The SF River Greenway project is getting environmental funds?

Look at all the waste we are cleaning up with these cool steps

I guess building bike trails and amphitheaters qualifies as ‘environmental’ projects;

7/15/11 • The City of Sioux Falls announces that the Downtown River Greenway Project will receive funding made available through the Big Sioux River Environmental Trust Fund.

The order authorizing the full expenditure of the fund was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Piersol after receiving the necessary approvals from the counties of Minnehaha and Lincoln in South Dakota and Lyon County in Iowa. The fund, established in 1996, was created in a settlement with John Morrell & Co. for environmental infractions and is estimated at approximately $1.9 million.

The funding will help pay for improvements downtown along the Greenway between Sixth Street and Tenth Street. The improvements are designed to provide greater public use and access to the river while also providing water quality improvements and reducing pollution in the Big Sioux River.

From a reader;

Phase I is much more than just blocks and concrete for yet another amphitheater. 5.1 million was allocated for Phase I of the project (between 6th and 8th street) 3.3 million of that was supposed to go towards items that are ENVIRONMENTALLY related. I fail to see how tons and tons of concrete between 6th and 8th street is environmentally related.

And I find the settlement money even more troubling. The city says the 1.9 million in this trust fund is going to be used for improvements from 6th to 10th street. Huh? As I recall, the taxpayer funded 5.1 million was supposed to be for improvements from 6th to 8th street. Another 3 million, of which this 1.9 million is part of, was originally intended for Phase II from 8th street to 10th street.

About that 1.9 million dollars. That is money from a settlement with John Morrell for polluting the Sioux River back in the ’90’s. It is called “The Big Sioux River ENVIRONMENTAL Trust Fund.” It was established in 1996 by court order. The money was to be used primarily for these 3 reasons.

1. Reduce pollution along the Big Sioux River.

2. Identify continuing sources of pollution along the Big Sioux River.

3. Develop and implement strategies to reduce and/or eliminate pollution along the Big Sioux River.

How does a heavy concentration of concrete along a small stretch of DT meet these ends?

The intent of the use of that 1.9 mill was clearly laid out in the 1996 settlement. It is called The Big Sioux River Environmental Trust Fund for a reason. I stated the top three reasons above. Using that money to build concrete and block barriers for stages every 200 feet, or two pedestrian walkways within 100 feet of the 8th street crossing does not meet the environmental smell test IMHO.

IMHO bringing the 1.9 mill into play now BEFORE the 6th to 8th street phase is even close to completion says one thing. A while back finding bedrock for phase I added a mere 1.4 mill to the cost. Just another cost overrun. Something this city knows real well. Is this “environmental” trust money being used to finish phase I, or will it be used to turn 8th to 10th street into a concrete jungle? GREENWAY project? Yeah….right.

No surprise the city is running out of money on this project and there is cost overuns, it is typical of how the city operates. That is why a $120 million dollar cost estimate on the EC is a complete joke.



#1 Poly43 on 07.16.11 at 8:22 pm

No surprise the city is running out of money on this project and there are cost overuns, it is typical of how the city operates.

Here is my opinion of this matter. Can’t prove it at this point. That’s what journalists are for.

6th to 8th street is a 5.1 million dollar project. Go look at that project right now. An amphitheater far from complete. A few stones, and some concrete. Long ways to go on that front. ZERO for a quartzite retaining wall the length of the 2 block stretch, except a small area around the amphitheater. ZERO for a 16 foot wide bike path. ZERO for any of the greenery promised.

What we do know is it took a lot of money to find bedrock which wasn’t where engineers “guessed” it should be. Between that cost overrun and mayor mike raiding part of that 5.1 million for his EC cookie jar, they need that 1.9 million ENVIRONMENTAL money to have anything that looks like something by October.

Just a guess based on this city’s track record.

#2 concerned liberal on 07.16.11 at 10:52 pm

This site is where the Sioux Falls Dome should have been built.

#3 anominous on 07.16.11 at 11:54 pm

Bet that thing catches lot of Mt. Dew bottles

#4 l3wis on 07.17.11 at 12:14 am


Poly – I will defend progress, I walked around down there and they are progressing. I worked on big housing projects (crackerjack houses as we called them) as a teenager. Sometimes it is hard to see REAL progress.

BUT, using this money this way is not right.

#5 rufusx on 07.17.11 at 12:41 am

IIRC, not all of the work is the above-ground improvements. I believe there was a substantial amount of very large sanitary sewer main AND storm sewer mains replaced as part of the project. Those aree probably the “environmentally related” aspects are covered by the envitromental funds.

