Who is really ‘Benefitting’ from the River Greenway Project?

The City of SF Audit Committee will be releasing their audit of the river greenway project, which has cost taxpayers almost $10 million so far (the project was originally going to cost around $2-4 million, if my memory serves me well). The original plan was to upgrade the bike trail and landscaping by the river, which would have been just fine. But someone got a hold of someone’s ear at the Parks department and now we have the current ‘San Antonio’ version of the greenway project. This all started with mayor Munson and has seemed to snowball since then, we have bought a bridge (maybe two), bulk heads, a spray park and the infamous (and dangerous) steps into the river. We have also torn down a parking ramp.

Document: confluence

Design of the project was almost 10% of the total cost of the entire project. In the research I have done, projects of this size and nature usually run about 6% of the total project cost. I knew this was going to be a money sucker from the beginning, we have even bonded (borrowed) almost 50% of the total cost of the project. I have often thought if taxpayers would have voted on this project, it would have been scaled back. It seems contractors, developers, engineers and architects are deciding what is good for the citizens of this town, this practice needs to end.

 

61 comments ↓

#1 Poly43 on 07.29.13 at 5:49 pm

Had relatives from Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, and California in town last week for a family rebellion. Some were avid walkers so for a few days we walked from Falls Park along the trail to Cherry Rock and back. They thought the trail was ok til I told them how much the 6th to 9th street greenway cost the taxpayer. But that is not what amazed them the most. That part was showing them the spray park attached to Lloyd’s hotel. Really…. How can a spray park just outside the hotels lobby and 15 steps above the bike trail be paid for by the taxpayers? They did not understand, but then they don’t live in SF so they got no idea how local politics is played.

#2 Detroit Lewis on 07.29.13 at 5:55 pm

I often chuckle when the Indoorers talk about the outdoor pool at Nelson Park and say, “It just makes me sick to my stomach when I drive by the pool in January, and it sits empty.”

When I walk past the River Greenway in January, it just makes me sick to see no one enjoying a concert at the amphitheatre or dining along the river.

#3 Detroit Lewis on 07.29.13 at 5:57 pm

“Really…. How can a spray park just outside the hotels lobby and 15 steps above the bike trail be paid for by the taxpayers?”

Because, like I said above, contractors, developers and architects run city hall.

#4 Winston on 07.29.13 at 7:53 pm

Hey, quit your complaining! The City announced some “Trickle-down” today…. They claim they are going to remove your stumps for free….

#5 Detroit Lewis on 07.29.13 at 9:09 pm

I don’t want my stump removed, I want it improved! Maybe a patio table?

#6 pathloss on 07.29.13 at 9:55 pm

It’s justified. Those staying at Lloyd Hotel can look out and see the new 10 mil campground that will become box house city for our homeless.

#7 pathloss on 07.29.13 at 10:02 pm

What bothers me is citizens look the other way and pretend the tax waste misappropriation doesn’t exist. They’re getting what they shouldn’t be paying for. I’d love to run for public office but I’d never represent Sioux Falls citizens.

#8 OldSlewFoot on 07.29.13 at 10:21 pm

So is what SF does more or less corrupt than what other cities do or are you all just a bunch of bitchers?

#9 anonymous on 07.30.13 at 7:43 am

OldSlewFoot on 07.29.13 at 10:21 pm

So is what SF does more or less corrupt than what other cities do or are you all just a bunch of bitchers?

SO, OldSlewFoot, it’s OK to be corrupt, it’s just a matter of to what degree!!?!!!!

#10 Testor15 on 07.30.13 at 8:13 am

What Detroit has presented an invasion of the taxpayer’s wallet by connected consultants. Developers and consultants are called on every minor ‘issue’ in this town with some form of creeping up price tag.

Will a Mayor Greg be any better than a Mayor SubPrime in controlling this?

#11 Craig on 07.30.13 at 9:24 am

Part of the problem here is the actual banks of the river and the buffer zone is city property. The developers can’t mess with it even if they wanted to, thus they could build a nice hotel and still have a river bank full of weeds, broken bottles, and chunks of concrete.

So if the city does nothing people complain that we aren’t taking advantage of one of the nicest natural benefits this city offers. If they improve things, people complain it is a handout to the developers. The city just can’t win on this one.

The reality is, there are a lot more people walking and biking and enjoying those trails on a daily basis than there are staying in those hotels. So we all benefit – yet many here don’t see it that way. They would rather private developers pay to improve city owned property apparently… because that is just the right thing to do I guess.

Using this logic, anyone who lives next to a city park should be responsible for the upkeep and improvement to those parks as well… and don’t even get me started about the poor saps who live along a public golf course.

