Parks master plan calls for replacing three pools, adding indoor space

Jan. 15, 2020

Three aging swimming pools should be replaced, and more indoor recreation space should be added to the Sioux Falls parks system, according a newly released city master plan.

Results of the yearlong process were shared Tuesday with the Sioux Falls City Council. It included multiple surveys, public forums and comparative analysis with other communities.

“You’ve got a good system here. I think you ought to be very proud of it … not just in terms of land and trails and the way it’s designed but also the staff that’s involved,” said Leon Younger, president of PROS Construction, who helped oversee the planning process and has worked with more than 300 parks systems.

These are the four key areas of focus:

The plan found the five most important priorities in terms of facilities to the public are:

  • Walking/hiking trails.
  • Small neighborhood parks.
  • Natural areas and wildlife habitats.
  • Paved bike trails.
  • Outdoor swimming pools/water parks.

The emphasis on trails “follows pretty much a national average of what we see in other communities,” Younger said. “It has the largest age segment appeal … you can walk or run or bike on it … and it’s free. It’s really becoming more of an effort for exercise and fitness in terms of why people enjoy them and consistently rank them.”

The recommendations for aquatics including replacing Frank Olson and Kuehn Park swimming pools as well as the McKennan Park wading pool with “updated facilities that meet ADA and industry standards,” Younger said.

Each is nearly 40 years old or older. The plan is to replace them with pools of a similar size and also calls for updated Laurel Oaks and Terrace Parks pools.

Nothing has been budgeted yet.

The service area meets the standards for best practices, Younger said.

“The existing pools cover the majority, if not all, of the city, but if you took out one of those pools, that area would have a deficit,” he said.

The process also found that Sioux Falls excels at summer activities but comes up shorter with winter ones. Those programs ranked highest priority by survey respondents were:

  • Adult fitness and wellness programs.
  • Outdoor adventure.
  • Nature programs.
  • Canoeing and kayaking.
  • Travel and tourism.

The city struggles to maintain and offer program on its ice rinks as they currently are structured, the report found. Other cities have moved toward refrigerated ice to ease the burden on staff and offer more predictability given changing weather, Younger said.

“You can build in activity associated with it,” he said.

He also found 89,000 square feet of additional indoor space is needed “to basically complement everything you’ve done outside in relationship to best practices.” That could include re-evaluating what is offered in the community centers attached to several elementary schools.

“That model was really built around the community-schools model created in the 1970s. It was the ‘in’ thing at that point,” he said. “It’s an area that shows up as needed more for the future.”

The plan also calls for assessing the financial model for the Parks and Recreation Department. That could include adjusting pricing to create a more sustainable funding approach.

“The pricing policy that is in place right now is outdated, tremendously,” Younger said.

A public session on the comprehensive plan will be held at 5:30 tonight at the Downtown Library. The master plan is scheduled to be presented to the parks board later this month, and a resolution is scheduled for a City Council vote in February.

To see more on the plan, click here. 

Parks master plan calls for replacing three pools, adding indoor space

Three aging swimming pools should be replaced, and more indoor recreation space should be added to the Sioux Falls parks system, according a newly released city master plan.

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