A therapy pool at Spellerberg? Doubtful.

One of the many things the Indoorers are pushing for is a therapy pool if an indoor pool is built at Spellerberg for the Vets;

At Tues evening’s May 14th city council meeting, during the public comment section, there was an organized effort by indoor pool supporters to cheer-lead the issue of placement of an indoor aquatic complex in Spellerberg Park.  It is to be noted that none of those speakers addressed the LACK OF CLEAR TITLE regarding the land called Spellerberg Park.

One talking point made by Mr Sommervold is the inclusion of a therapy pool for veterans.  Who is promising this?  ACCORDING TO THE POWER POINT HANDED OUT AT THE CITY COUNCIL’S INFORMATIONAL MEETING, THERE IS NO THERAPY POOL INCLUDED IN THE NEW AQUATIC POOL PLAN from Counsilman-Hunsaker.    The power point says they are recommending option 5 (large indoor) defined as: Indoor 50 meter by 25 yard competition pool with springboard diving and separate 3750 sq ft indoor leisure pool with current channel and waterslide.

This apparently means the plan would have to be changed before the council could vote on acceptance/rejection, or someone is making empty promises to veterans.  Furthermore, adding a therapy pool  for veterans to option 5 will significantly increase cost above the $18M plus being suggested right now.  Incidentally, this money will need to be borrowed and added to our present city debt of $398,868,664 as of December 31, 2012.

While I think this is a great idea and a nice gesture, we have to wonder if this is just a false campaign promise;

We attended the 4pm council meeting May 14th and I picked up a copy of the power point used to present the aquatic plan to the council.  Option 5 below is copied from the power point. There is no therapy pool in the plan. From a bit of researching others have done, the water needs to kept much warmer (10 degrees or more) than for regular pools.  Also, I have been told, there are other physical differences between a therapy pool and a regular leisure pool.  Additionally there is the issue of employing therapists.  A therapy pool would significantly increase the current estimated cost of the Counsilman-Hunsaker plan!

The issue is that a therapy pool is not in the plan before the city council, but it is being dangled out there as probability or even possibly a “done deal”, and you voters/veterans will need to support the current plan to help us get this accomplished.  The second part of the issue is who is the source of this talk or proposal?

So who is floating this idea? The mayor? Or the Indoorers? Either way, doesn’t matter because it is NOT in the current Indoor pool plan. I hope once the indoor pool fails at Spellerberg, the city finally awakens from their deep sleep and either builds a pool at one of the HS’s or at the Sanford Sports Complex. It is no secret who will be using a public indoor pool, people who competitively swim, so put it where it would get the best use. Duh.


#1 rufusx on 05.20.13 at 10:33 am

You think a “therapy pool” is a whole separate physical structure to the “leisure” pool? Typically – a regular pool is simply used for “therapy” – with some slings or whatever no (think water aerobics classes)?

#2 Testor15 on 05.20.13 at 1:17 pm

Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking. It sounds like a wonderful thing but a therapy pool IS a separate pool. If you have every used a therapy pool you would know the difference.

The design is very different in size and layout. The operational costs are significant. The energy costs alone are likely to be 25% or more higher just to heat the water to a therapeutic temperature. The ADA requirements to allow proper usage and safety would not be cheap.

As someone who has had to spend many medical hours in such a pool, I find many have wrong ideas about what the pool is. The comment above about have trained personnel available is important.

So are we now to have a therapy pool magically in the same footprint? In the same construction budget? In the same operational budget? in the same staff budget?

Geez, let’s just promise everything to everyone so the indoor pool people get their personal playground.

#3 scott on 05.20.13 at 1:32 pm

I would like it to have a lazy river.

#4 Sy on 05.20.13 at 1:37 pm

A. Go to Google images and search “therapy pool”, most of them look to be about the size of a 1 or two car garage. Several of them are pre-formed, so I highly doubt it cost more than 1% of the total project cost to add one, so let’s not pretend they proposed gold plated faucets or a climate controlled underground parking garage for fux sake.

B. Anyone think that maybe the VA might’ve proposed it? If the City is coming to them to get permission to share parking or whatever, maybe they said “We can do that, but here’s what we want”

I’ve posted before that the VA would be smart to work with the City and vice versa. They strike a deal and this thing will pass about 70% to 30%, bank on it.

#5 Detroit Lewis on 05.20.13 at 1:52 pm

It won’t pass, no matter what you put in there. Why? Because,

1) People don’t want to subsidize a public pool so a few special interests can have a place for swim meets.

2) There are several private, indoor pools around town you can pay a fee to swim at.

3) The previous city survey said it all, of the percentage of people that supported a public indoor pool, about 70% of them supported it ONLY if there was NO subsidy. Not only will there be a subsidy, there will be a bond to pay off.

While some councilors, the mayor and a special interest group would have you believe we have an indoor pool crisis in this city, most voters know that is not the case. The reason SF doesn’t have a public indoor pool is because, quite frankly, WE DON’T NEED ONE. The private sector has done a fine job of providing that service.

