Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls Parks and Rec' ↓

$500,000 wood signs

Recently the city (taxpayers) had to pay out a half-million for a settlement in a drowning incident at Falls Park. Part of the settlement was putting signs at Falls Park. The solution was two wood signs, NOT by the Falls themselves but in the parking lots. I will admit I did not go down closer to the Falls to see if there was more permanent metal signage, but if there isn’t this is where it should be.

I have often been on the fence about this, because I think people need to watch their kids, and if you injure yourself or die in a public park it’s kind of on you, several laws back this up. But I also think safety measures can be put in place, but no amount of signage will encourage common sense.

Is the City of Sioux Falls Attorney’s Office telling us about ALL settlements?

As we heard recently, the city paid out $500K for the death of a toddler at Falls Park. We also know that the city has said in the past that they have pending lawsuits when it comes to the Bunker Ramp fiasco and the failed HVAC at the administration building. It would be nice to at least get an update as to where we are right now with them.

But according to city hall moles, the city came to a quasi-settlement with a contractor over a Sioux Falls Parks & Rec facility. I have my guesses what that settlement was and the said facility, but since I don’t know specifically from my sources the name, I will let you speculate.

But I asked this person, “If state law now dictates that settlements must be revealed, why hasn’t the city told the public?”

The response was, “First, the contractor was found liable, so they had to award the city for their failures and secondly it wasn’t a ‘cash’ settlement”

The rumor is the contractor had to fix their screw-up instead of paying the city to fix it with another contractor so no actual money was transferred.

So I guess the argument is the city doesn’t have to reveal this settlement because no money was exchanged.

I think that is a stretch;

Section 1-27-1.23 – Settlement agreements to be public records

An agency of the state or a political subdivision may not enter into a settlement agreement with a party to any civil action or proceeding involving a claim for monetary damages or equitable relief in which the settlement agreement requires nondisclosure or confidentiality of the terms of the settlement. 

So why is the city covering this up? Especially since the city, in this case, was awarded a settlement? I would think the city attorney’s office would love to tell the public about this win? Who are they protecting?

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 19, 2021

Editor’s Note: I didn’t see it on the agenda, but their is rumor floating around at city hall that there is a plan to tear down the McKennan Park Band Shell because it has gone into disrepair (have we heard this one before) and that it would cost around a half to a million to fix. This may be another game the administration is playing to get private money raised to fix it. But we still ask the question, if the rumor is true, why aren’t these facilities being maintained by the Parks Department? Where is the money going?

Informational, 4 PM

• Hayward Park Master Plan Update

• Housing Fund, this program looks like a good start on something I have been pushing for over a decade, incentivize core neighborhood housing cleanup with tax incentives. I obviously don’t know all the details, but it will be interesting to see what this is.

Regular Meeting, 6 PM

6. Approval of Contracts;

Sub item #7, This agreement extends the use of Peakon in benchmarking employee engagement strategy, landscape, resources and project ricks. Core product subscription fees are attached, Peakon APS, To Establish Pricing, $160K (I couldn’t really tell you what this is but another leadership/manager training program. I’m starting to wonder if city managers work or just go to classes all day?)

Sub item #8, Agreement to provide Nutrition, Day Break Adult Care, Recreation, Social and Educational Activities, Workers on Wheels and Senior Insurance and Information Referrals, Active Generations, $60K. (While I am not opposed to helping this organization out, I’m trying to wrap my head around why it comes out of the Parks and Recreation budget? Another reach around with budgeting. This should just be a General Fund expense.)

Sub item #11, Citywide Interior Design, Provide interior design services, TSP, to establish pricing (Maybe the city should hire an art buyer and an apparel consultant for the city directors and their offices? Maybe we should also hire a professional chef to cater in food to them? Sorry, but how hard is it to put up a cubicle wall or pick out a cheap chair?!)

Sub item #12, Sioux Falls School District Transportation Funding Agreement, $78,515 (once again the city is supplementing the school district. I guess if they can’t get what they want by raising our property taxes they will also go after our sales taxes.)

Item #41, Ordinance, 1st Reading, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, GRANTING A NONEXCLUSIVE NATURAL GAS FRANCHISE TO NORTHWESTERN CORPORATION, DOING BUSINESS AS NORTHWESTERN ENERGY, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, TO FURNISH AND SELL NATURAL GAS TO THE CITY AND ITS INHABITANTS. (this will basically give NW the right to lay pipe with MidAmerican in new developments. I assume it will not affect customers who already get gas from MidAmerican. I’m all for it, I think the competition is good. I wish we had the option for electricity in Sioux Falls.)

Item #42, A RESOLUTION ADVISING AND GIVING CONSENT TO THE APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS TO CERTAIN CITIZEN BOARDS. I find it interesting that we are appointing a banker to the Main Street BID board;

Darrell Schmith, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for First PREMIER Bank, 33 years of financial experience, Volunteered with several organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the Helpline Center.