#12 Detroit Lewis on 07.30.13 at 9:36 am

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa Craig. As I mentioned above, the original greenway project proposed WAS to fix up the bike trail and landscaping at a tune of around $2.5 million. Yes, that is the responsibility of taxpayers. But Bulkheads, spray parks, ped bridges, amphitheatres were all dreamed up by contractors and designers and sold to the city, this was NOT what citizens were expecting or probably even wanted. A cleaned up river bank with a revamped bike trail, yes. A façade for private developers, no.

#13 anonymous on 07.30.13 at 9:44 am

Craig on 07.30.13 at 9:24 am

So if the city does nothing people complain that we aren’t taking advantage of one of the nicest natural benefits this city offers.

Craig, what you refer to as one of the nicest NATURAL benefits this city offers is actually the 13th most impaired river in the U.S. (Source: Department of Natural Resources)

Maybe instead of spending the settlement from Morrell’s (1.97 million dollars) on the River Greenway, we could have made better use of those funds working to improve the quality of the river water!

Which, BTW, would have been much closer to the true intent of the settlement.

#14 Karma on 07.30.13 at 9:47 am

Well said, Craig. Once again, it is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. I work DT and the trails are used so much more by all generations then they ever were even 5 years ago. At any one time, you can see 5-10 teenagers in a group riding their bikes DT on the trails. You didn’t see that a few years ago. These trails are now clean, safe, and worth stopping to take a look or just enjoy now.

If your real beef is with developers, etc getting deals to pad their own pockets – that is one thing, but if you have a problem with enhancing the very thing that runs right through our city, I don’t get it. People love being DT now/again and the River Greenway is a HUGE reason why.

Since someone brought it up, there is going to be a contractor that makes a nice mint off of this dumb stump removal project. They completely should have approached this project similar to the replacing the trees. If you are elderly or unable to replace the tree yourself, then the city will step in and help, and that is totally how it should be for this stump removal. Chaps my ass that we basically never require people to help themselves FIRST. A nice way for MMM to earn some votes.

#15 Detroit Lewis on 07.30.13 at 10:15 am

They are only removing stumps from the blvd. The city owns the blvd, it should be their responsibility.

#16 Detroit Lewis on 07.30.13 at 10:18 am

I live and work DT. I never hear anyone talk about the River Greenway, and most of the activity DT happens between 13th & 9th on Phillips Ave, not along the Greenway. In fact any nice evening DT you will see the patios packed along Phillips and a handful of people sitting on the Patio at Wild Sage or Falls Landing. The fact is that we could have spent $2 million to clean up the trail, and it would attract the same amount of people as the fancy-smancy river greenway does know. As anon points out, who wants to look at a stinky shit brown river while dining? I don’t.

#17 Craig on 07.30.13 at 10:34 am

“Craig, what you refer to as one of the nicest NATURAL benefits this city offers is actually the 13th most impaired river in the U.S. (Source: Department of Natural Resources)”

And yet it is STILL one of the nicest natural benefits our city has to offer.

Not sure what you really expect the city to do about the river though – we can attack those who pollute it and ensure it doesn’t continue (Morrells et al), but as far as the damage that has been done it isn’t feasible to filter the water, and we can’t really control what comes from upstream (which is where so much of the phosphorus runoff from fertilizer and the manure runoff from the feed lots originates from).

I understand the point about spray parks and what have you, but I’m the first to admit I like the improvements downtown, and I have spent more time down there because of it. I hope one day we will see the entire riverbank cleaned up and improved because it makes the area an attraction. When the city invests, it spurs others to do the same, and the entire area will be improved because of it.

Will it benefit private developers? Probably, but so do the city provided patios along Phillips and the city crew that plants and waters and maintains all of the flowers downtown. These are investments and yes they benefit private businesses and private developers and private landowners, but they also benefit the public.

In 20 years do you think anyone will care that the city spent a few million to improve the greenway? Nope – they will just be happy that someone cared to preserve and improve the area for future generations.

#18 Poly43 on 07.30.13 at 10:35 am

Part of the problem here is the actual banks of the river and the buffer zone is city property. The developers can’t mess with it even if they want….
———

Craig, I challenge you to go to the spray park attached to the Lloyd hotel. Not even close to the natural banks of the river. Yet the city had to take the 1.97 million environmental money from the morrell settlement to complete it? That environmental money was intended for just what it suggests. The cleanup of the big sioux river. Not for spray parks off the patio of Lloyd’s hotel.

Ever wonder why all those dead fish were found along the sioux river just downstream of morrells last year. Could have been morrells. Could have been our own. city that dumps tons and tons of snow laced with salt right across the river from morrells. Well never know for sure as long as we have spray park thingies.