#6 Craig on 05.20.13 at 1:58 pm

This is nothing more than a bribe to the people who are concerned about the VA so the group pushing for the indoor pool can use it as leverage if/when it comes to a vote. Now they have another talking point when people raise concerns about VA parking or access… they will just haul out the “oh but we are specifically putting in a therapy pool for the VA!”.

Personally it seems like a stupid idea. For starters I’m fairly certain nobody bothered to ask the VA what they think about the idea because if they had they would be openly bragging about their joint efforts. Second, any addition to the existing plan will require changes – and even small changes can result in significant costs.

Third, if the VA really feels that they need a therapy pool, it should be onsite at the VA where the physical therapists will be able to monitor it and take advantage of it when needed rather than forcing people to walk, drive, or be shuttled 3/4 of a block away. One might think someone who is actually in need of a therapy pool may not be all that mobile, so asking them to go back and forth is less than ideal.

Plus even if it existed how are you going to monitor the pool to ensure the veterans have access rather than just a bunch of soccer moms using it for their water aerobics while the kids are at swim practice? Do we really expect someone to be policing this?

#7 Zamby on 05.20.13 at 2:09 pm

Zamby will share his new monkey spa at the Zoo

#8 Scott on 05.20.13 at 3:48 pm

I’m waiting for Alice to tell me I’m stupid for not being 100% in favor of her own indoor neighborhood pool.

#9 Testor15 on 05.20.13 at 5:41 pm

Sy, have you have you ever used a Therapy pool or do you only look at pictures of them? Google images really don’t tell the story.

Adding another therapy pool to the complex adds another ‘room’ to the pool to control the temperature and humidity. You cannot do proper therapy in an open aquatics pool room. So now you are adding a minimum of 1,000 sq ft to the facility. Now add staff rooms / offices. What about proper management?

It would cost the VA more to share this kind of facility. This facility would be hundreds of yards from the visitor’s center much less convenient than being attached to the hospital.

First understand what a therapy pool is, than consider the ramifications of transporting disabled patients and residents across a busy parking lot. Before long you see how stupid this rumor is. If someone is actually floating a new proposal to add this amenity to the proposed pool complex, we better see where the money is going to come from.

Craig is right on all points. The more they promise, the more cost to us and the more lies we will have to clean up later.

#10 cr on 05.20.13 at 8:46 pm

I think Mr. Sommervold was more interested in letting everyone know his son has an appointment to West Point, than he was about the suggestion of a therapy pool for veterans!

#11 scott on 05.21.13 at 6:25 am

If a therapy pool is such a hot commodity you’d think the hospitals would have them all over town so they could cash in on that too.

#12 Alice15 on 05.21.13 at 8:10 am

I have never said anyone was stupid. I have my opinion which does not involve me being part of city council or a special interest group, and you have yours. I feel like I have a much better perspective regarding parking, traffic, and neighborhood vitality as I actually LIVE in this neighborhood which many who seem to want to weigh in on this topic – do not. If your concern is costs – I get it and I would definitely ask the hard questions.

#13 Alice15 on 05.21.13 at 8:14 am

And as a person who has seen the therapy pool in action at the Sanford Wellness Center, it is an amzing tool for those that are in need of such a pool. Everyone knows that swimming and water therapy is top notch for exercise and rehab – especially after an injury or surgery. Swimming is least restrictive on your joints yet adds gravity to make it an excellent muscle and endurance building activity. If you haven’t tried it – you might want to. It is excellent for your body.

#14 Craig on 05.21.13 at 8:35 am

I won’t disagree that therapy pools are helpful and that swimming is excellent for overall health Alice, but the question is – should the city be building it (which will become them)?

After all – they are pools designed specifically for therapy. This is no different than adding a room for massage therapy, or building a city owned clinic for physical therapy. I just don’t see why everyone always thinks the city needs to provide everything.

The hospitals both have their own pools already (not sure if Avera has a therapy pool or just a regular pool) and if the VA needs/wants one they should build it onsite – it would be silly to put one at Spellerberg and the only reason it is being brought up is to score some political points.

#15 Craig on 05.21.13 at 8:41 am

By the way Alice, although I respect the fact you actually “LIVE” in the neighborhood, that doesn’t automatically give your opinion any more credibility than anyone else’s. I could easily argue someone who has to travel to the VA three days a week for physical therapy, or someone who works at Park Ridge probably has just as much of an understanding of what traffic and parking are really like (if not more so).

To suggest you a better perspective merely because you live there also suggests people who live near 85th and Audie know whats best for Walmart. In reality, sometimes you need to take a step back to see the big picture because only then you see the true impact.

You can stare at an ice crystal and find beauty, but when you back up and realize it is part of an iceberg… you won’t want to be sailing towards it.