#6 Poly43 on 07.17.11 at 7:38 am

These are the opening lines from the first bi-weekly update dated Dec.3, 2010.

“The Downtown River Greenway Phase One project includes greenway reconstruction on the east bank of the Big Sioux River from 6th Street to 8th Street as well as reconstruction on the west bank of the river from 8th Street to the existing railroad bridge. Improvements include river walls, improved and accessible greenway access, gathering areas, seating, a widened trail, and landscape and irrigation improvements.”

This project started then and was to be completed by late August. Work started at the north end of the east bank and was intended to progress around to the south end of the east bank, across the river to the west bank, then north to the bridge foundation. From the get go, they had problems finding the bedrock where they “guessed” it should be for the foundation to the retaining walls. The retaining wall is complete to the south end of the east pedestrian bridge foundation. The retaining wall phase is waaaaay behind schedule. The August completion date was changed from late August to early October. The pedestrian bridge, built in Greeley Colorado, was delivered in December. Initially, according to the second update in mid December, it was to be installed the week of March 24th. Nearly four months later, and not a peep as to when it will be installed, or why it is being held up.

Go stand on the 8th street bridge, look at the starting point, bank wise, and work your eyes around to the ending point, the west bank bridge foundation. Little or nothing has been done in front of Falls Landing. Nothing has been done on the west bank.

My gut tells me this project is in DEEP do-do. Why would they need the 1.9 million of “ENVIRONMENTAL” trust money NOW when phase II, where that money was intended, is still just a twinkle in the eyes of DTSF?

#7 cr on 07.17.11 at 11:29 am

Notice in today’s edition of the Argus Leader (Business section/Eastbank Progress…) that Darrin Smith (Mike’s economic development Director) is saying that a decision on the hotel proposal from Lloyd, Hegg and Schoeneman may be decided by the end of the month. He indicates that the demolition of the river ramp is part of this proposal and that it could begin as early as November. I have never heard how they are proposing to pay for this…I think this may be where they are planning to spend part of the 1.97 million dollar environmental trust fund. If so, I think that this is really a s-t-r-e-t-c-h!! How would demolition of a parking ramp constitute improving the “quality” of the river water??!!

Check out the city’s website…this Thursday at noon, the Park Board will be taking a tour of the river greenway. Just as Park Board meetings are open to the public, so to is the tour…

#8 cr on 07.17.11 at 11:31 am

Oh, and BTW, why has the City Council handed over a blank check for 1.97 million dollars to Parks and Rec with no oversight…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#9 l3wis on 07.17.11 at 10:28 pm

“Lloyd, Hegg and Schoeneman”

Yeah, these 3 deserve a handout from the city like I need to gain 100 lbs.

#10 Tom H. on 07.18.11 at 8:53 am

I support this project for reasons I’ve explained before, but I agree that this is a suspect funding source for the project. I’m not sure why they are accelerating their own schedule to begin 8th to 10th street work when they are already struggling to complete phase I. Slow down and wait for the money. The river’s not going anywhere.

Anybody think it’s funny that Mayor Mike keeps touting the Arena site because of all the big city investments that are going on around it anyway? Like the Russel/West improvements, softball field-to-parking-lot “improvements”, etc? Yet he never seems to mention the similar investments the city is making anyway near the downtown site (River Greenway, Falls Park, River Ramp redevelopment, etc.). I’m not saying all of these projects are without problems (they all definitely have problems), but I think the bigger problem is the Mayor’s flippancy about cherry-picking statistics when making arguments for the biggest investment in city history (see: AECOM report).

#11 Poly43 on 07.18.11 at 12:27 pm

I’m not sure why they are accelerating their own schedule to begin 8th to 10th street work when they are already struggling to complete phase I.

There have been 16 bi-weekly news releases by the city on this project. Nowhere have I seen any mention of work being done now, or in the near future on phase II between 8th and 10th street. Phase II is another 3 million on top of the 5.1 million for phase I. Phase II money is SUPPOSED to be this 1.9 million in ENVIRONMENTAL money, and 1.1 million in city CIP money.

My guess, and that’s all it is at this time, is the city needs that 1.9 million in ENVIRONMENTAL money to help pay for the way behind schedule Phase I. Another guess is it could be used to help tear down the river ramp to keep guys like Lloyd grinning from ear to ear. At this point though, I’ll go with my first instinct.

#12 Pathloss on 07.19.11 at 4:30 pm

I think this will become a baptism site for Huether converts and tennis players. You can’t secure groupies until you waterboard them.