Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls Parks and Rec' ↓

This is what ALL Levitt Concerts should look like

I was a little surprised yesterday with all the rain that the Levitt concert was NOT cancelled but to start at a later time. The opening act played until 8 and the headliner played to almost 10 PM. It has been my opinion that the concerts should ALL go from 7:30-10 PM on Friday and Saturday nights. As you can see from the pictures, this is what a night time outdoor concert should look like with stage lights. The sound was also cranked up towards the end. I can honestly say, this is the first time I stood in front of the stage and the music was loud. The band, The Foxies are a pop punk band that pulls influences from Green Day, The Cure, Blondie, No Doubt (the lead singer voice and dance moves remind you of Gwen Stefani) and you even hear the Clash, The Smiths and ‘X’ in their songs.

The only unfortunate part of the show was half of it was in the rain (I watched live stream until the rain ended and showed up in person) this also limited the crowd to about 30 people. But the performers treated this like any other show and rocked their asses off.

I have often said it is ‘the little things’ that can make the Levitt better;

• Start the shows at 7:30 PM on Friday and Saturdays

• Turn up the volume

• Allow people to bring their own beer and wine

• Ban pets

The city council has the power to make all 4 things above happen, if they just had the courage to do it (which they don’t).

Sioux Falls Parks Director brags about the Snowjob pulled on the City Council

(FF 12:10)

Don basically talks about how the city attorney’s office did an outstanding job getting the Sioux Steel easement pushed through. Pretty crazy to hear a city director brag about getting the city council to possibly violate open meeting laws by voting on an agenda item without giving the public the whole story. We still have NO idea how this suddenly became park land or what that process was.

Also note that if you watched the council meeting the assistant city attorney said the council could vote to release that information, but guess when they were told they could vote to release the information? Five minutes before the 2nd reading. Yeah, now that’s transparency.

Also note that the first phase of the project will be the residential portion and not the hotel and entertainment part. Go figure.

Is the City of Sioux Falls secretly planning $40 Million in Quality of Life bonds after the 2022 election?

I got word from some city hall moles yesterday that the Parks Department in cahoots with the Mayor’s office is rumored to be planning around $40 million in quality of life bonds for two new swimming pools (I think outdoor) after the 2022 municipal election is over.

It’s no secret a couple of pools are at their life, but what I find ironic about this rumored proposal is the fact that we can’t even get lifeguards to work for the city, because of low pay and no paid certification.

What makes it even more egregious is that we need to prop up our infrastructure, workforce, housing and crime prevention before we think about building under staffed pools. This is just another handout to contractor buddies of city hall, much like the Bunker Ramp, Admin building, Indoor Pool and Events Center.

When are we going to get a city government that works for the people instead of the developers? This is what happens when you give executive authority to your chief of staff that was a former executive with the largest developer and TIF welfare recipient in the city, and possibly the state. Lots and Lots and Lots of payback.

The running joke amongst my political friends in the city on the right and the left is that the developers run city hall and the city council. Sadly, it’s not a fictional joke anymore, it’s fact.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Planning Department & City Attorney’s Office hid information from the City Council and Public

UPDATE: Cameraman Bruce wanted me to remind you of this post from March of 2020, and this added commentary;

The article is credited to me and the maps are still true.

The river bed was never owned by anyone but the federal government and since it was part of a navigable it cannot be taken over by anyone without the Corp of Engineers releasing it and likely an act of congress. Sioux Steel never owned the river bed filled in by garbage. The reason the city is not releasing any of their documentation is due to the faulty “quit claim” deeds they might be citing.

The city attorney, Lloyd Companies and Sioux Steel are playing fast and loose with the facts to seal the property permanently. Sioux Steel cannot give away property then never owned. They were and are squatters with no real claims to the property.

The parties to the development including the Sioux Falls city attorney, Lloyd Companies and Sioux Steel must prove they have the rights to continue building on and trading property they do not own or have rights of fee simple.


So if you watch the city council meeting tonight, Item #12 is a land easement deal with the developer of the Sioux Steel project. While that certainly isn’t anything to raise eyebrows over since the city does these kind of deals several times a year, what makes it concerning as you watch the discussion is that the Planning Department, the City Attorney’s office and likely the Mayor’s office hid this information from us and the city council for over 18 months. Wouldn’t this land transfer deal be something that should have been presented to the citizens before BOTH TIFs for this project were presented? What makes it even more interesting is that it seems some of the information remains confidential even though the city is having a public meeting, discussion and 1st vote on this land deal. Remember when they terminated former City Clerk Debra Owen? Deja Vu.

