Entries Tagged 'MIDCO Aquatic Center' ↓

Former Sioux Falls Mayor Got SH*T Done?

I remember when Bucktooth and Bowlcut was walking out the door, it seemed the last 100 days of his administration we were reminded of all the ‘S**T’ he got accomplished (not my words, his). But only a little over 2 years later, let’s look at those supposed accomplishments;

Railroad Redevelopment. While this hasn’t totally flopped (there are a few projects and apartments being built in the area, after developer friendly deals were cut at taxpayer expense) The major developments flopped due to issues with engineering and bedrock. I actually don’t see this development ever coming to fruition for at least 20 years. It was touted as his greatest accomplishment but really was just a massive waste of Federal tax money that never solved the rail traffic issues downtown. They continue to store rail cars downtown less than a few blocks away. And to add insult to injury, we are spending millions for an overpass on 26th street so the trains can continue to march through downtown.

Events Center. Besides the possible impending doom if Mr. S gets brought up on criminal charges, the Denty has been nothing but a complete failure only 5 short years after it opened. Not just the major screw job on the cheap siding and many other issues with the building, sponsorships have continued to fall and attendance is at near zilch. And that’s not just because of Covid. Last year several businesses in the area complained that there was little activity at the place. Besides the rusted up tin can looking like a total waste, taxpayers are stuck with propping up this place with around a $10 million dollar a year mortgage payment while a majority of the profits go straight out of town. We didn’t need a new Events Center, and I think citizens will come to that realization within the next few years.

City Administration Building. Besides the fact we didn’t need this place, it has had issues from day one. The HVAC that clearly got screwed up by the CMAR had to be replaced at taxpayer’s expense, with still no word from the city attorney’s office if we will get reimbursed (likely not). When we decided to gift the other city building for the TRIAGE center, it proved that we didn’t really need another city office building. This was just another developer handout because of some backdoor promises MMM made .

Indoor Aquatic Center. I haven’t been in the place since it opened, but what I have been hearing from peeps in the neighborhood, it is turning into a real wasteland. There has been issues with the windows, leaks in the pool and extensive rusting. And that’s just the little things. There has also been multiple complaints about customer service and the horrible locker rooms. Attendance was also down before COVID hit and our subsidies grow every year. Now I wasn’t opposed to an indoor public pool, but I think we should have done it with a partnership with Sanford Sports Complex and built the pool out there. So not a total failure, but wrong place and wrong deal. I suspect it will become VA property within 10 years.

Bunker Ramp. This is the disaster that keeps giving. After MMM & Mini-Mike Darrin Smith screwed up the initial development, they marched forward with the guys that were associated with the Copper Lounge collapse LLC debacle. Even though many in the public and in the developer world told them it was a bad idea to get involved with these folks, a majority of the council pushed forward. Then when Mayor Stoneless rolled in, he also passed on the opportunity to kill it (contrary to what many believe, Paul and the council could have stopped the project and paid a bond funding fine, which could have been around $1 million, but saving us about $25 million). Not only did the past mayor and council fail to stop one of the biggest dupes on the public, the current administration continues to bungle with this project. Recently they decided to sell two flat surface parking lots (I’m guessing to push those parking tenants to the ramps). The worst part is that neither the current mayor or past mayor and councils apologized for this massive f’up. That  building will always be a stark final reminder of MMM’s legacy of a multitude of failures.

He did have one success during his administration. He supported and endorsed Snowgates, even though he could not get it passed through the idiots on the council at the time. It took a petition drive by Stehly to get this service. So in a sense, he failed at snowgates also.

When I hear rumors about a possible run for mayor again in 2022, I look at the above screwups and wonder how he even thinks he has a snowball chance in Hell of ever serving in public office again? If I was MMM, I would just plan on spending more time at my trailer house in Wessington Springs.

Public Indoor Pool continues to languish

As you can see, the indoor pool that we ‘NEEDED’ doesn’t seem to know how to grow it’s numbers.

