Shooting Holes in the Mayor’s argument against districting the parks board

My responses are in Italics. Funny how it only took me 10 minutes to shoot holes in the mayor’s opposition.

City Administration Does Not Support Districting Parks and Recreation Board Members

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Mayor Mike Huether and the City administration team do not support the proposal to require Parks and Recreation Board members to be appointed according to City Council district. Reasons include:

• The current process allows the City to select the most qualified or best of all of the applicants, based on such things as skills, knowledge, available time, and passion for the role. Anything less than the best applicant denigrates the quality of the board and the work they do on behalf of the entire city.

There are over 178,000 residents in Sioux Falls. This provides a sufficient number of candidates in each district with any or all of these qualifications.

• The Parks and Recreation Board members already represent a diverse selection of the city’s citizens. Board members, past and present, have different backgrounds, skill sets, ages, genders, home and work locations, employment histories, educational backgrounds, goals, and interests.

There are currently NO minorities that serve on the Parks Board, and I’m not sure if there ever have been any that have served.

• The Parks and Recreation Board role is to make decisions based on the City of Sioux Falls and the park system as a whole, versus a specific neighborhood or area of Sioux Falls. This proposal could create a “turf war” environment in our park system versus making the best decisions on behalf of the entire city, regardless of location.

Under Stehly’s proposal there would be At-Large members that would prevent this supposed ‘turf-war’. It would also force the districted members to work together to make the parks system more equal.

• History proves that park investments in Sioux Falls are made all across the city based on need and benefit, not on location. Every park, the entire bike trail, and other park amenities are maintained and improved regardless of location. One great example is the Midco® Aquatic Center, which was purposefully constructed in a centralized location for easy access to public transportation and other services.

Actually the Aquatic Center location has been proven to be a very poor choice due to traffic, parking and the lack of space needed for expansion, while being built on land deeded to the Federal Government. If Spellerberg Park would have had some kind of district representation some of these problems could have been avoided.

• South Dakota law, as also written into the board’s bylaws, clearly states that the Parks and Recreation Board only has an advisory role, providing recommendations to the Administration and City Council. The Parks and Recreation budget, fees, and contracts ultimately are considered and approved by the City Council. Considerable checks and balances are in place regarding the Parks and Recreation Board.

None of these things would change one iota under Stehly’s proposal.

• This proposal is a solution without a problem. There have been no instances provided or proven by the proponents where the existing policy was a deterrent to effective governing of Parks and Recreation in Sioux Falls.

And that is why NO current Parks Board member would lose their seats under Stehly’s proposal. This was never about the status quo, this is about moving forward in a growing diverse city, something called ‘progress’.

• What is broken? On the most recent citizen survey (January 2017), 89 percent of Sioux Falls residents rated the city’s parks positively, and 88 percent rated the overall quality of life in Sioux Falls as positive. Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation is accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). Less than 1 percent of agencies have earned this national accreditation.

So why not strive for 100%? Stehly’s proposal would only strengthen that satisfaction by having district representatives.

• The proposed ordinance sets a bad precedent. The City of Sioux Falls has 42 volunteer citizen boards and committees serving the entire city. Which volunteer committee will be negatively impacted next by the proposal?

This is about the Parks Board only, not OTHER boards because the parks are spread throughout all the districts of the city. A bad precedent would be sent by voting NO to this proposal and once again accepting a status quo that has lasted for 102 years.

• Filling City board vacancies is challenging enough today and this will be compounded if additional criteria are placed on appointments. Citizen boards and committee vacancies are heavily marketed, yet the City still struggles to find qualified people willing to serve. Remember, these are unpaid volunteers on the Parks and Recreation Board, along with the other committees and boards.

These appointments are hard to fill because they are picked by ONE person. If the city council was more involved maybe the makeup would be more diverse. Unfortunately the mayor chooses the members than asks the city council to rubber-stamp his decision based on no public testimony or interview process by the city council.

• The Parks and Recreation Board holds its meetings in various parks, community centers, and other park facilities across the city in an effort to encourage public input from the entire city and also to familiarize board members with the park system.

They hold these meeting during the work day and at the SAME TIME as the city council informational meetings which not only makes it difficult for citizens to attend but city councilors. Adding insult to injury the meetings ARE not video recorded or live streamed due to a VETO from the mayor.

• Board members do occasionally move while serving their terms. Reconsidering board positions each time a member moves to a new area of the community would not serve the board or the community in a productive fashion.

There is a provision in Stehly’s ordinance that would prevent these supposed problems.


#1 Anonymous 2 on 08.08.17 at 1:33 pm

I’m glad you agree the “Aquatics Center location has been proven to be a very poor choice…” It wouldn’t be there if STEHLY hadn’t protested the much better location at Nelson Park.

#2 l3wis on 08.08.17 at 2:18 pm

And the Drake Springs haters continue to rear their heads even after all these years.

As the pool consultant, Hunsaker Councilman pointed out in their location recommendations, Nelson Park would be a bad location due to ground water issues. We should be thanking Stehly for stopping the construction of the indoor pool there. I can’t imagine the millions we would be spending in maintenance of the place.

The Sanford Sports Complex would have been the best place to build the pool (if not in partnership with the School District). Not only because we probably would have gotten financial support from Sanford, we would have had room for expansion, parking, traffic, etc. It also would have been located next to football, basketball, training centers, tennis, bike trails, soccer, misc. And when you kids are farting around at the pool you can go have a Bubblegum Martini at Will’s Training Table.

#3 Wondering on 08.09.17 at 7:47 pm

I am wondering how many of the members of the park board were donors to the mayor and the “No” voting councilors!!!!

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