#16 Alice15 on 05.21.13 at 10:32 am

I absolutely think that people on 85th and Audie have a better and more invested interest in that area than I do. That is their neighborhood. Do I have a say as a taxpayer? – yup – but that is where my say ends.

You reference people who go to the VA 3 days a week. For the 100th time and as people in this neighborhood would only know – they are in out between the hours of 9am and 4pm – at the latest. The VA and its parking lots are basically shut down and nearly empty by 4:30pm.

I do have a better perspective. I drive this route 4-5 times/day. Do you? I didn’t think so.

#17 rufusx on 05.21.13 at 10:54 am

Small government, less tax spending lobby = pro big corporate, 1%er’s lobby. Self-evidently, not a “FOR the people” government friendly stance.

#18 rufusx on 05.21.13 at 10:56 am

Government OF the people, BY corporate interests, FOR profit.

#19 Sy on 05.21.13 at 11:14 am

@ Testor, no I’m lucky enough not to need one, but my company has been involved in several including the one at McKennan and the Wellness Centers. Yes they are a different animal, but don’t try to tell me it will add 25% to the energy costs or “significant” cost increases on an $18 million building. I will stick with my guestimate that you could do it for a small % of the total costs, probably within the GC’s contingency. And if we have a good Architect and GC, they can find ways to economically incorporate this feature, someone might even want to put their name on it. The place will be open year round, so we have maintenance and desk staff there already. A vet would likely be coming over with their therapist and/or whoever cares for them so all they really need is access to it. And really? Soccer moms taking it over for water aerobics? You truly think that’s going to happen? I see lots of soccer moms at the wellness centers, maybe they could share their secrets about how to keep those people in line.

Also, the VA doesn’t have a therapy pool now, correct? If true, you guys are actually saying it’s better to haul the vets over to wherever they are going now vs. 100 yards away across a shared parking lot? I thought when the opponents first trotted out the vets their concerns were hinging on traffic and out of town vets having endure the horror of driving in SF? Now someone floats an idea that might benefit the VA and save a few trips and it’s “stupid”?

That just confirms what I posted before, the opponents actually don’t give a crap about the VA, unless of course they can use them somehow to help kill the project altogether. Pathetic.

It’s kinda like L3wis’ confusing position: let’s build one at each of the High Schools or at Sanford, when any of those ideas will certainly drive up costs exponentially and against our paid consultants recommedations. Is cost a factor or not? Because it sounds like the first arrow out of the quill for the opponents on the therapy pool is: “It will cost too much!” Also, remember this site is bought & paid for, how many other options are there like that?

@ Craig Alice’s point is similar the downtown EC debate, we are getting people who all of a sudden are experts on downtown development, traffic flows and parking opposing something without actually spending the time & effort to see if what they are fearmongering about is actually coming true in reality. If downtown was so horrible to navigate, you wouldn’t see all the new businesses (who rely on traffic) and all the new residences (who rely on easy access) going in and up.

Same deal in Alice’s neighborhood, people who drive through occasionally are in no position to claim the neighborhood will turn in to urban Detroit by adding a roof over an existing pool and creating a 50M & possibly therapy pool. People who live there know who’s moving in and out, and they make the call if it’s safe to let the kids walk to the pool or should they drive them based on what they see every day.

I’m glad you brought up the Wal-mart debate, because in reality it had nothing to do with traffic and access, you had people who were opposing WM for the customers that come in and a few who simply hate Wal-mart fo being Wal-mart. Most of the opponents of this project don’t give a crap about the neighborhood or the Vets, they want to score their own political victory. One of the main ones was originally quoted in the AL that they don’t oppose the indoor pool at Spellerberg because it wasn’t her neighborhood and if that’s what they want there, so be it. Now the same “machine” that stopped Drake is back in gear with the same recycled talking points. They were wrong then and they are wrong now, but that doesn’t stop them.

#20 Scott on 05.21.13 at 1:07 pm

alice, I was just teasing. Smile! 🙂

#21 rufusx on 05.21.13 at 2:55 pm

Absolutely right Sy – this whole petitioning every idea of anyone eles’s “movement/culture” is just another example of the corrupting influence that experiencing a little power has on the human psyche. The petitioning groups’ membership is drunk on their own “success”.

#22 rufusx on 05.21.13 at 2:57 pm

You all can’t tell me you don’t get a little “high” on being involved in the process.

#23 Scott on 05.21.13 at 3:04 pm

Ok, how about this compromise? Since only the neighbors “know” ALL of the facts, which is silly since some neighbors are against it, then they should pay for it.

#24 Alice15 on 05.21.13 at 3:57 pm

Please take note of the people in the neighborhood that are against it. I hate to point out the obvious so I won’t, but I am pretty sure you can all figure it out.

#25 Craig on 05.22.13 at 8:55 am

Alice: “I absolutely think that people on 85th and Audie have a better and more invested interest in that area than I do. That is their neighborhood. Do I have a say as a taxpayer? – yup – but that is where my say ends.”