#19 Tom H. on 07.30.13 at 10:44 am

I just wish that this same level of skepticism was applied to road and highway projects. Nobody bats an eye for the $35M+ project to build an interchange at 85th & I-29 to basically serve one entity – Sanford. Nobody questions the wisdom of spending $100M+ on the SD100 loop, because without it, how would we ever build our Targets and Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs?

The fact of the matter is that our whole development pattern is hugely dependent on government subsidy in the form of infrastructure spending (and TIFs, but that’s a whole other can of worms). Strong neighborhoods grow first and organically support (and pay for) the infrastructure they need. Fragile cities slap down huge bets on prospective infrastructure, and then pray that the growth will come. It’s a Ponzi scheme, and Detroit is just the canary in the coal mine.

So, I’m glad you’re scrutinizing these expenditures, but the rot goes much deeper than just this little riverfront project. And, as long as this wasteful spending keeps happening, I’d much rather see it invested in a neighborhood like DT that at least has a track record of being successful and productive.

#20 Winston on 07.30.13 at 10:48 am

Speaking of bike trails, how much did the cement dike on the west side of town by the Minnehaha Country Club cost? Who paid for it? Why was it necessary? How come MCC golfers are conveniently shielded from bikers, but not golfers at Westward Ho? And how come the same was not done for that area of the bike trail which parallels the WHCC?

#21 Tom H. on 07.30.13 at 10:52 am

Also, you’re being a little bit disingenuous by adding up ‘Construction Administration’ and ‘Modeling/permitting’ into Design costs. If you go just by the items listed as ‘Design’, you end up with $509K out of $9.2M total budget – about 5.6%. #cherrypicking

#22 Detroit Lewis on 07.30.13 at 11:07 am

I was pointing out that around 10% of the cost went towards ONE design firm.

#23 Craig on 07.30.13 at 11:49 am

“Craig, I challenge you to go to the spray park attached to the Lloyd hotel. Not even close to the natural banks of the river. Yet the city had to take the 1.97 million environmental money from the morrell settlement to complete it?”

I will admit up front I haven’t been to the actual spray park, but I will also state that the property lines associated with the river don’t always match the natural banks. I know this because I own property along a creek/stream and my propertly line in no way reflects the actual natural border of the creek itself. It just appears to be a somewhat arbitrary line that someone decades upon decades ago thought made sense.

I do concur that environmental cleanup money shouldn’t have been used in such a manner – that seems contrary to what such settlement funds should be used for, but when it comes to government we are all well versed on how money is shifted to match current priorities. Just ask the schools how that video lottery thing panned out.

#24 Poly43 on 07.30.13 at 12:14 pm

Perhaps you should go stand on the patio of the Lloyd hotel where the spray park is located. Then imagine a spring flood that could reach that level. I’m guessing iris close to 20 feet above the current waterwheel of the river. I doubt the flood plain reaches that high. Admit it. This was just more bs for the likes of those who run this town thru our tax dollars.

#25 Poly43 on 07.30.13 at 12:18 pm

Damn. Between the keyboard of an iPhone and spell checker, I’m starting to remind myself of some of the gobbledegook Rufus puts out.

#26 Detroit Lewis on 07.30.13 at 1:11 pm

“gobbledegook Rufus puts out.”

He is becoming the new Pathloss, isn’t he?

#27 Karma on 07.30.13 at 1:58 pm

Detroit – I actually work on the River Greenway and in the five years I have been here – I can tell you the bike trail and its use – even in the winter time when weather allows – has grown tremendously. It is pretty refreshing to watch. A) you have people getting out and actually taking care of themselves, B) we as a community are showing that we care about our DT and the bike trail that runs through it and C) people are stopping and actually sitting, reading, and enjoying the River Greenway. Remember – over 50% of this community still believes DT is unsafe – which boggles my mind – but if they ride their bike or walk on the bike trail through DT – we have now shown them that is a fabulous part of our city.

As I said – I get your beef with the same people making the same buck over and over again and graciously accepting a TIF anytime they choose, but the enhancements are fabulous and it does benefit the whole community. People just have to get off their fat arses and their couches to enjoy it, and by the way, it’s free to be down there.

#28 Bond Perilous on 07.30.13 at 3:52 pm

DL- the conceptual plan first pitched a decade ago by Design Studios West spoke to many of the amenities the DT riverfront has today. I’m not sure if the plan is still readily available, but I have read several times and participated in the public involvement associated with said plan. Perhaps there was an earlier, different plan to which you referring, but I’m not aware of it. There was a subsequent plan, with which I’m less familiar. I believe Confluence developed that plan. Perhaps there was a bait and switch, but it wasn’t with the plan from Design Studios West. For what it’s worth…

#29 anonymous on 07.30.13 at 4:41 pm

Karma on 07.30.13 at 1:58 pm

and by the way, it’s free to be down there.

