Sioux Falls, SD
The city of Sioux Falls prepares to make a splash onto the aquatic scene, but city leaders are just not sure how to do it yet.
To determine the future of swimming in the city, a series of five focus groups started on Thursday.
"It's really going to chart the course for aquatics in the future," Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Director Don Kearney said.
An independent consultant leads the invite-only meetings filled with city leaders, business owners and pool users.
The research group is not focusing on just one type of facility or location, but one topic dominates conversation after conversation.
"I really believe the community needs an indoor aquatic center. It needs to have a regulation sized swimming pool so we can have indoor swim meets," Stephanie Perry said.
"Sioux Falls needs an indoor pool. We definitely need an indoor pool," Judy Lampert said.
Lampert participates in water aerobics. She sees the benefits of a year-round pool, but has concerns.
"I don't particularly agree with one of the sites that have been selected at this point, which is Spellerberg. There are some of us who think it's too small." Lampert said.
Perry's children grew up swimming competitively. She says an indoor facility would make Sioux Falls a swimming destination.
And while these focus groups are the first of four phases leading up to some serious decisions, Perry is happy to be part of the conversation.
"It's good to be a part of something like this to see what everybody's views are. We don't want to [have] tunnel vision," Perry said. "We want to make sure we understand the needs, wants and concerns of people in the community."
The city also invited representatives from Wild Water West and the YMCA to get their thoughts at the focus group.
Organizers don't want to overlap services or compete against for-profit companies.
Mayor Mike Huether already budgeted more than $7 million toward an indoor pool as part of his capital improvement project in the next five years.