It isn’t about having a “better and more invested interest” Alice – it is about making the right decision for the community as a whole. A “better and more invested interest” is just a clever way of saying “bias”.

“You reference people who go to the VA 3 days a week. For the 100th time and as people in this neighborhood would only know – they are in out between the hours of 9am and 4pm – at the latest.”

Not sure I understand your point – we were talking about a therapy pool that some promoters are trying to suggest could be used by the VA. It only stands to reason those veterans would use said pool in the daytime when they normally would be at the VA correct?

The point remains – people who travel in and out of the neighborhood, and those who actually spend their days at local businesses probably have just as much of an understanding of the local traffic and parking as you do. Just because you own a home close by does not automatically make you an expert, because if that was the case you have to help explain why so many of your neighbors are fighting against the pool.

“I do have a better perspective. I drive this route 4-5 times/day. Do you? I didn’t think so.”

First of all Alice – you don’t know the first thing about me. You don’t know where I live, where I work, or what routes I travel throughout my day, so please don’t insult others by making idiotic assumptions.

Second, if your idea of a great perspective is traveling through the area multiple times of day, then I suggest we interview the delivery driver for the Pickle Barrel since he is in and out of the neighborhood about 30-40 times a day. Based upon your logic – that dude is the single best source to get the real answers.

#26 Craig on 05.22.13 at 9:08 am

Sy: “Alice’s point is similar the downtown EC debate, we are getting people who all of a sudden are experts on downtown development, traffic flows and parking opposing something without actually spending the time & effort to see if what they are fearmongering about is actually coming true in reality.”

Yes I realize in your view that everyone who has cited a concern with parking or traffic or anything else is ill-informed and is a self-described expert without ever spending time in the area. I get it – everyone else is a moron who has no idea what the core of our city is really like.

Maybe I’m naive, but I like to give people a bit more credit than that. Many (actually most) of the people fighting against this indoor complex are those who live in the area, so in terms of being an expert, their opinions hold just as much weight as those who live in the area and are for the project do they not?

Or aren’t we allowed to consider opinions from those who just so happen to be against the idea?

“Most of the opponents of this project don’t give a crap about the neighborhood or the Vets, they want to score their own political victory.”

That is a very large broom you have to make such sweeping generalizations, but I honestly don’t think that makes any sense. You seriously think people are spending their own money and hours of their own times organizing and collecting signatures and going door to door all to score a political victory? That seems odd since I’m actually paying attention and couldn’t tell you a single name of those behind the effort. One might think if they were using this for political points they might actually try to be recognized as the leader of the effort.

If you are going to claim most of the opponents don’t care about the vets, then it only seems fair to admit most of the proponents don’t either. If we wish to make generalizations, we may as well assume all the proponents just want a nice complex where they can shuffle off their kids all winter rather than spending time with them or keeping them occupied, and/or they want the city to subsidize their child’s swim team as they are too lazy to do any fundraising to build their own facility.

Wow… making huge assumptions is fun! Just wait until I get going about how the divorced moms in the area all want the facility so they can have a venue to wear their tankinis and use their cougar skills to attract the Augustana baseball team.

#27 Testor15 on 05.22.13 at 9:58 am

I notice as this issue is laid out in definitive Pros and Cons, the “pro pool / pro spending for very private interests” forces are throwing in everything they have to muddy the situation.

Wherever Craig lives or works is not important. He seems to have summarized this park problem as clearly as anyone has up to this point.

I do not live in the neighborhood or ever plan to. I do drive these streets many times per day. It is a main north-south and east-west part of my day. The neighborhood cannot handle the traffic is currently has, the way it is. There is going to be a cost to upgrade the traffic load capacity for the neighborhood. Alice will lose her ‘neighborhood’ when the city starts putting in a 3, 4 or 5 lane street grid with appropriate parking. Add to this upgraded street grid change, is the storm sewer changes required because of the additional hard surface. We will not be upgrading this grid system in the pool bonding, it will be added to another hidden city budget hole.

I had no interest in the Drake Springs pool issue at the time of the vote. Don’t broad brush the current plan opponents. Drake Springs was an inflated stupid plan and as punishment for the defeat, the city now has to suffer with a really stupid pool plan.

Now the petitioners are holding up the special / vested interest groups and city’s plans for building another edifice to stupidity, just because it is time to do another one.

I will support a 50 meter pool for Sioux Falls just as I agree to the upgrading of building codes is necessary for future town growth.

The broad brushing of the the current petitions gatherers is unwarranted and counter productive. We could also say “Not to be picky but Sy, Alice, Ruf and others seem to be supporting this project for their personal / emotional gain.” Just read their comments over the many threads this issue has accumulated just here on SouthDacola and you begin to see patterns.

#28 Zamby on 05.22.13 at 11:09 am

Zamby wants his friends to play nice.


#29 Scott on 05.22.13 at 11:17 am

Craig is my hero.