City of Sioux Falls should remodel Tuthill Event House

For the record I have not spoken to anyone that is for or against tearing down this house, and if the city council approves it being torn down, I guess I won’t lose too much sleep over it. I have never been to any events at the home. But my main concern is how did we get to this point? My short answer (guess) is that the Parks Director is completely and utterly incompetent, a consistent liar, and should have been fired a long, long, long time ago. I also think Mayor TenHaken has been robbing money from the parks budget to spend on other stuff. The Parks Director has had a habit over a very long period of time to neglect maintenance in certain parks so things he wants to see gone gets rundown and gives him a reason to tear it up. He is currently playing that game at Terrace Park.

As you listen to the testimony (FF: 9:00) at the last Parks Board meeting where they approved the demolition (Motion passed with board members Stavenger, Nachtigal, and Begeman voting YES, and Conlin and Weber voting NO) you will hear several stories from neighbors about the suspicious neglect of the structure even though it has been taking in revenue. Also notice that the Parks Board Chair put NO time limits on the testimony and even allowed CALL IN testimony. Bravo! When can we get this at the regular council meetings?

As for what it would cost to remodel the home, even if the bid was close to $250K being floated by the Parks Department, that is a spit in the bucket. Heck even the neighbors said they would raise money privately to remodel it if the city would grant a one year moratorium. In my opinion, they should not have to raise the money privately, the city should have kept up on the maintenance. Also, remember, we are losing millions each year on venues all across the city, like the EC, Sioux Falls Stadium, The Arena, and the Convention Center (Maintenance and Mortgage is well north of $25 million per year). The remodel costs pale in comparison.

The home is also historical, kind of. I am often on the fence about what should be considered ‘historical’ or not. I guess I wouldn’t be opposed to building a more functional event structure to replace it, but that is not in the Parks Department plans, so remodeling the home seems to make the most sense.

Let’s face it, it is just another example of the Parks Director scorched earth plan for certain parks and a weird obsession by the current mayor to start defunding our parks. He probably wants more people spending time in church instead of in our parks.

I am not sure how the city council will vote on it, but I have heard a couple of them are NOT happy about the lapse in maintenance.


Speaking of waste of money, I have been after the city for years about what this costs taxpayers each year. I have heard all kinds of various estimates from $50K to $100K a year (installation, tear down and electricity costs) but I don’t think the actual numbers have been released for well over a decade, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost was closer to $500K a year, and to be honest with you, I don’t think the city could even produce the numbers.

Now I’m not some kind of Scrooge, I think we should keep the exhibit, it’s nice in a cheesy small city Crissmassy sort of way. But I have suggested for a long time we should have it sponsored by various businesses and non-profits and let volunteers decorate the park while the city foots the bill for electricity. I guess the way I look at it, if we call church volunteers to clean up after a natural disaster (and then get reimbursement from FEMA), why not use volunteers to put up holiday decorations? Heck, the city and parks department might even be able to make some money from it to go towards expanding it?

We suggest remodeling a historic home is a waste of taxpayer money but blow money on ‘decorations’ year after year when we could privately raise that money. This is just another example of how the parks department likes to change the narrative when they don’t want something.

Ugly 5G tower planned for McKennan Park

(FF: 32:00)

When I first read the Sioux Falls City Council agenda this past weekend I assumed this item that was worded as if NSP was just burying a line was just that, burying a line – not quite. If you read the entire document posted on SIRE, you still have no idea what it is except that NSP is subcontracting with Verizon. It wasn’t until a city official explaining the item last night that it was revealed that it was a ‘small cell tower’ and then admitted it was a 5G tower. They also said that it was presented to the McKennan Park neighborhood association meeting but failed to tell the council that there was very few people at the meeting. In other words, I doubt many neighbors of McKennan Park know that there was a 1st reading on putting a butt ugly 5G tower in their park.

No where in the ordinance is 5G even mentioned.

I have noticed that the city has become very deceptive lately with its agenda item language surrounding public works and planning/zoning items. Gee, I wonder why? Oh that’s right, because this administration and majority of the council HATE OPEN AND TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT.

I hope some of my close neighbors over in the park read this post and spread the word and voice their opposition to octopus tower at the 2nd reading.

City of Sioux Falls Parks Department decides mowing a 1/4″ of grass is a good idea

For the past couple of weeks, I have watched as the parks department has mowed literally a 1/4″ of grass on the football fields at Sanford Sports Complex weekly. Not only is this a waste of labor and fuel, 1) the fields are not being used and 2) with all the concerns about tax revenue, really?

Don’t get me started about taxpayers funding youth sports to begin with, I have often thought that should be paid for by parents, but this is a total waste of tax revenue. While we can go around and talk about ‘cuts’ If I were the mayor, I would be slashing crap like this.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda June 15-17, 2020

Zoning Board of Adjustment • 6 PM • June 15, Monday

Weird, I have never seen these meetings on the agenda, online. They are actually good meetings (people asking to use more of their property to build a bunch of crap). Most of the time, I really don’t care, but sometimes people are just being weird with their intentions.

