- The Indoor Aquatics Development project to be located at the Spellerberg Park location received a funding boost in the recommended plan. It went from $814,000 programmed in 2015 to $5.8 million in total funding in the recommended 2016 CIP. Construction is programmed to begin in 2014. It went from a priority ranking of 43 to project priority #2. This project will replace the current Spellerberg Pool with either an indoor or outdoor family aquatic facility. An indoor facility is a high priority for the Park Board. The City of Sioux Falls Recreation Needs Assessment completed in April 2011 showed that 60% of the respondents felt a need for an indoor aquatics facility. The project justification states the Park department will gauge public demand through neighborhood meetings and feedback coming at large.
- The Indoor Ice Facility Project had $500,000 programmed in 2014. This project has increased to $1.5 million, programmed in plan year 2013 in the mayor's new recommended plan. This project went from priority ranking #38 to priority ranking #7. The Ice Sports Association will obtain a 99 year lease from Sanford Health to build a facility within the Sanford Sports Complex. The programmed sales tax money will be used to purchase equipment with the city maintaining control of the assets. In return, the public will have use of the facility. Does this arrangement mean the city will be on the hook for future equipment needs of this facility? Will this be an ongoing expense for taxpayers? What exactly does public use of the facility mean to the general public?
- The $500,000 programmed in plan year 2014 in the current CIP for the Indoor Tennis facility has been moved up to program year 2013 in the mayor's recommended CIP. The SF Tennis Association is expected to obtain a 99 year land lease from Sanford Health to build a facility within the Sanford Sports Complex to be built in northeast Sioux Falls. The $500,000 sales tax money will be used to buy equipment and construct improvements within the facility. The project description says the city will retain ownership of the equipment and improvements constructed in the facility and in return the public can use the facility year round by agreement between the city and the SF Tennis Association. This is kind of a cozy relationship, considering the "first lady" of Sioux Falls is the executive director of the SF Tennis Association. Does this also mean that the city will be on the hook for all equipment, now and in the future? What about those construction improvements? What kind of improvements are we talking about here? What exactly does public use mean? Is that free use by the public. I doubt it. I doubt this will be a one time cost to the city but more likely an ongoing expense. Questions should abound regarding this use of sales tax dollars from the city council regarding this project. This project was ranked priority #37 in the current plan and is priority #6 in the recommended plan.
The ice faclility project and the indoor tennis facility project are very different, however. Both of these projects are spearheaded by associations. I understand public/private partnerships. However, these two associations provide sports activities to a very specific group of people, not to the general public as a whole. A one time public support of taxpayer funds is one thing, but should the taxpayers be on the hook for equipment needs and construction improvements to their facilities indefinitely into the future to support these two facilities? There should be serious questions asked and answers given regarding these two projects before the city council approves any public/private partnership money for this two private endeavors.