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A Small City With Big Changes

February 27, 2014, 10:15 PM by Brittany Larson

A Small City With Big Changes

For a little more than a decade a neighboring city less than 20 minutes south of Sioux Falls has grown its population and infrastructure.

In 2001, 900 people lived in Harrisburg. Today, five-times as many people call the southeast South Dakota city home. The population is now 4,800.

"It's a Governors house and this is what served as our city hall," Harrisburg City Administrator Andrew Pietrus said.

For 10 years this two bedroom, one bathroom home was transformed into the Harrisburg City Hall Headquarters.

"The living room closet served as our copy room space," Pietrus said.

From office space must-haves to some unconventional amenities you wouldn't find in a regular office building.

"Since this space was and this building was designed for a family it has a shower in our bathroom," Pietrus said.

However, there were some minor setbacks City Administrator, Andrew Pietrus and other city staff members had to get use to, including working in close quarters.

"In this space our water billing and our planning in zoning shared this space with no privacy," Pietrus said.

As the city continued to grow, changes needed to occur.

"For us to expand or even to be able to do our job effectively we needed more space," City of Harrisburg Mayor, Julie Burke-Bowen said.

And for the second time in a decade, the solution was just down the street.

This yellow building served the Police Chief, Maintenance Department and the Finance Officer. And then in 2004, the police chief and the finance officer moved into the Governor's House. And then, 10 years later, this past January the city staff moved into this recently renovated building.

"It was just a good use of city resources and good time to renovate a building that was sitting empty," Pietrus said.

That empty building was a dilapidated Food and Fuel. It was vacant for about six years. Harrisburg Mayor, Julie Burke-Bowen says the underground tanks were initially a concern. The city worked with the state and a third-party to remove them and then began the architectural and construction process.

Pietrus says although the last building was adequate this building provides the privacy everyone needs and creates a professional environment.

One person who has seen many changes within the city first is the Assistant Principal at Harrisburg High School, Ryan Rollinger. He has lived here his whole life.

"The city has had to keep up with the infrastructure of the town. 20 years ago when I lived here it was a smaller quiet community and now we are rapidly becoming one of the biggest," Rollinger said.

A small town feel, that's close to big city perks.

"We have the benefits of small town, you don't have the traffic you don't have that kind of stuff. It's minutes from the amenities of Sioux Falls," Rollinger said.

And what once was just an empty space now serves a greater purpose. Rollinger says the new Harrisburg City Hall is in an ideal location.

"It sat vacant forever. It kind of was a symbol of that was the older part of town and it sat there and the city using that existing building I think was a great idea, kind of the focal point of town still in the middle there to refurbish it and it has a new look and I think it looks good," Rollinger said.

But at the rate Harrisburg continues to grow, this may not be the last move for the city staff.

Next up for the city, Harrisburg wants to continue to work closely with Lincoln County regarding road issues. They are doing preliminary designs for road improvements and are increasing their maintenance shop size and staff.

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