that the land was a Audubon reserve that should be preserved. I couldn’t agree more. It is some of the most beautiful green space in the entire city, and if you have the money, you can see it. I think my approach would shoot holes in their argument and help the city get federal and state funding for the project.
Build a state park in the middle of
After building the road, develop the rest of the course into campgrounds, hiking and mountain bike trails, and during the winter, cross-country ski trails. Why destroy this beautiful green space, not to mention it will bring tourists into our city that want to stay in an RV or tent instead of a hotel. Fees would be charged only to campsite rental, so visitors could enjoy it for free. Not only would the street alleviate traffic, we would have a awesome central park.
On the first attempt, I would do what Hanson suggested; offer Minnehaha Country Club Prairie Green, land differential value and moving fees. If they refuse the offer, emminent domain could be used. I’m not a big fan of ED, but I think in this case it could be a great bargaining tool. I think the first offer is fair, and MCC would be foolish not to accept it for many reasons; they would get more capital then with ED. Not to mention the embarrassment of being booted off their land. By law if the city used ED they don’t have to give MCC anything accept market value of the land and structures, that could be very little.
I think something else that could make the process fair is to put it to the vote of the people. Present to the voters how the city plans to obtain the land, the funding and the cost and let the voters decide. Personally I think that only about 10-15% of the public would have any sympathy for a handful of wealthy golfers. MCC could also fight it in court, but if a majority of the voters back the plan and ED as an option, I think they would realize they wouldn’t stand much of a chance of winning in court. Besides, it isn’t like we would be stealing the land to give to a couple of wealthy developers, we would be building a much needed street and one of the most beautiful state parks on the east side of the state. It sounds attractive, because it is.
Of course, a lot of things need to change in city hall, first we need a council and mayor willing to look at the needs of our community, and REAL quality of life issues, like good roads and free parks and recreation. Too often they want to use their time and our money on projects that only benefit a few. I couldn’t tell you one person who wouldn’t use that road or that park. It’s too bad we can’t use ED to get rid of our leaders and replace them with common sense thinkers.