Simplified: The city parks and recreation department gave a closer look at its proposed nearly $43 million budget for next year to the City Council on Tuesday – and conversations revealed some of the larger plans and wish list items beyond the next year, as well.

Why it matters

  • As Councilor Rich Merkouris said, the parks and recreation portion of the budget is among the most "fun" part of budget discussions because it is money that directly impacts anyone in town who uses the parks system.
  • One big ticket item in the parks budget is the need to keep wages competitive, especially for part-time and seasonal jobs like lifeguards. Additionally, inflation has impacted the department's costs in several areas, Parks Director Don Kearney said.
  • The parks department also has some big spending planned for 2024 – including continued work to replace local pools, acquire land for future growth, and create more spaces for community gatherings and recreation.
"We remain committed to investing in our parks system knowing the value these facilities and services provide to our community," Kearney said.

What are some of the big projects coming up?

In no particular order, here's a look at some of the fun stuff coming:

The Midco Aquatic Center will see double its existing locker room space with a proposed addition. Construction is expected to start yet this year, Kearney said.

The McKennan Park wading pool is also a part of the 2024 capital budget. It's in the design stage now, with plans to go to bid in the spring and construction to start in the summer.

The city is also working on renovating the Arrowhead Park house to become a new gathering place where the community can host meetings, birthday parties, receptions, etc. The plan also includes renovating the deck, which has what Kearney said has a "spectacular" view.

And while it's not part of the 2024 budget, Kearney also gave the council a first look at renderings for a new Elmwood Golf Course Clubhouse.

  • More renderings and a floor plan are expected to be shown at an upcoming public meeting at the golf course, Kearney added.

What else is on the horizon?

Here's where it gets a little more wish-list-y.

One of the items the council discussed Tuesday was looking at the feasibility of adding a new golf course to the city.

"If you've tried to get a tee time, it's not easy at any course in Sioux Falls," Kearney said. "I definitely think it has to be on our radar screen."
  • Councilor Merkouris also expressed a desire to see any future land aquisition plans take into account a desire to have room for residential development around a future course.

Another item the council discussed was the possibility of adding a new pool on the south-central side of town.

What happens next?

The City Council will continue to look at the budget for next year in the coming weeks before voting on a final budget in September.