??? Haven’t we been talking about a 10 million dollar investment that every SF resident is committed to, like it or not!

So, BTW, I don’t think it is FREE down there!!

#30 Poly43 on 07.30.13 at 5:07 pm

As I recall back in the 80s and 90s I used the bike trails quite a bit….even DT. From an exercise perspective, the opportunity to bike or walk has been there for a long long time. What we have now that we didn’t have then is 3 blocks from 6th street to 9th street is a concrete jungle with baptismal steps and spray thingies. And for about those 300 yards we have dumped 10 million dollars into it?

#31 Craig on 07.30.13 at 5:16 pm

Well I’m assuming nobody was really against it, because if they were they could have taken out a petition to get it put to a public vote just like they did with snowgates and with Shape Places and with an indoor pool, and with the indoor pool before that, and with the rec center / indoor pool complex before that.

Therefore, what I’m hearing is that people don’t like it, but they don’t hate it to the point of getting off their couches long enough to voice their concerns.

Here is what I suggest you do – draft up a plan on how you want to see the railyard land develop in the next 10 years. Work with planners and urban designers, architects and landscape design firms. Present your final plan to the city, run around to bankers and investors to collect funds, run around to the city, county, and state to secure approvals and permits and maybe get an agreement from the city to improve the riverbank in that area – but then tell them “no thanks – I’m more than willing to invest multi-millions into this property with no desire for the city to do anything along the riverbanks”… and of course do not in any circumstances request a TIF for the property.

Let me know how it turns out. Maybe you could crowdsource the entire thing and you could be the next big thing. Imagine a community funded “kickstarter-like” project that can compete with Lloyd and Dunham.

What’s that? Too difficult? Well I guess we better just let developers develop then… it is much more fun to complain about it after the fact.

#32 anonymous on 07.30.13 at 5:24 pm

Poly43…..

Don’t forget about the million dollar pedestrian bridge leading from Raven’s parking lot to the Country Inn and Suites parking lot…….

The SAME pedestrian bridge the Council under Munson approved as part of the Zip Feed Mill TIF between taxpayers and Jeff Scherschligt. When the City tried to back away from the “bridge” part of the deal, Scherschlight publicly threatened them (in the Council chambers) with a lawsuit.

In addition, in 2012 Michelle Erpenbach was pushing for a SECOND million dollar pedestrian bridge in front of Lloyd’s new hotel. It would have come out of the surplus CIP dollars. Fortunately, some one on the Council had the good sense to ask if there were a problem with the current bridge in front of the hotel and the response was, “no, it’s just at the wrong angle”.

“Wrong angle,” ??????

Just speculating, but it sure looked like Michelle and Craig had been talking!!!!!!!

#33 rufusx on 07.30.13 at 6:45 pm

Right – let’s get rid of all the professional-level contributions to the cultural environment of Sioiux Falls – just like the rest of “attitude” of the state. Danged uppity intellectuals anyhow. How DARE they devote their lives and careers to hoidy-toidy crap like architecture and urban planning. SF/SD is full of amateurish hill billies and the whole damned pace ought to look like that’s exactly who “designs” and builds things here.

#34 Lamb Chislic on 07.30.13 at 10:24 pm

Anon – Please note the primary structural difference between the new bridge in phase one and the converted railroad bridge left untouched in phase two. It’s much more than just a cosmetic enhancement.

The old bridge (as well as the one that was removed in phase one) is a solid steel structure with three concrete support pillars that collect debris and add to flood considerations. Take a look at some of the city’s historic photos and you will understand. Removing the first bridge and cleaning out that area of the river enabled the city to gain Corps of Engineers approval for the wider walkways, amphitheater, steps and other build-outs into the river.

#35 anonymous on 07.30.13 at 10:26 pm

rufusx

Perhaps you would be happier living in a different state where there are no amateurish hillbillies…….

#36 Karma on 07.31.13 at 8:16 am

Anon – I don’t have a tree stump that needs to be removed, but I will assist in paying for that. You’re right – nothing is for free. Maybe you support the stumps being removed and maybe I support the improvements to the River Greenway. Most would say both would qualify as quality of life projects in our city. It is what it is.

#37 Tom H. on 07.31.13 at 9:28 am

Re: anon – rufusx feud

Up here in the Twin Cities, wealthy Republican-types are always threatening to move to SD to avoid the heavy tax burden. Now I see here that anti-hillbilly-types are being encouraged to move elsewhere (MN?). IDEA: Let’s make SD a tax-free, hillbilly-only zone and MN a fully-socialist, art-and-culture mecca and call it a day!