Just look at two numbers below. The yearly passes are only at a little over 400 for a town of 180K. What is even more revealing is that only ONE person seemed to be interested in a winter pass.

You will also see the deficit. At this trajectory, the indoor pool will see it’s greatest loss for the year since it has opened, around $600K.

Let’s face it, we didn’t need an indoor public pool. We have plenty of private facilities offering this. On top of that, the poor children of our community still can’t use the facility unless they have a benefactor, because FREE passes we give for the outdoor pools don’t apply to the indoor pool.

So we stole money from a Federal Levee repayment to build an indoor public pool on Federal Land (that we don’t own) so the swim teams (and not the poor kids) could have a place to go where the taxpayers would subsidize them at a tune of over $500K a year. Another failure of the past administration. They are piling up these days.

Midco Aquatic Center subsidized $625K in 2018

A presentation will be made today at the 4 PM Sioux Falls city council informational meeting.

Ironically, while there was 10,000 fewer visitors in 2018 than in 2017 that operational expenses jumped $100K. 2018 made $1,000 less than 2017.

It also interesting to note that many sponsorships expire next year and need to be renewed. We will see how that goes.

I have often argued if there is the NEED for a public sporting facility in the community, it will at least break even or come very close. As I mentioned before the vote, besides being a bad location (no room for expansion) there are plenty of other indoor swimming opportunities for folks in the private sector, and many of these facilities offer other fitness options at their locations, some even include bowling and golf passes.

We will continue to be in the hole for years to come on the MAC, because it simply really wasn’t needed and was built in the wrong spot. I still think we should have partnered with Sanford on a pool at the Sports Complex. There is a still a rumor floating around that they intend to eventually build an Olympic competition pool out there, and once Slaveowner High goes in it will be utilized.

How is the Midco Aquatic Center doing?

I was just thinking last week, how is that place doing financially? How much are we subsidizing?

We haven’t had an update in a very long time.

There is also a flurry of rumors circulating that;

• The major sponsor is NOT happy with their investment . . .

• 2019 membership renewals are not good . . .

• Sanford is planning to build an Olympic sized, competitive pool at the Sports Complex . . . (gee, what a concept!)

Not sure if any of this is true, but a financial report would help to clear up any of these rumors.

Good for Yankton!

Believe it or not, I do give kudos to the Huethers for giving this gift to the community of Yankton;

A proposed indoor pool facility in Yankton got a big boost Tuesday.

The Mike, Cindy and Kylie Huether Family Foundation gave the project a $1 million donation, just two weeks ahead of the opt-out election.

On December 11, voters in Yankton will decide whether or not construction $14.8 million project will move forward.

The community group Dive In Yankton has secured about $4 million in funds so far, including Tuesday’s gift from Yankton native Mike Huether.

Some of us should consider ourselves lucky enough to have that kind of money to give, and you can never question generosity. (though in this case I would – I’m guessing the pool will have the Huether’s name on it in one way shape or form – It is being considered)*

But in the WNAX interview MMM couldn’t resist to pull the heartstrings by mentioning the Midco Aquatic Center.

Sorry Mike, not the same. While a small town like Yankton really needs something like this, and it will get a lot of usage and public support, my argument against our public indoor pool was different. Unlike Yankton, Sioux Falls has oodles of private fitness club indoor pools people can choose from. I just didn’t see the need to compete with private industry. And while the Midco has been somewhat successful (still hasn’t broken even on operational expenses) I still question the public ‘need’.

*As for the generosity of the family, funny how the Huethers suddenly have a cool million for the people of Yankton but had to come begging to the taxpayers of Sioux Falls for $500K for a building that bears their name at the Sanford Sports Complex . . . and the public still can’t use the parking lot.

Here is a final draft of the Yankton Aquatic Report; FinalDraft

LifeScape Parking lot expansion further proof the indoor pool was built in the wrong place

I think the debate is over, we wanted an indoor pool and we got one. But a major issue at the time was the location of the pool. While I wouldn’t be opposed to a public indoor pool built at a city park, Spellerberg Park was problematic from the get go.

