Entries Tagged 'Downtown Sioux Falls' ↓

FAB writes an open letter to our city leaders

To: Mayor TenHaken, Sioux Falls City Council Members, Sioux Falls Public Works and Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation

From: Falls Area Bicyclists Members and Active Transportation Advocates as signed belowRE: The proposed Capital Improvement Plan does not reflect the public’s desire for safe, comfortable, and connected active transportation routes

Dear Mayor TenHaken, Council Members, Director of Public Works, and Director of Parks & Recreation,

We, the executive board and members of Falls Area Bicyclists along with fellow active transportation advocates, write to you today in regards to the proposed Capital Improvement Plan(CIP).

First of all, we are grateful for the past and future investment in our greenway trail system. Sioux Falls is truly blessed with a trail system that rivals any municipality. However, we are not writing to you today about trail funding. We are concerned about the lack of dedicated funding for safe and connected on-street routes for bicycling, walking, and other active transportation modes.

Our analysis of the $67 million budgeted to streets and highways in the 2023 CIP indicated a mere $300k is allocated to pedestrian and bicycling improvements.

The need for safe on-street routes to ride a bike, skateboard, walk, or use a scooter has never been greater. The increased popularity of electronic bikes, scooters and other e-devices are creating dangerous conflicts on our sidewalks. However the use of bicycles and other active modes in the street feels dangerous to all but the most confident. High vehicle speeds and distracted drivers only highlight the need for a network of safe easy to use routes.

The CIP invests millions on adding lanes, new arterial streets, and expanding intersections. This in turn generates more vehicle congestion and a built environment that is increasingly hostile to anyone outside a car. The CIP is also a testament to how expensive it is to maintain all the streets we’ve already built. And yet even as costs continue to rise, the solution to our transportation issues is to simply add more motor vehicle capacity by expanding our existing network.

Active transportation projects cost a mere fraction of traditional infrastructure and have the potential to reduce trips by automobile, encourage a happy and healthy population, and provide a more financially sustainable transportation network.

We ask you to meet the expectation of our Complete Streets policy and fund active transportation projects. We are not alone in calling for making active transportation a priority in our future transportation funding.

  • Go Sioux Falls 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan(MPO) calls for transportation that considers all users.
  • The Sioux Falls Health Department’s Community Health Improvement Plan states that active transportation options are essential to reduce chronic disease. 
  • The Sioux Falls Sustainability Program calls for improvement in multi-modal transportation to protect our environment and combat climate change.
  • Downtown Sioux Falls advocates for bikeable and walkable streets because it boosts profits and economic growth.  
  • Neighborhood associations, the American Heart Association, SD AARP, and many more organizations call for walkable and bikeable communities to support their missions. 

An important example, the 15th Street Bicycle Boulevard project has been designated as a high-priority bicycle route by the Sioux Falls Bicycle Committee since 2017. The boulevard would create a safe and comfortable route to ride a bicycle from the zoo to downtown. This two mile cross-town connector would have a transformative effect providing an east-west option designed first for bicycles but still allowing motor vehicles. A family could safely ride from their home by the zoo to The Levitt in just 15 minutes.

Over the past five years there has been some small funding allocated to the 15th Street Boulevard and the first phase was completed last fall. Unfortunately it is impossible to determine from the CIP when and if the next phases of the boulevard will be completed. The boulevard project and any other active transportation projects are not listed in the CIP, making it impossible for citizens to track any investment in active transportation projects.

We are asking today that the 2023 CIP reflects the priority that our MPO, health department, citizens, and other organizations have placed on active transportation. Make on-street active transportation projects their own line item in the CIP, and separate them from the sidewalk additions to arterial roads (currently lumped together in Project #11075 in the CIP). Fund on-street active transportation to a level that in five years we can look back and say yes, we did make our transportation system better, safer, healthier, and more sustainable for everyone!

We sincerely hope that everyone reading this letter has had the chance to experience Sioux Falls on a bicycle beyond the bike trail. Our city is amazing by bicycle. Yes, even in the winter. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you to make Sioux Falls the best little city in the midwest!

Sincerely,

Jeffery Mersch,
President, Falls Area Bicyclists

Art Holden,
Ride Director, Falls Area Bicyclists

Attached: Co-signers and comments

Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force takes public input

Here are some takeaways from last night’s meeting (it only took 12 hours this time to get the video up, still don’t know why they don’t live stream);

• Several complaints about the mismanagement of Dudley House, the way they are treating clients, not taking care of situations, working with clients, interviewing them, etc.

• The public (city, county) is not properly funding the management of homelessness and there needs to be more police foot patrols.

