Simplified: It's been a couple decades since Sioux Falls has talked about serious, long-term improvements to its namesake park. That's changing now, and last week the city took the first step in planning the Falls Park of the future by selecting a landscape architecture firm to guide the process.

Why it matters

  • Master plans are the norm for any park in the city, said Park Development Specialist Mike Patten but Falls Park got some special treatment in the form of the Falls Park Design Competition.
  • The winner of the competition – Confluence – will now help the city over the course of the next year to take its big-picture design as a starting point to envision what Falls Park could look like for the next 50, or even 100 years.
  • Confluence's plan was selected, in part, because it took into account more than just the park itself, incorporating the potential for residential developments and better connections into adjacent neighborhoods, Patten said.
  • Confluence's winning design isn't a final product. Rather, it's a way to think broadly about what is possible for the park as the city does more specific future planning and seeks community input.
"When there's a chance to participate in public engagement for our central park, be a part of it if you can," Patten said.

What's included in the winning plan?

More than can be listed here. It's a 70-page document (which can be viewed in full here).

And, it's worth noting again that this isn't the master plan. Rather, it's a way to envision what could be included in the final plan.

Jon Jacobson, principal at Confluence and a Sioux Falls native, said one of the goals his team had in its design was making the destination of Falls Park also have a neighborhood feel.

"It really made me think of my family I'm raising here, and ultimately what we want to do is be able to create a place that keeps kids (who grow up here) in Sioux Falls," Jacobson said.

The design team also left room in the design for potential public-private partnerships down the line, something Jacobson said opens doors for big thinking in the future.

Here are some of the features included in the design:

  • White water rafting
  • Mountain biking trails
  • A zipline and ropes course
  • Disc golf
  • A dog park
  • An art and food market
  • A sledding hill in the winter
  • A quarry pond fountain display
  • A new pedestrian bridge
  • Realigned roads for smoother park entrances
  • Upgraded neighborhood connections

What happens next?

The master plan is expected to be completed next year, and it'll be up to the city to prioritize updates and build in changes to the capital spending plan in the years to come.