Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls Parks and Rec' ↓

Separating Fact from Fiction when discussing the Indoor Pool

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“Anyone entrusted with power will abuse it if not also animated with the love of truth and virtue no matter whether he be a prince, or one of the people.” Jean De La Fontaine

City Hall, City Directors, City Councilors and certain people in the media seem to be parroting the half-truths about the indoor pool, and they are spreading like wild fire and it hasn’t even been 24 hours since the aquatic update.

FICTION: The city continues to tell us this is being paid for with ‘CASH’ on hand.

FACT: We are using money from a repayment from the Feds on a bond we took out for levees. We will still have to pay back this bond in a few years. So while we may have ‘cash’ on hand from the repayment, we are using ‘borrowed’ money to pay for the pool. Ironically there was a story in the Argus today about those bonds and levees, just no mention of the indoor pool.

FICTION: The city says the increase in price is due to adding a therapy pool and larger recreational pool from the original drawings.

FACT: The therapy pool was in the original drawings, and the rec pool is the same size, but what HAS changed is that the slides, current pool and outdoor patio have been scaled back.

FICTION: There has been a ‘slight’ increase in price.

FACT: An almost 17% increase in the price of the facility isn’t a slight increase on a multi-million dollar project, it is substantial.

FICTION: The project manager tells us the cost estimates were off before the vote because they just didn’t have the projections.

FACT: The city spent $46,000 on architectural drawings before the election to help project the cost. The drawings may have also been a violation of state law by presenting advocational presentations that swayed the vote.

FICTION: People voted for an indoor pool by voting against the outdoor pool. This statement was made by the city’s finance director and the Argus today.

FACT: There was no ‘indoor pool’ on the ballot.

FICTION: The quit claim deed doesn’t matter.

FACT: We are not sure if it does or not, because the city has made zero attempt to get a MOU from the VA about building the new indoor pool. At the last Listening & Learning session the mayor went as far as pretending he didn’t know what it was.

I’m all for moving ahead with this project, but let’s be honest and transparent in our intentions.

Surprise! Surprise! Plans have changed on the Indoor Pool

I haven’t even watched the presentation yet (PDF: poolpart) but changes to the pool are already in the process. Funny how the committee was able to come up with these recommendations in one week ;)

As you can see, the plans we were shown before the Spellerberg vote have been scaled back (Surprise!) We said all along that the advocational presentations were just ‘fluff’ to get people to vote against the outdoor pool.



This is what we were shown before the vote (click to enlarge) the only ‘increase’ in square footage comes in the additional activity rooms, they scaled back on the outdoor part and something else missing is the exterior drawings with the new plan.



You can also see, it’s going to cost almost $4 million more then what we have been told (Surprise #2). They are claiming the price went up because of ‘time’. Funny, a $4 million increase in less then a year . . .



What we haven’t been told is if the city got a MOU from the VA on the quit claim deed. During the meeting though councilor Anderson questioned the lack of transparency to the mayor sharing these changes to the council. The mayor’s response was classic, kill the messenger, he asked where Kenny’s plans were.

UPDATE: It’s a pool party (indoors)

UPDATE: The city decided to edit the Q & A out of their version of the video. That’s why we bring the camera, you never know what kind of creative editing the city’s propaganda station will pull.

Sioux Falls Aquatics Focus Committee Named • 1/22/15

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Well as one commenters stated, “It looks like a stacked deck”. Yup it sure is. The Sioux Falls special specials all gathered together to bless the forgone conclusions we knew were coming.

Don Kearney keeps talking, never saying anything and then answers questions never asked in an order never followed (but does mention renderings will be released next week to city council(?) – so has this committee already been meeting?)

We want to know what happened to the Quit Claim Deed issue and many more unanswered questions. We won’t hold our breath waiting for answers.

How about putting people on a “focus” group who don’t have problems with the ethics of campaigns and contributions.

Why do we need two parks board members (and a former one) to sway the opinions of this ‘neutral’ focus group? Why do we need a voting member of the city council on this group? What does an “Avid Park and Trail User” have to do with a swimming pool? A person who sells sporting goods is a good fit to supply items to the swim teams, pool and parks department, but to be on the steering committee? Still trying to understand what qualifications a Lighting Design and Engineer for corporate and religious events brings to the table. Does the certified pool operator have other plans once the pool is operational? Do the healthcare employees plan to sway the project for their particular employer’s benefit? We understand how the front persons for the NO on the outdoor pool campaign were placed in the leadership of this effort but no other neighborhood residents? What about an egg salesman who donated $400 to the previously mentioned campaign interest group? We’re just curious as usual.

