City of Sioux Falls Public Meeting Agenda for July 20-22, 2021

There are several interesting agenda items, including another IM 26 task force meeting, in the AM during the workweek at the library where it cannot be recorded or easily attended by working folks. The mayor also lays out the budget for the city, even though according to charter this should be the job of the city council. In the regular city council agenda is the 2nd reading for the land swap deal the smells about as bad as the river it borders. If you go look at this land, it is pretty clear it is controlled by the Corps of Engineers and not the city or the property owner.


#1 Mike Lee Zitterich on 07.19.21 at 3:33 pm

On the Minnehaha County website, the land in question is actually titled in the name of the “City of Sioux Falls”. It would not be in the control of the Corps of Engineers, this predates them. The Dam was locally built by local developers at the time back in the early 1900’s.

The only part of this strip of land that the City does not own is Parcel #92854 which was owned by Sioux Steel, which of course was transferred to Lloyd Properties. Of course the City owns Parcel #53897 which is known as Kiwanis Park along the river above the dam.

Parcel 53897 legally is referred to as: NW1/4 TRACT 9 (KIWANIS PARK) 16-101-49 SIOUX FALLS CITY UNPLATTED

This then lines up Parcel #53897 perfectly with land conveyed by the State to be reserved to the people as a “park” as per:

5-2-4. State ownership of lake and river beds declared–Riparian owners protected.

For the purposes of §§ 5-2-4 to 5-2-9, inclusive, the bed and channel of any lake or river in this state or bordering on this state to the middle of the main channel thereof, and all islands and sandbars lying therein shall be considered the property of the State of South Dakota unless this state or the United States has granted or conveyed an adverse legal or equitable interest therein. Nothing in said sections shall affect or impair the rights of riparian owners; whereas as per 5-2-9. It shall be the duty of the attorney general, or any state’s attorney, on direction of the Governor, to commence any action necessary to protect the rights of the state under §§ 5-2-4 to 5-2-8, inclusive.

And in accordance with: 5-2-10. Public easements over state and county lands for conservation and parks–Grant of easements for electric, water, sewer, and fuel lines–Air rights.

The State of South Dakota, through its several departments, agencies, and institutions, and counties through their boards of county commissioners, may grant perpetual easements on lands under their control, dedicating to the public permanent use of the same in the use of water conservation projects or public parks, and may grant easements on or over such lands to any person, association, or corporation, granting the right to erect and maintain poles and wires for the purpose of conducting or transmitting electricity for lighting, heating, and power purposes. The Board of Regents and the executive branch may also grant easements for water, sewer, and fuel lines on land, or air rights over land, at the institutions under their control, which shall be executed pursuant to § 5-2-11.

Everyone by knows how much research and thought and effort I have put into the history of Seney Island, I as much as anyone wants to see my ISLAND back, but, at the same time, I have to admit, part of this land has been reserved to as a city park, the CITY needs the other section to complete the “park” or the “Greenway” from 6th Street to Falls Park on the west bank.

Interestingly, I looked up the definition of a RIPARIAN owner:

Under common law, a riparian owner possesses rights over and responsibilities for the stretch of a watercourse that forms the boundary of their property. A riparian owner is anyone who owns a property where there is a watercourse within or adjacent to the boundaries of their property and a watercourse includes a river, stream or ditch. A riparian owner is also responsible for watercourses or culverted watercourses passing through their land. Riparian responsibility can also lie with the tenant of the property, depending on the agreement.

A watercourse is any natural or artificial channel above or below the ground through which water flows such as a river, brook, beck, ditch, mill, stream, culvert, drains, cuts, dykes, passages, pipes and even sewers (other than public sewers). Watercourses drain the land and drain surface water away and help to prevent flooding and assist in supporting flora and fauna. Watercourses take water runoff from buildings and roads and fields and parks. If the system of ditches and culverts are maintained, any flooding is likely to only affect the area in the floodplain.

Question: When the Dakota Land Company sold the “patent” rights to the Brookings Family in 1877, and later on, the Brookings ceded part of, or all of the “land” to the State of South Dakota, did the State then section off this land in 3 sections: allowing for the Railroad Companies, Sioux Steel, and Pitts Steel to ‘use’ the land, hence conveying to them, as Riparian Owners of the land?

And by doing so, did the very same “STATE” convey with it, the very parcel #53897 to be known as Kiwanis Park to be reserved as a park?

Sadly, even I, a huge supporter of saving the Island, am starting to connect the dots here…

#2 l3wis on 07.19.21 at 7:37 pm

Not sure if anyone remembers but during the Munson administration the city council took out bonds to build dikes along the Big Sioux over by the country clubs. The premise was the Corps would pay back the city for those dikes (they did) if they built them early at our expense. The reason the Corps paid us back is that the Sioux River and it’s banks are Federal property. Of course when we got the payment back, Huether used the money to pay for a part of the Midco instead of paying down the bonds early. Either way, it is common knowledge that the river and it’s banks are Federal property and it has been that way for a very long time.

#3 Mike Lee Zitterich on 07.19.21 at 10:15 pm

You are correct, they did pay us back for our role in repairing and upgrading the dikes along the westside diversion channel, however, the CORPS built the channel, and had jurisdiction over it to maintain it, they owed us the money.

However, the Corps of Engineers did not build the Mill Dam, nor close off the West Channel around Seney Island, they had no jurisdiction over it, that was created long ago prior to 1930 long before the Federal Corps of Engineers was ever thought of.

Keep in mind Big Sioux River is a river that does NOT leave the bounderies of the “State”, its a “State” river, unless the state gives up some control over it to the Federal Govt, which they did on the west side to build the Diversion Channel in the 1950’s, but this alone does not give the FEDS complete control over the ‘river’ itself, just the portion we delegated to them.

The Sioux River begins inside of South Dakota near Watertown, but never does it leave the borders of South Dakota. “Jurisdiction” is a very tricky thing.

#4 Very Stable Genius on 07.24.21 at 1:14 pm

Having a river only in a given state is not the issue. If any river has ever had a history of commerce and navigability then it belongs to the Feds.

The real issue here is whether the Sioux River is “navigable” south of the Falls due to the presence of the Falls, which is where the former Seney Island is found.
Historic water commerce, however, between Watertown and Sioux Falls should suffice for that question.

But then here is my new question: If a crime is committed on a navigable river, who has jurisdiction?

Perhaps, we should stage a duel between “Woodstock” and the anti-quotation boy to see which authorities show up.

( and Woodstock adds: “A DUEL!?”…… “And involving ME!?”… )