#30 Alice15 on 05.22.13 at 2:14 pm

No – I won’t lose my neighborhood. I am bordered by Kiwanis, 26th, 22nd, and Western. Will they expand these streets? – probably – but we chose to live here knowing these possibilities may become a reality.

Pretty sure the Pickel Barrel driver pulls up behind the building and pulls right out. Nice try.

#31 Alice15 on 05.22.13 at 2:19 pm

If you want throw personal and emotional gain at me – so be it – (which would be wrong) – but Sy doesn’t live anywhere near this area and I don’t know who Ruf is.

Yes – this pool would be located in my neighborhood – but I think it is good to constantly reinvent central areas of cities and I think this facility would be good for the health of our community while generating some economic dollars. Shame on me for thinking of these items as positives.

#32 Sy on 05.22.13 at 5:46 pm

Craig: “I get it – everyone else is a moron who has no idea what the core of our city is really like.”

I thought you weren’t about making idiotic assumptions? I never said everyone else is a moron with no idea of what the core of the City is like, I’m saying the “opponents” (which isn’t everyone, or even a majority) are using the same talking points as before, ones that can easily be picked apart by spending some real world time seeing for ones-self.

I agree there’s a large amount of people who live there who oppose this project, but I’ll submit the reasons they do are rooted in the above mentioned talking points, which for your benefit I’ll review once again:

Talking point: “It will destroy the neighborhood with traffic”

Actually it will mostly annualize the amount of traffic the place already gets in the summer months, plus the added traffic of swim team users, possibly VA users, and some other users that would likely come forward later (ie maybe someone like Center of Active Generations would hold a water aerobics class for example) Like any multi-use facility, these things don’t all happen at the same time on the same day, they would be staggered over the course of a typical 7 week. Would traffic increase, yes & hopefully it does because that means the place is being well used. Can they City plan or move forward planned upgrades to the streets and intersections in the immediate area? Of course they would, as I mentioned before you’d likely see things like a stoplight installed at 22nd and Western and things like a turning lane added for both north and south bound traffic. And like I also have posted before, the City could make improvements like this that would not only benefit the faciltiy, the neighboring businesess, the VA and the neighborhood residents. With the lack of mutliple hi speed, 4 lane thru ways in town, traffic will get worse regardless, putting this project in would likely mitigate that problem sooner than later.

Talkng Point: “The Vets will suffer because their access to the VA will be made worse and the pool will need so much parking that they will be fighting for spots”

Like I said above, the City likely has already plans to fix this based on projections from the 2025 Transportation plan. I believe they moved up Russell Ave to coincide with the Events Center, as they should’ve since the area is already torn up. No reason to think they wouldn’t do this again. As for parking, with the size of the site, there’s certainly a way to expand the VA’s lot within the scope of the project if they need more overflow parking they could share with the pool for the times when the don’t. This could be the same lot that would include a sidewalk to the West side of the pool where it would be most logical IMO to locate the therapy pool if they decide to go that route. In the winter they could load the vets in a van and drive them over which again is a lot shorter trip than they currently make if they need aquatic therapy.

Talking point: “It will cost too much”

Maybe so, but what are we comparing it to? The old Rec plan? Not the same. Drake? Again, not the same. Truth is a facility like this design has never been proposed. And it’s being incorporated into a larger Aquatics plan that addresses other needs around the City, which left undone would likely drive additional traffic to Spellerberg (ie if you live by Frank Olson and they leave it alone, you migh be inclined to pack all the kids in the van and go to the new place) Either way, Spellerberg is due for replacement, which as we’ve seen if you want to keep the amenities and bring it up to code will likely cost several million $$ anyway.

Talking Point: “There’s plenty of pools you can use for a fee”

True, but you are talking either a membership to a Wellness Center or the Y, which is about to downsize significantly. Or you get a room at one of the hotels. Not sure if Augie allows people to use their pool, but my guess is it’s for students and faculty.

Talking Point: “Make the swim teams pay for it”

In an ideal world, sure but we don’t live there. It’s basically a chicken and egg scenario, the swim teams don’t have the numbers of say hockey or soccer not because the sport and the general population who swim isn’t increasing, they don’t have a place to train nor compete so there the glass ceiling. So making the place suitable for their use along with other users (rec, medical etc.) they will be able to take the sport to the next level to the point where like soccer they will at some point be able to afford the rent as their numbers increase.

Talking point: “We can’t afford it”

The opponents like to talk in terms scenarios, (typically worst case) and they always lay out a scenario based on low usage, high utility and maintenance costs, and little to no growth in City population and/or tax base. Truth is, yes we have increased our debt load, but we’ve also retired higher rate notes recently. Revenue trends even through the National downturn in ’08 have been strong, our credit rating hasn’t been downgraded and is still among the strongest out there when compared to peer cities nationally, and time and again it’s been shown that if the City invests in a project, even one that could be considered a “luxury item”, the citizens have supported it when the rubber hits the road. The entire greenway along the river was at one time considered useless floodplain, but people like Roy Nyberg and others put forth the plan to make it parkland complete with soccer fields, playgrounds, ball diamonds, tennis courts, a dog park and a bike trail that encircles the City. Look at how much these places are used today vs. had we not done them 30-40 years ago. At the time they seemed extravagent for a City our size, now people almost take them for granted. The soccer teams that started there using the fields for free grew organically into the level that now they can rent the Sanford Feildhouse and host tournaments that draw thousands of people here a year.