• Panhandlers have taken over the neighborhood (Before the signs went up about not giving to panhandlers, my SIGN idea was to make it clear that GIVING to panhandlers out of the window of your vehicle while in traffic is ILLEGAL. There is NO purpose in giving violations or shaming panhandlers, it won’t stop them from asking, not to mention they have a 1st Amendment right to ask for money. The solution is making it clear to motorists that you can be fined for obstructing traffic. The only way we can get panhandling under control is shutting off the tap, that means cracking down on the contributors).

• The Dudley house is in a bad location. I suggested when they picked this location that there is plenty of space just north of the jail. Not only would it be close to law enforcement it would be within a few blocks of Falls Community Health and The Link. The Dudley house needs to close its current location and move.

• The 9th Street Alley that runs along the south side of the Dudley needs to be closed and fenced off.

• The clients need to participate in their recovery.

While nobody brought this up during the meeting, I know that there is a lack of transitional housing in Sioux Falls. The legislative/policy body of the city, the council, could write ordinances that require developers to provide so many efficiency, felon friendly, transitional units for every regular unit they build. They could also require rent control in these units that only have their rent increased with inflation.

Lipstick on a pig

The new and improved city government failure;

Homeless Task Force meeting

I have a few takeaways from the meeting;

• There needs to be more felon friendly efficiency options for transitional housing. Regular market rate apartments are just too expensive right now for people looking for transitional housing.

• There needs to be officers dedicated to helping the homeless community.

• Religious discrimination needs to end (I wasn’t quite certain how often this actually happens, but needs to be looked at.)

• The most surprising thing I heard was that the different organizations, while somewhat working together, don’t have the infrastructure set up to work together on a more regular basis because their missions are all different. I think they work really hard to work together, but it seems it is all on a volunteer basis and they are NOT mandating they work together.

At the end of the meeting I heard member Michelle Erpenbach ask Chair Merkouris,

“So the work sessions will not be recorded?”

It cut off before he answered her. I have reached out to Rich and told him that the meetings need to live stream, because waiting 2 1/2 days for a meeting to post to YouTube just doesn’t cut it for transparency. I am not sure why this committee or board meeting is any different, in fact, I think this is a very important board, and they really need to approach this with transparency. Nothing gets solved in the dark.

The next meeting is Monday at 7 PM.

Has the Denny Sanford Premier Center lost its luster?

Well, I could have seen this coming a mile away. As Scott Hudson and I discussed on our podcast before the Denty was built, the industry wasn’t really moving in a direction of big sold out concerts. The Premier Center was a splash in the pan, but unfortunately, we have to pay the mortgage and maintenance on the facility for its life.

Part of the issue was the way the bonds were passed to build the facility. It was many first time voters that didn’t know that it was an advisory vote (a real bond election would have required a 60% passage). If it would have been a REAL bond election, the EC would have failed.

I still think remodeling the Arena, turning the current convention center into a recreational facility and moving the Convention Center downtown would have been a better choice.

I had a person ask me the other day what I thought were Sioux Falls’ best years since I have lived here. (He moved here with his wife in 2010 and runs a successful small business). I told him that golden years were between 1997-2007. Downtown Sioux Falls was full of great live music and live music venues and was really a great place to be. I think we could have continued that trend if it were not for the 2008 recession. I don’t think the Sioux Falls middle class really bounced back from that recession. Wages were frozen throughout the city for several years and the only ones moving forward were the welfare queen developers who were cashing in on all the tax incentives. I think that ruined Sioux Falls, growth for growth sakes.

If the 2008 recession could have been avoided, and we throttled back on the growth in 2007 we would be a much better community for it. But hey! At least we have a dented up empty can to be proud of.

City of Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force lacks neighborhood representation

Besides the fact that there was NO public call for membership to this group they have NO one from the neighborhood (residents or business owners) serving the on the group.

While we could certainly wait to see what this group accomplishes, it’s hard for me to have much confidence when the selection of the task force was done in secret and lacking transparency.

While some of the members of the board do work in affordable housing and social work, I’m not sure athletes, realtors and directors of business organizations really have a grasp of what is going on in this neighborhood. Where is the director of one of the homeless shelters like the Mission or Dudley house on the board? Or a rep from the Banquet? What about a pastor or deacon? A business owner or homeowner in this neighborhood would have been an excellent addition to the group. It is pretty much a group of bureaucrats that are going to craft policies that uphold the bureaucracy instead of fixing the problem.

The SFPD really needs a group of officers dedicated to outreach to the homeless. That would be a great first step. Instead of reacting to the problem, a proactive approach.