Just a few more questions for our ethically challenged city administration to answer someday when they get around to it. It took about 7 weeks to name these pre-chosen committee members, let’s see how long before we have to wait for more answers.

In the end, will these 15 people just be the rah-rah club for Don Kearney’s plans or will they actually have any say in the process?

The Indoor Aquatics Center Super Secret Planning Committee?

Being the watchdog that I am, I somehow seemed to have missed the big announcement of who was going to serve on the planning/design committee for the indoor aquatics center at Spellerberg Park. The announcement was supposed to take place after Thanksgiving. I kind of figured that maybe they had some hiccups in the process, so I still have been waiting for this ‘hand selected’ list. Then the mayor announces the actual plans will be revealed in 2-weeks (but still no word or MOU on the Quit Claim Deed and the VA).

Huh? Did I miss something?

So has the committee already been meeting without the public’s knowledge? Could the mayor’s timeline of the release of the plans be inaccurate? Do any of the City Councilors know who was on this committee? Have they seen the plans?

Here is the ‘City Team’ announced last September.

My hunch is that the plans for the $20 million dollar facility had to be scaled back from what was originally planned (before election), and the committee members had to be in lock step with it.


The city announced that the citizen survey went out in the mail this week. I encourage everyone to fill it out. I had asked while the council was reviewing the questions that ALL city employees including councilors be purged from the mailing list, and they said that they have. If you are a city employee, and you receive the survey, let me know, or throw it away, or both. I have often found the 30% response rate to be highly suspicious since there is NO monetary incentive for filling it out.

Events Center Siding update and other ‘little birdy’ news about Sioux Falls

A couple of sources confirmed to me today that the city definitely had a meeting last week to talk about re-siding the Events Center, and while it was decided that it will be re-done, the bigger question remains, “Who is footing the bill?”

Also, another bird landed on my shoulder and told me that the Parks and Rec department had to ‘recruit’ people to be on the Indoor Aquatics Center design committee after apparently the desired ‘kind’ of people did not apply. The city announced on November 24 they had 50 applicants, but I think some serious ‘scrubbing’ was going on. If this is true, I find it interesting that something that is supposedly so popular and needed that the city would have to recruit (cherry pick) people? I would have thought that would have been an easy list to fill.

Lastly, I guess all the grand development that is supposed to occur around the Events Center just had another bump in the road;

A recent auction failed to land a buyer for the property that used to be The Oaks Hotel & Convention Center. The land at 3300 W. Russell St. generated a lot of interest, according to Yvette VanDerBrink of VanDerBrink Auctions, but offers weren’t high enough . . .

Pretty sad when you can’t even auction off a blank plot of land less then a mile from the Events Center.

The mysterious Quit Claim Deed for Spellerberg Park

You could read this several different ways (DOC:Spellerberg Park info from Deed files-2 ) but I decided to pull out the finer points of the 23 page document that covers the original purchase by the VA and the city’s purchase of the park.

Honestly to tell you, if I was reading this as an attorney or judge, I would be on a fence. While you could easily argue as long as the city was using this park for recreational purposes (indoor pool) and not interfering with the business of the VA, they have a 100% right to build an indoor pool at Spellerberg, AND I would see NO legal issues or conflicts with the deed if the city builds an indoor pool at that location.

I’m sure I surprised everyone with that statement :)

I have never been against a public indoor pool, I just think there should be a larger private partnership with it and at a different location. Which brings me to item (b)

Who ‘determines’ if the city is using the park properly in reference to the deed? The Veteran’s Administration? They could almost make any case as to why the city build the indoor pool with interference to the VA.

This is why I think it is very important that both the city and the VA come to a legal agreement OR an amendment to this deed before dirt is moved. It would be the wise and prudent thing to do before building a $20 million dollar facility.

Image was cropped and highlighted for ‘specifics’ reasons, no text was edited or changed.



Surprise! Surprise!

In an amazing revelation (not really) the Sioux Falls School Board is going to keep the search for the Super – Super, Super secret;

Residents won’t know who will replace outgoing Sioux Falls School District Superintendent Pam Homan until this spring, when officials announce the new hire.