And yes, full disclosure..I grew up swimming & sledding at Spellerberg and although I don’t live in the neighborhood anymore, my Mom still does. Although she would never use the place, there would be families like mine and Alice’s who would consider moving into this neighborhood more with an indoor pool than if it didn’t have one. So the upshot is even the opponents who live around there would likely see a benefit in increased interest in their properties when they go to sell.

#33 rufusx on 05.23.13 at 12:54 am

Trying to figure out how I’m supposed to get personal/emotional gain out of an indoor pool at Spellerberg. Anybody got any ideas? Help me out here, I could use a little gain.

#34 Alice15 on 05.23.13 at 1:58 pm

Funny! Thanks for the mid-afternoon chuckle, Ruf.

#35 Craig on 05.24.13 at 9:56 am

Alice: “Pretty sure the Pickel Barrel driver pulls up behind the building and pulls right out. Nice try.”

Are you suggesting the driver has no recognition of parking concerns in the area merely because he doesn’t park in the lot? If so, you should have no understanding of parking concerns at the VA since you likely never park there correct?

Works both ways right Alice?

Are you also suggesting with the dozens of trips the delivery driver takes in and out of the neighborhood daily that he doesn’t have a greater understanding of the traffic in the area than you do?

That hardly seems fair. If the Pickle Barrel driver doesn’t have more knowledge on the subject than someone who drives through the neighborhood a fraction of the amount he does, then I’d suggest you don’t have any more knowledge than someone who only drives through the area once every few weeks.

Can’t have it both ways Alice.

Alice: “I think it is good to constantly reinvent central areas of cities”

I don’t disagree with you. It is important to revitalize the core of our city and continue to focus on it rather than allowing it to wither and fall into disrepair. The only question is how we do that… some argue a pool might be a solution, some others argue it won’t do a thing. Who really knows.

Alice: “I think this facility would be good for the health of our community while generating some economic dollars.”

The health aspect is interesting – but I think we all know people will drive to the facility and then go for a swim. It is doubtful it will have any measurable effect on the health of the community – and for the price-tag, it surely isn’t the best way to have such an impact. Installing more bike lanes on city streets, subsidizing healthclub memberships, and offering public classes on healthy eating would all go much further on a cost/benefit basis.

However what really surprises me is that you would mention that this facility will generate economic dollars, which is the opposite of what it will do. It is assumed and understood this facility will require bonding to finance it, and it will require an annual subsidy from the city to operate. It will not be self-sustaining, and the additional costs to improve arterial streets in the area drive those costs up even further.

There isn’t open land in the area to suggest there will be development opportunities nearby, and the value of property in the area is an unknown, but even in the best of circumstances residential property values would be lucky to rise a few percent.

The value of holding swim meets in town is rather small, and isn’t significant enough to offset costs of operation no matter which consultant analyzes the situation.

Any way you slice it, this is NOT an economic engine. It will take dollars from taxpayers and funnel them towards construction so a few key players will do ok, but on the whole it actually is a negative… not a positive (in terms of economics).

You have a lot of valid arguments about the benefits of a facility – neighborhood revitalization, opportunities for swim clubs, options for wintertime leisure and on and on… but generating economic dollars? Nope.

In fact, since so many argue that their only options now are taking the kids to a hotel or paying for healthclub memberships, in theory if people opt for year round swim passes instead this will actually remove money that would have otherwise gone towards the private sector economy and instead direct it towards offsetting the finance and operational costs of a publicly owned facility.

#36 Craig on 05.24.13 at 10:35 am

Sy: “I’m saying the “opponents” (which isn’t everyone, or even a majority) are using the same talking points as before, ones that can easily be picked apart by spending some real world time seeing for ones-self.”

Fair enough… but aren’t the “proponents” doing the same thing?

Talking Point: “The city needs an indoor facility that can be used 365 days a year”

Classic case of confusing a need with a want.

Talking Point: “This project will revitalize the core of our city”

Nice in theory, but how? The VA isn’t going anywhere, and whether a pool is built or not won’t change their long-term plans. There is no available land for development, and residential areas likely will not be impacted significantly.

What it may do (and this is to be determined) is increase traffic requiring street improvements which may or may not result in taking away some on-street parking or in extreme cases the boulevard in front of some homes. This can actually result in lower property values for homes impacted.

In short – long-term impact is an unknown. Not really fair to claim we know either way.