#38 Detroit Lewis on 07.31.13 at 9:44 am

Poly makes up a great point, $10 million for 300 yards of riverfront property. Doesn’t a half-mile of road cost $1 million. Just think of all of the upgrades we could have done to the ENTIRE bike trail for $10 million. But I am a hillbilly, so what do I care. The thing we have left out of all the ‘hardworking’ contractors, developers and architects is that they have made millions from the taxpayers, they aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts . . . please.

#39 Craig on 07.31.13 at 12:14 pm

Well I’m not sure $10M is justified or not, but pedestrian bridges are expensive and there is quite a bit of enhancement packed in a small area.

It takes a lot of millions to build a new swimming pool too, and I suppose that same amount of money would fill in a lot of potholes on our streets, but it is all relative.

#40 Poly43 on 07.31.13 at 2:08 pm

Doesn’t a half-mile of road cost $1 million. Just think of all of the upgrades we could have done to the ENTIRE bike trail for $10 million.

I’m sure you’re pretty close to right l3wis. Then why do you suppose less than 2 miles of road, Russell ave, from I29 to Minnesota avenue costs 23 million? 4 million for every half mile? To add one lane to an existing 2 lane? To then have 3 lanes pouring onto single lane entrance ramps at the interstate exchange?

I think they’re burying something huge,,,,literally. A few weeks ago while driving by the project I seen huge sewer lines, prolly 5 foot in circumference, in the median ready to be laid down from the new EC heading east along Russell. Could it be just another way if burying the true cost of this white elephant EC? It will take a lot of water and sewage upgrades to accomadate an additional 12,000 seats. Not that the place will ever even come close to numbers in average attendance, but they still have to plan for that handful of times in a decade where they might put more than 7000 in the place.

#41 Poly43 on 07.31.13 at 2:12 pm

Should read less than 3 miles of road from 29 to Minnesota ave. damn these iPhone keypads are tiny.

#42 Poly43 on 07.31.13 at 2:21 pm

…. but it is all relative.

Relative to what? Watching the hard earned tax dollars of Joe Sixpack squanders down a money hole so a few contractors and politicians can rake in the graft? Then yeah….I suppose it is relative.

#43 Craig on 07.31.13 at 5:04 pm

Poly have you actually tried to utilize Russell at various times of day? EC or not, that road was long overdue for expansion and upgrades. I’m just thankful they have the land to add more lanes – the State would have loved to do the same along 12th but there is no where to go.

Also keep in mind under that roadway you will find a lot of granite/quartize. So upgrading and replacing sewer lines isn’t as simple as digging a trench. It requires blasting through rock some of the time. That gets expensive real quick.

It also isn’t a single lane they are adding, and it isn’t just a road bed. It would be fiscally irresponsible to add new lanes only to have to come back in three years to replace storm sewers and water mains.

I fully realize you aren’t a fan of the EC and have this believe there is some massive conspiracy to hide and shift costs so the true cost isn’t realized, but the Russell project was on the plate years before anyone even thought about building the EC at that location.

I’m right there with you that we didn’t need the EC and it very well may result in significant cost overruns… but I think you’re off base on trying to tie the Russell street improvements to it. Let’s not try to chastise the city for spending money on infrastructure when it is so desperately needed.

#44 Poly43 on 07.31.13 at 8:37 pm

Poly have you actually tried to utilize Russell at various times of day?

Yes I have. IMHO the 3 miles from I29 to Minn. Ave is sufficient. The real bottleneck is from Minn. Ave. when Russell turns into North Drive to N. 4th Ave. only a mile but that’s what backs it up. Make no mistake. The present 23 mil is all about picking lipstick on the EC pig. For 8 million a mile? And river greenway? 8.7 mil for 200 yards of concrete and pillars? And at the same time, which really pisses me off, the city throws Paratransit and SAM under the bus. That’s the burr under my saddle Craig. (Sorry for the rant)

#45 Tom H. on 08.01.13 at 7:29 am

Russel Ave. is a STROAD. Massive maintenance costs are part and parcel with a STROAD.

#46 Karma on 08.01.13 at 7:46 am

Poly – you very well may be on to something with the sewer system around the EC. Yes – the road upgrades were already on the books, but we all know that all of the infrastructure around the EC sucks at best. Whether the sewer system overhaul was part of the original project, I have no idea, but I do know the Mayor is going to bury whatever costs he can for this facility because he sold this thing on lies to begin with.

#47 Testor15 on 08.01.13 at 8:31 am

I remember a discussion during the events center election run-up where a ‘good’ reason it could be built at the arena site was the current utilities would handle it. We all know of the sewer blowup a few years ago in the neighborhood, so is this another part of the sewer upgrade redoing what was done a couple of years ago?

How many more things are part of gilding the lily of the EC?