Of course, this is no surprise, this city and state lack transparency on all levels. Heck, the School District can’t even tell us the suggested names for new schools. It is really sad that a public education organization that takes our property taxes to fund them has to be so ultra secretive. It is a BAD example to the students. They are saying it is OKAY to make important decisions for taxpayers behind closed doors.

Shame on the Sioux Falls School Board.

Board member Doug Morrison said he would prefer to respect the privacy of the candidates who are applying for the position.

“I don’t know if there’s any advantage for us to release the names,” Morrison said.

C’mon Doug, this is a VERY PUBLIC job, I think the applicants know that. If they are unwilling to give their name to the public before getting hired, then they shouldn’t be applying in my opinion.

Keeping interviews closed to the very end could potentially increase the pool of applicants, Thoelke said.

“That really jeopardizes a guy’s job when he goes back home,” Thoelke said. “I would hope the public would be more interested in getting quality candidates than being involved in the final three.”

We are interested in QUALITY candidates, and that starts with letting the public also vet the candidates. Besides, if they are looking for a different job, they should be honest with their current employer and let them know they are applying for another job. Like I said above, this is a PUBLIC job, not private sector. The selection process should be PUBLIC!

City Golf Course management seeks ‘lost revenue’

Dakota Golf Management has made a lot of payola from the city over the years, providing a great service and making the golf courses profitable for them and the city. Bravo. Now they are looking to be compensated for lost revenue from the the airport reconstruction project.

First I will say, what about the lost revenue to the city? Are the taxpayers just supposed to suck it up? Well yeah. So why can’t a management company that has done very well from their years of successful management do the same? If the taxpayers of Sioux Falls are on the hook for lost revenue, they should be to. Want lost revenue? Go sue the Airport or suck it up, just like every other business in Sioux Falls that experiences lost revenue due to city street projects. City taxpayers shouldn’t be responsible for lost revenue experienced due to what a private entity (the airport) caused.

Using Winter Wonderland as an example for separation of church and state


As I was pondering the snow plow issue and all the crazy letters to the editor of people defending the violation of the establishment clause (because, you know, none of these people would be willing to paint Jesus Christ on the sides of their vehicles, well within their 1st Amendment rights, but defend it on government property). It reminded me of a discussion about what to name ‘Winter Wonderland’ when first proposed during the Munson administration. I remember there was a brief discussion when naming it, I think one of the suggestions was ‘Christmas at the Falls’. Not sure who got involved (City Attorney?) but I fondly remember someone within city government recommending it takes on a generic term not associated with a religious holiday. Smart move.

So what does this have to do with Jesus plows? It seems there are people who are intelligent enough about Constitutional law that work for the city (or worked for them at one time) to know you can’t cross that line while using tax dollars. So Huether shouldn’t act so surprised that this has become an issue. Of course, Huether knew nothing about local government or history of it until he started to run for mayor. History isn’t his strong suit.

As for the display itself, While I think it is a great idea, I think it could be done differently. Other cities do similiar displays but they have businesses volunteer the expense and labor and use it as an opportunity for teambuilding around Christmas. Workers and their families of the businesses that donate volunteer their time to set up the display then the city foots the bill of the electricity. They do have sponsors, but city employees do all the set-up. In fact, mostly public works department workers from the forestry division begin assembling the display starting October 1st. Which I find ironic in itself. One time when I questioned the city about project TRIM and why the city’s forestry department just didn’t trim trees that residences couldn’t reach in the boulevard, they replied, “We don’t have enough staff or enough time.” But taking almost two months to put up Christmas lights, plenty of time for. Just imagine how many trees could be trimmed in that same time period?

Once again, the city proves it’s priorities towards citizens and the law.


Spellerberg/city to appoint an aquatics focus committee

I guess my first focus would be to ask how we are coming on the quit claim deed, and whether the VA has torn up the document? But maybe the quit claim deed issue is kind of like the EC siding issue, if we don’t talk about it, maybe it will just go away.

Public Input Opportunities for Indoor Aquatic Center to Be Announced Monday


 What: A news conference to announce the creation of an aquatics focus committee to offer input on the design of the new indoor aquatic center
 When: Monday, November 10, 2014
2 p.m.
 Where:    City Hall Commission Room
224 West Ninth Street
 Who: Don Kearney, Director of Parks and Recreation
Tory Miedema, Park Development Specialist
 Why: The indoor aquatic center at Spellerberg Park is in the design phase of the project, and public input will help in the process. Come to the news conference to learn how Sioux Falls residents can contribute by participating in an aquatics focus committee. A project update also will be provided.