Talking Point: “The Swim Teams need a place to practice”

So let them build/buy a place to practice. Or better yet, have them partner with the city to raise funds in support of a shared facility rather than simply putting their hands out and begging for someone to do all the heavy lifting. (Note: “Someone” in this case is the taxpayer)

Talking Point: “This will be an economic driver and will spur increased spending which equals tax revenue”.

Not according to the consultants who all seem to admit these facilities are not known for their economic feasibility. They are quality of life projects… not economic projects.

Also see my comments to Alice above.

Talking Point: “Kids will be able to swim all winter instead of sitting at home with nothing to do. This gives our youth some alternatives other than a Playstation and it will help reduce childhood obesity.”

Yet the consultants claim the winter usage of said facility is around 5% of the total, and peak usage still occurs in the summer. Those same consultants say that summertime utilization of an indoor pool will actually be less than an equivalent outdoor pool as people (oddly enough) enjoy swimming in the sunshine without the chlorine smell which occurs on an indoor facility.

Talking Point: “They can add a therapy pool which would benefit the veterans!”

If the VA wants a therapy pool, they would be better off building it onsite at the VA. As far as we know the VA hasn’t even asked for such a thing, and the demand and usage of such a pool hasn’t been analyzed. This is no different that suggesting they include a indoor wave pool or a lazy river… sure someone would like it, but until the costs vs. benefits are analyzed it shouldn’t be part of the discussion.

Now I don’t mean to sound like a negative nilly here Sy – and I’m not even saying I buy into some of these talking points (whether pro or con) but my point is there are two sides to the story, and if you take ten minutes you can find reasons to debunk or debate all of the talking points on both sides even if some require a bit of stretching.

When you really think about it – it boils down to one question… should the city be responsible for providing indoor swimming options to residents year round? If you think they should then the usage or economics or impact to the city probably doesn’t really matter and you can find ways of justifying everything.

On the other hand if you think the city doesn’t need to be all things to all people, then the fact the swim teams don’t have a permanent home or the fact that some parents may have to spring for a hotel room in December for their kids to swim won’t bother you a bit.

Either way I’m looking forward to seeing what might happen with a vote vs. what our city council decides to do on their own. Pro or con I think we can all agree that it will be important for the city leaders to actually listen to the citizens before making any decisions – and although not all issues should be determined based upon popular vote, chances are there are some opinions out there that are worth hearing, and I just hope the city listens and then makes some decisions rather than making decisions and backing into them via citizen input after the fact.

#37 Alice15 on 05.24.13 at 10:58 am

Craig – we will agree to disagree. As a parent that travels for kid’s sports – I know what I drop in a weekend for the “extras” of participating and I am one of hundreds that are doing that for the same tournament. That is called generating tax dollars – which, yes – helps the whole community – which is called economic development, but I am sure you will take another day to write a 16 paragraph response.

As far as the Pickel Barrel driver which I am fairly confident you have not had a conversation with – you are going to spin that merry go round any way that you can – so it doesn’t matter what I say. However, as a person that drives in this neighborhood every day, multiple times a day, at all times of the day, yes – I feel like I probably have a better perspective than someone who delivers sandwiches from 11-2 each day.

#38 cr on 05.24.13 at 12:40 pm

When we go to the polls in April 2014, it won’t matter whether we live in the neighborhood or not……

One vote equals one vote.

#39 Detroit Lewis on 05.24.13 at 1:53 pm

The ‘Indoorers’ have failed in one aspect when compared to other special interest sports (Jr. Football, Tennis, Hockey. They haven’t offered to raise any money to go towards an indoor pool, yet they WANT it for themselves and tournaments. They are coming across as rather selfish, just listen to the public testimony of the two teenage girls. Selfishness doesn’t bode well with voters.

#40 Scott on 05.24.13 at 4:59 pm

I know you think I pick on you, Alice, but I’m surprised you were so flippant with Craig. Yes, his response was lengthy, but it was also relatively balanced. Sure, his overall opinion goes against yours, but he also acknowledged that you may be right on some of your points. That rarely happens in this era of “absolutism” where everybody thinks their opinion is 100% right all the time. And yes, sometimes I fit into that problem.

#41 Craig on 05.24.13 at 5:04 pm

Alice: “As a parent that travels for kid’s sports – I know what I drop in a weekend for the “extras” of participating and I am one of hundreds that are doing that for the same tournament. That is called generating tax dollars – which, yes – helps the whole community – which is called economic development”

Doesn’t matter Alice – studies have been done, and nobody who is honest about the issue tries to suggest an indoor swimming complex is an economic engine. Swim teams are fairly small so you can’t compare it to the economic impact of a baseball or basketball tournament.

Is there revenue generated? You bet – but not enough to offset the costs of building and operating the facility. That isn’t my personal opinion – that is what the consultants have admitted to. People don’t build indoor aquatic centers to generate revenue, they build them as quality of life projects.

Alice: “but I am sure you will take another day to write a 16 paragraph response.”