#48 Craig on 08.01.13 at 9:28 am

Poly: “IMHO the 3 miles from I29 to Minn. Ave is sufficient.”

We must be driving different roads then, because I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been stuck in bumper to bumper traffic along Russell with two full lanes of traffic.

It is also flat out dishonest to try and suggest the road is costing $8M a mile when we all know this is far from a standard single lane or two lane roadway. First of all they are replacing the entire roadbed which is going to be three lanes in each direction. They are also entirely rebuilding two bridges which is costing millions. They are also replacing all of the storm sewers in the area (which are long overdue and contributed to past flooding in that area). They are even adding dedicated bike lanes to the road which again is something that is needed in that area and will allow greater access to and from the bike paths.

Sure they are replacing existing aged sewer and water lines, but as far as I’ve read they aren’t increasing capacity so the theories about this being a benefit to the EC are misguided. This project has been under development for years and due to it being the main access point to and from the airport they increased the budget for landscaping. This was all done years before the city determined where the new EC would go.

Frankly I’m not even sure the $23M figure being tossed around is accurate considering the bid amount was under $19M and that includes all of the above.
Will the enhancements benefit the new EC? Perhaps – but only if people actually go to the EC at levels they don’t currently go to the Arena. The real winners here are those who drive the road every day and who will see easing of traffic and those who use the road for access to the airport.

I have to be honest here – I sometimes think some of you just go out of your way to find things to complain about. The amount of pessimism and cynicism never ceases to amaze me.

#49 Testor15 on 08.01.13 at 10:26 am

The Road Has Been In The Books To Be Redone For Many Years. The State And City Agreed To Not Replace The Section In Front Of Granite City. In Fact There Were Discussions After The Prison Uprising Several Years Ago To Close The Bluff Road Altogether.

Sorry About Caps, Phone Keyboard Decided For Me…

#50 Detroit Lewis on 08.01.13 at 10:26 am

Poly, Karma, Testor and Craig, Actually, Staggers got Cotter to admit in a public meeting that the cost to hookup utilities to the EC was not a part of the Bond and would come out of the CIP. Staggers asked why the Bond was not paying for this? And Cotter said because ‘other’ facilities in the area would also benefit. And that is how you build a $115 million dollar EC. I can’t remember the cost of the utility hookup, but I believe it was around 2-6 million, but I would have to dig that number up.

#51 Testor15 on 08.01.13 at 12:41 pm

I had to get this off my chest so let’s talk about it…

I’ve been thinking about the mayor’s “San Antonio of the North” project in Sioux Falls. The river going through Sioux Falls been bugging me for years. It would a great asset if used and promoted properly, so why is it failing?

1. The muddy slimy Sioux River is “always smelly and funny colored”. Sure it is, until we get our farmers to the north to put in green grass belts along the river to catch the runoffs we are going to have it. So we must deal with what we have.

2. We have an automobile society and most Sioux Falls residents are lazy. Overall we do not like to be more than a few feet from our cars. Our collective mentality says we need to be able to park our car, run into the store or we go somewhere else.

3. We have no collective community consciousness. Sure we do some grand events in a park someplace but we do nothing to build community places so we can actually socialize.

4. We have a downtown for ‘downtowners’. These downtowners are the special people or ‘specials’ of our town. As soon as the ‘masses’ discover a bar, restaurant, park or event, the specials move on asking for a new place they can go, to get away from the masses. It reminds me of being in a quiet bar / restaurant recently when the guests left because they wanted to be ‘seen’. They need their special places.

5. So back to the greenway. I have been to many cities around the globe with natural water ways of some sort, even San Antonio. When in these towns and cities the one thing noticed is how accessible the water is. In other words, the community walks, socializes, dines, fishes, retails within feet of the water’s edge.

6. What does Sioux Falls do? We put a concrete wall and decorate it so the river cannot be seen. Put up buildings to block the river from the people. Our ‘leaders’ make the river so unpleasant, people go somewhere else.

7. We tear down buildings to get rid of ‘unsightly’ properties (usually small structures with some architectural value) to make way for grand properties.

8. Grand properties like the Lloyd buildings along the greenway are built with parking lots fronting on the river. How come the cars can enjoy the river view but not us? I really like Joshua Coffee but how stupid is it to start a socializing / guesting revolution in Sioux Falls a parking lot away from the water’s edge. How nice would it be to grab a cup of coffee from Steve and sit along the river’s edge? It can’t happen there because the parking lot has the better view.

9. The new hotel is a place specials and visitors are going to be able to enjoy the water’s edge, not the common person who has to pay for it. Why?

10. Look at the other buildings being considered for the water’s edge and tell me these are for the benefit of community building. We have a bike trail with steps to a river no one can easily access unless you are a building resident.