I live in the Nelson Park neighborhood, and to be quite honest with you I have never seen so many homeless people before, the problem has exploded.

I do wish them luck and I want to thank Chair Merkouris for wanting to take this on. I also think it is wonderful the meetings will be open to the public, and WILL be recored. Nothing can be accomplished in the dark.

NEW Downtown Sioux Falls Mural while wonderful, mostly hidden from view

I was a little disappointed today when I viewed the new bird mural, it is mostly hidden from full view due to the viaduct;

It is also clearly inspired by street artist genius Bansky. “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso

UPDATE: Quiet Zones for Condo Dwellers in DTSF

UPDATE: Instead of expensive quiet zones with concrete barriers and crossbars, maybe the city could work with current city ordinances and the state RR board to create ‘quiet times’. In other words limit the time of day trains could pass over city roads and thru neighborhoods. Let’s admit it, when a train is NOT moving over traffic they are quiet. So why not find a way to limit train traffic thru the city? My suggestion would be to have these as active times;

8:30 AM-11 AM, 1 PM-4 PM and 6 PM-9 PM

This would give the Railroads 8.5 hours in the day to move thru the city. I have never understood why the trains need to run at 3 AM or during morning and evening rush hour, it is ridiculous. I think the state and the city could implement local laws that would limit train traffic and keep the whistles to a minimum.

The railroad has had its reign on us long enough, and if they don’t like the designated times, they can certainly do what we have wanted for decades, move the damn trains on the outskirts of town and stop running them thru our city.

While I certainly support quiet zones on 6th & 8th streets, it is pretty obvious it is for the wealthy condo dwellers;

The City of Sioux Falls is looking at setting up quiet zones along Weber Avenue, at the Sixth Street and Eighth Street intersections of downtown. The plan is to make improvements to the railroad crossings so train engineers won’t have to blow their whistles as often, if at all.

If they are successful setting up the quiet zones, they really need to them also at Cliff between 12th and 14th (most of the DT train traffic comes thru here all thru the early morning and day) and across 14th by the credit union.

While I am supportive of this, it seems like they want to set them up where expensive condos are being built and NOT where they are really needed. But it seems the RR is NOT to keen on the idea;

But a spokesperson with the railroad industry urged the state railroad board to proceed with caution about quiet zones, saying that blowing a train whistle is always safer than not blowing one, especially when drivers aren’t paying attention.

I have a feeling there will be a fight about this, and the railroads rarely lose, just look how this project was negotiated, the railroads got millions of dollars to move but didn’t move at all, in fact traffic has increased DTSF and they now stage the cars right by the steel company and Avera.

I have argued for a long time the DT RR relocation project was poorly negotiated and when it comes to frequent train traffic, nothing was solved.

When Mayor Dave Munson and Senator Tim Johnson first proposed the idea, it was to remove the train traffic from DTSF, or make it very minimal. We got duped.

Another Bunker Ramp update. Let me guess, we have winner!

It has only been a couple of weeks since we were told they were going put lipstick on that gigantic concrete pig, now we are getting another update;

• Downtown Parking Ramp Update by Erica Beck, Chief of Staff

More than likely this is an update with the mural selection process, but you never know, they may have an interested party. A few months ago I heard a rumor that Councilor Neitzert was telling some constituents he wanted to do an investigation into how the Bunker Ramp got so messed up. I almost died laughing. I told this person we could save a lot of time if we just handed Greg a mirror.

They will also be amending the Shape Places;

• Shape Places Ordinance & Proposed Amendments by Jason Bieber, Senior Planner

I find the expedited timeline of getting these changes in place interesting. This means many of them have been in the works for months without the knowledge of the public or council.

Top Floor of Bunker Ramp CLOSED to the public

I noticed this winter that the top floor of the ramp was blocked off with vehicle barricades. Didn’t think much of it, figured the city was saving itself snow removal money by not having to clear it. But as Spring arrived, it was still closed off (to vehicles). I have continued to ride my bike to the top to take photos (like the one above) and was there tonight. As I was leaving a private security guard came barreling out of the elevator telling me I couldn’t be up there (on my bike). I said, “Why?” He seemed befuddled and said, “Because the city doesn’t want anyone up here.” I again asked, “Why?” He seemed more befuddled and said nothing, so I told him I would leave since I have more respect for rent-a-cops then I do for the regulars.

But I really want an answer to that question. Why is the top floor closed?

Maybe the city is afraid if people park on the top floor of the ramp they will become complacent and not want to park in the mostly unused other 6 floors 🙂

*If you haven’t been up there, it is an excellent place to snap photos of the Sioux Falls skyline.