Ouch Alice… ouch! Hopefully you realize you don’t actually have to read them if you don’t wish to. I won’t hold it against you. However in fairness you should probably get snarky at Sy for that last post of his if you don’t like long posts.

Alice: “As far as the Pickel Barrel driver which I am fairly confident you have not had a conversation with – you are going to spin that merry go round any way that you can – so it doesn’t matter what I say. However, as a person that drives in this neighborhood every day, multiple times a day, at all times of the day, yes – I feel like I probably have a better perspective than someone who delivers sandwiches from 11-2 each day.”

Oh Alice – first of all you should know the Pickle Barrel driver was merely an example to show how silly it is for you to suggest your opinion holds more weight than anyone else merely because you happen to drive in and out of the neighborhood a few times a day. Don’t get mad because I used an analogy to point out that is a silly premise.

You might also wish to apologize for the Pickle Barrel guy…. he works a lot more hours than just 11-2. They actually deliver until 7:30PM and 4:30PM on Saturdays!

Give them a call… they make a tasty sandwich. Just be sure and tip the driver… after all he has to deal with that dreaded Spellerberg traffic all day long!

(Kidding Alice…. only kidding!)

#42 Craig on 05.24.13 at 5:05 pm

You shut your mouth Scott… I am right 100% of the time! That sir is a FACT*!

*based upon survey results as reported and tabulated by my mother.

#43 Scott on 05.24.13 at 10:08 pm

lolz, sorry.

#44 Alice15 on 05.28.13 at 11:14 am

I eat at the Pickle Barrel, but as a resident of the area, I walk there. No need for a driver.

Ask the hard questions such as funding and such, but the stretches that some have tried to make as far as parking and traffic are simply not true.

#45 Sy on 05.29.13 at 12:04 am

@ Craig. I will still submit that if traffic becomes a problem at Spellerberg, (at least moreso than it has been) then you can assume usage increased to the point where the facility is a net benefit to the community.

And I will again say the 5% usage in winter months is bunk..anyone who uses that number has never spent a winter in Sioux Falls.

#46 Craig on 05.30.13 at 10:22 am

I’ll actually agree the major concerns over parking and traffic are being blown out of proportion. We know we would need a larger parking lot than what currently exists, but I actually think there is sufficient room to accommodate that without impacting the other park amenities.

Traffic – well honestly I don’t think we will see any impact. We know winter usage will be exponentially less than summer usage, so that shoudln’t have any impact, and we know summer usage on an indoor facility will be less than if it was an outdoor facility (per the consultants), thus traffic should actually be less at all times other than the occasional swim meet.

For those events, they are much like a baseball game or any event at the Arena – it might take a few minutes longer to get out of the area, but it isn’t a huge deal. People adapt.

So yes I will agree some of the “anti” crowd is stretching the impacts of parking and traffic. Are they legitimate concerns? Sure… but I don’t think they will have any measurable impacts either way.

As to that winter usage Sy – maybe the 5% is low, but even if Sioux Falls is magical and happens to triple the typical usage (bringing us to 15%), that is still a very small group. Like it or not, swimming in the winter doesn’t appeal to a massive amount of people. It is often considered a “treat” for kids, but it isn’t like to be something that a family will do every weekend or even once a month. I’m guessing the primary uses in the winter will probably be the swim teams – and I’m pretty sure they know that.

#47 cr on 05.30.13 at 5:00 pm

In the end, this will come down to the numbers.

Capital Costs: 18.5 million dollars

Operating Costs: Unknown

Number of registered voters (who will be making this decision) who will actually use an indoor pool or who believe that an indoor pool will have a significant economic impact on our community: Minimal

Chances of passing a public vote: Not Very Good

Chances of the Mayor and Council doing an end-run around the public vote and building a public indoor pool anyway: Pretty Good

#48 Titleist on 06.01.13 at 11:03 pm

What did little Huron spend? 12.5 on a 3 months a year outdoor pool? 18.5 looks like a bargain for a PUBLIC INDOOR pool for a growing, progressive, city like Sioux Falls.

#49 Craig on 06.05.13 at 12:30 pm

As has been stated several times in the past, Huron didn’t just build a pool. They built an aquatic center with multiple pools, a tube slide, a body slide, a lazy river, a concessions stand and other amenities. Haven’t been there myself, but I hear it is a nice facility much like several of the Sioux Falls outdoor pools.

As to pricetag – the 12.5M figure not only included the aquatic center, but the ENTIRE PARK it sits in (Central Park).

Then again I have zero faith an indoor complex in Sioux Falls would cost 18.5M either. If we are honest about the figure, it will far exceed that amount.

Finally, let’s at least be honest about how long outdoor pools are open. 3 months is the small end. They typically open in May and close in late August or even September weather permitting. As it were – that just so happens to be the times of year people actually want to swim… and even the aquatics consultants have pointed out that only a fraction of the usage occurs in the winter months.

#50 Detroit Lewis on 06.05.13 at 2:16 pm

My guess is about $27-30 million.

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