Besides the fact that there is no room for expansion, one of the major issues was parking expansion of the VA. We knew the VA was going to expand, we knew they would need more parking and we knew they held the quit claim deed to Spellerberg. If the pool wasn’t built there they could have easily expanded parking into the park. NOW, we have LifeScape tearing up affordable housing in the center of our city for parking because they NO longer have space at the VA.

I still believe a public/private partnership with Sanford at the Sports complex for an indoor pool would have made more sense, and really there is nothing stopping them from doing their own pool in the future.

While the negotiations behind the RR redevelopment was one of the worst in the past administration, building the indoor pool at Spellerberg is proving also to be another poor decision from a RAM-ROD mentality of the previous administration.

UPDATE: Property values affected by new Aquatic Center?

UPDATE: I spoke with a local realtor in SF who specializes in home sales. They told me that overall average in home values in Sioux Falls has risen 7-10% over the past year, but neighborhoods in individual homes obviously vary. I asked specifically about Spellerberg Park area, and they said that the mayor would have had to really dig into stats to back up that claim and that would have taken a realtor with that kind of expertise. In other words, once again, he was blowing smoke.

During the press conference for the 1st Anniversary of the Aquatic Center, mayor Huether claims this (FF: 2:20);

‘Property values around this aquatic center have gone up.’

He of course doesn’t reference any real estate study or statistics, he just lets the BS spew standing at the microphone. While, you could argue he is correct, because property values ACROSS the city have gone up over the past year, I find it hard to be able to measure property value increasing dramatically since the pool was built only a year ago.

Any realtors want to challenge me or the mayor on this? Can anyone show me that property values have increased MORE around Spellerberg Park than the normal rate across the city or a comparable central/proper neighborhood.

Would love to see the actual numbers since Mike couldn’t produce his sources.

Just imagine, it was only a year ago when the mayor filled the pool with his tears.

Detroit Lewis DOC review; Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Love the above quote.

Some in power in this great town think they are the ONLY one who gets to make the grand decisions, like when it comes to Indoor Pools or Administration buildings.

In this Documentary, Jane Jacobs takes citizen activism to her city, NY, on a large scale;

Citizen Jane is a timely tale of what can happen when engaged citizens fight the power for the sake of a better world. Arguably no one did more to shape our understanding of the modern American city than Jane Jacobs, the visionary activist and writer who fought to preserve urban communities in the face of destructive development projects. Director Matt Tyranuer (Valentino: The Last Emperor) vividly brings to life Jacobs’ 1960s showdown with ruthless construction kingpin Robert Moses over his plan to raze lower Manhattan to make way for a highway, a dramatic struggle over the very soul of the neighborhood.

Jane shows that you can make a difference on a local level, and take on the ‘big wigs’ and win.

Drink Up!

Watertown builds an entire Rec center for $23 million, we just got a pool, that we can’t expand.

Click to enlarge

And guess what else? They built the facility so they could expand it and it’s parking! What a concept! They also have it next to a proposed Middle School! WOW! Planning ahead. I bet the lockers are big enough to at least fit your sunglasses and car keys into.

I often wonder how construction costs in Sioux Falls could be that much higher then in Watertown? I actually think it would be MORE expensive to build in Watertown a facility like this.

Like many Sioux Falls city projects, I believe the contractor and price is set before the bidding process even begins. The CMAR process is a boondoggle to make sure contractors rake the tax payers over the coals. It’s unfortunate that with all the ‘smart’ people we have working within city government (that we pay quite nicely) couldn’t see that the Indoor Aquatic Center was a complete rip-off. But Mayor Ramrod had to have it. This is what happens when you don’t let taxpayer’s decide on these projects. A NO vote on an outdoor pool only said that people might prefer an indoor pool. But since there never was an official vote we will never know. Was it a preferred location? Good Price? etc. We see what happens when we only let the mayor pick these projects, we get a huge price-tag and a $25 million dollar administration building.