A new safety assessment at Falls Park is now complete and it is aiming to address concerns stemming from two drownings earlier this year.
The Falls are arguably one of the greatest natural attractions in Sioux Falls, and one of the unique aspects to it is that the area is very open. That is exactly what has some concerned about the overall safety in the park.
"The safety precautions, as a general, don't change a lot, but with the recent incident that we had this past spring, we felt it was important to take another look at it," Parks and Recreation director Don Kearney said.
That incident claimed the lives of two people as they went into the water looking to save someone else. Since that time, Kearney has listened to requests to install fencing at the Falls, but says there are certain points working against that idea.
"Where do you start it? And where do you stop it? And then if you put gates in, will they be in the right locations, depending on where the incident happens," Kearney said.
Kearney says that fencing would also hinder any rescue attempts if something happened outside of the Falls.
"The other reality is that even if we fenced it off, it doesn't mean someone can't climb the fence, and then the Fire and Rescue folks have to be able to navigate that fence if it happened to be in place," Kearney said.
What they have done instead is install more signs to raise awareness of the dangers the Falls bring. It is a way to maintain a proper level of safety and maintain what makes Falls Park unique.
"It's open and apparent of what is there; it's not something that you just happen upon. So, from our perspective, the Falls is a beautiful thing, but you also have to use caution," Kearney said.
They have also installed equipment harnesses to aid crews in case of an emergency at the Falls. Kearney says that they review each safety protocol to make sure they are needed, but that ultimately, personal responsibility is the best way to keep everyone safe.