What is really going on with the pool at Spellerberg (ANON guest post)

Argus Leader:  Indoor Pool Issue Is Top Budget Topic

City Councilor Kermit Staggers plans to propose an amendment to next year’s city budget that would ensure an indoor pool is not built at Spellerberg Park.

It was obvious at the work session, Kermit is not going to get this amendment approved.  I doubt he will even receive a second, so it can be discussed by the entire Council.

But Parks and Rec Director, Don Kearney, said the Council is not being asked to approve construction of an indoor aquatic center. Rather, officials are hoping to take the next step by using funds to create preliminary design and schematic drawings to share with the public.

This is misleading.  Why would Parks and Rec be asking for $160,000 for design of an INDOOR pool, if they did not intend to ask for approval of construction in 2014?

Councilor Greg Jamison is working on an amendment to use the remaining aquatic facilities development funds to create a long-term master plan for indoor and outdoor pools. If approved, the plan would go through the land use committee.

This is a good idea and should have been done long ago.  This is the amendment, I believe will be approved by the Council.

Councilors also questioned whether the preliminary design study could work for an alternate site. Kearney said it would determine how an indoor pool would fit on the Spellerberg site and also provide information about operating costs and other amenities.

Sean Ervin, principal with TSP Architecture, said about two-thirds or three-fourths of the preliminary design could be applicable to another site; the rest would be Spellerberg-specific.

Why would the City be willing to spend $40,000-53,000 of the $160,000 specifically to see how an indoor pool would fit on the Spellerberg site if they were NOT still seriously considering that location?

“There have been a lot of questions, perception that we’re building an indoor aquatic center at Spellerberg, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Councilor Dean Karksy said.

This statement clearly demonstrates Councilor Karsky’s lack of understanding of the indoor pool issue.  AND, how he continually panders to both sides on most city issues.  He obviously did not hear Don say at the work session that two public input meetings have been held, and participants gave a 70% approval rating of the Spellerberg site for an indoor pool!

Kearney said preliminary design work for an indoor aquatic center is key to moving forward because people need to see what the facility would look like and how it would fit on the site.

Another one of Don’s misleading statements.  The newly formed, SF Aquatics Association, and representatives from the swim teams met with TSP, the architect, several months ago to view preliminary plans for the indoor pool at Spellerberg.

Don’s entire demeanor at the Council’s work session demonstrated to me, “a desperate attempt to sidetrack any organized effort to stop the indoor pool at Spellerberg.”

They DO NOT want a repeat of the Drake Springs petition drive and public vote.



#1 Alice15 on 09.04.12 at 10:57 am

I have no idea how Karsky can actually make even a remote decision on this facility in his OWN DISTRICT when he hasn’t attended one public input meeting. Seriously? One of the single biggest investments in your district and you cannot attend even one of the public input meetings. WTH? What a disppointment.

#2 Alice15 on 09.04.12 at 11:02 am

If the same people organize a petition drive for this facility that did for Drake Springs – they are going to have an uphill battle. I know for a fact there are many, many people that are for this facility and secondly, if you ask the general public about Drake Spings, it has been a disppointment. You took a huge piece of land and built a facility that is open 10 weeks (maybe) out of the year, not nearly big enough, and have destroyed any other use for that land which now sits empty. It physically makes me sick everytime I drive by it, especially in the other 42+ weeks of the year.

#3 Detroit Lewis on 09.04.12 at 11:46 am

“if you ask the general public about Drake Spings, it has been a disppointment.”

Yet the outdoor pool was approved by voters. See, I could understand your sentiment if the vote would have failed, but the voters said NO to a public indoor pool TWICE. The ‘general public’ obviously is not the ‘voting public’ in your mind. If you have a problem with the way things are, register to vote, and vote.

#4 Alice15 on 09.04.12 at 1:45 pm

I never miss a vote. I am one of those that registered to vote ON my 18th birthday. A good upbringing with an instilled value of our right to vote. One of the best gifts my parents gave me.

