Outdoor recreation options featured in Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken's State of the City address
Several projects are underway or in the development stages, from splash parks to ice skating to mini-soccer fields, with the help of public-private collaboration.
SIOUX FALLS — Parks, pools and soccer pitches featured prominently in Mayor Paul TenHaken’s State of the City address on Monday, April 17.
The speech at the Sioux Falls Convention Center is the annual highlight reel of successes and challenges for the city. With the COVID pandemic and related issues largely in the rearview, this year’s presentation was a primarily upbeat affair.
Collaboration was the theme for the day, from the proposed Riverline District to public safety to housing and the $215 million wastewater treatment plant under construction.
But peppered through TenHaken’s address were examples of upgrades or new opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Here’s the rundown of recreation updates from Monday’s presentation.
Splash pad at the Great Plains Zoo
TenHaken announced a new water feature at the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum.
A splash pad will be added on the grounds at the zoo on Kiwanis Avenue.
The mayor said plans for the zoo to merge with Sertoma Butterfly House and Aquarium has brought new momentum to the organization.
The zoo also is bringing back a lion exhibit.
The splash pad will be privately funded and open by May of next year, the mayor said.
Hayward Park splash pad and dog park
The park on North Valley View Road is adjacent to Hayward Elementary School and the MariCar Community Center on the city’s west side.
The improvements are the result of a partnership with the Promising Futures Fund, a nonprofit that supports schools with high rates of poverty, and Leadership Sioux Falls.
The project “is bringing a much needed, positive community hub to an underserved neighborhood,” TenHaken said.
The $2.25 million in upgrades include new playground equipment, splash pad, dog park with synthetic turf and a walking loop. The park will open with a ceremony on May 19.
“This will be the perfect kickoff to summer for kids in families in that neighborhood,” he said.
Fitness court at Rotary Park
Rotary Park is along the bike trail near the intersection of 26th Street and Southeastern Avenue. The park was transformed by the massive construction project that elevated East 26th Street over railroad tracks that parallel Southeastern.
The parking lot is now on the west side of the Big Sioux River, accessible by a bridge.
The fitness court includes 28 stations with a rubber surface and includes exercise bikes and other physical challenges.
Installation will start in May and be finished in June.
“This one I’m really looking forward to because of how important I feel fitness is to the health and well being of our community,” TenHaken said.
Mini-pitch soccer fields
The first mini-pitch is a small soccer field with a synthetic surface and borders that keep the ball from rolling off the field.
TenHaken said the first mini-pitch is planned for Terrace Park, north of the swimming pool that currently is tennis courts, on North Menlo Avenue.
“We have some of the best parks in the region, throughout the city,” he said. “Some parts of those parks, though, are not used as often as they could be.”
The city hopes to build more mini-pitches in other parks and is looking for partners to assist in the effort. TenHaken said the fields are a tool for leaders to engage kids through soccer in their neighborhoods.
“It’s vital that we continue to reach kids at all ages and backgrounds, to help them understand what opportunities are available to them,” he said. “We are not defined by our personal experiences and backgrounds. And it’s important that we as a community, that we help kids realize just how big they can dream.”
The city is in the midst of planning for improvements at several outdoor pools, including replacing Frank Olson, Kuehn and McKennan Park pools, which are all about 50 years old. Terrace Park and Laurel Oaks pools also need updating.
The improvements could include additional indoor centers to supplement the Midco Aquatics Center at Spellerberg Park and expand other year round recreation options.
The scope and timing of the improvements have not been finalized.
“It will come down to funding and what we can realistically build with what we have,” TenHaken said.
The plaza is planned for Falls Park West, adjacent to the Levitt Shell amphitheater on Phillips Avenue.
The year-round recreation area is being driven by a multi-million gift from Gary and Diane Jacobson.
It includes a refrigerated ice-skating ribbon, playground for all abilities and modern splash pad.
The project is a 50-50 partnership between the city and the Jacobson family with plans to be open by winter 2023-24.
Hitting on the theme of collaboration, TenHaken said the projects are examples of the city working with private companies and donors, nonprofits and regional governments to make progress.
“Collaboration is what built Sioux Falls and continues to move Sioux Falls forward,” he said.