Simplified: A group of city leaders from a wide variety of departments have been working together over the last year to look at where to buy land for new city facilities as Sioux Falls grows. It's called the Strategic Land Acquisition Team (SLAT). Here's what you need to know.
Why it matters
- SLAT began last year after a series of meetings that brought dozens of city employees together to talk about scaling services as the town grows.
- Now, they meet every few weeks and share plans across departments for five, 10 and even 20+-year growth needs, said Kevin Smith, assistant director of planning and development services.
- Much of the growth plan is dictated by where sewer and other utilities will be expanded, but SLAT is working to help ensure that – as other resources like roads, libraries, parks, etc. move into new areas – the city is being as efficient as possible and working together.
"We need to plan for those needs together, so we can potentially share land acquisitions, share construction dollars and share the actual facilities to benefit the public," Smith said.
What kinds of things does SLAT work on?
Ultimately, it's all about looking at buying land for future city developments.
- These decisions are also tied to the city's capital improvement plan.
But because so many different departments are represented, the team looks at a wide swath of different projects.
City Engineer Andy Berg gave the following example:
- Say one city department looking for 20 acres of land in a certain area while another department is looking for 10 acres in the same general area.
- It makes a lot more sense to work together and purchase 30 acres at one time rather than having two different departments working through different transactions a half-mile apart.
Jodi Fick, director of Siouxland Libraries, said another benefit of the land acquisition team is really getting to know what other departments are working on.
"It takes all of us with our unique educations and experience to be able to build a thriving city," Fick said.
What happens next?
Right now, the team is looking at the ongoing South Veterans Parkway project, Smith said.
- They're looking at whether there are opportunities to strategically acquire land for the city while also getting the land needed for the new highway.
SLAT will also be working through the latest five-year capital improvement plan proposed by Mayor Paul TenHaken and currently under review by the City Council.
"This is not just an academic exercise," Smith said of the team. "This is a true investment in the City of Sioux Falls for future facilities."