It also gets even more nefarious when you consider that this land transfer will end up costing taxpayers millions more because the land we are getting from the developers will suddenly become river greenway property that we will be responsible to develop.

Luckily this is only 1st reading, and hopefully the council will be able to really dig into what is going on here, and hopefully by 2nd reading some of those secret legal documents will appear.

At first glance, it is my guess that this was kept from the public and the city council for this long because it is NOT a good deal for us, and they tried to skate this as long as they could (or at least until they got their precious TIF).

I keep telling you folks, there is a lot of ‘stuff’ going on behind closed doors at city hall, and it is NOT to our benefit. And the irony is this is all occurring while the head city attorney is rumored to be on an extended vacation – how convenient for him?

Parks Board stays hands off with Tuthill House Reconstruction

I have to tell you that I was a little astonished with how this is being handled;

Tuthill House Gifting Agreement: Mieras shared details of the Gifting Agreement and also shared concept drawings of the exterior of the property. This Gifting Agreement will provide for exterior and interior house renovations and hardscaping to be funded and completed by the Tuthill Neighborhood Association. Upon satisfactory completion, the improvements will become City property. After some discussion, a motion to recommend approval of the Gifting Agreement was made by Weber and seconded by Nachtigal. Motion passed unanimously with all present Board members voting yes.

I say I am surprised, because normally this is NOT how things are done. Usually the city puts the bids out and pays the contractor. In this case, the neighborhood association is hiring the contractor and paying them. I applaud this. I have surmised while watching this process, this decision was made because often the city doesn’t get the best deal. Yah think? I love it how it took fixing up an old house to show how bloated the city is when it comes to their bids.

There of course was a discussion about how we need more parking for Levitt, or something;

Park Purpose Recommendation—Parking Concept at Levitt Shell East Edge located in Falls Park West, along with the west edge of Kiwanis Park: A motion that the Park Board finds the parking concept would be open and available at all times to the public was made. It further finds such parking stalls as described in the parking concept would provide a convenient supply of parking that would benefit not only access to Levitt Shell but also direct access to Kiwanis Park and the Phase III of the Big Sioux River Greenway. Motion was made by Nachtigal and seconded by Sundleaf. Motion passed unanimously with all present Board members voting yes.

The meeting ended with the City’s Chief Liar and Director of Parks piping off about robbing CARES money, lack of life guards, and the scooter ordinance;

Report of Director of Parks and Recreation: Kearney shared the status of pool openings and staffing. He also shared that City golf courses have been extremely busy with the warm weather. He touched base on some CARES ACT funding and the American Rescue Plan. He also stated there may be more projects that will be able to be completed with these funds. The ordinance change proposed for motor scooters at last month’s meeting did not pass at the City Council level. The Great Bear Recreation Park chairlift is on track with larger pieces being built off-site at this time.

Notice that Don didn’t mention that the real reason he thinks he can’t get lifeguards is because teenagers just don’t want to work because they may be missing out on something (I guess he told city officials this privately). I can tell you why you can’t get lifeguards, YOU DON’T PAY ENOUGH.

Sioux Falls PO looks the other way while kid urinates near bike trail

Just in case any superior officer with the force is reading this, it occurred around 6:30 PM tonight at Cherry Rock park with an officer on an ATV.

As I was riding by the ball fields tonight at Cherry Rock park I noticed a game going on, to my surprise only a couple hundred feet from the portable bathroom a player about 10-12 years old (who should know better) in his full baseball uniform and hat had his wang out and was peeing right along the trail, as I yelled at him to knock if off while riding by, he just laughed and continued, at that moment I looked over and an officer on an ATV talking to a parent looked over as I pointed at the kid, he just turned around and continued to talk to a parent.

Urinating in public, next to a baseball game and near a bike trail wouldn’t you think the officer would have said something? Nope. Apparently it is OK to urinate in a public park as long as you are wearing a youth sports uniform (I told you that is all people care about in this town).

Ironically, after I did my downtown loop, I did see the same ATV cop chasing some transients out from under the Cliff Avenue bridge, so he does have his priorities. None of them were urinating . . . yet.

I never want anyone ever to tell me to my face that our cops are overworked and underpaid, because it is complete B.S.!

$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.