City Council Informational Meeting • 4 PM • June 16, Tuesday

Presentations on the Triage Center Project Lease Agreement and Public Parking Update. The Public Parking update was ‘supposed’ to occur after the council installation so a certain guilty party could sail thru to re-election (this same person has re-opened his Carnegie basement office). The Bunker Ramp has been an enormous disaster, and they don’t like to talk about it. Why? Guilty conscious.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM • June 16, Tuesday

Item #7, Approval of Contracts, Sub Item #13. Notice the ethics complaint that was thrown out against Neitzert cost taxpayers $7,500. And we are worried about what a re-count is costing us . . . Puhleeeeze!

Items #43-44, 1st Reading, Triage lease and joint participation agreements.

Item #45, 1st Reading, More repeals of Covid restriction ordinances. I find it interesting that since the state has decided to call off all restrictive measures, Covid has essentially been flat lining and on some days going up. There has been NO downward curve. This is troublesome because if the curve doesn’t start going down within the next few weeks, we could be maintaining or increasing these numbers going into fall (when school starts) and into winter (when influenza and other illnesses increase). It will be interesting to see if we actually start a downward spiral soon. But I guess when we are hosting youth baseball tournaments and inviting families from out of state (councilor Erickson talked about this in the last informational meeting) what should we expect. While I am fine with people getting back to work safely, some of these other activities are just selfish. So the kids have to take the summer off from sports? Oh well, they are kids, they will forget about it in a couple of years.

Parks & Rec Board • 4 PM • June 17, Wednesday

4. Report of standing committees

 a. Marketing and Public Needs

 b. Park System Planning and Development

 c. Partnerships and Recreation

  1. Unfinished business

6. New business

7. Report of Director of Parks and Recreation

 a. Golf Course Report – April

Drowning Death Case against the City of Sioux Falls moves forward

I was actually surprised it is moving forward to trial;

A federal district court finds that the case against the City of Sioux Falls in the drowning death of an Iowa girl can go forward.

Judge Karen Schreier found that the plaintiff, Courtney Jayne, representing her deceased minor daughter Maggie Zaiger, had met their burden to survive the City’s motion for summary judgment.

The little girl fell into the Big Sioux River at Falls Park while on an outing with her family. 

As I understand it, the Public Assurance Alliance is handling the case for the city.

City of Sioux Falls River Greenway and Falls Park design competition is actually a wonderful idea

When I first saw this on Tuesday, I thought to myself, “The city should do this more often.” For the small investment of $40K to selected competitors, we will probably get some innovative designs, save money, and encourage artistic competition.

If there is one thing I know about designers and artists, they love to compete, and they love to outdo each other. In a traditional sense of the RFP process, sometimes those bids go to the ones most connected and have insider information. What happens is we probably don’t get the best design, because we stifle creativity.

For years the city has used the same contractor over and over for these projects. I’m not saying they suck, but if you don’t know what other people have to offer, how will you ever know?

Of course, I am not naive, the selection process will probably be chocked full of backroom deals, and we will probably end up with the same contractor.

I challenge the city to post images of the submissions online and have residents vote on the final four. I think this would even the keel and be a wonderful way of having the public participate in the process. Great ideas die in the dark.

Stehly brings up costs of other ‘Quality of Life’ Projects in comparison to Project TRIM

During the Informational meeting yesterday, Stehly thanked the Parks Department for doing the Project TRIM experiment. She also brought up other things we subsidize each year. She said that the money could easily be budgeted for the city to trim their own trees in the boulevard.

There was also a discussion about the golf contract with Landscapes Unlimited and how they want to amend the contract so they can possibly provide management for Brandon’s Municipal Course (which I think is a conflict). They cleverly claim that people who will work at the Sioux Falls city courses won’t work at the Brandon course, yet what they fail to mention is that LU is a corporation with multiple management locations all over the United States. Corporate headquarters knows exactly what is going on at both locations simultaneously. They also talked about ‘opportunities’ between the two locations. I’m not sure how people paying to golf at Brandon’s course is an ‘opportunity’ for the taxpayers of Sioux Falls. I have often said we should just have a flat lease for the courses and let the contractor do as they please, and maintain them at their expense. This would be more beneficial to taxpayers, and would eliminate any contract conflicts.

There has also NOT been any determination on how the golf cart shed fire started. During the contract discussion, LU admitted they received $100K from insurance for lost carts, etc. When the Director of Parks, Ding-Dong Don was asked how much the city got from insurance for the destruction of the facility, he responded that they have received nothing yet. When asked why, he said it is because they haven’t figured out yet how they are going to replace the facility (stand alone or along with a new clubhouse). Sorry, but a damaged building value has NOTHING to do with what the new facility will cost. I find this very odd, and wonder if a determination on the cause of the fire will ever be revealed. Of course, this is coming from the same guy who lied about no-mow zones (and various other crap). Can we impeach him?