Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls Parks and Rec' ↓

Denver, CO sees measurable results from incentivizing E-Bikes

While many people have told me to get off my high-horse about helping low income folks with an E-Bike leasing program, Denver has found that it has measurable results;

Researchers at Portland State University are tracking 65 programs nationwide that are active or that have been approved to help people get on e-bikes, either through subsidies or loaning a bike. California plans to launch a statewide program next year backed by $10 million.

E-bikes, which have a motor and battery to propel riders, can cost about $2,000, putting them out of reach for many low-income families. Denver’s program has two tiers, with one that offers $400 to any city resident — an amount aimed at sweetening the deal for would-be buyers. For low-income residents, the second tier increases the voucher size to $1,200, a sum city officials say should make the bikes more widely affordable.

Two other elements of the program are designed to encourage buyers to use their bikes for transportation: a bonus of $500 for cargo bikes, which can carry children or a large load, while full-suspension mountain bikes used primarily for recreation aren’t eligible.

And after Denver tried this pilot program, guess what they found out;

A city survey found new e-bike riders were riding, on average, 26.2 miles per week, and that low-income buyers were riding about 32 miles per week. Respondents said they had replaced 3.4 car trips each week with bike rides.

“It’s so much faster,” said Rink, who commutes by e-bike. “It’s much less of a chore. There is an element of joy in riding the e-bike.”

I would agree, my main reason I like riding my E-Bike is because it is enjoyable, but if you look at the results of this successful program it is also equitable. I hope the new transportation board in Sioux Falls looks at this.

City of Sioux Falls plan to expand indoor pools has been in the works for years

This is no surprise, before the doors of the Midco even opened there were plans to expand the indoor facilities;

South Dakota’s largest community is readying to spend tens of millions of dollars overhauling its pool system, which could include a pair of brand new indoor aquatic centers.

The plan to expand indoor facilities has been talked about for a long time. In fact, the bonds they are proposing have been on the table for years.

I am NOT against building indoor rec facilities that have multiple uses, but when we are losing $700K a year on just one indoor pool we have to ask ourselves some serious operating expense questions. If these community centers are meant to help those who can’t afford private fitness clubs why not have certain hours where they are FREE to use by anyone?

Leon Younger, President of PROs Consulting, reviewed the alignment with the Park System Master Plan, with the following main points: replace aging aquatic facilities; renovate and update aquatic facilities to extend their useful life; adult fitness and wellness programs; year round programming; maintain the level of service with population growth; address the shortage of indoor recreation space. Younger also stated the following recommendations: prioritize indoor multi-generational recreation center with aquatics at Frank Olson or Kuehn Park, ideally both; follow Master Plan for McKennan Park with replacement of wading pool; add shade and upgraded concessions at Terrace and Laurel Oak parks.

We can’t say on one hand we are here to help the less fortunate then turn around and charge an entrance fee like we do that already at many city owned facilities.

You will also find that the largest number of people who filled out the survey were from the SE district in North Harrisburg. It makes you wonder if that district is more targeted online to participate in the survey. The SE district is what shaped the last city election, and now we are letting them shape policy.

It will be interesting to see what kind of operating expenses the Parks Department comes up with.

City of Sioux Falls pushing for MORE indoor pools

Weren’t we told the MAC would do gang busters because there was such a need? The need has been SO great attendance goes down each year and subsidies go up ($700K a year approx.) If the MAC was at capacity and was being used that much, wouldn’t it at LEAST be breaking even?

Designs for both Frank Olson and Kuehn Park pools included both an indoor and outdoor option, and an indoor pool would also likely mean more indoor recreation like a running track, gymnasium space and multi-purpose rooms.

We don’t need another municipal indoor pool OR rec center. We should encourage Sanford to build a large facility at the Sports Complex and get out of the broken window and broken sidewalk fixing business and money losing adventure the MAC has been.

Mayor TenHaken is pushing to sell our parks to the highest bidder

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.

Who needs a forestry department?

When we have eager beavers doing our work for us.

Fancy Fix

I told the city council awhile ago that I like the bike trail extension to Family Park but they needed to fix the mud pit at the end of trail by the restroom.

When you bring up stuff to the city council at public input, they sometimes react 🙂

City of Sioux Falls Requiring $5 registration fee for July 4th fun run

The fee is payable to the Sioux Falls Parks & Rec and you get a free T-Shirt. Not sure why you would have to pre-register and pre-pay for a publicly endorsed run, especially on Independence Day? It is all to gather information on the citizens. This administration has been doing a heckuva of a job over the past 4 years making citizens RSVP and pre-register for public events and meetings, and it is wrong. You should NEVER have to RSVP or pre-pay for a public event. I encourage you to just show up and participate. It’s being held on public property and no one should force you to pay a FEE to walk on a taxpayer owned bike trail.

I have suspected one of the reasons the mayor and his council endorsements were so successful this past election is because the campaigns have been using the data the city has collected by cross referencing it with voter registration and Facebook followers. There was a reason the other candidates got their asses kicked, they didn’t have access to this data.

The crazy part is I don’t even know if this illegal in the State of South Dakota.

Oh, and the FREE lunch is now for only 3,000 people instead of 5,000 and instead of a pork sandwich we get a hot dog. Someone told me it is likely we no longer have a sponsor for the FREE lunch and this money is likely going towards that.

Sioux Falls Levitt has yet to release 2021 financials

While they prepare to start their season next Friday, the Levitt has yet to release their financials, tax return or annual report from last year.

A couple of weeks ago a city official told me that the Levitt has NOT completed the tax filings and audit yet. Kind of odd how you can budget for another season without knowing how you did in 2021?

These financial statements are important because the Levitt receives public funding through the parks department, they also manage the booking of the stage for non-Levitt concerts (mostly church services) and they are a non-profit.

I am also curious what kind of money the Levitt raises through donations and other fees. There have been some wild claims made that if it were not for the private sale of alcoholic beverages at the concerts the Levitt couldn’t survive financially. Hogwash.

The Levitt has multiple funding sources. In fact they could probably raise even more money by charging a wrist band fee and cooler fee for people who wanted to bring their own adult beverages while still maintaining liquor sales from the private provider (you would only allow beer and wine in cans or plastic bottles to those who bring their own).

We will see if their annual report magically appears next Thursday 🙂

Pettigrew & Cathedral Neighborhood Associations Body Check the City & School District

I attended the almost 90 minute meeting tonight (I will have a YT video up soon if you don’t have FB) and it was pretty clear what the neighborhood wanted, GREENSPACE! There was a standing vote, and besides the reporters and city/school staff, everyone was standing in approval of leaving it a park.

The most interesting part was that it seems now the staff from the city and the school district said they have NO PLANS for it. Kevin Smith from the city further pointed out that they don’t own the property but help maintain it.

Funny how transparency works, SUNSHINE WINS THE DAY!

New Skatepark has Green Light!

Tomorrow the Skatepark Association is having a celebration for hitting their fundraising goal.