The river greenway will never be anything more than a rich man’s dream because there is nothing there to bring the masses now or in the future. It needs bars, restaurants, boutiques, tourist traps, bike shops, vending machines or whatever dreamers can come up with to draw people 12 months of the year. We must stop putting up buildings designed for our SUV society along the limited space we have available along the river. We have a growing, revitalizing downtown along Phillips Ave a block over from where the town is spending millions with nothing to ‘tie’ the river to the town.

Our ‘leaders’ make the river an obstacle to be surmounted.

Now we have 10 acres of railroad land on the horizon to redevelop. There are developers salivating to build their next big dream project. So we will allow another big project to be placed in the middle of the ‘new’ downtown area stretching over to Weber Ave. Another big development of parking lots and concrete we will not walk to get to Latitudes on Weber.

So we have a River Greenway project made for developers painting pretty pictures of activity and architecture but no long term value for the town or people. When are we going to have buildings with a retail ability up close and useable to small shops to draw more people to a vibrant downtown? Sioux Falls river greenway will never be as our mayor says “HUGE” because it is designed by specials for the specials. It is being constructed with profits to developers first and the taxpayer last.

#52 Craig on 08.01.13 at 1:33 pm

@ DL – I won’t dispute what you’re saying and I think we all know there will be more costs than the $115M they tossed around (but at least they remembered to include the cost of installation on the windows this time). However it doesn’t really have anything to do with the Russell project. (Not that the Russell project has anything to do with the River Greenway) :)

@ Testor – some good stuff there… I agree with you on some points, disagree on others. I do know we put far too much value on parking lots but at the same time nothing is preventing people from walking down to the riverbank and having a picnic.

That said, the riverbank is much like downtown in general. Walk through 8th and Railroad and tell me how many of those stores appeal to the masses. Walk along Phillips and tell me how many low income people you see window shopping. Even the bars and restaurants tend to cater to a different crowd… which is understandable considering DTSF has a hissy fit every time someone wants to try something different.

It might be a chicken and the egg thing. Is downtown designed for a certain class of people because that is what the city leaders and DTSF wants, or is it that way because those are the only people who frequent downtown? I guess when you combine that many law offices, government offices, media companies, and CPAs… you probably draw a different crowd.

Downtown and the river should be for all types of people… but the only times I see a diverse cross-section of people downtown is during parades and events. The remainder of the year it is more of the same… but perhaps to some degree spray parks and pedestrian bridges are trying to change some of that?

#53 Testor15 on 08.01.13 at 1:38 pm

Craig, it always bugs me the way several retailers downtown close up during special events and then wonder why the masses do not consider them when making purchases. If you are downtown business, be open for the special event times so the curious will become the future buyer.

How do you grow a retail district when these same criers for growth are not open to the masses.

#54 Detroit Lewis on 08.01.13 at 1:53 pm

“Even the bars and restaurants tend to cater to a different crowd”

Yeah, you should see the crowd at TJ’s during Sunday Football, real high-rollers :)

“It might be a chicken and the egg thing. Is downtown designed for a certain class of people because that is what the city leaders and DTSF wants, or is it that way because those are the only people who frequent downtown?”

It all started with the infamous words of Tim Kant when he wanted to open Stogeez but wanted the loop closed to cruisers and showed up to the CC meeting and while pounding the podium said, “We gotta get rid of these kids!” He and several councilors and other DT business owners blamed the broken liquor bottles and urine in doorways on ‘Loopers’ Not the case at all, it was mostly transients and drunks making the mess. When I turned 21, downtown was hopping with a ton of things to do for younger people, there was two live music clubs, and Skellys followed, and the most popular dance club. All gone. Now you can listen to some old hippie play 70′s folk songs on Bro’s patio, or some sleepy Jazz at the place I work. Ever since the loop closed, it was DTSF’s mission to turn DT into a yuppie playground, and they have been successful. Vishnu Bunny almost had to move mountains to open his new location DT. There has also been attempts in the past to close down Lucky’s because it doesn’t appeal to the ‘Specials’. Which is kinda ironic, considering it is probably the best, and most reasonably priced bar DT. I have said a million times on here the key to making DT hopping is diversity in retail.

#55 Poly43 on 08.01.13 at 5:12 pm

Craig, the 23 mil figure I got from an argus article several months ago. Can’t read their archives but this might help. Google…

“Final details of a major $23 million road construction project on Russell Street will be released”

What makes Russell any different than any of the other principal arterials at commute time in this town? All adding another lane will do is enable us to hurry up and wait at at any number of other bumper to bumper jams.