Anywho – C’mon DL – people vote for things all of the time and the outcome is not what they expected. I guarantee that is the case for quite a few with Drake Springs. I took my kids once and we have never been back. I watched them stand in line and lay on their back on the “lazy river” more than I did anything else AND better yet – they didn’t ask once this summer to visit that pool.

I voted in both of those elections, yet remained silent while the dogs with the “bigger barks” took over. I won’t remain silent on this one. I vote for this project, I vote for enhancements and economic opportunities for the central area of our city, and I vote for my kids and their opportunities for overall health and recreation. Hence we haven’t been back to Drake Springs.

#5 cr on 09.04.12 at 2:23 pm


Rest assured, IF there is a petition drive, it will be initiated and run by SF residents who live in the neighborhoods surrounding Spellerberg Park.

In fact, they may be some of your neighbors…….

And BTW, it always puzzles me when I hear comments like yours regarding the Drake Springs Pool…….

Drake Springs has recorded the highest attendance numbers in the City every year since it opened……how do you explain that??!!

The petition drive and public vote regarding Drake Springs took place in 2006-2207, five years ago, don’t you think it’s about time to let go and move on………..

#6 Alice15 on 09.04.12 at 3:57 pm

Thanks for the info cr – but look at the land that remains unused at Drake Springs and now lacks any sort of volume to be used – whether it is 10 weeks or what would have been 52 weeks. Very frustrating and I would think it would be as such to those of you that constantly are on board to nit pick every ounce of land utilized or dollar spent. In hindsight – now is the plan set forth in front of us which will be a good use of land. SO as you can see – it is not about “letting go” as you would say regarding Drake Springs – it is about learning from past decisions and moving forward. This project is about future generations in the central part of our city. Not those that have lived in this area for 40 years and may not see 10 more.

And if 70% of people attending the public input sessions were in favor of this project as stated above – wouldn’t that be a sign to many of you that this is an overwhelming positive project to many and maybe some of those opponents (possibly including you) should “let it go and move on?”

#7 Dan Daily on 09.04.12 at 3:57 pm

Why not combine snowgates and pool petitions. Have signing parties at local bars. If 2 more petitions are added (raise substitute teacher salaries and halt construction of the events center pending outside audit) I’ll buy each signer a cocktail and give them a handout explaining why city government is not democracy and how they can ignore all civil city ordinances. Maybe free breakfast at ‘Whisk and Chop’?

#8 Dan Daily on 09.04.12 at 4:00 pm

Democracy is not free but can be had for the price of a shot.

#9 Scott on 09.04.12 at 4:48 pm

I guess every ball diamond in the city should be bulldozed over since they’re also only used for “10 weeks (maybe) out of the year”.

#10 Joan on 09.04.12 at 7:30 pm

Scott, I agree with you reasoning. I honestly don’t think it is completely right for the city to build something that will take business away from the private pools. Also with an indoor pool, being we hear a lot about the Snow Fox, and swim meets, etc. you can bet your bottom dollar that scholar ships won’t be given out for low income people to use the indoor pool. That might infringe on Snow Fox practice sessions, and swim meets. If the indoor pool is a necessity why not combine with the city schools and build it at one of the high schools. As far as that goes if people are going to pay to swim in an indoor pool why not go to one of the health clubs and have access to other things too.

#11 cr on 09.04.12 at 8:56 pm

There are Master Plans for all parks including Nelson Park. The Nelson Park Master Plan has rec’d no additional attention since 2008 when the pool was built.

ALice15, a better question might be, why are we considering spending over 20 million tax dollars on an indoor pool when we have unfinished parks and neighborhoods that have waited up to 12 years for their park to be developed. (Examples: Nelson Park/unfinished, Granite Valley Park/on the waiting list since 2000.

It is difficult, at this time, to accurately evaluate how strong the support is for indoor pool given the fact they have not released the final cost, and they have been very “quiet” about the fact we will need to bond for this project.

