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Debunking the Spellerberg indoor pool objections

by Greg Belfrage

The city of Sioux Falls is engaged in an informational campaign to build support for a new indoor aquatics center at Spellerberg Park.

As most of us know, the park has become the center of controversy in recent months. 

Some Spellerberg residents are fearful they'll lose their beautiful park if a new indoor aquatics center is built there. They prefer to build a new outdoor pool and collected enough signatures to successfully put the issue on the April ballot.

I've heard the arguments against an indoor facility at Spellerberg. Seems to me there are two major objections. Let's break them down.

1. There will be too much traffic, resulting in congestion along Western Avenue and a lack of available parking.

Sioux Falls Parks and Rec Director Don Kearney says the reverse is actually true.

Kearney says an indoor aquatics center is projected to generate 75 vehicles per day. The outdoor pool at Spellerberg currently attracts 174 vehicles per day.

So much for the "sky is falling" predictions of cars lined up all along Western Avenue and aging veterans unable to find parking at the nearby V.A. hospital.

2. Opponents say the indoor facility will eat up too much of the beautiful green park space at Spellerberg. 

Kearney says an indoor aquatics center could be built without disrupting the sledding hill on the south or the playground and park on the north.

Artist renderings of the new indoor and outdoor projects show footprints that aren't dramatically different. The city would re-position the parking lot and pool to make the best use of existing property to preserve cherished green space.

Outdoor versus Indoor aquatics centers at Spellerberg Park - Source: siouxfalls.org

There are others who think a new indoor pool facility should be located out by the interstates for easy access.

However, we're talking about an indoor pool, not an events center. The facility will be serving residents of Sioux Falls, not out of towners. An indoor pool should be centrally located and not located out on the fringes of the city.

Certainly, there are those who will oppose an aquatics center due to the estimated pricetag of $19.4 million.

Perhaps they're right. That's a discussion for another day. 

Greg Belfrage is heard mornings 6am-9am on KELO Newstalk 1320 AM / 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.