This isn’t just a rant from a Sioux Falls government blogger, many people from the business sector, private property owners and journalists have reached out to me and agree that selling our parks off is a precedent that we will never be able to reverse;

In the early days of Mayor Paul TenHaken’s administration, the new mayor challenged each department head to set stretch goals.

As he put it, “throw the buoy way out there,” said Don Kearney, the city’s director of parks and recreation.

In the case of the Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation Department, that meant an eight-digit reach: Earn $10 million in private support for the department by 2022.

“We thought we could do $7 million, but we increased it to $10 million, and now we’ve exceeded that,” Kearney said.

“And we could double that to over $20 million by the end of the year.”

Don’t misunderstand me, I am all for private donations to help our parks system, and I am not even opposed to modest placards appearing in our parks honoring those who give, but when a private donation is given, it should be put towards the parks general fund to be spent on our greatest parks needs. One thing I have advocated for is 24/7 bike trail access and solar lighting in the darker parts of the trail.

Some other contributions to our parks are also wonderful ways to give;

Other contributions came in the form of land, such as an extension of the west-side Family Park.

Labor counts too – including from volunteers and inmates. Kearney estimates their help has saved the city more than $300,000 over the past few years.

But this is where donations get sticky;

Last year, the Sioux Falls Parks Foundation was organized as an affiliate of the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

“There’s a lot of interest,” said Jennifer Kirby, who chairs the foundation’s advisory board. “It all comes down to finding the actual project that will mesh with a donor’s passion.”

Her group held an informational event for donors last month and has been meeting individually to gauge interest in specific projects.

While I get it that donors have a certain level of privacy, that privacy should go all the way to the end with NOT plastering our parks with donor signs. A private foundation meeting secretly with donors to determine how our parks are being shaped is not acceptable. The taxpayers of Sioux Falls are the main donor to our parks system, we also foot the operational expenses of the employees salaries and park maintenance. The taxpayers are the main owners of our public parks and they should be in on the discussion on how to use donor’s money, which should be given anonymously and modestly.

It was disheartening but not surprising that our mayor is pushing to sell off our parks like they are cars in a NASCAR race.

12 Thoughts on “Mayor TenHaken is pushing to sell our parks to the highest bidder

  1. ***NON GERMANE WARNING!!!*** on October 22, 2022 at 2:13 pm said:

    Soon, Thune will break the jinx of a fourth term and become the first US Senator from South Dakota since Karl Mundt to be elected to a four term. AND, to think he did it all with only an earthworm commercial. VSG

    ( and Woodstock adds: “Say, I can’t wait to see the FB Live with Thune, his granddaughter, and TenHaken and his daughter”…. “That ought to be a good one”…. “Perhaps, they could film it from the Mayor’s garage, too, and with his mounted Big Mouth Billy Bass fish in the background licking his chops with excitement over the idea of some delicious night crawlers”…. )

  2. Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on October 22, 2022 at 2:16 pm said:

    The corporatists strike again. They’re like communists, but without a standing army. They have privatized the city council and now the parks, what’s next?

  3. D@ily Spin on October 22, 2022 at 5:27 pm said:

    Parks are designated open space meant for public use and enjoyment. Profit from the parks must not come under pressure. How about focusing on profit from the Denty, Pavilion, and Indoor Pool instead. When Don Kearney is involved, it’s aside from city relevance and purpose. He moved Parks offices to nearly out of town. He subcontracted golf course landscaping to Nebraska. The new indoor pool center is falling apart. Just retire already. Your golden parachute is waiting.

  4. The Thune commercial. This is what $17.5 million in your war chest buys you. You know, he could just give everyone in SD $17 bucks and call it good.

    I was trying to figure out what this half-Thune was saying, because it wasn’t ‘worm’. I think she says, ‘Look papa I caught a mouse.’ and I thought to myself, ‘reach just a couple more inches and you will catch a rat.’

    I get disgusted when politicians use their spawn to promote their candidacy, and when you come after their family they scream SACRED!

  5. Very Stable Genius on October 23, 2022 at 11:49 am said:

    I can’t wait until Thune runs for his eighth term and has his great-granddaughter in a commercial with him… (“…. “Look grand-papa….. “)

  6. Further Fear & Loathing on October 23, 2022 at 11:50 am said:

    Yeah…. “Look grand-papa, I just found one of the last earthworms in the world thanks to climate change, drought, and your public policy positions”….

  7. Fearing the Fuhrer & More on October 23, 2022 at 11:54 am said:

    It was stupid for the Democrats to have run Bengs. Because having two Libertarians on the ballot makes it even harder for either one to win against Thune. 🙂

  8. "Woodstock" on October 23, 2022 at 2:32 pm said:

    “Man, I can’t wait until TenHaken is in the Senate with Thune for a long time”…. “WOW!”….. “Talk about many years of good looking nothing-ism”….

  9. D@ily Spin on October 23, 2022 at 3:07 pm said:

    The Parks Department seems focused on empire building. This mayor or the next must redirect budget into a Water Plant. What happened in Jackson MS could happen here.

  10. Sick of Fearing on October 23, 2022 at 4:53 pm said:

    “half-Thune”? Does that mean there’s hope?

  11. Warren Phear on October 25, 2022 at 10:33 pm said:

    I heard in the last few days the Butterfly House is moving to the pay to play zoo. WTH.

  12. "Woodstock" on October 26, 2022 at 12:07 pm said:

    “Say, Grand-Papa, do you have any Grey Poupon?”…

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