#12 Detroit Lewis on 09.04.12 at 9:40 pm

Nelson Park was punished for making supposed ‘city leaders’ look like fools and they broke out the sour grapes and made the park and pool look the way it does. It had nothing to do with the voters that approved the outdoor pool or the petition gatherers. Enough of that bullshit already. If you are disgusted by how Nelson park looks, call city hall and tell them to finish the project they promised to do if voters approved an outdoor pool and stop blaming the voters.

#13 CitizenX on 09.06.12 at 9:52 am

The push for building an indoor pool has been a hot topic for several years. When the consideration for building an indoor pool at Nelson park was debated, I was strongly against the location. Having lived in the area, I can attest that the higher fees for the indoor structure would have limited the access for children in the immediate area.
Indoor pools are more expensive to build and maintain, and have nearly half of the life span that the traditional outdoor pool facilities. The city has developed a bad record of deceiving the public on actual costs to the public for major projects including the Washington Pavilion, Coliseum, Orpheum Theatre, Falls Park, and the new Events Center. During the community meetings to build at the Drake Springs location, the city councilors were not truthful on the city budget health for funding the Lewis and Clark pipeline and water treatment plant. As a community we need to be careful to vet out the truth regarding the real costs to the tax payers, the actual benefit to the public, and determine if we are satisfying the “wants” of the local swim team. An indoor pool definitely would be a nice option, but be diligent when considering the costs and benefits against the outdoor pool.

#14 cr on 09.06.12 at 3:51 pm

At the first public input meeting, both the Mayor and the Director of Parks and Rec, told citizens they could NOT provide an estimate of the cost of an indoor pool BECAUSE no design work had been done.

When, in fact, I was told by the leadership of the newly-formed Sioux Falls Aquatics Association that they and representatives of the swim teams had viewed plans drawn up by TSP Architects, for an 8 lane/50 meter Olympic size pool that would also accomodate collegiate diving competitions. Also included were a separate leisure pool and a spray pad.

So, who’s telling the truth here……

I happen to believe what the SF Aquatics Association told me!

There are TWO reasons Mike Huether and Don Kearney do NOT want to talk about the capital costs:

1) They do NOT want to reveal that the indoor pool is going to cost taxpayers over 20 million dollars. This was confirmed to me by more than one City Councilor.

2) They do NOT want to talk about the fact that taxpayers will have to bond for this project.

When they decide to finally reveal to taxpayers both the capital and operating costs, and the fact we will be bonding to make this happen, I think support for the indoor pool will drop dramatically.

And, BTW, where have all these “special interest” groups been the past FIVE YEARS (Drake Springs Vote 2007). They have only NOW just begun fundraising in the past several months.

Leaders of the SF Aquatics Association spoke at Tuesday night’s Council meeting. One of them posed the question: Why are they being asked to raise private dollars when Yankton Trails and Harmodon Park were provided with no private dollars involved?

So, in other words, as taxpayers, we should feel obligated to provide PRIVATE swim teams with a publicly funded indoor pool??!!!!

#15 Lex on 09.09.12 at 8:49 am

Spellburg park is my neighborhood pool, and I agree that it sucks to visit in its current state. I have an infant and there is not much for her to do or any kind of structure that provides some shade for her while swimming. This summer I drove to Madison, SD to take her swimming. My mother lives there so I have a little more reason than some, but I go there becuase of the considerations that they made when building that pool. There are areas in the water whith umbrellas to provide shade for babies, and there are many activities for older swimmers to do. The best part of it though is that it is outside!! I would hate for my neighborhood pool to be the one that is indoors on a 95 degree day or packed with lap swimmers and private swim teams in the winter. I’m not a fan of this at all. I think it’s a poor use of tax dollars and not fair to the people in the neighborhood who would like to see an improvement to the outdoor water park.

#16 Lex on 09.09.12 at 8:51 am

Spellerberg Park…sorry. My bad.

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