#56 Poly43 on 08.01.13 at 5:49 pm

The discussion has brought up the attitude of the ‘special’ people in this town. Why do you think we needed a new EC? Certainly not for the 12,000 seats which will be empty more than not. This is more about suite and loge seating where the ‘special’ people can have a place to be seen and wine and dine clients making that ‘special’ deal that could not otherwise be made.

And the huge effort to try to put a shine on the turd known as the Sioux River thru downtown. It’s not even really the sioux river. It’s more skunk creek than big sioux. Wanna see what flows thru skunk creek DT? Go to the falls in the middle of march and take a good look at the 15 foot walk of foam at the bottom of the falls. Wanna great view? Go to the steps to nowhere at cherapa’s place and look across the river to the West Bank. Look at the West Bank from anywhere as far as that goes. It’s a mess. See what 9 million really bought us.

#57 rufusx on 08.01.13 at 10:24 pm

The whole thrust of this is a common one not just in SF, but wherever you see ANY growth and development in SD. It’s the ruralist “Olde Timers” vs, the urbanist “Special People”. Happened in Harrisburg. Happened in Lennox. Happened in Tea. Happened in Brandon. Culture clash. ESPECIALLY visible in school district conflicts.

#58 Craig on 08.02.13 at 9:03 am

Poly: “Craig, the 23 mil figure I got from an argus article several months ago.”

Hard to know without more detail, but the information shown on the documents at SiouxFalls.org shows a price of under $19M. Perhaps there were additional costs added later or something that isn’t part of the actual road project (landscaping etc). Either way it doesn’t change the fact that you can’t compare the price of this project to a typical roadway when you factor in bridges, new storm sewers, bike lanes etc. etc.

Poly: “What makes Russell any different than any of the other principal arterials at commute time in this town? All adding another lane will do is enable us to hurry up and wait at at any number of other bumper to bumper jams.”

Well for starters it dumps directly to I-29 which helps ease the load so it isn’t like 57th, 69th, or 26th. Secondly it will have more lanes which will hopefully prevent most of the bumper to bumper issues. It also has available land to actually add lanes… as I said before the state would love to add another two lanes to 12th, but it isn’t feasible due to the businesses and homes that line the road. 41st and Minnesota have already been widened as far as they can go – same goes for most of the other major roads.

Add to this that Russell gets a LOT of truck traffic not only due to the commercial/industrial areas but also because it is the Northern primary access point to Minnesota. It is also the primary access from I-29 to the airport and the guard base.

I cannot fathom why anyone would say this project is unreasonable. It isn’t like they are adding six lanes to 60th St North here – the traffic along Russell will more than support this.

#59 Tom H. on 08.02.13 at 9:43 am

Downtown is full of hipsters and wealthy yuppies because truly urban neighborhoods are in demand, and in Sioux Falls, the supply (one neighborhood) can’t possibly meet the demand. Add in the fact that our (now even more) outdated zoning codes actually prohibit the construction of areas like downtown, and you see the problem. When the market is forbidden from adding supply to meet demand, prices will rise and the clientèle will be wealthier.

#60 anonymous on 08.02.13 at 11:36 am

Tom H

It’s misleading when you say….

Add in the fact that OUR (now even more) outdated zoning codes….

Makes it sound like you are a Sioux Falls resident, when in fact, you have stated that you have lived in the Twin Cities for I believe the past eight years.

Certainly you are entitled to an opinion, but clearly you are not experiencing life on a daily basis here in the Dakotas……a very different environment than the State of Minnesota and esp. the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

There was an earlier attempt to build new “affordable” housing on Main Avenue, it was thwarted by the powers that be! Finally, Good Sam is in the process of completing in August one building of “income-based” housing in the DT SF area.

#61 Tom H. on 08.02.13 at 12:50 pm

@anon – You’re right, I do live in the Twin Cities, but I try to remain informed and aware of issues in Sioux Falls (especially when it comes to urban development and planning). I hope to move back to Sioux Falls someday, and still consider it my true home, as much of my family still lives in the area.

If you object to my use of pronouns, I apologize – I’ll try to avoid ‘we’ and ‘our’. If you object to the content of my arguments, please make your case and we can have a discussion about it.

In response to your final paragraph – those projects are urban insofar as they are higher-density residential. What I mean by ‘truly urban’ is more what you see on Phillips Ave between, say, 10th and 11th streets: a mix of buildings styles, sizes, uses and ages. A quick look at an aerial photo shows about1 10-15 separate buildings on each side of the street per block.

When we get ‘urban’ developments nowadays, it’s usually a half-block 4-story apartment building with a parking structure on the main level. Little mix of uses, no fine-grained diversity of building styles and ages, and little street-level activity. It’s similar in appearance, but much different in character. In my opinion, the biggest driver of this difference are the required parking minimums imposed by the zoning laws.

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