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Sioux Falls wants big improvements for city pools


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While snow may be falling across Sioux Falls this week, the Parks and Recreation Department has summer on its mind.

This week, the department hosted the third touch point with the public to discuss the future of Sioux Falls pools. The meetings, which began in September, are incorporating public feedback into potential design ideas for Frank Olson, Kuehn, and McKennan Park pools.

Mike Patten, Parks Planning Specialist with Parks and Recreation, said that the three pools are close to or over 50 years old, which is the typical lifespan for a pool.

“And so, we’re just trying to breathe a little more life into those pools and extend their useful life,” Patten said.

Frank Olson in particular is in need of an update. The pool is a “typical box pool” with swimming lanes which Patten said is not as exciting as other pools in the city.

“A lot of people don’t go to Frank Olson as it sits now because, you know, to be honest with you, it’s boring. It’s just 1970s vintage and it doesn’t offer the same amenities that Laurel Oak does,” Patten said.

Patten said that the improvement and rebuilding of smaller pools could help take pressure off larger aquatic facilities that are becoming overcrowded.

“We’re also trying to determine whether or not it makes sense to address some of our needs for indoor recreation space, potentially, that becomes an indoor recreation center with an aquatic component, or it’s just a new outdoor aquatic facility,” Patten said.

The proposed changes won’t just come to the pools, but the surrounding areas as well.

“So, when Spellerberg became Midco, we also replaced the tennis courts and the basketball courts and the other park features that get impacted by replacement of the pool,” Patten said. “So, we need to take that all into account over the next year with the goal to begin construction as soon as mother nature allows.”

Community members want fun pools

After reviewing survey answers, Patten said that community members are united in wanting to use the pool facilities recreationally, meaning that they want slides, diving boards, spray features and other features that are interactive.

The second most common response was community members wanting to use the pools for fitness whether that’s lap swimming or water walking in a lazy river as they do at Drake Springs.

“But the third program that people you know, use water for the most of swimming. So, when we go forward with any design, whether it be indoor or outdoor, we’re certainly going to look to incorporate a, you know, that balance of recreation water with fitness and still being able to offer services,” Patten said.

The public meeting process has allowed community members to provide input over the course of several meetings where they can see how their opinions are being incorporated into potential pool plans.

“And so, we’re going to use all the information that we learned through this process and apply that to the park master plan and design as we’ve been building,” Patten said.

The designs, which can be viewed here, are not final proposals but just potential ideas of how the current spaces could be used based on what community members want out of their pools.

The process to bring changes to the city’s pools is not a quick one, Patten added.

“And so, the next step in the process here would be selecting design teams that will take on master planning and design of replacement and Frank Olson, replacement of Kuehn Park and replacement at McKennan Park wading pool,” Patten said. “So, and that that’s, you know, a six-to-12-month process to do the park master plan, as well, as, you know, the detailed design of the pool placements.”

Overall, Patten said they’ve received a lot of consistent community feedback both in-person and online.

“It’s been great to see I think the overall impression I get from all the meetings was people are just really excited to see upgrades to their pools because they use them and they love them and they’re excited to see them rejuvenated,” Patten said.

Patten added that it’s not too late to submit your feedback on the current proposed designs and what you want to see from city pools. You can still submit input to the Parks and Recreation Department through their website.

“So, if you couldn’t attend the public meeting, yesterday, you can go to the website, see the same information, we recorded the presentation for each locations, you can go on and book, check it out, and then do this. Do the feedback, do the questions through a survey, just like if you attended.”



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